By Joe Lopes
Here is part 4 of Joe’s article about the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the end of the article.

Broadway Bound
The sparse operatic content of Brazil’s foremost musical apologist was indeed cause for much consternation among lovers of great music for the lyric stage.

Apart from his preoccupation with the national consciousness, this absence was likely due to the composer having spread himself thin across the musical landscape through his total involvement in, and complete dedication to, multiple educational and extra-musical projects, such as the Superintendency of Artistic and Musical Education, or SEMA, in 1933; the organization of the Conservatório Nacional de Canto Orfeónico (National Conservatory for Choral Singing) in 1942; and the Presidency of the Brazilian Academy of Music, which he founded in 1945 and served until his death in November 1959.

All this non-stop activity, however, did not hinder Villa-Lobos from composing, which after all came naturally to him, and was considered as normal an everyday function as dining out with friends, smoking Cuban cigars, or shooting pool, his favorite hobby.

A little known aspect of the Brazilian’s overseas experiences involved his first tour of the United States, where, in 1944, he was invited to conduct a concert of his works at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. Incredibly, a newly formed American appreciation for the composer’s music eventually paved the way for the 1948 Broadway production of Magdalena, his musical adventure in two acts.”

The background of the work’s evolution is an intriguing yet light-hearted tale of behind-the-scenes bickering and bantering, well documented in the excellent essay, “Villa-Lobos on Broadway,” by Brazilian conductor Ricardo Prado.

The show, which was rearranged by the team of Robert Wright and George Forrest (who also gave Broadway the hit musicals Song of Norway and Kismet) has been somewhat inaccurately described as a south of the border rip-off of Franz Lehr’s The Merry Widow – a Viennese operetta without the schmaltz. It came at an especially trying time for the composer, who was diagnosed with cancer and immediately hospitalized at Memorial Hospital in New York, on the same night as the premiere. A simultaneous musician’s strike called soon after the opening crippled plans to broadcast radio excerpts and record the original-cast album, de rigueur for shows back then.

The wonderful cast assembled for the run featured Metropolitan Opera star Irra Petina, theater actor John Raitt (of Carousel fame), soprano Dorothy Sarnoff, and Czech actor-director Hugo Haas. Boasting an elaborate plot and exotic South American locale (Colombia, not Copacabana), this lively Latin extravaganza basically revamped many of Villa-Lobos’ previous themes, with the music taken in part from sections of the Bachianas, as well as the folk arrangements to be found in his Guia Prtico (Practical Guide, 1932).

Despite favorable reviews, the musical came and went in less than three months. It has since been revived several times throughout the US, and there even exists a hard-to-find Sony recording of a live 1987 Lincoln Center concert performance, in honor of the centennial of the composer’s birth. But for all intents and purposes, Magdalena remains comparatively unknown, even in its native Brazil – a regrettable oversight.

Part 5 next week…

Copyright 2007 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 3
Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 2
Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 1
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 11
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 10
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 9
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 8
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 7
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 6
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 5
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 4
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 3
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 2
Two Brazilian Charmers Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 21
Teaching English In Brazil Part 20
Teaching English In Brazil Part 19
Teaching English In Brazil Part 18
Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

By Fabiano Deffenti
Law is one of the oldest professions. Just like medical doctors, lawyers are in a special position vis–vis their clients. They are generally told their clients’ secrets and invariably are granted powers to act on their clients’ behalf.

The beauty of the workings of a market economy is that the supply and demand curves generally dictate price and quality of goods and services. Brazil has over 500,000 lawyers, in an economy the same size as Australia’s (which has approximately 35,000 lawyers). So, you would expect to receive great service for an affordable price.

Not so. Intense competition has led to desperation and fighting for any client a lawyer can find (the recent Gol Airlines crash provided a good example of how lawyers can go to any length to get a client). Except for the high end of the street” lawyers – those who act for large companies and high net worth individuals – many lawyers here are struggling to make a living.

With the growing number of international deals involving Brazil, and the flow of foreign investments in the country, amongst other things, some lawyers with a reasonable level of English fluency have discovered the opportunity to “make a buck out of the gringos”.

This means that you are probably a target.

The very lax enforcement of ethics rules by the States’ bar associations also does not help the gringos’ plight. Brazil’s legal system makes it very difficult (or impossible) for a party to prove a case based on oral evidence. In addition to cultural, language and other vulnerabilities, many foreigners end up being ripped off by unscrupulous Brazilian lawyers.

As in any country, Brazil has an ethics code that applies to lawyers (Código de tica e Disciplina). The rules are very tough. Yet, as many other rules in force in Brazil, full compliance is sporadic and enforcement by the authorities is next to non-existent. Here are some of the rules that bind lawyers:

1. Law firms must not have invented names. They must contain the name of at least one of the law firms’ existing or former partners who is no longer practicing;

2. Lawyers, when acting in their capacity as lawyers, cannot share fees with other professionals or any type of referral agency. This is probably one of the least respected ethics rules in Brazil, as many (if not most) lawyers pay “finder’s fees”;

3. Law firms must not be limited liability companies (“limitadas”). If you see “Ltda” or “Limitada” after the law firm’s tax invoice or letterhead, then the lawyer is in breach of his/her ethical obligations;

4. Law firms must not advertise, yet they may inform the public of the services they provide. There can be no advertisements of any type on radio or television;

5. Lawyers must not solicit for services. Unlike some other countries, lawyers are even not allowed to send you marketing materials by post without your prior request;

6. A lawyers’ office must be used exclusively for the practise of law. This is also an often-broken rule, as it is common for lawyers to operate real estate agencies together with their law practice (the other day I visited a site that offered real estate for sale, wedding ceremonies, plastic surgeries and lawyers’ services – among others – as one package for gringos).

The cardinal rule is to ask lots of questions. Ethical lawyers should have no problems in answering them. The more you know about your lawyer, the greater your chances are that you will select the right one.

The author is admitted as an attorney at law in New York, as a legal practitioner in Australia, as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand and as an advogado in Brazil. He can be contacted at

By Boris Goldshmit
Most people would much rather go to a dentist then get involved with a renovation project. Yet, the reality often places us in situations where taking on a renovation is inevitable. This article is designed to serve as an introduction to the property renovation practices and prices prevalent in Brazil. We will also look into prices and learn some tips that would allow you to accomplish your goals in time, within budget, and with intact sanity.

Punch through this
Before I came to the United States and had a chance to experience myself the shabbiness and defects of dry wall slap-it-together type of construction prevalent there, I was often amazed by how easily mighty American movie characters were able to punch and crash through the walls. Of course, the mystery had been quickly resolved during my visit to Houston after a run in with furniture piece in my bedroom that when accidentally moved, pierced the wall as if it were made of butter.

Well, it isn’t going to happen with you in Brazil. Brick and mortar construction with hand-plastered walls is not exactly conductive to the super-human tricks practiced in American movies. While dry wall construction is starting to take off down here, most of the older buildings in Brazil can withstand hurricane-force winds or a all-out brawl involving an American Football team inside without incurring substantial structural damage. The three little Piggies couldn’t have found a safer place to hide then your average older Brazilian apartment building.

Pictured to the left is a demolition of a non-carrying external 1-foot thick single-brick wall and granite floor with concrete sub-floor.

Of course, for every benefit there is a price to be paid. The downside of the solid construction practices is the amount of demolition that needs to be done and debris removed in order to implement even small changes to the apartment layout. Another additional headache comes when electrical wiring or plumbing needs to be accessed or repaired. If you are taking on a renovation in an older apartment, you can rest assured that there will be demolition and ripping out of the old wiring and plumbing involved.

Part 2 next week…

Copyright 2007 by Editora Prometheus LTDA

Boris Goldshmit is the founder of Lifestyles Brazil, a licensed Real Estate Broker, and a Residential General Contractor.

He can be contacted at:

+55 21 2236-1819 / +55 21 9149-6856

See completed projects photos here:

By Ricky Skelton
My first long bus journey in Argentina, from Puerto Iguazu to Buenos Aires, was a revelation, especially after seeing some of the local buses, and after having travelled through much of Brazil by bus. Brazilian buses are a plain old long distance coach ride – four seats across, a toilet, stops every few hours, and things stolen (but only with São Geraldo). I’ve also had plenty of experience of Bolivian buses which is (and perhaps will be) a tale in every journey.

The first shock is the size – double deckers! With only 3 seats across! Despite booking last minute tickets, we bagged the pair of seats at the front upstairs. Fantastic. Settle down, spread out, enjoy the view with your feet up, watch a couple of dodgy films, ah, very civilised. As well as the films, they provide coffee, cold & hot water, sweets, blankets and a pillow. At the pit-stop, there was a three-course meal and ‘champagne’ laid on, all ready immediately we sat down.

The best surprise was yet to come though. A tray of glasses with ice and a bottle of ‘whisky’ appeared in front of my face. A nice nightcap to help you nod off to sleep delivered to your doorstep, these people know how to treat their passengers! They even had a dog coming on board to pet for those who needed to de-stress. Admittedly, petting a sniffer dog isn’t always the best idea. A friend of mine did it once at an Italian airport and before he knew it, he was being frogmarched away for a strip-search and interrogation. He was just being friendly and thought that the dog was doing the same as it sniffed him. Our dog seemed friendly, unlike the moody police who followed close behind him, checking documents. An old woman in the seat behind us awoke with a start when the dog put his nose next to hers and hoovered around her face. She only complained about it for a few hours.

I wasn’t complaining at all. I’d never been treated so well. There were no pot-holes for the whole journey to bounce you awake every few minutes, and to slow you down for hours. We were about to arrive an hour and a half early! This couldn’t possibly be happening. I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d never had an early arrival in South America before. We’d only just finished the breakfast that was served up to us on little trays with arches to fit nicely over your thighs (as long as those thighs aren’t the size of a hippos). Then we could settle back and watch the cityscape appear right before our eyes. In widescreen.

Brazil and Argentina are very competitive, both vying to be the number one nation of their continent. They compete at football, at financial growth, beef, anything short of war. But as far as the buses go, Brazil – your boys took a hell of a beating! Travelling around Argentina was going to be a doddle if all the journeys were like this. Wasn’t it?

Brazil 0-1 Argentina

You can visit Ricky’s blog at

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Sol Biderman
Arraial DAjuda may play second fiddle to Trancoso in terms of jet-set celebrities, but when it comes to cuisine and scenery, there’s nothing like it.

One of the best places to eat is at the Arraial d’Ajuda Eco Resort located on one of the best sites in the country, a narrow strip of land between the mouth of the Porto Seguro harbor on Rio Buranhem and the ocean. As a result all the rooms have a splendid view of the palm fringed ocean or the palm fringed mouth of the river. The Eco resort is surrounded by remarkable scenery, in my opinion one of the most relaxing venues in the country. Located 10 minutes from the international airport of Porto Seguro, between the Rio Buranhem and the Atlantic Ocean, one arrives by a small ferry boat. The region provides easy access to Trancoso, Caraiva, Praia do Espelho, golf courses, ecological sites and adventure trips.

The Eco Resort restaurant at the tip of what appears to be a tiny peninsula of land has views wherever you sit – either of the lights of Porto Seguro reflected in the mouth of the river or the palms swaying in the ocean breeze. Carne seca, which is not dry, is a northeastern delicacy, while the filet mignon is enriched with several delicious sauces.

In terms of cuisine, the restaurant’s linguado either grilled or baked with a delcious shrimp sauce, is unbeatable. On the floor in colored tiles is the lagartixa, the lizard symbol of the remarkable resort complex.

The buffet restaurant facing the pool offers mouth watering linguado “a la belle meneure,” chopped filet with mushroom sauce, tasty pastas and diet-busting desserts like cupuau mousse (like chocolate), cheesecake, coconut cake, and chocolate mousse with fruit.

After one has digested the sumptuous fare and has swum in the 50 meter long sinuous swimming pool facing the ocean, or has bathed in the ocean 5 meters away, the visitor might want to summon up enough energy to take an excursion. Among the more exotic trips is a boat ride to Itaquena Beach, an isolated spot in the Arraial d’Ajuda district, with soft sandy beaches clear water and a protected mangue, or wetlands area. One can arrange a horseback ride through the beach and Rio dos Frades with the Arraial d’Ajuda eco resort. There are other excursions by boat along the Coast of Discovery, Praia de Pitinga, Trancoso, Rio Buranhem and deep sea fishing, as well as Land Rover trips to Praia do Espelho and Caraiva. Then of course there is the Eco Resort with enormous swimming pools and high toboggans for the brave.

Among the many restaurants in Arraial d’Ajuda are Corujão, a bar and restaurant on the beach, Aipi, in the Beco do Jegue, and Dom Fabrizio, restaurant and pizzaria, and for late night “agito” there is always Girassol.

Previous articles by Sol Biderman:

Brazil: Dolly Moreno – A Great Sculptress of the Americas
Brazil: Stephen Henriques in Manaus
Brazil: The Stunning Abstracts of Renata Rosa
Brazil: Doris Lessing Still Surprises at 86
Brazil Art Review: Raquel Cararo
Brazil Art Review: Guilherme de Faria
Brazilian Art: Rimbaud and the music of colors in Stephen Henriques
Brazilian Art: A tale of 3 Angelicas
Aravena and Aravenism in Chile and Brazil
São Paulo Hotel Guide: L’Hotel

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s long-awaited package of measures aimed at boosting Brazil’s sluggish growth rate to 5% a year is unlikely to succeed, according to Alexandre Schwartsman, the former international director of the Brazilian Central Bank and chief economist for Latin America of ABN AMRO. In an interview with the Brazil Political Comment site, Schwartsman described the package as much ado about (almost) nothing” and criticized it for relying too much on government spending. Schwartsman thinks Lula should put more faith in the Public Private Partnership program which involves the private and public sector. “Congress spent a good couple of years putting together the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework to deal precisely with this sort of problem. The consensus is that the project finally approved does offer the required guarantees for both public and private sectors, which reduces the need for direct government intervention. Moreover, when it comes to infrastructure investment, there are also considerations about regulatory uncertainty that, if addressed, could raise the perceived return for these investments without any need for direct intervention.”

Schwartsman also reveals that he is more confident than the market consensus over prospects for GDP growth this year but less optimistic on interest rates. He also believes Brazil may obtain investment grade by the end of 2007 or early 2008 and discusses his time as a voting member of the monetary policy committee, the Copom, and how he helped Brazilian companies overcome bureaucratic obstacles to invest abroad.

Read the full interview at

Contact: John Fitzpatrick, Editor :Tel (5511) 9156 8366/3088 5233
e-mail: or

By Marilyn Diggs
Here is part 2 of Marilyn’s article about the Pantanal and Bonito. To read part 1 click the relevant link at the end of the article.

Bonito offers adventure, nature and leisure
After a day of hiking, climbing to the top of the highest waterfall in the state (465 ft. or 156 m.) and a savory buffet lunch with typical hearty dishes, we pulled into Bonito, a city of 15,000 that receives tourists from all over the world. Happy with my choice of Zagaia Eco-Resort Hotel, I relaxed in the sauna, jacuzzi and heated pool before relishing a mouth-watering dinner buffet with regional and international cuisine. The hotel’s open-air architecture gives a light, unobtrusive-to-nature presence. Dining is in glass-sided pavilions with a view of the immaculate grounds – home of toucans, Angolan chickens and other birds whose fancy plumage look like they are playing dress-up.

Ambiental Expedies, my touring agency, was efficient, informative and punctual. I was sure that my 3 days would be as well spent as in the Pantanal. The affirmation came with a feast for the eyes: a visit to the Blue Lake Grotto (pictured left, by Ricardo Rodrigues) whose interior is gothic cathedrals formed by stalagmites and stalactites that ends in an aqua blue pool. Later, I hiked around a 328ft/100m deep sinkhole, alive with its own emerald vegetation, where red and green Macaw parrots returning at day’s end, swoop and glide in the open abyss.

As for adventure, the rubber boat ride over waterfalls on the Mimosa River interrupts an otherwise peaceful cruise with roller-coaster excitement. I was glad to know that the enormous anaconda sunning itself in the overhead tree prefers smaller prey to tourists. My favorite outing was the snorkeling and flotation down the Prata River. Dressed in neoprene suits, the current takes the swimmer along its shallow trail of clear turquoise water with curious, shiny tropical fish. A small caiman that shared the lagoon ignored us completely; there was definitely enough fish for all. I was relieved he didn’t know I ate alligator steak for lunch.

I didn’t have the energy to enjoy the tennis court, beach volley courts, soccer field, bike lane, jogging lanes, ecological trails, sport fishing, horseback riding nor the quad biking at the Zagaia Eco-Resort Hotel (pictured right, by Ricardo Rodrigues), during this stay. But then again, one has to save something for a return visit.

Bonito and the Pantanal make a perfect travel combination with their ecological tourism activities and exuberant local landscape. I left the state of Mato Grosso do Sul with a new appreciation for Brazil’s biodiversity and natural wealth. The scenery, sounds, smells, taste and emotions of the Pantanal and Bonito regions all come together in a not-soon-to-be-forgotten sensorial experience that is more than impressive; it is mind-boggling.

Tips for the Pantanal and Bonito

Basic Information
Ambiental Expedies: Information and reservations office: (11) 3819-4600; and email:

Where to stay
Caiman Ecological Refuge (Refgio Ecológico Caiman): Information and reservations office: Rua Campos Bicudo 98, cj. 112, Itaim, São Paulo; (11) 3079-6622, fax (11) 3079-6037; and

Zagaia Eco-Resort Hotel: Rodovia Bonito/ Trs Morros, Km. 0; Toll Free: 0800-99-4400, (67) 255-1280, fax (67) 255-1710; and

Where to eat
Churrascaria Pantanal: Rua Cel. Pilad Rebu 1808, Centro, Bonito; (67) 255-2763, (67) 9953-6373. Alligator steaks, regional fish, steak house, salad, garnishes and dessert buffets. An excellent option for lunch.

Churrascaria e Costelaria do Gacho Gastão: Rua 14 de Julho 775, Centro, Campo Grande; (67) 384-4326, fax (67) 382-2942. You have to fly into Campo Grande, so either on your way to or back home, stop at this steakhouse for their specialty, ribs. Picanha (rump roast) is also divine. Buffet of salads, garnishes and desserts. A favorite of tourists and locals, alike.

Marilyn Diggs is an American living in Brazil for over twenty years. She is a freelance writer, artist, lecturer and author of nine books – two about Brazilian art history. As an art reporter and travel writer she has two monthly columns in Sunday News, Brazil’s English language newspaper that circulates in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. She has written for the Miami Herald and Museum International , a UNESCO publication. Marilyn has a degree in Latin American Studies and is often contracted by intercultural training services to give talks on expat challenges.

Previous articles by Marilyn:

Around Brazil: Adventure in the Pantanal and Bonito Part 1
Spending the Night in the Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu
Brazil: Happy Moonlit Trails To You
Brazil: Paradise Found – Fernando de Noronha

By Jos Henrique Lamensdorf

Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Certified/Sworn Translations in Brazil

1. What is a sworn translation in Brazil?

It is a translation that is legally valid for presentation to Brazilian public sector authorities. In other words, it officially mirrors in Portuguese the contents of the original document it was translated from. It can be called either a Certified Public Translation or a Sworn Translation.

A sworn translation is issued by a professional duly certified as Tradutor Pblico e Intrprete Comercial” (Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter) by the “Junta Comercial” (Business Registering Agency) of his/her state of residence in Brazil, in compliance with the rules and guidelines established for such a translation. Such professional is popularly called a “Tradutor Juramentado” (Sworn Translator), though the term is not official in some Brazilian states.

This translation is always printed in a hard copy, in at least two counterparts: one that will be delivered to the requesting client, and another that will be permanently filed in books kept by the Public Translator. In Brazil there is no such thing as a sworn translation by fax, e-mail, nor any electronic storage media.

The Sworn Translation is what gives legal existence in Brazil to a document written in any language other than Portuguese. Decree # 13,609, of 10/21/1943 states that:

Art. 18 – No book, document, or paper of any kind, issued in a foreign language, will have any effect whatsoever at Federal, State, or local agencies, nor at any level, court or jurisdiction, or entities maintained, controlled or guided by the public branches of government, without being accompanied by its respective translation, done in accordance with these rules.
Sole paragraph – These provisions include notaries of all types, which may not record, issue certificates, or certified copies that are, in whole or in part, written in a foreign language.

In other words, any paper written in a foreign language (i.e. other than Portuguese) has no legal validity in Brazil, unless it is attached to the corresponding sworn translation. Note the “attached”. This means that the original document (or a copy thereof) must be attached to the translation. The latter does not replace the original document.

2. So a sworn translation makes the original document valid in Brazil?

No. It doesn’t give it any additional value to what it already had in its original language. The sworn translation only allows it to have whatever effect it may have, if any, before Brazilian authorities. A counterfeit document will remain equally false after the translation. The Certified Public Translator’s job is just to make it officially understandable, it is not up to him/her to ascertain the authenticity of the document being translated, and s/he is not empowered to certify it.

Likewise, the sworn translation of any document does not make it automatically effective in Brazil. If, for instance, a document entitles someone to do something (e.g. to operate a vehicle, to practice a profession requiring a specific license) within the issuing country, its sworn translation will not grant the bearer the same rights in Brazil. Such rights will be governed by the proper Brazilian laws.

To summarize, the sworn translation of any document does not alter its effect, just renders it acceptable before the Brazilian authorities.

Part 2 next week…

Jos is a certified public translator and interpreter located in São Paulo city. He can be contacted via

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All information herein is given in good faith as a free public service, based on the material available at the time it was compiled. It is merely for elucidative purposes, and there is no liability implied as to its accuracy. Information available on web sites linked here are the sole responsibility of their respective authors. No endorsement whatsoever is implied by these links.”

By Sol Biderman
Guilherme de Faria has a remarkable artistic career, which began in the late 1950s. From the 1960s to the 80s he became one of the worlds most sought after engravers, with nearly 200,000 metal and lithograph engravings sold.

He has also worked in various other genres including aquatint, aqua forte, nankeen, water colors, posters and, especially oils, highly valued by avid collectors in Brazil and abroad.

His featured themes include horses, bulls and languid women in belle poque attire or no attire at all. When asked what she was wearing when posing for a photograph, Marilyn Monroe replied, I was wearing my Chanel Number 5.”
The women in Guilherme de Faria’s engravings and paintings could have replied the same.

His sensitive line and color give the impression of a facile brush stroke, but the facility, the ease belies a complex composition, a master skill of tone, theme and texture.

After completing the engraving cycle, Guilherme de Faria turned to expressionistic oils, which were exhibited in Germany, Switzerland and other countries under the curatorship of Annaliese von Himmelsterna, the brilliant German gallery director from Hamburg. At a later phase he became more romantic and produced figures of soft women in wheat fields that reminded one of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. His landscapes later assume a more staccato style with brilliant strokes of color in compositions that defied reality but never defied the laws of harmony, just as the Fibonacci code presents a mathematical sequence of numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 (each new number found be adding the previous two), which is also found in the petals of roses, the golden rectangle, the height and width of the Acropolis, and in Mr. Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”.

Faria is now concerned with another type of harmony-the verses, stanzas, strophes and rhyme scheme of literature de cordel, folhetos, which he has been writing for the past four years. Many people do not know that Northeastern Brazilian balladeers and ‘cantadores de literatura de cordel’ have created innovative rhyme schemes, some with names like ‘beira mar’ and ‘galope a beira mar,’ which I collected in tape for the Library of Congress.

Faria illustrates the chapbook covers with a style that is both primitive and harmonious; he writes the verses, prints them, illustrates the wooden boxes (in esthetic golden rectangles) and recites the verses in true cordel style. Anyone interested in seeing examples of his amazing folhetos, illustrations and boxes can find them at Alameda Tiete 43 at a store called 50+, at the edge of a small shopping mall at the corner of Padre Joao 50+Manoel and Alameda Tiete.

He is now becoming globalized and is translating verses into English in bi-lingual editions. His chapbooks can be purchased in lovely wooden boxes illustrated with his remarkable simple yet complex designs inspired by the woodcut artists of the Northeast. And if you are lucky to meet him there he might even recite a verse or two or three or four. Make sure you look at his lovely engravings in the best cordel tradition.”

A special interview this week with Kieran Gartlan, the owner of Kieran has lived over a decade in Brazil and has plenty of experience of what it is to be a foreigner in Brazil, particularly from having owned the web site. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

I’m from Co. Monaghan, in the Rep. of Ireland. I was bitten by the travel bug right out of college and lived for periods in New York, London and Paris, before making my way to Brazil and settling in São Paulo. I graduated from University College Dublin with a Masters degree in Economics in 1990, but have worked at everything from builder to banker, whatever pays the bills. In Brazil I started out teaching English, moved on to translating, worked in banking before finally becoming a financial reporter. I founded in 2001, but continued in journalism to pay the bills. I currently work for a US agricultural news agency called DTN, reporting on Brazil’s soybean sector.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I arrived in Brazil in 1994. I had been living in Paris for a couple of years when a friend invited me on a round the world trip. After crossing Europe, Asia and Australia I had planned on spending a few months in Buenos Aires to learn Spanish. I wasn’t impressed with BA (it was like a poorer version of Paris) and decided to see more of South America. I packed a small bag, leaving most of my luggage in Argentina, and headed for Brazil. Twelve years later I am still here.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

When I arrived in July 1994, Brazil had just won the World Cup and there was still a buzz in the air. The country had also just introduced the Real Plan and there was a lot of optimism regarding the economy. One consequence of the new currency though was that shop keepers never seemed to have change, you would get a hand full of candy instead of coins. I was most impressed by how friendly and chatty people were. When waiting at a bus stop somebody would always start chatting to me. It didn’t seem to matter that I didn’t speak Portuguese, they just keep talking.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Family and friends, but I usually get back once a year to matar saudades”. I miss Irish tea and sausages as well as affordable Guinness, but in general I have become very “Brazilianized.” I tend to miss more stuff about Brazil when I am not here.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

It has been mostly positive, but dealing with officials and some petty theft has been the only frustrating experiences. After just a few days in Brazil I had my few belongings stolen while on an overnight bus trip to Salvador. I was literally left with just the clothes on my back.

My first contact with the federal police was also a disaster. When going to renew my tourist visa (which I assumed was for 90 days) it turned out I had only been given a 7 day visa when I entered Brazil. I had to leave the country right away, pay some fines and fill out a lot of paperwork, but it eventually worked out.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

On a personal level, the highlight was my marriage to my wife Rose, which was a beautiful ceremony at the Botanic gardens in São Paulo. We had an Irish piper and a Brazilian samba band. Also the birth of my twins Ryan and Naomi, who are now a year and a half, and quite a handful.

On a more general note, my first time to Rio was a magical experience. I was nervous before arriving because of all the stories of violence etc. so I guess this heightened the emotion. I remember sitting along Copacabana beach at the end of a warm afternoon sipping a caipirinha just watching life go by and thinking how great it was.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

I like that most people are good humored and friendly. I also like the weather.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

Although I am normally not a big seafood fan, my favorite dish is the “Moqueca de Camarao” at Soteropolitana a Baiano restaurant in Vila Madalena. I also like Oba in Jardins, Fogo de Chao and the Japanese restaurant Sushi-Ya in Pinheiros.

8. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
A friend of mine, who had just arrived in Brazil, was invited to spend a weekend at the beach. The house was in a slightly wooded area and walking back from the beach someone asked him what he thought of Brazil. He said he was surprised he hadn’t seen any snakes yet, as per the stereotype. Later that evening he showered in a little outhouse behind the main building, and when he was wrapping himself with the towel he felt something long and wet against his leg. He dropped the towel and ran screaming into the garden, completely naked. His Brazilian friends, who were sitting around having a drink, were first surprised, but later thought it hilarious when they realized what had happened. He had accidentally wrapped the rubber hose, standard on most Brazilian showers, around his leg!!

9. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

As Bono once said the Irish are Brazilians who can’t dance. There are actually a lot of similarities between the two countries if you forget about weather. Both nationalities are very friendly and welcoming and like to have a good time.

10. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

Before coming to Brazil I had no clue about Portuguese. in fact I don’t think I had ever heard a word of Portuguese. I was surprised that very few people here speak English. I remember the first few weeks going to restaurants and pointing at things on the menu with no idea of what I was ordering (luckily I eat almost everything).

Now my Portuguese is fluent, but I still have problems with the difference in pronunciation between oleo (oil) and olho (eye). I remember getting strange looks once in a supermarket when I asked if they sold “eyes”, and when I tried to explain further saying it was for cooking they sent me down the street to the butchers.

11. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Relax. Leave your stress at home. A good sense of humour will get you a long way in Brazil. Be prepared that some things take a long time or don’t work here. Always use a “despachante” (courier) when possible, this is the best money you will ever spend. I find it odd that a lot of foreigners are reluctant to spend money on this sort of service and insist on filling out forms and dealing with the bureaucracy themselves, and then later complain about how difficult it is. Also try and live within walking distance from work to avoid stress with traffic and public transport.

12. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Go downtown and walk around. This is a different São Paulo than Jardins, Brooklyn or Morumbi. It is normally safe during the day as long as you don’t stand out too much.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia