By Jose Santiago
July 31, 2007

There has been an increase of purchases of rural areas by foreign individuals. Nonetheless, pursuant to Law number 5.709/71, there are many restrictions for a foreign person or foreign corporation when comes to the purchase of rural areas in Brazil.

The most relevant restrictions are the following:

1) Only foreign individuals (either persons or corporations) with official Brazilian residency can acquire rural properties, limited in extension by the equivalent of 50 land modules (maximum extension limit for a single property, or group of properties summed up), each land module may vary from state to state or from city to city, therefore a complete due diligence must be done prior to any purchase.

2) The land must be put to productive use.

3) The sum of the properties owned by foreigners in the same municipality must not exceed 25% of its total area, thus the necessity for a research within City Officials and Real Estate Registry.

4) If the area is larger than 3 modules, the acquisition is conditioned by previous INCRA approval. If the property has more than 20 land modules, a project of use must also be presented for previous analysis.

5) Such approval must be mentioned in the title escritura” otherwise the title cannot be transferred nor registered.

These are only the summary of the most relevant rules, nonetheless there are more rules which every foreign must pay close attention; otherwise the transaction will be considered null and void.
Should you need further information, feel free to email me at

Jose C. Santiago, J.D.
Attorney at Law & Licensed Real Estate Agent
Offices in Brazil and United States

DISCLAIMER: All information herein given is merely for elucidative purposes. Real Estate transactions always have many variables and details that differ from one to another. In case of doubts regarding your transaction, always consult with your own attorney.

Previous articles by Jose:

Brazil: Having a Child Abroad for US Citizens
Careful When Buying Pre-Construction Properties in Brazil!
Understanding Brazil: Sending Money Home from a Real Estate Deal
The Closing Process in Brazil
Permanent Visas in Brazil
Brazil: International Money Transfers
Brazil: Squatters Rights (Usucapião) – Be Aware!
Brazil: Annual Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number Valid
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 3
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 2
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 1
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 4
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 3
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 2
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 1
8 Reasons to Invest in Brazil’s Real Estate
The Brazilian Resident Investor Program for Foreigners
Brazil: Annual Required Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number
Legal Aspects of Acquiring Real Estate in Brazil

By Stephen Thompson
July 30, 2007

This is the life I’ve always wanted. Capoeira on the beach, or a pelada with our Brazilian football coach, followed by a refreshing agua de coco on the veranda, looking at the hills across the sun-sparkled sea, while listening to a favourite bossa nova or MPB track. Sweet papaya for breakfast! Which car-free island do you think we live on? I’ll give you a clue; we are just on the edge of the tropics. It’s not Ilha Grande, it’s Lamma, just off the Chinese Mainland and my wife calls it Hong Kong de Janeiro”.

Give me a rug, she says. She’s an affectionate woman, but she still confuses her H’s and R’s. When we first met, I used to tease her with tongue twisters like: “the hairy rat in the red hat had red hot”.

We get along a lot better these days. Our stay in São Paulo nearly ended our marriage, because I couldn’t get a job in São Paulo. My idea of Brazilian life is the same as a lot of Brazilians; to spend a lot of time relaxing at the beach, working out at the gym, maybe enjoying the odd kickabout or samba. I quickly fell in love with the natural beauty of Brazil, and I wanted to enjoy it. I would have compromised with a job in São Paulo, if I could have earned enough to support myself. But teaching English for a school seemed to offer survival rather than a life, in a concrete jungle with all that beautiful nature squeezed out of it, or concreted over.

My wife got a great job, working for the “Museum of the Person”, a pioneering NGO which collects life stories of Brazilians from all walks of life. You can read about this innovative virtual museum at At the moment there is a video documentary on the site about the story of the immigration to Brazil of the 200,000 Chinese who live in Brazil today, and another about Russian immigrants. This ethnic and cultural diversity is one of the things which makes Brazil such a fascinating place to live in.

Here in Hong Kong, the flora, fauna and natural beauty is similar Rio de Janeiro, but the society is not. There are no favelas and little crime. Half an hour from our peaceful island is one of Asias most dynamic cities, and the economy is booming, pushed along by the mainland Chinese juggernaut to the north. And many Brazilians have come here to take advantage of the economic opportunites.

Last month, on a flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, I heard our captain’s Brazilian accented English, and for a moment imagined I was back in Brazil. But the air stewardess informed me that Eric is just one of a number of Brazilian pilots who now work for Chinese Southern.

In another posting, I’ve described the best Brazilian churrasco in China, but in fact Baxishaokao, as it is known in Mandarin Chinese, is very popular all over China.

A few miles across the border is the manufacturing centre of Dongguan, where over 3000 Brazilian leather workers and shoe designers are teaching the Chinese to make shoes. Brazilians selling out, or just chasing the normal dream of making enough money to have a decent life when they return to Brazil?

And the Brazil connection doesn’t stop there. In the year I’ve been in China, I’ve met samba dancers, dance teachers, capoeira teachers, football coaches and even the whole staff of an airplane factory set up by Embraer, the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer. These Brazilians were amongst the most miserable I have ever met, constantly complaining about living in the Siberian temperatures of Harbin, China’s northernmost provincial capital.

And there are more opportunities for Gringoes here to. China has an insatiable demand for native English speakers and the pay for teaching and writing work, is usually better than Brazil. And the money goes a lot further too.

I spend the weekend in Hong Kong and the week at my new job as the Marketing Manager for Xpress Print Holdings, a Singaporean company which has cornered the regional market in Financial printing but which nearly went bust during the dot com bubble. These days it has made a come back by breaking into the potentially huge China printing market, financial and otherwise. My wife stays in Hong Kong looking after our daughter and teaching Portuguese privately.

And I spend the weekend on Lamma Island, teaching my daughter to swim.

So we count ourselves lucky, enjoying the best of best of both worlds. If you want to read more about Lamma Island, go to

Stephen Thompson lived in Brazil from 2001 to 2005. He is married to a Brazilian and has a daughter. He works for Xpress Holdings, a Singaporean printing group, as their Shenzhen Marketing Manager.

To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:

Brazil: Stolen Computer
My First Business Failure in Brazil Part 2
My First Business Failure in Brazil Part 1
Getting your Brazilian Steak Fix in China
Brazil: Birth and Dying
Imaginary Voyages to Brazil
Brazil: Probably the Best Country in the World to Live In
Great Brazilian Inventions: The Kilo Restaurant
Brazil: Things you wanted to know… and will never know!
Brazil: Expensive, Trendy, and Extremely Beautiful
Brazil: Not Really British Enough
Package Holidays to Brazil are Back On Track
Brazil: Reverse Culture Shock
Brazil: The Legal System
Brazil: Saying Goodbye to a Bilingual Kid
How to get Brazilian Citizenship
Getting Work in Brazil
Acquiring and Running a Small Business in Brazil
Brazil: To Free Or Not To Free
Brazil: Trail Biking in Chapada Diamantinha
Brazil: So Near, but So Far Apart
How to Get Into University in Brazil
The Pleasure of Driving a Car in Brazil
Brazil: The Bairro of Flamengo in Ro de Janeiro
Brazil: The Information Technology Law
Managing a Brazilian bank account
Brazil’s Middle Class Ruled By Political Apathy

By Joe Lopes
July 30, 2007

Here is part 3 of Joe’s article linked with the recent anniversary, on July 11, of the birth of Brazilian-born composer Antonio Carlos Gomes. The article is from a chapter in Joe’s soon-to-be-concluded book, ‘Brazil’s Fat Lady Can’t Sing’, covering the life and career of the country’s own uniquely Brazilian version of Verdi and Puccini.

Down on His Luck
In 1880, the disillusioned and economically hard-pressed composer returned to Brazil, where he set to work on several new projects, but all were prematurely aborted for one reason or another, thus repeating a pattern of fits-and-starts he first displayed back in Milan.

Traveling to and from Italy, Gomes put the finishing touches to his next opera, Lo Schiavo (O Escravo, or The Slave,” 1889), which debuted in Brazil to wide acclaim. The original scenario had called for an African male title character fighting for the abolition of slavery in Brazil around the year 1801, a powerfully “authentic” tale-too authentic, in some critics’ eyes; he was soon transformed into a Tamoio Indian at the insistence of librettist Rodolfo Paravicini and publisher Giulio Ricordi, in deference to the continuing European taste for “exoticism” in art music.

Surprisingly, the composer complied with their request and acquiesced without a fight. The catch, however, was that the opera was never performed on the Continent in Gomes’ lifetime.

Along with its predecessor Il Guarany, Lo Schiavo is but one of only two works in the entire active repertoire that have even treated or addressed Brazilian-based subject matter. The superiority, inspiration and melodic advancement Gomes showed in his writing of Lo Schiavo, dedicated to “Her Serene Highness, Princess Dona Isabel,” who had earlier signed the Golden Law (on May 13, 1888) into existence abolishing the institution of slavery, led the Emperor to promise him the prestigious position of director of the Music Conservatory in Rio.

Unfortunately for Gomes, the atmosphere in his home country was rife with revolution, and, by late 1889, the Proclamation of the Republic was all but a fait accompli. The aging sovereign Dom Pedro II, the very symbol of Brazilian aristocracy and the ruling elite, was deposed and unceremoniously shipped off to Portugal.

As a recipient of the benevolence and generosity of the now-exiled monarch, Gomes lost his yearly stipend, which he had been accustomed to receiving for nearly three decades. Because of his diminished economic status and personal connection to his royal patron, he was forced to leave Brazil, in 1890, for Italy, where he went to fulfill a contract with La Scala for a new work, Condor (the composer rather preferred the title Odala), given in 1891 to much local fanfare but very little monetary recompense – and even less critical regard, despite its having racked up a respectable number of performances.

Sadly, the year ended with the death in France of his most ardent supporter, Dom Pedro, thus sealing the composer’s financial fate.

Final part later this 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:

Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 2
Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 1
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 6
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 5
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 4
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 3
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 2
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 2
Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 1
Misunderstanding Brazil’s National Anthem: A Crash-Course in the Hymn of the Nation
Brecht, Weill & Buarque: The Brazilian Play’s the Thing! Part 1
Theater, the Brecht of Life: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera, Part II
A Walk on the Weill Side: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera Part 2
A Walk on the Weill Side: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera Part 1
Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 5
Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 4
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?

July 27, 2007

Meet David Johnson, from Bermuda, who is married to a Brazilian and visits Brazil twice a year. David is a motor sports fanatic and closet gourmet chef. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of her 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 Bermuda, one of the last remaining British colonies and a 22sq mile speck in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m 45 and married to Roseli with one son Ayrton Max who is 8 years old. I co-own a company that specializes in low-voltage systems integration like CCTV, building access and security. I spent a good portion of my childhood in the Bahamas as my Father worked on various construction projects on Grand Bahama and the surrounding islands. I also lived in the UK for 2 years for the same reasons. I’m a motor sports fanatic and a closet gourmet chef.
I own a house on Praia Dura, Ubatuba SP and visit at least twice a year for a month or so.

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

I met my beautiful wife Roseli in Bermuda where she has lived most of her life and I tagged along on the annual family trip home to São Paulo in Dec 96. Roselis’ parents have a home in Mandaqui close to Horto Florestal.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

The view of the city from the airplane was just astounding and the taxi ride from Guarulhos was an eye opener. I’ve traveled extensively in North America and the Caribbean so I wasn’t too shocked at the obvious favelas and the disheveled Rio Tiete (which has improved steadily since) but the shear size and complexity of São Paulo was both daunting and exciting at the same time. Of course family and friends went out of their way to make me feel welcome and we we’re off on excursions to the feira and Horto and Shopping Centres almost immediately. São Paulo, like all big cities I guess, offers the best and worst of everything on the planet at any time of the day.

We spent the week of New Years Eve at a friends’ beach house in Santos (Praia Grande) and drove up and down the coast on day trips. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Litoral Norte and knew as soon as I saw the little beach towns around São Sebastiao that this was where I wanted to have my own little piece of Brasil.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Bermuda is very small, intensively developed, and has the Anglican penchant for neatness and order. It is a very safe society where you see the same faces daily and draw some comfort from that. My family is here (mostly) and I suppose they are the only thing I miss when I’m in Brasil. Oh, and my high-speed internet connection!

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

I suppose I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had family or friends to help with the things that would frustrate someone flying solo. Getting a driving permit, buying my house or car or having appliances delivered is always accomplished for the right fee and I’m cool with all of that. If I had to run a company here or deal with the civil service in any way I think I would be constantly frustrated.

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

Every trip to Brasil has been memorable in some way but my first trip to Ubatuba in 2002 is by far the most. Having purchased my first car I made the decision to drive to Ubatuba after some research on the internet. We loaded up the luggage, dropped the rest of the family off at the bus station and we were off. I was at the wheel with my two brothers-in-law as co-pilots. The Marginal Tiete was a daunting challenge that transformed into the superb Ayrton Senna/Carvalho Pinto and breathtaking Oswaldo Cruz descent into Ubatuba. The trip was fabulous; we scouted real estate and found an agent who showed us some great houses but none that fit. We had to return to São Paulo for a few days but arranged a day to view some more properties and found our present house on Praia Dura. A last-minute trip to show the house to my wife and mother-in-law was planned for the last full day before our return to Bermuda. Of course I’d neglected to secure my driving permit based on my brother-in-laws’ advice (always a mistake) and on the drive down to Caraguatatuba encountered a Policia Militar check-point. Confidently handing over my international license and passport didn’t do the trick and I was ordered out of the car. My father-in-law leapt into action and a protracted negotiation ensued. Threats of a lock-up and mid-week court date vaporized with the appropriate donation and promise not to drive and we left with a hearty hand-shake. I still glance nervously at that point on each return trip.

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

Of course the people are wonderful but the thing I like the most is the wild open space. There isn’t a single spot in Bermuda where you can’t see some sign of civilization or something man-made or planted. The variety of fresh food is amazing as well, everything in Bermuda is imported.

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

I’ve been to so many restaurants since I’ve been coming here that a favorite is hard to single out but stopping for lunch at the Fazenda Comadre on Rodovia Tamoios is really good on a sunny afternoon.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Once when I was shopping for groceries in Ubatuba with my Bermudian nephew in tow I stopped at the butchers counter to get some steaks. My nephew had been complimenting me on my Portuguese all day (he’s easy to impress I guess) and I was feeling pretty cocky when I asked for the steaks to be cut bem forte” instead of “largo”. The butcher smiled and the 2 old ladies in line behind me cackled and hissed “alemao!” My nephew called me ‘Alemao’ for the rest of the trip.

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

As mentioned before Bermuda is tiny and buttoned-down in every respect. The Afro-Caribbean influence on our culture is our only splash of exuberance.
Brasil is huge and out-going and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

11. 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?

I’m getting better and better but I don’t think I’ll make real progress until I can stay for longer than one month at a time. I understand most direct questions and can reply most of the time but I struggle to follow and participate in group conversations and my verbs are always wrong. I’ve been studying the Rosetta Stone CD’s lately and am pleased with my progress.
As an interesting side-note, there is a very prominent Azorean community in Bermuda and Portuguese is heard everywhere, but the Azores are to Brasil as Scotland is to Texas!

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

Learn some basic Portuguese and immerse yourselves in Brasil. It’s not home so don’t get hung-up on comparisons.

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

In São Paulo you have to:
1. Go to a football game.
2. Visit the open-air car market at Anhembi on a Sunday. (the number of cars for sale is staggering)
3. Eat at a Churrascaria on a Sunday afternoon.
4. Go to the Rodizio do Pizza at the Policia Militar base in Tucaruvi. Endless chopp and pizza with live entertainment!
5. Drive up to Campinas and ride on the ‘Maria Fumaca’ restored steam train ride to Jaguaraina.

David can be contacted at dcj_2tech at yahoo dot com

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:

Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
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

By Tamashin
July 27, 2007

I have been asked by several contributors on the Forum to get together a few of my true experiences of living in Brazil and put them on the home page and/or newsletter.

The driving test.
I didn’t actually sit the driving test, though some wag suggested that I had to sit a psychological test. Whether that’s because he had driven with me or it was a requirement of Brazilian law I wasn’t able to discern. Suffice it to say that it appeared to be the correct thing to do according to the clerk at the delegacia (police station).

I turned up at the testing centre and spent half an hour filling in a form aided and confused by two clerks. That should have been the test” I thought as I was led into a doctors consulting room. After going through all the questions on the form, again, she gave me an eye test. So far so good.

I was then taken into another room with a desk and chair. After sitting, it was explained to me that several diagrams would be placed in front of me. I would have to draw them.
“A doddle” I thought except that I would only have ten seconds to look at them and then the diagram would be covered. Not too bad though until she said the next batch would have to be done with first the left eye closed, then the right eye closed. It felt like doing a spirograph drawing in the dark.
She took the drawings away showing no emotion.

I was then led into another room which was painted a dark brown. In the centre of the room was a chair not unlike those you would see in a dentists surgery.
I made myself comfortable. In front of me was an octopus like metal frame like you see in those home theatre adverts. Instead of speakers at the end of the arms there were a series of coloured lights. In front of me was a panel with two buttons on it, one for each hand. On each foot rest there was also a button. I was told that a colour was allocated to each hand and foot. The lights would flash on and off and I had to press the buttons accordingly. Would I like to try? Of course, and the dummy run went perfectly.
Well it would because it was so slow. Then she ups the place a little, still manageable though there was now a menacing bead of sweat making life awkward. Lights are now flashing faster, I am leaning forward a bit and raised a little out of my seat for greater concentration and an inconvenient, nervous wind, but I am doing it, going great guns when, all of a sudden the lights go off.
It was like “close encounters” meets “Star Wars”. The lights were going crazy, sweat was pouring off me, I wanted to stay in the seat and get out at the same time as I twisted and turned in reaction to the phase of lights. I must have looked like “Meat Loaf” in a 70s disco.

After what appeared to be an eternity of “Star Wars” activity pressing buttons with hands and feet, the machine switches off, lights go on and its over.

After waiting a couple of days you go back for your answer. It cost me R$65 and I didn’t have to do it, but it was absolutely a worthwhile experience.
By the way, I passed.

Tamashin is a retired civil engineer who first came to Brazil in 1993 to help build a community centre for street children in Rio. He now lives in João Pessoa with his Brazilian wife and children.

Previous articles by Tamashin:

Brazil: Tamashin’s Tales – The Driving License
Brazil: Tamashin’s Tales – The Loo
Brazil: Tamashin’s Tales – The Rat
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 9
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 8
Brazil: Am I Concerned?
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 7
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 6
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 5
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 4
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 3
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 2
Popular Brazilian Expressions Part 1
Around Brazil: João Pessoa Part 5
Around Brazil: João Pessoa Part 4
Around Brazil: João Pessoa Part 3
Around Brazil: João Pessoa Part 2
Around Brazil: João Pessoa Part 1
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 6
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 5
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 4
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 3
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 2
Brazil: The Great North Road Part 1

July 26, 2007

This is the first edition of our new column called Ask a Brazilian”. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Here is the first question from one of our readers.

What a great idea for a column!! I read in about Brazilian showers and that live electrical wires next to the shower head can give an electrical shock while taking a shower. Is this true and if so, then why doesn’t this change? I want to visit friends in Brazil without anything shocking in their bathroom and I want to be prepared. Thanks.

Oi Marion,

That is an interesting question. It’s not very easy to answer, but we are here to help, so let’s talk about the Brazilian shower.

First of all remember we are in a tropical country, and temperatures here are high, so this kind of system, whereby water is heated as it passes through an electric coil in the shower head, would probably not work in the colder northern hemisphere.

The electrical shower head system is common in Brazil, for the simple reason that it is very cheap. You can get a basic model for around $20.00
While they might seem strange at first, you shouldn’t be afraid of them. There are very few cases of people getting serious shocks or injury from showers. Mostly if the equipment is properly installed and maintained you will never have any problems.
Showers have three electrical wires, one of them, usually yellow and green, is the earth wire, called “fio-terra”, and is responsible for conducting electricity out, avoiding any serious risk. If your shower is properly earthed then you won’t have a problem. Also the wires should be isolated and not exposed. Pay attention to that.
Also you should avoid adjusting the shower settings while the shower is switched on. Wearing flip-flops while taking a shower is also a good idea.
Also according to advice from an electrician it is difficult to be electrocuted through contact from falling water (as in the case of a shower) as the water meets the air before hitting you, which isolates electricity (maybe we could get some confirmation on this from our physics readers!!).

If you’re still afraid, come to Brazil and ask your friends to take you to the Northeast – you won’t need any electrically heated water there!!

Vanessa T. Bauer

Are there any burning questions you have about São Paulo or Brazil in general, or other issues that you’re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to with “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

By Colin Prichard
July 26, 2007

The Scottish Link Pipe Band” of São Paulo will be competing this year in ” The World Pipe Band Championships” in Scotland next month. This is a first for a South American Pipe Band!!!

The band will travel to Scotland on July 29 and return to Brazil on Aug. 15. They will compete in four competitions as well as the World championships to be held on Saturday, August 11 at Glasgow Green. They will compete with 47 other bands from around the world, including Pakistan, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada.

Once again our grateful thanks for all the support given by the St. Andrew Society & all of you….we will try our very best…. you can bet on this… !!!

Colin Pritchard
Drum Major & Treasurer
Scottish Link Pipe Band
S.Paulo – Brasil.

We are in Heat 3 and will play at 10:06 AM


Grade 4B – Heat 1
01. 09.00 Cleland Memorial
02. 09.06 Muirkirk and District
03. 09.12 Moneygore
04. 09.18 The Pipes and Drums 1st Royal Engineers – Sweden
05. 09.24 Ashbourne and District
06. 09.30 Upper Crossgare
07. 09.36 Fraserburgh RBL
08. 09.42 Burntisland and District
09. 09.48 Bo’ness RBL
10. 09.54 St Francis
11. 10.00 Black Bottle Isle of Islay
12. 10.06 Badenoch and Strathspey
13. 10.12 Northern Constabulary Community
14. 10.18 Stockbridge
15. 10.24 Nottinghamshire Police

Adjudicators – D Clark and S Steele

Grade 4B – Heat 2
16. 09.00 Copenhagen Caledonia – Denmark
17. 09.06 Bellaghy
18. 09.12 Uddingston Strathclyde
19. 09.18 Patiala – Pakistan
20. 09.24 Denny and Dunipace
21. 09.30 Prestonpans RBL
22. 09.36 Mesa Caledonian – USA
23. 09.42 Clan MacBeth – Netherlands
24. 09.48 The Sons of Scotland – Canada
25. 09.54 University of Bedfordshire
26. 10.00 Stamperland
27. 10.06 Antrim
28. 10.12 Isle of Cumbrae RBLS
29. 10.18 City of Rome – Italy
30. 10.24 Ellon and District RBL
31. 10.30 Centennial State – USA

Adjudicators – J Hutcheon and J Kennedy

Grade 4B – Heat 3
32. 09.00 Jaffery – Pakistan
33. 09.06 Irvine Memorial
34. 09.12 Williamwood
35. 09.18 Irvine and District
36. 09.24 Bready Ulster Scots
37. 09.30 Mariposa – Canada
38. 09.36 Royal Burgh of Tain
39. 09.42 Methil and District
40. 09.48 Clydevalley
41. 09.54 Hollymount, Woodgrange and District
42. 10.00 Rubislaw
43. 10.06 Scottish Link – Brazil
44. 10.12 Greater Manchester County Fire Service
45. 10.18 East Kilbride
46. 10.24 Lanark and District
47. 10.30 Dr Wright Memorial

Adjudicators – L Ingram and C Mordaunt

The Grade 4B Final will commence approx at 14.30.

By John Fitzpatrick
July 25, 2007


Few people outside Brazil have heard of Antonio Carlos Magalhes who died on July 20 at the age of 79. However, he had national recognition in Brazil and was universally referred to simply as ACM. He was probably the most influential politician of his generation and for over 40 years virtually ran his home state of Bahia. He started his political career as a follower of President Juscelino Kubitschek but served under the military and then switched to democracy in the early 80s.

He was also very close to Roberto Marinho, the founder of the TV Globo network, who wielded enormous influence during and after the military regime. Magalhes was offensive, vindictive, arrogant, unprincipled, tyrannical and intolerant. He was also accused of being corrupt and even violent. Despite these failings, he was idolized by his supporters – the Carlistas – and grudgingly admired by his enemies. Magalhes was a throwback to the kind of politician from the Northeast, known as a colonel”, who commanded with an iron fist and was as much a master of all he surveyed as the big landowners had been during the time of slavery. In 2000, he boasted that he “owned the governor, the three senators, 95% of the mayors, 30 of the Congressmen” in Bahia. That may have been the case then but his power was greatly diminished in his final years and it would be good to think that he was the last of his breed.

Antonio Carlos Magalhes power was rooted in Bahia but he also operated at national level and made sure that Bahia was always looked after. The petrochemical hub at Camaari, which was established in 1978, was one of his major accomplishments. Magalhes also helped develop the state by attracting industrial investment, preserving its architectural and cultural heritage and promoting tourism. According to Veja magazine Bahia’s GDP rose from US$ 10 billion in 1971 when Magalhes became governor to US$ 52 billion in 2006, an increase of 420%, higher than that of the country and the Northeast. At the same time, he managed to turn himself into a multimillionaire by using his position as communications minister from 1985 to 1990 to establish a broadcasting and newspaper network and construction company which not only brought in money but allowed him to use the media to attack his enemies and laud himself.

Magalhes was close to every president except Itamar Franco whom he disliked but he could never be regarded as reliable ally and generally ended up falling out with anyone he could not control. Tributes were led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso who singled out Magalhes leading role as Senate chairman during his mandates. ACM was ferocious with those he regarded as his enemies and in 2001 hounded the then chairman of the Senate, Jader Barbalho, out of office over allegations of corruption.

However, Magalhes himself was forced to resign his Senate seat later that year when it was revealed that he had broken rules governing voting secrecy. By resigning, he avoided expulsion and losing his political rights and was re-elected to the Senate by his followers in 2002. Despite breaking the rules he was supposed to uphold as chairman of the Senate, he became a member of the justice and ethics committee.

Although Magalhes expressed no desire to be president himself, he had hoped to found a political dynasty. His son Luis Eduardo, a former chairman of the House of Representatives, was groomed to become a presidential candidate but died of a heart attack in 1998 aged only 43. The younger Magalhes was a very different character, more conciliatory and smooth, and was a close ally of President Cardoso. Magalhes’s grandson, Antonio Carlos Magalhes Neto, came to prominence as a Congressman two years ago when the bribes-for vote scandal, known as the mensalão, broke. He was a fierce critic of the government and used the televised hearings to gain national recognition. ACM’s aim was to have his grandson stand as governor of Bahia in 2010 but ACM Neto will find this a much more difficult task without his grandfather’s presence. Bahia is not a hereditary captaincy of the Magalhes clan and ACM suffered a major setback when his group lost the governorship of Bahia to the PT’s Jaques Wagner.

This does not mean that the family will not still play a leading role in the state and the country. As happened when Antonio Carlos Magalhes stepped down from the Senate in 2001, in death he has been succeeded by Antonio Carlos Magalhes Junior, his son.

Following Brazilian politics can be frustrating at times but it is never boring, not with characters like ACM, Lula, Leonel Brizola, Kubitschek, Getulio Vargas, Fernando Collor and even Jose Sarney around. I have written much about ACM over the last 12 years and must confess I will miss having him around. For more, read my article “Bahia – Land of Light or Heart of Darkness?” at the following link on Brazil Political Comment

John Fitzpatrick 2007

John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish writer and consultant with long experience of Brazil. He is based in São Paulo and runs his own company Celtic Comunicaes. This article originally appeared on his site He can be contacted at

By Rob Cavallini
July 25, 2007

Over the coming few weeks we will be serialising the first chapter of Rob Cavallini’s book – Play Up Corinth – A history of the Corinthian Football Club 1882-1939.
In 1910 the English Corinthians travelled to Brazil to play a tour of six games, on what proved to be a historic visit. As a result of this visit a group of Brazilians were inspired to name their new club Corinthians Paulista, some say at the suggestion of the father of Brazilian football, Charles Miller. The English Corinthian’s, have their own proud and unique tale; inflicting Manchester United’s record defeat (11-3), inspiring Real Madrid to adopt their white shirts, beating most of the leading professional teams and touring the world. Play Up Corinth attempts to tell this tale of the gentleman amateur team who became one of the most famous English teams. If you wondered where the term ‘Corinthian Spirit’ originated from in regard to sportsmanlike conduct read on.

Chapter One
The Birth of Corinth

The Corinthian Football Club was founded at the beginning of the 1882/83 season.

‘In the seven years before,…Scotland had beaten England six times in international matches. The Football Association was much concerned to discover the sources of weakness in the representative English side, and N.L. Jackson, was then honorary assistant secretary of that body recognised that while Scottish players had frequent opportunities of playing together, very few of the English players even met on the same ground, except in the international matches.’ 1

This bold statement opened the last published history of Corinthian Football Club when it appeared in 1932. To establish a club side to improve the fortunes of a faltering national side is one of the most ambitious aims of any club ever formed, yet this is what the club’s inspirational founder N.L. ‘Pa’ Jackson tried to do and achieved. From 1885, England improved dramatically in tune with the fortunes of the Corinthian Football Club itself. In the following nine games between England and Scotland, four were won, three drawn and only two ended in defeats and it is important to note that between 1883 and 1890, of the 88 caps awarded against Scotland, 52 were Corinthians.

There were and are differing opinions on the degree of success this plan achieved as Lieutenant Colonel John Grahame stated in a letter to The Times at the time of the Club’s centenary.

‘Up to and including 1887, 16 matches had been played between Scotland and England. The results stood- Scotland 10 wins, England two, drawn games four.

In the period 1880-1887 the figures read Scotland six wins, England none: drawn games two.

Thus in the first five years of the Corinthian Football Club, England did not win a single match against Scotland. On the other hand, from 1888-1895 Scotland won once, two games were drawn, England winning the remainder: 1887 was the last year, I think, when the amateur element was the majority in the England side against Scotland.

The growth of professionalism in England resulted in a constant drain of the best players from Scotland to strengthen the ranks of English professional clubs, and up to 1896 the S.F.A. resolutely declined to include those who were afterwards known as ‘Anglo Scots’ in a Scottish International eleven.

In 1896 ‘Anglo Scots’ were played for the first time, and in the next seven years Scotland won three matches and lost two.

I would therefore maintain that the ‘slump’ in Scottish football referred to was chiefly due:- (a) to the fact that many of the best Scottish players had joined English clubs; (b) that until 1896 the S.F.A. refused to select such players to represent their country’.2

It should also be pointed out that although the Lieutenant Colonel had a point, Corinthians played all the top professional clubs in England regularly and faced many of the exiled Scottish players that he refers to. As Corinthian F.C. beat these clubs regulary even with their Scottish players, then this is perhaps a romanticised or prejudiced summary which does not do the club justice.

The author can be contacted at
The book is available at

By Teacher Claudia
July 24, 2007
Dear readers, due to a recent poll indicating your wishes for more frequent Portuguese classes, I have programmed a series of articles based on my experience with foreign students and their Portuguese language needs, which basically summarize into grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and varied texts.
I was going to start today with a grammar tip, but I must ask your permission to alter the sequence.
Once again, there has been a most terrible plane accident here, and I feel an urge to write on that, so we’ll work with some recent news today.
Last Tuesday a plane coming from Porto Alegre to São Paulo could not stop, lost control, crossed an avenue and hit a building, exploding immediately.
More than 200 hundred people died, and the images on TV, photos on newspapers and a general feeling of sorrow have taken over the city I live in.
People who live in the area around the accident were asked to leave their houses, as there is a gas station on the same block, and the risk of a further explosion still remains.
São Paulo’s firemen have worked since, looking for bodies and anything that might help to understand what happened.
I believe you all know the chaos in aviation Brazil has been in since last September, but nothing compares to this tragedy. It’s almost a nightmare, when we think it’s finally over something even worse happens.
What good is it, to have a little more money, to be able to fly, if there aren’t proper airports, if flight controllers live in an over-time work routine, if no one takes responsibility?
Far beyond than finding whose the blame is, what Brazilians request is a change in attitude, in ethics, a rescue of respect towards the population.
Our politicians, in times of campaign, like to call Brazil an emerging country.
We’re not that, unfortunately.
We’re the third world, and if we don’t watch out, soon we’ll start the fourth.
Our currency is stronger, businesses blossom, but Rio de Janeiro is pure dynamite, São Paulo has beggars in all stop lights, the Amazon forest burns day after day.
I’m afraid to say so, but perhaps we’re cursed. In the name of patience and humbleness, we’re doomed to watch forever, unable, incompetent and completely unprepared to change our fate.
As our late millions of Indians, who could not react against fire guns, we also wait for saviors.
Perhaps my words sound way too bitter, but I wonder if we’ll ever have honest, decent, committed and apt leaders.

I’ll leave you a piece of a song called O que ? O que ?”, by Gonzaguinha, who also left this world too soon.

“Mas e a vida? Ela maravilha ou sofrimento?
Ela alegria ou lamento?
O que ? O que , meu irmão?
H quem fale que a vida da gente um nada no mundo,
uma gota, um tempo
Que nem d um segundo,
H quem fale que um divino mistrio profundo,
o sopro do criador numa atitude repleta de amor.”

(What is it?

But and life? Is it wonder or suffering?
Is it joy or mourning?
What is it? What is it, my brother?
Some say our life is a nothing in the world,
It’s a drop, some time
That’s not even a second,
Some say it is a deep divine mystery,
The breath of God in a moment full of love.)

See you next week,

Teacher Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at

To read previous articles by Teacher Claudia click below:

Brazil’s Catholic Parties in June
Portuguese Tip: Sounds Part 2 – De & Di
Portuguese Tip: Diminutives
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs in Portuguese – Final Part
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs in Portuguese – Exceptions
Portuguese Tip: Regularity of Verbs
Brazil: A Day in São Paulo
Why Not? (Or on Brazilian Indians)
Portuguese Tip: Infinitives and Gerunds Part 1
Brazil: Portuguese Tip – Ningum X Nenhum
Brazil: Portuguese Tip – Tudo vs. Todo
Brazil’s Independence Day
Brazil: Portuguese Tips – Denials
Brazil: Portuguese Tips – Não and Nem
Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 1
Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 1
Portuguese Tip: The X Doubts Part 2
Portuguese Tip: The X Doubts
Brazil: To Tell or Not to Tell
Brazil: Ipiranga Museum
Portuguese Tip: Odd words
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
A Brazilian Holiday: October 12th
Portuguese Tip: Sounds
Portuguese Tip: Verb Tenses
Portuguese Tip: The Mystery of Seu, Sua
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 2
A Brazilian custom: Kissing the Cheek
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Past
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Present
Portuguese Tips
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes