August 27, 2007

We managed to catch up with Chris Coates who has gone from English Teacher to TV Producer and Presenter. He has made the first cultural programme in a series about Brazil, starting in the state of São Paulo.

1) Well Chris, that’s a big step how did you manage to get involved in television?

It’s quite unbelievable really, after my second visit to Brazil 3 years ago I had a small idea about making a programme about Brazil, to show an image other that football, carnival, the Amazon, violence and poverty. I never talked about it again until I arrived in Brazil last year and met a journalist, we started talking about this idea again and all of a sudden she introduced me to the right people and 2 weeks later we were shooting.

2) Did you have any experience on television prior to this project, if not how did you feel in front of the camera?

To be honest no, but as for working in front of the camera, it felt a bit weird at first but after a while I gained confidence. The fact that I was doing and talking about something I enjoyed made it easier.

3) Did you have any sponsorship backing?

For this programme, no, though SP Tourism helped us throughout by getting the different authorisations for us to film in São Paulo city. The tourist board of Campos do Jordão did the same too. The next programme, which is planned to be shot in Minas Gerais, will be funded by various companies.

4) Have you found a broadcaster yet?

Well, this is the challenging bit but it’s all about patience and perseverance. Our final cut was only ready three weeks ago, which I have sent to many different channels and companies. Eg – BBC, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic etc. etc. We are also liaising with the departments of in flight entertainment for the major airlines that fly to São Paulo. This could be a very good opportunity.

So far, most of the companies have acknowledged receiving it, though an Internet cable channel called Holiday TV which broadcasts in the US and Europe have stated an interest in contracting us non exclusively.

All I can say is, ‘watch this space in the next three or four months’.

5) Can we view any of the programme?

Yes, go to the webpage http://www.programaadventure.com.br/video.html.

You will need to have windows media player and it’s best to watch it at 100% to get the best picture.

If anyone has any questions for Chris, he can be contacted at email address aroundbrazil@yahoo.com.br.”

By Philip Wigan
August 27, 2007

On Superagui island, 400km south of São Paulo, there was rumour of a beached right whale 15km up the beach. We won a sea-soaked cycle race against the rising tide and reached our whale before the vultures. Locals said the 3-month old calf had died that morning, lost on its passage to warmer waters further north. Not being big on animal observation, I have to concede that this one fascinated me. You can pay good money to view live whales frolicking around the coast of southern Brazil in the winter (www.baleiafranca.org.br), but you will not touch the warm, translucent grey-blue-pink skin nor the hundreds of brushes in its foamy mouth through which the whale ingests plankton. And you will never get close enough to open its blowholes and have a look inside… no, come on, surely not?!

A 5-day cycling trip around the Baa de Paranaga was supposed to be about saddles, mud, panniers and physical challenge. As it turned out the memories were dominated by whales and boats. ‘A Mata Atlantica’, the Atlantic rainforest, was our stage, lush hills cascading down in a huge continuous bank from Curitiba, dispersing into a huge bay dotted by a series of islands. Water, mangrove, forest and lots of it… our two-wheel wilderness playground.

We had resolved to attempt this trip in winter. The rain, as we drove north from Florianópolis, was intense. We arrived in the port city of Paranaga – all tarnished glory and atmosphere with its crumbling Portuguese facades and harbourside warehouses – just in time to catch our boat to the islands. The rain eased as we got underway at the end of the afternoon, but then so did the engine. After floating around the estuary admiring an endless line of freight ships amidst clouds of oil and vapour I began to wonder whether the cycling was going to happen at all. Our captain gave the engine some welly and we made it all the way in third gear. Our ears suitably shrilled, we arrived at a beach village. As we surveyed our surroundings in the dark on the beach, locals kept bumping into us. The sudden appearance of a horse and cart emerging at speed from an expanse of sands is quite arresting, but we quickly realized we were standing around on the village’s main thoroughfare.

A small skiff took us across to Peas Island (Pieces), where we pedaled gleefully along hard-packed sands. We came across a fallen tower strewn across the beach. Echoes of the dictatorship? The shipping equivalent of a train-spotter’s perch? The fort directly opposite on Ilha de Mel (Honey Island) reminded me of a brilliant Brazilian film I had recently watched, ‘Almost two brothers’ (www.quasedoisirmaos.com.br), which presents the political and social history of Brazil during the dictatorship (1964-1985) through the eyes of political and common prisoners on Ilha Grande in Rio de Janeiro State. Ah-ha, but I was in the State of Paran. We decided to finesse our back-wheel skidding techniques instead of extrapolating historical links.

One of the great pleasures of traveling in Brazil is the language. It is fascinating to listen to the local dialects and voices, so different from your home town, and the islanders in Paran were no different. We were given an excellent opportunity to observe island relations firsthand, when we sighted our 3-gear boat being dragged from the water by a motley crew of men, teenagers and anyone on hand. Call me cynical, but it must be part of a captain’s charm to gather together 40 people on a cloudy afternoon in order to haul his boat up onto a beach. We played our part in this tug-of-war, before boarding another skiff bound for Guaraqueaba. We sat back to concentrate on the dolphins and birdlife as we motored up estuaries and past islets, when suddenly the boat was beached like a whale on yet another sandbank. We’d lost this particular race against the tide. Nothing to do but sit it out in the silence of the mangrove, and wait for the swell which would release us. It could have been worse, with someone looking in my blowholes!

We reached Guaraqueaba on the mainland, the main bay settlement, minutes before the sort of torrential downpour you need to go to somewhere like Brazil to witness. My new panniers were being saved the ultimate waterproof test. As misty clouds rose up the mountains before us, we set out for Tagaaba, a hamlet 40km down the quietest dirt road imaginable. The forest here is high and dense enough to remain permanently chilled under the canopy of the trees. Up and down we meandered, pleasantly surprised at the relative ease of carrying two 25-litre panniers. A few cogs and a well-adjusted chain is a truly amazing bit of technology. Biking as a means of travel has a number of clear attractions: your viewpoint is high, you get to cover quite long distances quickly, and you feel tired and hungry at the end of the day with an appetite which makes you feel healthy. On reaching the colonial town of Morretes we indulged in the local speciality, barreado, a nourishing meat and potato dish buried in a clay pot beneath an open fire for twelve hours and cooked slowly, like a stew. OK, it is a stew, but a good one! Just time to catch the spectacular afternoon train up through the mountains to the plateau to enjoy a couple of saddleless nights in Curitiba, the state capital, and site of yet another astounding Oscar Nieyemer architectural creation, O Olho, The Eye, an absolute must. (www.arcoweb.com.br/arquitetura/arquitetura346.asp)

Caminhos do Sertão are a small but expert ecotourism operator, specializing in two-wheel trips in southern Brazil. The idea is simple but works. A cycling adventure where the emphasis is on enjoying beautiful landscapes, as well as actually tackling the nitty-gritty of locomotion on two wheels, with a sense of fun and adventure being the main requisites. (www.caminhosdosertao.com.br).”

August 24, 2007

Meet Adrian Woods, from the USA, who has travelled to Brazil and the rest of Central and South America several times. 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 originally from Berkeley, California, USA. I’ve just returned to California after spending almost two years living in Rio de Janeiro teaching English.

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

This last trip was my third to Brazil. I first came to Brazil back in April, 1995. I was traveling all over Central and South America and stayed in Salvador, Bahia for 5 months and São Paulo for one month.

What originally attracted me to Brazil and Brazilian culture was going to the Brazil-Cameroon soccer match at Stanford stadium during the 1994 World Cup and thinking how much more fun it was to be around the Brazilian fans than fans from other countries. The singing, the dancing, the drum playing, the beautiful women, etc. I thought to myself what unique people”. I was planning to travel all around Central and South America and decided I definitely needed to add Brazil to my itinerary.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I was struck by all the beauty and positive energy. Beautiful beaches and forests, beautiful art and architecture, and exotic, freakishly well proportioned people. I was also really impressed by the positive vibes everywhere. When you walk down the street on a hot afternoon in Rio or Salvador, you see lots of happy faces and people engaged in conversation and laughing. In the US by contrast, the streets are full of sad faces and disconnected people living in their own lonely little world.

4. What do you miss most about home?

When I was in Brazil I missed a nice, southern style breakfast – pancakes, sausages, fried eggs, biscuits, grits, etc., order, organization, honest, straightforward people, state of the art technology, American sports, American television, having my own car, and just how relatively easy it is to live and get things done in the US.

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

As much as I love Brazil and Brazilian people, a lot of things about Brazilian culture frustrate me. I find many Brazilians to be reckless, thoughtless, inconsiderate, and disrespectful when it comes to other peoples right to peace and quiet. A lot of Brazilians seem to maneuver through life as if they’re the only person on the planet.

When they’re driving or riding a bike, it’s “coming through, get out of my way”. Absolutely zero respect for pedestrians. If they want to talk or play music loud, their attitude is screw everyone else. It also drives me crazy that staying to the right isn’t practiced in Brazil. It makes walking on an escalator or on a crowded street difficult. The racism I experienced in Brazil was irritating to say the least, but I won’t go into that.

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

Difficult question. I’d have to say being at an Afro Brazilian cultural center in Ilheus, Bahia in 2003. They had great pagode, lots of drum music, beautiful girls dancing and phenomenal capoeira guys who did these suspended, midair kicks and flips like Neo in the matrix. Seeing so many happy black people enjoying themselves warmed my heart. It made me wonder how African Americans would be had our ancestors not had their drums taken away and not allowed to practice West African cultural traditions.

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

The happiness and alta astral (good vibes). I haven’t been everywhere, but Brazil has to be one of the happiest countries on Earth. I think the beautiful nature and good weather just brings out the best in people. There are so many people in Brazil, particularly in Rio and the Northeast that are consistently in an upbeat mood. I’m also constantly amazed by how relaxed, comfortable in their skin and unselfconscious so many Brazilians are. They know how to have a good time, live in the moment in an almost childlike way, and not stress over little things. They’re just blessed that way.

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

I’m embarrassed to say, but I’m pretty much a quilo/lanchonete guy and I rarely go to restaurants. The best quilo place I’ve eaten at in Rio was the “Siqueira Grill” on the corner of Siquiera Campos and Avenida Atlantica in Copacabana. It’s expensive but the food is super fresh and tasty. My favorite place to hang out during the daytime in Rio is Posto 2, Barra da Tijuca beach. Nighttime – Lapa. There is something for everyone and the mix of people and energy makes people feel welcome. It’s a surreal place.

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

Well, way back in 1995 when I first came to Brazil, I was staying with a family in Salvador, Bahia. One of my housemates took me to a micareta (off season carnival) in a small city about 75 kilometers outside of town. We stayed at the house of an uncle of his. We were having dinner with his uncle and family and food was being passed around the table. Naturally rice and beans were part of the meal and when the rice bowl came, I started putting rice on my plate. My housemate’s uncle was a typical loud baiano and started yelling at me.

I couldn’t speak a lick of Portuguese at the time and I could only guess what he was saying. Since the rice bowl was almost empty and not everyone had taken rice, I thought he was yelling at me and telling me not to be greedy and take all the rice. I misinterpreted his loud voice for yelling, got a little scared and started putting some of the rice from my plate back into the bowl. When I did this, the entire table erupted into laughter. Some people at the table laughed so hard they literally fell on the floor. Some even went into other rooms to laugh. Brazilians are like that. If you do something stupid, they have no qualms about laughing right in your face.

Anyway, Brazilians are also extremely generous with food and will do anything to please a guest. Evidently he was telling me to take more, not less rice. The laughter at my expense went on for another five minutes and all I could do was sit at the table looking and feeling like a complete idiot. Needless to say, that experience gave me plenty of motivation to learn the lingua portuguesa.

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

How comfortable people of different races and classes are around each other. I don’t think Brazilians are any less racist than any other people, and classicism in Brazil is horrendous, but because of the fact that if you live in Rio, or anywhere north of Rio, it is almost impossible to avoid people of other ethnic groups and classes, people learn to coexist and deal with each other. Plus because integration in many parts of Brazil is so thorough, people share a common culture regardless of class or race. This is why in office buildings in Rio, it’s possible to see a black cleaning lady and a white executive having a chat or sharing a joke in the hallway or elevator. This doesn’t happen in the US where janitors, security guards, and receptionists are invisible and ignored.

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?

Well, I have a pretty good sized vocabulary, I can read the newspaper comfortably, understand movies, television, and people in one on one conversations, but I have trouble following a group of Brazilians talking to each other in a restaurant or bar. My brain just can’t process everything they’re saying fast enough. Since I was in Rio over the last two years, I was determined to learn the Carioca accent which I found to be muito puxado, extremely tough. Learning to pronounce an S at the end of a word like SH wasn’t easy, but I eventually got the hang of it. The hardest thing for me is pronouncing an R like an H at the middle or end of a word like “Parque” or “Melhor”. Nobody carves out the letter R like we Americans, so it takes a lot of effort not to sound like a fresh off the jet gringo or some hick from the interior of São Paulo. Pronouncing an M like a soft NG and an L like a U also takes concentration and effort.

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

Do whatever you can to blend in and not broadcast your gringoness. This can save you the hassle of being harassed by street peddlers or thieves. When I first got to Rio, I was constantly approached by people trying to sell me stuff and was occasionally messed with by street kids and thugs. This is because I walked around Copacabana looking like your typical dorky gringo with a towel in my hand, wearing a baseball hat, carrying a big bottle of water, and wearing sandals with straps on them. Just asking for it. So, I got smart, bought a beach chair (Brazilian men don’t take towels to the beach), some Havaiana sandals, and learned to walk slow like I didn’t have a care in the world the way Brazilians do. I stopped being approached after that. If you can’t speak Portuguese, learn Brazilian sign language. It’s easy. “Check please” – get the waiter’s attention and pretend you’re writing something on your palm. “No thanks” or “I don’t want anything”, wag your pointing finger like Dikembe Mutumbo. When purchasing something in an informal setting, always agree on a price before accepting service. For example, if you want a shoeshine boy to shine your shoes, ask how much it is, he’ll tell you 2 Reais and charge you that. If you let him shine your shoes without first agreeing on a price, he might charge you up to 30 Reais and if you refuse to pay, he’ll go get his friends and they’ll give you a surra (beating) in broad daylight in front of everyone. Finally, don’t walk around with money or things you’re not prepared to lose, and if you’re accosted by a mugger, DO NOT RESIST. Brazilians are clever, skillful fighters. You might think you can take the skinny, 5-5 guy that’s demanding your money, but if you take a swing at him, before you know it, the guy has jumped up in the air, kicked you in your face, and you wake up 5 minutes later with all your belongings gone wondering what happened. Thieves also sometimes work in groups, so even if you are capable of handling the guy, he might have a partner behind you waiting to take you out. Earlier this year, a tall, 20 year old Portuguese man resisted handing over his backpack on a hot, crowded day on Copacabana beach and was stabbed to death by a guy half his size.

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

I don’t care too much for São Paulo, but if you’re in Rio, for God’s sake do not just hang out in the Zona Sul – Copacabana/Ipanema. There is so much more to see. Check out the beaches in Barra da Tijuca, Prainha and Grumari further west. Head up into Tijuca National Park and climb Bico do Papagaio where you’ll see an incredible 360 degree view of Rio. Climb Pedra da Gavea, but do it early in the morning or you’ll be roasted like an ant under a sadist’s magnifying glass since the trail going up and coming down faces straight west. I would highly recommend Praia do Farol beach in Arraial do Cabo near Cabo Frio. You won’t find clearer water or whiter sand. I would also recommend Ilha Grande and Ilha Paqueta in Angra dos Reis. Go out at night in Tijuca or Vila Isabel where you won’t find as many stuck up Cariocas and other gringos. Hang out in downtown Rio early in the evening on Friday. Check out a soccer game at Maracana and root for any team but Flamengo, the evil empire and the team of sheep. Vamos ganhar Fogo! After the game, head up to “Praca Varnhargem” in Tijuca where hundreds of people gather in outdoor seats, eat pizza, drink beer and people watch. If you like living on the edge, go to a Vasco game at São Januario, but leave the game early and take a cab.

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com 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:

Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
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 Joe Lopes
August 23, 2007

Here is part 3 of Joe’s article, covering his top ten favourite tracks that reflect the pervasive influence of the classic bossa nova sound in their makeup or design. To read the previous parts click the relevant link at the bottom of the article.

4. Breakout” (Swing Out Sister) and “Astrud” (Basia). Two other European-based artists, the Manchester, UK trio Swing Out Sister and the Polish songstress Basia (real name: Basia Trzetrzelewska – please don’t ask me how to say it), have been co-equal contributors to the ever-widening Brazilian-music sweepstakes, and share the Number Four spot with their similar stylistic leanings.

The first group out of the gate, Swing Out Sister, comprised of lead singer Corinne Drewery, keyboardist Andy Connell, and drummer Martin Jackson, gained some semblance of notoriety (mostly in Europe and Japan) with their energetic hit single “Breakout,” a horn-heavy, synth-laden production that also appeared on their debut It’s Better to Travel from 1987 (Mercury/PolyGram).

While both bands were rushing headlong toward the winner’s circle, the sophisticated chanteuse from Silesia grabs the top trophy overall for her fabulous Time and Tide outing on Epic (1987), an entertaining first-try at a promising solo career.

Several of the album’s cuts are worthy of mention, including the effervescent title track, the highly refined “New Day for You,” and, of course, the marvelously catchy “Astrud,” her lyrical tribute to the Ipanema girl herself (“Nobody knows where she came from / The tall-and-tanned-young-and-lovely girl / With a voice as light as air”), a priceless recorded gem by any definition of the term.

5. “Third Time Lucky” (Basia). Basia and her musical cohort, producer Danny White, both formerly of the British group Matt Bianco, assembled an even more tantalizing array of Brazilian-inflected musical brush-strokes with their third effort, The Sweetest Illusion (Epic, 1994), in particular the fast-paced “Third Time Lucky,” with its Carnivalesque samba-driven sensibilities, and on the melting pop ballad “Perfect Mother.”

This is Basia at her cocktail-hour best, and the place to start, really, if you want to hear what a foreign-born performer with taste can do with Brazil’s highly exportable pop material. Too bad impatient listeners in the USA. weren’t lining up to buy it, due likely to the change in musical values after the late 1990s – a fate shared by many veteran vocalists, including Michael Franks and Al Jarreau – leading to diminished airplay for her type of “adult contemporary” music ventures.

My own theory behind this lies with Basia’s English enunciation, or the lack of it: it’s fairly incomprehensible without the printed text. Add to this her soulless rendition of Aretha Franklin covers, and one can only imagine how American reviewers must have reacted to her (not too well, I’m afraid). She still maintains a European presence, where the British were not as troubled by her accent as we Yanks appeared to be.

Part 4 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 JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 2
The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 1
Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 4
Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 3
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?

August 23, 2007

To whom it may concern,

I am a man seriously considering courting a Brazilian woman from Brasilia. I am a little insecure of one thing, I don’t want to be used for a ticket. I am not shallow but I am more naive and a little wet behind the ears. I do not feel that she is after papers from me but I want to know what are the signs to look for because my heart might blind me of the truth or if it is going on. We have been talking on the phone since January sometimes for hours at a time. Most of the time I call her. What will tell me if she is going to use me? Please help me understand so I don’t blow it.

Anonymous

Hi,

I understand your doubt. It’s hard to be sure about someone’s character, right? Even when we know a person very well, we can be disappointed. In your case, as you badly know her, it gets even harder to expect anything.

I would say go to Brasilia first. If you like her it won’t harm you to see her parents, what kind of pet she has, her lifestyle, friends, her place, her favorite restaurant etc. Why not?

Maybe this way is a good one to get to know her better and see if whatever she told you is true. Then you could be more secure to make a decision to take her with you and be happily ever after, with or without her.

Sorry, not much else I can say here.

Good luck to you,

Vanessa T. Bauer

Readers Comments:

I guess that I would need to know more about the girl, you, and how the two of you hooked up before being able to provide you with any specific advice. I would caution you to go too far down the line before you actually meet this girl and the context in which she lives. remember, it is all about context. Case in point: based on my experience with a girl from Brasilia as well, you may want to consider the following which may seem ancillary to the question you pose, yet it has the potential to be far reaching for the type of venture you are planning to embark yourself on (correction — the one you have already embarked on…). The element at stake is culture and attitude driven by economics: folks from Brasilia are, in large part, employed by the Federal government which is by far a very stable occupation in Brazil. Thus, I found the majority of Candangos — the name used to refer to Brasilienses (people from Brasilia) to be incredibly conformist (thus less open to change), more so than your average Brazilian from other large cities. Their civil service job is synonymous with stability, and their life in Brasilia (however boring that may be at times) is the price they pay for having a stable occupation in a country that isn’t as cheap as you would come to think. Remember, Brazil has a high unemployment rate and a recent history of hard times and crazy interest rates, and govt. jobs are a valid recourse to avoid the pink slip epidemic that can strike at any time. Just check out the number of people that sign up and take the civil service exams and you’ll understand what I mean.

While you may think I got off track with my answer, just think of the implications: your girl too may not be all that open to change, and if you envision having her move to the US with you, perhaps her ability to adjust would be put to test. Remember, the U.S. lifestyle is not for well-suited for everyone and it is difficult to adapt to a new life and identity, one where hard work/long hours prevail and the social network she may have established in Brasilia does not exist. If language is a barrier, even worse.

Something else: Brazilians are the sweetest people on earth, but I find them somewhat lacking when it comes to being straight-forward. So, think hard: is she not calling you because of money? Or is she too shy/unable to say bye to an Americano in a way a Brazilian would understand, even though she would never consider giving up her stability in Brasilia. Don’t forget that Brazil is well-known for its live-in boyfriend/girlfriend- let’s-call-it-marriage” type of couples, where it is easier to pick up and go. When I asked this girl from Brasilia what her views on marriage were, she always told me that there was no rush to get married– better to “ficar juntos” for the time being. In fact, she had been married for * long years to her boyfriend, one that she never formally married. My response? I think that getting married is all about betting together on the future and taking a risk on tomorrow. Living with your bf/gf is a good way to bet on today; tomorrow may never come because the “barriers to entry and exit” (to use economics, once again) are quite low. You pack and leave, no court to arbitrate the split. If you don’t believe this is true, just ask or read through the many websites and you’ll realize that this isn’t all in my imagination.

In the end, I hope you realize that there are many factors involved in shaping the matters of the heart. Our cultural baggage is a strong determinant, one that offers possibilities and barriers. Openness — communicating more of what we need and feel — are always the best approach. So, skip the calls and go see her; go see about a girl.

I am not trying to dissuade you from your decision, whichever way you chose to go. Just be sure that your plans are anchored in reality. A dose of reality never hurt anyone, unless, of course, it was taken into account too far down the line. Trust me — I got burned.

In the end, the call is yours.

— Anonymous

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

Previous questions in this article series:

Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers

August 21, 2007

The St Andrew Society of São Paulo invites you to a night of fun and dancing at the: Winter Ceilidh, Friday 24th August – 8pm

Brazilian British Centre (BBC) R. Ferreira de Araujo 741 – 4th floor, Pinheiros.

Price: R$65 – includes buffet dinner, Atholbrose and soft drinks. Cash bar available.

This is a great evening with Scottish Country Dancing, the pipes and drums of the Scottish Link Pipe Band, good food and Atholbrose.

All Welcome.

TO GUARANTEE YOUR RESERVATION, TICKETS MUST BE PAID FOR IN ADVANCE.

1. Please book tickets by e-mail – contact Marcia at: Lloyds.marcis@terra.com.br or Eliane at: Lloyds.elidel@terra.com.br

2. Please deposit cheques in payment/ or make a transfer as follows:

“Associaão Saint Andrew do Estado de São Paulo”, Banco HSBC – Account N 14473-32, Ag N 0478, CNPJ 06.071.606/0001-02

Fax copy of your deposit to – Marcia, Fax N (11) 5502 6887, stating clearly for whom payment is being made

Should you have any problems or need further information on the event, please call Marcia / Eliane or Stuart Duncan on (11) 5502 6875 , 5502 6880 or email: Lloyds.marcis@terra.com.br.”

By Hal Sutcliffe
August 21, 2007

Caicó is a city of 50,000 in the desert, the regional center of relatively unproductive desert farming. During the summer it is stifling: the temperature climbs uncomfortably above 100 and there is no cooling breeze.

In contrast, Natal is a metropolis of 800,000 on the ocean, the capital of Rio Grande de Norte, with considerable manufacturing, retail, and government employment. The temperatures are usually in the eighties, rarely go beyond 95F and there is an almost constant on-shore breeze.

Life styles in Natal and Caicó are similar. Most bars, cafes and restaurants are open air”. “Better” restaurants are roofed over, but open on the sides. My favorite cafe in Natal has some 50 tables spotted on a grassy lawn beneath a batch of shade trees. They serve beer, wine and the hard stuff, including cachaa – a rum made from sugar cane which is the Brazilian national drink. The food here, particularly the beef broiled on a spit… is deliciosa. And, nostalgia note, the French fries are US style! In Caicó a large plaza in the centre city is surrounded by twenty or so small cafes serving citizens under the trees. Great place.

In the northeast a bottle of beer is tabled in an insulated container and served with two-gulp glasses… stays cooler that way. Seems to last longer, too.

The South Atlantic (Natal) and the Sabugi River (Caicó) make fine swimming holes.

Since we arrived in Caicó late at night (see previous article in this series), Saturday morning was mostly spent settling into Maria Rosa’s – friend Edilma’s mother – casa. It is small, functional and friendly – bungalow size. It is similar to thousands of small casas I’ve seen in Caicó and Natal, though new 13 story-plus condos continue to cram the Natal skyline.

Maria-Rosa’s casa is a one story building on a packed-dirt side road. It is on an un-landscaped plot fronted by two small fig trees. The walls are made of hollow Brazilian bricks covered with a white cement. The roof consists of overlapping red tiles laid on a frame, held in place by gravity.

There is an outdoor patio, equivalent to a yard, on three sides of the casa. It is walled on two sides. The front of the patio has a protective iron-bar fence running from ground to roof and is lockable. The front porch is part of the living space and needs to be protected from two and four footed marauders. There are chairs and paired hammock hooks. Here children play, folks visit, sun bathe. An occasional night-time adventure of local teenagers is to throw a firecracker onto the front porch, and run. Wish I had thought of that when I was a kid.

The casa is very functional with few frills or geegaws. Inside there are five small rooms. The sala (living room), two quartos (bedrooms), a cozinha (kitchen), a banheiro (bathroom) and a store room. In the cozinha there are storage cabinets, a cold-water sink, a stove, a refrigerator, and a dining table which is moved away from the wall when feeding more than three.

The bathroom is simplified. There is no bathtub and you get used to lukewarm showers.

The bedrooms are small with conventional beds, furniture and closets. No blankets needed.

The furniture is similar to what you’d find in your neighbor’s house but simpler; many fewer pieces and much less costly. There is a television; TV antennas are perched on house tops across Brazil, across the world. There is no internet connection, yet. The phone of choice is at the corner store though the lower cost cell is gaining market.

There are few labor-saving device. Floors are swept and mopped. The washing machine consists of two strong arms and a scrub board. The laundry is hung out to dry near the sinks which are in the corner nearest the kitchen. Exercise clubs are superfluous in this Caicó neighborhood.

Reflecting the tropical lifestyle, are pairs of rede (hammock) hooks built into almost every wall and on the porch. I slept well in my rede in the living room. After the first night, when I woke up having carelessly donated blood to a few hundred quiet mosquitoes, I slept under mosquito netting. A sheet is sufficient covering. The advantages of a rede are low cost, comfort, albeit you get a bit bent, portability and convenience: at night unroll your rede and hang it on the hooks, position the mosquito netting, ease in. In the morning re-roll and stow it on one hook, freeing up the room for other activities. Very efficient.

I moved my rede to the patio during the day for reading, visiting and loafing. Yes, I did tip myself on to the floor a couple of times getting in and out. It is a skill that needs to be learned.

I find this grounded lifestyle much more interesting and satisfying than the frenetic complications of middle income hassles in Natal.

Back again in a couple of weeks.

Previous articles by Hal:

Brazil: I Beg to Differ
Brazilian Desert Country
Around Brazil: Walking in Natal
Around Brazil: Natal’s Autos and Motos
Around Brazil: Natal Part 2
Around Brazil: Natal Part 1
Brazil: A View from Rio Grande do Norte

By Stephen Thompson
August 21, 2007

Diego is a personal trainer in one of Brazil’s top personal fitness academias, as gyms are known in Brazil. He has a perfect body, with a chiselled chin and shock of thick, straight hair. The trainer’s physique is his calling card, we look at him and we want to have THAT body, exuding health and well-being. But Diego also has a sharp mind, with his witty banter he entertains his students, turning a dull hour of physical exertion into something fun, a welcome break from the computer to be looked forward to two or three times a week.

I first met Diego when I went for a consultation at Competition, one of the top three gym chains in São Paulo. His clients include the rich and the famous, and though doubtless in his opinion they are all the lazy”, he carefully motivates and encourages them to set and reach their fitness goals. Diego loves physical fitness and has made it his life. A keen cyclist and football player, he seriously injured his shoulder in a collision with a bus while riding a bicycle on the University of São Paulo campus a few years back, but got back into shape by weight training and gave up his career in IT to take a four-year course in Physical Education at FMU, a private university in São Paulo.

When I first started training with Diego, he had had just graduated and had lots of time to train me, but he quickly became popular, and every time I took a break, it was harder and harder for him to fit me into to his schedule again.

The first sessions with him were a breakthrough in terms of training for me. I had tried weight training before, but had always ended up feeling painfully stiff afterwards. Diego managed to find just the right level of exertion, and varied the exercises to avoid stress. I had such a great workout, and felt that wonderful buzz of well-being which is the reward of the truly unfit when they start training again.

I felt so relaxed, I simply couldn’t get stressed. But after a day or two of rest, the stress is gradually of my life in São Paulo gradually built up again, and tended to weaken my next workout performance. Apart from staying relaxed, to get fit, you need a steady routine, adequate rest and good nutrition.

I learnt a lot about training and physical fitness from Diego and other personal trainers who I worked with in Brazil. I learned that it takes three months of regular, consistent training to make a significant improvement to one’s physical fitness, and that during this time, the first changes are neurological, rather than muscular. I learned that it takes two years of the same regular, steadily exercise to reach one’s biological maximum fitness level, and that the improvements become more gradual as one gets closer to this level, because the less fit you are, the more “trainable” you are.

Brazilian personal trainers must take a four-year course in physical education in order to be permitted to work. If you are doubt about the credentials of a personal trainer, you can ask them to show you their Conselho Educacao Fisica registration card and number.

Almost every street in Pinheiros where I used to live in São Paulo has a gym with professionally trained staff. These are usually closed on Sundays, when Paulistas who have not gone to the beach instead take to the street on their bicycles, or go to Ibirapuera or Vila Lobas, parks where you can hire bikes.

Brazil is a great place to get fit. The warm weather, beaches and natural beauty make the Brazilians themselves a bunch of fitness fanatics. Some say this is because they know they have to show their figures on the beach in a bikini or a sunga, and of course Brazilian bikinis are the world’s smallest and most revealing. But even in São Paulo, which does not have a beach, there are hardly even any parks to run in, the many annual running events marathons and half marathons are regularly over subscribed weeks in advance.

Years ago, when I had an unhealthy life of computer programming, motorcycling and commuting, I damaged a wrist ligament and gradually developed chronic RSI. One doctor suggested that I should go and live in a warm country, where I would get better, and I carefully made note of his advice. By the time I finally moved to live in Brazil, I was very keen to get fit again.

Marcos was a completely different kind of personal trainer. Around 36, and about 6’2;” tall, of Latvian ancestry, he still lives with his parents in Moca. He doesn’t like gyms or weight training, but he teaches practically anything else, and he taught me yoga, capoeira, climbing, football, self defence, cycling and boxing. He has an amazing energy and drive, an enormous enthusiasm for physical fitness and exercise of many kinds, combined with a lovely laid-back personality and self depreciating sense of humour. He used to cycle for an hour, all the way over from Moca, to teach me, and then cycle back home again.

Part 2 next week…

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: What’s in a Name?
Brazil: Go East, Young Man
Brazil: This Is The Life I’ve Always Wanted
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

August 17, 2007

Meet Kevin Raub, from the USA, who regularly travels to Brazil and the rest of the world. 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 an American currently dividing my time between Los Angeles and Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, where my new wife runs an ecotourism agency. I’m originally from Atlanta and have spent the last 10 years scouring the globe as a travel and entertainment journalist for publications like Travel+Leisure, Town & Country, American Way, New York Post, Stuff, FHM, Organic Spa, and Lonely Planet. I’m just back from three months in Brazil’s Central West (Brasilia, Goias, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul) for the next edition of Lonely Planet’s Brazil guide, due out in January, 2008.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here? Brazil was a long time dream vacation to me, probably stemming from watching Blame It on Rio late at night on HBO as a child. I first went for holidays during Reveillon in 2001. My first experience was landing in Rio cashless and quickly learning that foreign ATM cards don’t work so well, even at American banks like Bank Boston. Exasperated and running out of options, a Carioca in line behind me at what was probably my 6th bank noticed my Citibank card and told me in very good English that he could take me to the Citibank, located downtown. Of course, the first thoughts running through mine and my friend’s mind was that he would rob us, but we went anyway. It turned out to be the best travel decision I ever made as he spent a whole week showing us sides of Rio we would have never otherwise seen. I have loved Brazil and the Brazilian people ever since.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil? My first impressions were probably the usual: How beautiful the people were, how laidback and relaxed everyone seemed to be, how hospitable everyone we met was, and how a few caipirinhas can sneak up on you in a hurry. And the first time you see Rio from Corcovado is something you can never forget. I have traveled all over the world and it is still my favorite height attraction anywhere.

4. What do you miss most about home? When I’m in Brazil, the only thing I really miss is the general smoothness in which everything operates. In Brazil, it seems everything that can go wrong, inevitably will whereas in the States, it’s more the opposite, things generally work as they are supposed to and it’s an exception when they don’t. But it’s nice to be away from news dominated by suicide bombings and what brand of toilet paper Paris Hilton used today.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil? There’s no one specific experience but in general, dealing with the bureaucracy in Brazil is endlessly tiring for an American. I feel like this part of Brazil can be summed up as follows: Brazil spends entirely too much time and effort creating unnecessary jobs for otherwise unemployable people, then forces the educated population to need those people to get whatever they need done, totally screwing up their day in the process. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and walk away.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)? There are so many. Watching the sunset with my wife in Jericoacoara, seeing the skyline for the first time from the top of Skye bar in São Paulo, every time I eat pizza, looking out at the unbelievable landscapes of Chapada dos Guimaraes, etc. But the one biggest memory I have is probably the first time I went to see a soccer game in São Paulo: Santos vs. Corinthians. Pure insanity!

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)? I think Brazil’s two biggest assets are its people and its landscapes. The people are beautiful, so full of life and passion. A Brazilian can turn brushing their teeth into a moment of passionate bliss. And the landscapes: The beaches, notably in Noronha and in the areas surrounding Paraty, are greatest in the world (and I have been nearly everywhere, so I can say that with some degree of credibility). The food ain’t too shabby, either.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here? I would say my favorite restaurant is Pizzeria Braz in Moema. For me, it’s always a beeline straight there from GRU. There is simply no pizza like it in the world. Period. I love the whole atmosphere of the pizzeria, the chopp, the pao de linguica, the service, everything. It’s funny to me because I meet people all the time who visit São Paulo and know nothing of the pizza. It’s the world’s best kept culinary secret. My favorite place to hang out is Oscar Freire – I just love all the deals I can snag with the favorable exchange rate, though that is becoming a thing of the past.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil? As a matter of fact I do! This should probably be a whole article for www.gringoes.com, but here goes anyway. When I was first getting to know my wife, we went for a moqueca in Noronha. She went to university in the States so she has a handle on both cultures. Anyway, we had some food left over and she asked me, Do you want to get the rest to go?” I didn’t really care either way, but I said yes anyway. So she then turns to the waiter in Portuguese (thinking I wouldn’t understand – this was early on) and tells him specifically that I want the food to go, clearly in such a way as to distance herself from the whole doggie bag thing. So I ask her why she did that and she says because it’s considered cheap to ask for food to go in Brazil but she knows that Americans do it all the time. So of course, I didn’t want to be the one who appeared cheap and I made the mistake of telling her I didn’t really care either way and that I wasn’t going to eat it, anyway. Long story short, she flipped out that I put her through that embarrassment for food I wasn’t even going to eat, and we ended up in the worst fight in our history because of it – all because of a culture clash about getting food to go.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking? There are many, good and bad. In addition to the bureaucracy and lack of general efficiency I mentioned before, the average Brazilian in the street doesn’t seem to have the same respect for animals that we do, which I find sad. Brazilians are also the worst at admitting guilt and taking responsibility for their own actions, even when it’s quite clear they made a mistake. “Nao fui eu” is so totally true. On the other hand, the Brazilian lust, whether it’s bit about sex, soccer, food – whatever – is pretty unparalleled in my travels. Another big difference is this Brazilian habit of making out in public but then going their separate ways at the end of the night. In the US, it’s the opposite. Almost nobody would ever make out in public, but they’ll go home with you in a heartbeat. And when I was single, I love the whole napkin thing in São Paulo. It’s very 6th grade, but I think it takes a lot of the pressure off about meeting people and making first moves. It’s very sweet in a fun and playful way.

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? It’s finally starting to approach decency. This past trip through the Central West forced me to learn more as my wife wasn’t there to bail me out! But I have a background in Spanish and Italian and languages generally come pretty easy to me. The word I mix up the most is mas (the Portuguese word for ’but’) and pero, the Spanish word for the same. It’s even more confusing since ’mas’ actually means something else in Spanish. Also, I find that the fact that there are two ways to say the number ’two,’ duas and dois, totally irritating!

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil? Don’t be a stereotypical traveler (for Americans that means loud, demanding, and running around wondering why nobody speaks English). Learn the basics in Portuguese: Obrigado, Por Favor, etc. and get to know some Brazilians. They are one of the warmest people you will ever encounter once they let you in.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)? As I said before, pizza! That’s No. 1. Also, sipping on a caipirinha da fruta at Hotel Unique’s rooftop Skye bar is truly mesmerizing. You have just simply never seen that many skyscrapers in your life. Take a stroll through the Mercado Municipal. Fantastic! But the single best piece of SP advice is to make a friend. The city is gigantic, totally un-tourist friendly, and absolutely overwhelming in every way. But if you have a local to show you around, you will quickly see that it is a world-class city with some of the world’s best restaurants, shopping, and people.

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com 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: Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
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 Teacher Claudia
August 17, 2007

Dear readers, my American student has asked me the meaning of the word Adeus” (goodbye), as there seems to be a “deus” in it. Due to his remark, we had another very fruitful discussion on the many expressions Brazilians use on daily conversations, apparently not aware we are speaking the name of God in vain. Well, I did my homework, found the reason why we say “Adeus” and some other things that may interest you. By the way, Brazilians don’t like to say “Adeus”. Just keep reading me and you’ll understand why.

Activity 1 – Introduction
Read a piece of the song “Partido Alto”, by Chico Buarque.

Diz que deu, diz que d
Diz que Deus dar
Não vou duvidar, ó nega
E se Deus não d
Como que vai ficar, ó nega

(Say it was possible, tell me it is
Say God will make it so
I won’t doubt it, my babe
And if God doesn’t
How will it be, my babe?)

Activity 2 – Context
As you could read on Activity 1, God is mentioned in times of despair, or when we can’t speak what we really mean. In fact, the song “Partido Alto” is one of the many which had its lyrics censored in the dark years of the military dictatorship.

One could naively think that due to the strong presence of Catholicism in Brazil, we speak the name of God at least once a day, completely unaware of the weight of our words. However, there are many other reasons to call Him: blind faith that compensates poverty, total disbelief against our social pyramid, deep indignation on our politicians, the list is long. I personally ask Him for Education. After decades teaching, I know it’s the only solution for my country.

Activity 3 – Examples
Here are very popular expressions (among many) on “Deus”.
Check which ones you know and learn some more.

1. A Deus dar.: give it to God, He will solve it
2. Deus te crie!: in southern Brazil, when someone sneezes, we say, God raises you!
3. O amanh a Deus pertence.: tomorrow belongs to God
4. (tambm sou) filho de Deus.: (I’m also) son/daughter of God, I also have rights
5. Se Deus quiser…: if God wishes so, if it’s His will
6. Pelo amor de Deus!: for the love of God! I can’t believe it!
7. Só Deus (resolve)…: only God (solves it, fixes something)
8. Fique / fica com Deus.: be with God, take care, goodbye

Activity 4 – Curiosity
What about “Adeus”? In the past, the full expression at parting was “A Deus te entrego”, or to God I deliver you, meaning I won’t be here anymore, so you’re in His hands. As time went by, some of the original words were forgotten, the sentence was contracted to “A Deus”, and nowadays it’s only “Adeus”, everything together. Naturally, many don’t know the origin of the word, but we all comprehend it’s a beautiful, but sad farewell. And that’s one of the reasons we Brazilians avoid saying “Adeus”. To my ears, its translation is “Take care”.

Activity 5 – Transference
I left “Adeus” to the end because it brings another necessary reflection on my mother-tongue: why Brazilians struggle to tell the truth at once. But that is a subject for September.

See you next week!

Cludia

Teacher Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at claudiafmla@uol.com.br

To read previous articles by Teacher Claudia click below:

Portuguese Tip: If Clauses Part 2
Brazil: Third World Chaos
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