By Paul Kia’i Modde
January 28, 2008

The ‘who’s who’ of Toronto’s High Society come together every year to help raise awareness and money for worthy causes. The Brazilian Ball has raised nearly $47 million dollars to date. There have been numerous causes that have benefited including health care, research, education and culture in Canada and Brazil.

This spectacular event gives the guests a taste of Brazilian Carnival with a parade of colourful costumes and gyrating dancers who entertain and spur the crowd to embrace the spirit of Rio’s Carnival and to samba the night away.

From its beginnings as a small event in a church basement in Toronto, this event has evolved into a highly anticipated and well supported charitable fundraiser in Canada.

Seven people got together in 1966 and decided to bring all the magic, beauty and traditions of the world famous Brazilian Carnival to Toronto. This introduced the hot blooded music, a new rhythm to Toronto, which packed the dance floor all night long.
In subsequent years the Ball grew in popularity and size and was hosted at various 5 Star Hotels. International recognition was received in 2002 when the Ball was held in the Chateau de Versailles in France. Proceeds from that evening benefited the Louis Pasteur Institute.

Anna Maria de Souza founded the event. She soon realized that the Ball was becoming very successful. Thus, it became the perfect medium to raise funds for charitable causes. In 1973, Variety Village became the first recipient of the Brazilian Carnival Ball in Canada and through the years other beneficiaries have included Princess Margaret Hospital (prostate cancer research), St. Michael’s Hospital (heart disease research), and York University (Accolade Project, Faculty of Fine Arts).

Today, the Brazilian Carnival Ball is held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and attracts 1,800 guests and raises over $2 million net each year, making it one of the largest fund-raising galas in the country. Sixty Carnival dancers entertain the Toronto crowd with their dancing and dazzling costumes, which are flown from Brazil to Toronto each year for the event.

Celebrity and dignitary attendance is always a highlight of the Ball and this year is no exception. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, The Honourable James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, His Excellency Valdemar Carneiro Leao, Ambassador of Brazil to Canada, His Excellency Americo Dyott Fontenelle, Consul General of Brazil in Toronto, The Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Deputy Premier, and His Worship David Miller, Mayor of Toronto, all gave their patronage to the Ball and some were in attendance on Saturday evening.

In addition, Rex Harrington, formerly one of Canada’s premier male ballet dancers for the National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hoh Goh, principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada, and Brazilian model Caroline Bittencourt were also in attendance.

Zeka Marquez the world famous Brazilian artist and designer was responsible for the striking and lavish decor. Luis de Castro was the talented decor manager.

About the Writer: Paul Kia’i Modde is a 9th generation Canadian Metis. Metis are one of Canada’s three recognized Aboriginal cultures, the other being First Nations and Inuit more commonly known as Eskimos.

http://www.brazilianball.com

Paul is a freelance journalist who has been involved in Media and Entertainment for over 30 years. He was an FM Radio Producer Host for six years. In this capacity his program featured history, music and culture from Hawaii, the South Pacific and Cuba.

In 1996 he was given a Hawaiian name by the internationally renowned Hawaiian historian and entertainer, affectionately known as Uncle George Naope. He received this honor for being recognized as Canada’s foremost ambassador and promoter of Hawaiian music and culture. His Hawaiian name is Kia’i O Na Mea Nani O Hawaii, Guardian and Keeper of all things Hawaiian.

Paul is coming to Brazil in February to explore the possibilities of living there and to see if there are any opportunities for his talents, knowledge and expertise in the land of Samba. He can be contacted via email: p_modde@hotmail.com.

By Ricky Skelton
January 28, 2008

Santarem is probably the second biggest port on the Brazilian section of the Amazon. After seeing all the tiny towns along the way, a proper city came as a bit of a shock. The huge grain tankers aren’t, as they regularly pass silently downriver as they head for the Atlantic. The structure that fills the containers shouldn’t be a shock but it does stand out a little from the trees.

The construction of this structure is claimed to be an environmental disaster and not just because it was built without proper planning permission by one of the largest agri-businesses on the planet. It is closed at present and Cargill may have to remove the structure at some point but don’t hold your breath. More on this at the following links: http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/cargill-amazon.pdf, http://www.cargill.com/news/issues/issues_greenpeacereport.pdf, and http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-29-02.asp.

With Santarem being on a deep part of the Amazon, so close to the junction of the Madeira with the Amazon, the southern edge of the world’s largest jungle is being cut down rapidly. Not for cattle, as in Mato Grosso in years past, but now for soya plantations. The soya beans were shipped down the Madeira by smaller boats and stored at the grain facility until one of the tankers arrives. This ease of transportation means that many people want to cut down a patch of forest to plant soya. With nobody around to stop them, the jungle shrinks by around 6 football pitches per minute, according to Greenpeace estimates.

Now don’t go blaming our vegetarian friends and their burgers for this! The biggest buyer of Brazilian soya is China, where the soya is the fuel for the animals that fuel the people that fuel the booming economy. The joys of globalisation mean that China’s development is one of the biggest threats to the Amazon Rainforest. Interesting huh? Obviously Europe takes in huge amounts of Santarem soya too, so don’t think we have no effect.

Alter do Chao is a short drive and a whole world away from Santarem. On the edge of a lagoon formed by the Rio Tapajós, the entrance to which is partially blocked by a 2km sandbank. This is just one of the stunning river beaches in the area which were mostly under the highest waters for 25 years when I was there. It didnt matter to the locals or tourists, though. Life carried on, with the waters so full of people that one ice-cream seller was pushing his cart through three feet of water. What a dedicated salesman. The bars on the sandbank were all full – of water. Some almost up to the roof and some halfway up the legs of the chairs, tables and drinkers outside.

We hired a rowing boat to cross to the sandbank and climb the hill on the far side of the lagoon. It looked like the views across to the other side of the river and over to the main artery of the Amazon would make it a fantastic spot for a good old English picnic. We never made it. Never found the path, not even close. Instead we had our picnic, our champagne and our beer in a rowing boat as another Amazon storm came over the hill wed been trying to find. We sheltered under an overhanging tree, pulled in the oars and drifted gently. Our tree made me realise why snakes evolved such patterns to disguise themselves as branches. See?

We toasted the tree, the storm, the boat, the bars, the jungle, the river, everything. Everybody should go to the Amazon. You get such magical moments there.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Amazon Swarms and Amazon Storms
Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

January 25, 2008

Meet Linda Halverstadt, from the USA, who first stayed in Brazil as a student 35 years ago, and has recently revisited. Read the following interview where she 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 am from the United States. Ohio specifically. I have been a stay at home mom for many many years and have recently returned to college majoring in Nursing.

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

I went to Brazil as an exchange student in 1972. I had never flown on an airplane before. It was quite an experience. No email or Internet. No one spoke English. I, of course, spoke no Portuguese.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I was only 17 years old when I first went to Brazil. The people were wonderful to me. I stayed in a small town about 4 hours away from São Paulo. (Taquaritinga) I stayed for one year.

4. What do you miss most about home?

At that time I missed my own language as I really could not talk to anyone. The neighbor’s girl could speak some English and I was with her as much as possible. I was very homesick until I mastered the language. After about 3 months I was very fluent, even dreaming in Portuguese. It was great then.

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

Actually my most frustrating experience in Brazil was when I returned in 2006. It was during Carnival, the airports were packed. I was traveling with my adult daughter and the daughter of my Brazilian friend. In the airport in Ribeirao Preto I handed my entire ticket to the woman at the counter. She only gave part of it back so I did not have the return portion to the USA. As you all know, the Brazilians do not exactly wait in lines. And no one is on time so they are all in a hurry to get their flights. Anyway, my ticket was missing, everyone searched for it, but it could not be found. So that was it. They said I would need to go to São Paulo to figure it out. It was crazy. I was in Ribeirao Preto ( 2 hours away). Luckily I was going to São Paulo for part of Carnival anyway so I went to the airline office in São Paulo and got it all straightened out.

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

In 2006 I returned to Brazil after 33 years and reconnected with my old friends. We had been out of touch for almost 30 years. Once they found out that I was coming to visit, they all started to contact each other and I was able to see so many of my old friends and families that I had lived with in Brasil. It was truly unbelievable. If you have a Brazilian friend, you have a friend for life.

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

Like everyone else I love the people. But, besides this, I really love that the country is so different from one place to another. Such diversity. It is like going to another country when you go to another area.

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

I went to a churrascaria” in São Paulo that was wonderful, but I don’t know the exact name.

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

In the March 2006 Carnival, my Brazilian friends, my daughter, and I marched in the Sambadrome in the parade for Carnival. It was all arranged through my friends and the costumes were purchased. I was very worried that the costume would be too revealing on this middle aged American woman. Imagine my surprise when we were covered head to toe in a fabulous costume for “rosas de ouras”, complete with a huge head piece. We had quite a laugh. On the way to the parade, we are all stuffed in a car, music blaring like everyone else, people drinking in the car, cell phones, etc. We were rear-ended by another car. Everyone exchanged information and we were on our way, in the middle of a huge amount of traffic. I had not spoken Portuguese for 33 years and it is amazing how fast it all comes back.

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

I think it would be rule following. The Americans are rule followers and the Brazilians are not. Young people break more rules in the USA. But in Brazil it is everyone. My then-28 year old daughter was absolutely shocked that no one seems to stop at stop signs. NO ONE. They kind of drive up to the stop sign looking around and keep right on going. If there is the tiniest amount of space between you and the next car, soon a small motorcycle will be right there.

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?

Luckily I learned to speak when I was relatively young. Amazingly, it came back to me after just a short time back in Brazil. Lucky for me also is that so many people now speak English and it is easy to find someone to help you. I don’t think I will ever master the verbs “VIR” and “VER”. Horrible conjugations to learn. I think the verb “to laugh” has a difficult pronounciation. Rir,rio, ria, riamos. With the R pronounced like H I just can’t do it. especially in a sentence.

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

If you are new to Brazil get used to being very flexible about time. You will be waiting a lot. If you are supposed to be ready to go to the beach at 8am and you are ready to go, everyone else will probably still be sleeping. This has not changed at all from when I was in Brazil in 72.

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

I would encourage people to visit small towns. I love the small towns. I am always surprised at the population of towns. I live in a small town in Ohio. (20,000) In Taquariting (20,000) there is no fast food, no shopping mall, etc. Most of the people seem to know everyone. I visited Rio the last time I was there and it was beautiful. I wish I had attended a soccer game. Oh, among the thousands of people on the beaches of Rio, I was the only one in a one piece swim suit. Easy to find me I guess.

You can contact Linda via lindahalver@yahoo.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 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:

Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
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

January 24, 2008

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. 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.

Hey Vanessa,

I’m an avid reader of your column as I live about 4 months a year in Brazil and am married to a Brazilian. Your column certainly helps explain the unexplainable! But here’s one for you: I notice that it is very common for Brasilians to do a bank transfer to pay for goods and services, esp. hotels. In the States, this can cost up for $30 or more, so we don’t do this very often at all. In fact, I’ve never done it once in the States. So, I’m curious, especially in the case of hotel reservations, how Brazilian hotels can only accept reservations if you make an advance deposit via bank transfer to their bank? First of all, that costs R$8 – why should the consumer eat that cost? And, how can they get away with that and not accept credit cards as is common in many cases? As a foreigner, I don’t have a Brazilian bank account, so is it fair that I cannot make a hotel reservation at any hotel that doesn’t accept credit cards, which is common in many charming pousadas in tourist towns like Ouro Preto, Jericoacora, etc.

Thanks!

Kevin

Oi, Kevin!

Glad to hear you’re enjoying the column! Answering on behalf of Brazil makes me feel like a mom! I have the feeling this will be a hard one to explain… but I will try.

There isn’t any legal reason why you need to make a reservation with a bank transfer. At least I’m not aware of a law or regulation where it’s written you must do that, but I can tell you of a Brazilian law that says: Bilhete reservado bilhete comprado (A reserved ticked is a bought ticket).

Although there isn’t a legal reason, I can think of a practical one linked with the above: once upon a time, right before carnival, late for searching for a hotel in the small town with no hotels, Mr. Someone called the first pousada found on the Internet and made a reservation. The owner of the pousada, Mr. Guy That Makes his Money Twice a Year, desperate for clients, saved Mr. Someone his best room. But Mr. Someone never showed up. The pousada was not really the place he wanted to stay, after all. Mr. Guy That Makes His Money Twice a Year loses some of his money, is upset, and wished he’d had the money in advance.

As for the R$8, yes we have to pay for it, but also in the US I’m used to paying for transfers. But you’re right, you don’t really need to do it so much and neither do I here. That problem, as you well said, will happen only with small pousadas, in small towns, where people go twice a year. For these people credit cards mean another extra monthly fee and a 5% tax for each transaction.

But, hey, your wife is Brazilian, you’re good! Don’t worry.

If you are not married to a Brazilian like Kevin. well, unfortunately you may have to pay that $30 for the transfer if booking at a smaller hotel/pousada.

Beijos.

Vanessa T. Bauer

Readers comments:

Another more economical way of paying for a reservation is depositing the amount requested in the bank account of the hotel, then sending them a copy of the proof of deposit (comprovante) via FAX. There is only the fee for the FAX.

— Mary Barkley

Good afternoon Vanessa from Natal,

I read Kevin’s question and answer on www.gringoes.com today and felt that I could ‘add’ some information to this.

We operate a reservations service for pousadas, hotels, and Cama, Caf, and Rede in the interior of Rio Grande do Norte (also Fernando de Noronha). You indicated that this only happened at small hotels where people only go once or twice a year… this is not necessarily the case. Almost all hotels especially in the northeast require a deposit of at least 50% or even pre-payment in full. Few accept credit cards, as you said, not only because of the 5% fee but also because the credit card companies in Brazil hold on to the money for at least 30 days. Another point, Mr. Someone, makes a reservation and never shows up …

EMBRATUR Rules are as follows:

Cancelamos: at 20 dias antes da viagem, devoluão integral do pagamento menos um taxa de servio (custos); at 15 dias antes da viagem, devoluão de 80% do total; at 10 dias antes da viagem, devoluão de at 50% do total e menos de 10 dias antes da viagem, não haver devoluão. Normas estabelecida pela EMBRATUR.

A bank transfer here in Brazil … i.e. depositing to to another bank account in ‘cash’ .. there is no cost, not like the states. This is the way we collect deposits and pay the hotels.

There is a general problem with International Credit Cards because of fraud … unless the client is in the office of the agency where we can see his ID and the credit card itself, and it is not a third party card. Most of the time we ask International Travelers to draw cash on their card and deposit in out account.

You can see an example of this on our reservations page http://www.acari-rn.com.br/pousadas.htm … One more point, if Kevin is legally married to a Brazilian, he can apply online for a CPF and open an account in almost any bank here. Ive attached a document to this email explaining the procedure.

— Donald

Mary and Donald,

That is great information!

Thank you so much,

Vanessa

Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, 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: Swimming, Showers and New Year’s
Ask a Brazilian: Making Friends
Ask a Brazilian: Female Etiquette
Ask a Brazilian: Washing Machines
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers

By James Denison
January 22, 2008

In 2007 Cassia and I traveled extensively throughout Brasil. We made two trips: one to the Northeast, where we visited Natal, Joao Pessoa and Recife after spending some time in São Paulo, Curitiba and Brasilia. Our second trip took us to Rio and then up to Belem do Para to visit her family there. Unfortunately, on each trip we were targeted by sophisticated thieves who got our credit card and ATM information and proceeded to charge up thousands of dollars on each account.

The first trip was challenging enough because of the air-traffic controllers’ strike that we were caught in, which I wrote about in a previous Gringoes article. We were actually able to salvage much of that trip and had a good time exploring the Northeast. Joao Pessoa was the place we enjoyed the most, with its lovely promenade along the beach filled with laid-back locals walking, mingling and eating outside, taking advantage of the sultry evenings. But, it was not pure pleasure to be had in Joao Pessoa. Our brand new rental car broke down at almost midnight after a long day of driving to and from Recife. Over and over again we tried pushing the car, with some young men who helped us, after an hour of trying, we were able to get the car started. The rental car company was no help at all at that late hour. The next day when we drove back to Natal the car again broke down at the airport, which caused another small nightmare of stress. The car rental company, Avis, was not very helpful or sympathetic and gave us almost no discount for our troubles. If this had happened in the USA, I am sure that the company would have given us a huge discount for our troubles, if not waived the bill entirely.

As it turned out, this was to be the least of our troubles. When we got back to the USA my credit card company called and said that they were concerned about all the money I was still charging up on my credit card in Brazil. As this was over a week since we had returned from Brasil, I was shocked that someone was running around charging thousands of dollars onto my card at businesses I had never even heard of in and around Joao Pessoa. It did not take too much deducing to figure out where my card info had been stolen. As I hadn’t used the card very much at all, it became obvious that one of the few times I had used it in Brasil, and the only time in Joao Pessoa was at a gas station to fill-up our lovely rental car.

On top of the other things we had to deal with on this trip, this was a bit shocking, but I soon got over it when the credit card company removed the charges from my bill and told me not to worry about any future charges in Brasil. They told me that this type of thing happens every day in Brasil, the USA and countries all over the world. I didn’t think much about it after that and had decided that during my next visit to Brasil I would not make myself as vulnerable to thieves and would instead use cash to pay for almost everything.

Then came our next trip to Brasil in late November. This trip took us to Rio and then up to Belem to visit Cassia’s family and, especially, her ailing mother who had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. We enjoyed Rio and had a fabulous time dancing to the great US DJ Mark Farina, who was doing a gig at the very cool Club 00. The next night we went up to Mangueira to experience the famous samba school madness that happens every Saturday night there. We felt very safe despite most locals’ fear of all things favela.

During our time in Rio we used an ATM machine at the HSBC bank one time to take out cash so we wouldn’t have to worry about our credit card info being stolen again. I used HSBC because I have used it in countries all over the world and have come to trust them as a financial institution when traveling. However, things are different in Rio. A week after returning from Brasil I went online to check my bank account because I had to pay some bills. Much to my surprise, someone in Brasil had been taking almost 400 dollars twice a day from my checking account and when I checked Cassia’s account I found that they were taking even more money out of her account twice a day. I called the bank and they cut off the use of the accounts and they told me that someone had made copies of mine and Cassia’s cards in Rio and were taking cash out of our accounts at ATMs across Rio. The bank put the money back in our accounts a few days later, but I had to find other means to pay my bills and rent in the meantime. This was a stressful string of events that made me not want to return to Brasil. This type of thing has never happened to me in the almost 20 other countries around the world that I have visited. But it happened twice in the same year in Brasil, even though I used my credit card very little and only used my ATM card once on this last trip.

After reflecting upon these unfortunate incidents in Brasil, I definitely feel that I was targeted as a gringo in Brasil. I have never felt in danger physically in Brasil, but I now have a healthy distrust of people there in regards to money. If my wife were not from Brasil I probably would not return there for many years, if ever. There are plenty of other paces in the world to see and enjoy without this kind of hassle. However, she has a wonderful family, and I do love warm spirit with which many Brasilians live their everyday lives. Because of this, there is little doubt that I will return to Brasil. Next time I will buy reais before leaving the USA in order to make myself even less vulnerable to those who would like to spend my money without my consent.

Previous articles by James:

Brazil: Surviving The Air Traffic Controllers Strike Part 2
Brazil: Surviving The Air Traffic Controllers Strike Part 1

By Stephen Thompson
January 22, 2008

Brazil and Macau were once two extremes of the vast Portuguese Empire, the history of which you can read in Charles Boxer’s book: The Portuguese Seaborne Empire 1425-1825.

I recently went to Macau for a day trip, hoping it would make me feel like I was back in Brazil, or, as they say in Portuguese to matar a saudade. Macau was until 1999 a Portuguese-administered colony in China. The Chinese government on assuming sovereignty promised to maintain the political system unchanged for 50 years, which means that Portuguese is still one of the official languages of government. And this has helped to keep the language alive. the government is now enthusiastically protecting and promoting the Portuguese heritage for trade and tourism. Although most of the Portuguese bureaucrats have gone home, about 5000 Portuguese speakers continue to make Macau their home; some of them are from families which have lived in Macau for 400 years. There is a Portuguese language school, four daily Portuguese newspapers, and several Portuguese language bookshops. There is a Department of Portuguese at the University of Macau with over 30 university professors; the department offers a four-year course in Portuguese for foreigners.

Of course all the street signs are in Portuguese. Macau has preserved an attractive colonial style praca, the Largo do Senado, where the black-and-white wavy pavements reminded me of the sidewalks at Copacabana. Nearby is a church of which dramatically only the facade remains, the rest having burnt down in a fire. Macau also has a number of good Portuguese restaurants, including the Clube Militar, an attractive 19th-century building with white walls and high ceilings. In addition, there are two good Brazilian Churrascarias, the Churrascao on Taipa Island, and the Fogo no Samba at the Venezia Casino, where you can hear Portuguese of the more familiar South American variety. There is also a good value rice-and-beans available at Yes Brazil, on the Travessa Fortuna, just off the Largo do Senado.

The longer we stayed in Macau, the more old Portuguese culture we unearthed. We spent half an hour browsing at one of the many old libraries which are open to public, full of beautifully bound 19th-century books, with a polished wood floor which reminded me of my apartment in São Paulo. Then to the Protestant cemetery, where a number of 19th-century sailors who met misfortune are buried – in those days, non-Catholics were barred from other cemeteries. Perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the cemetery is Chinnery, an artist whose paintings recorded 19th-century Macau life. Some of these I discovered transformed into blue and white ceramic tiles, on the back streets off the Largo.

In the evening, we got the ferry back to Hong Kong, just one hour’s ride. At night, Macau is now ablaze with bright lights, and I didn’t feel like chancing my luck at the casinos…

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:

Brazilian Music in Translation
China is Quite Popular in Brazil These Days
Brazil: Physical Fitness and Personal Training in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: Physical Fitness and Personal Training in São Paulo Part 1
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

By John from Cincinnati
January 21, 2008

Welcome back, surfistas! Time to shake off the Floripa chill, put away the wetsuit and head north for the real” Brazilian experience (if such a thing exists).

Bahia
Arguably the capital of Nordestino surfing, you’ll encounter plenty of wave magnets here. In fact, we probably shouldn’t even lump Bahia in with the Nordeste, but hey, it’s all the same to a geographically-challenged gringo, right?

Of course, Salvador and Ilheus have some standout spots, but the real prize would have to go to Itacar. It is here, meu rei, that you will undergo your long anticipated metamorphosis from stiff, uptight gringo to warm and fuzzy surfista baiano, overflowing with tropical stoke. Mellow vibes, deserted breaks accessible only by foot, excellent chow, festas every night, capoeira professors named “Bem-vindo”.

Enter George Bush, exit Barack Obama. O Itacar, I can’t quit you!

But when it’s this good, word gets out fast. John from Cincinnati’s last trip was back in ’02; since then he has heard disturbing rumors of overdevelopment, violence, and restricted beach access. Let’s hope the real spirit of Itacar prevails in the end.

Speaking of unpleasantries, on my first day at the beach I was welcomed by a crew of softball-sized Portuguese-man-of-wars. They are rare, and usually get washed up on shore only after big storms, but these are no ordinary jellyfish. Gringo beware: when they’re that big you measure the tentacles with a yardstick rather than a ruler. Just in case, bring some meat tenderizer to minimize the screaming (put it ON the wound, not in your mouth) then get some professional help if necessary.

Tiririca is the main break in town. Consistent, but not much room, and gets crowded when it’s on. Fast waves, and fast shortboarders to match. Not for beginners. The surf schools won’t tell you this, but actually none of the beaches here are really beginner waves. That said, at least most of them are (were) relatively uncrowded. Brazilian summer brings the smallest waves, but Itacar can unleash head-high plus anytime of the year.

To get to the epic breaks south of town, you’ll need a ride. Jeribucau, Engenhoca, Havaizinho, and Itacarezinho can be reached by car, bus, or better yet, by catching a ride from your surf camp transportation director.

A final thought: Tourism and development bring jobs, but aside from that when all you have is your village, your fish, your waves, your women, and your capoeria (and in a few cases, your mud shack), it can be a bit unsettling to see hordes of gringoes overrunning the place. So play nice with the locals, and in most cases they will be happy to return the favor. And stay at Pousada Belfort if there’s room!

Recife
Definitely not safe to go back in the water, as the beaches of Recife have the dubious distinction of being featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” series. With something like 50 attacks and twenty fatalities since 1992 (and rumor has it that the numbers are actually much higher), you’ll want to stick to more terrestrial activities here. It’s a shame, as there are some pretty good waves in Recife.

However, if you must get your fix you can try Porto de Galinhas, about 70km to the south. From the beaches on the north side of town, you can cast a loving gaze back towards Recife at the cargo ships pulling into the port of Suape. It is alleged that the destruction of prime amphibious real estate on which the port was built (surprise, just before ’92;) unleashed a horde of irritated bull sharks on thousands of unsuspecting swimmers and surfers. And with the polluted urban waters reducing the shark population to an oceanic version of “dumpster diving”, the end result shouldn’t be a surprise.

Although Galinhas is apparently safe (because the currents from Suape run to the north), the sight of those cargo ships is a constant reminder of the dangers lurking below. Therefore, the usual precautions are highly recommended: avoidance of solo sessions, murky water, and dawn/dusk patrols.

Speaking of precautions, certainly Recife has a violent reputation, and Galinhas was crawling with law enforcement, probably not just for show. One evening on the beach I was definitely getting eyeballed by a few “land sharks”. On second thought, maybe they were just big fans of the award winning HBO surf-noir drama, “John from Cincinnati”! Three star-struck youngsters just wanting an autograph – no wonder they kept following me!

Just south of town, Maracape is the most well known surf spot, and a contest venue. If all you’re getting is shorepound, a better option might be Cupe, which runs north of the “point” at Galinhas (where all the jangadas are). Cupe is a wind magnet, like much of the Nordeste. Closer to the point and the waves are bit more sheltered, but you’ll lose size so choose wisely. Cupe stretches out for a couple of miles, runs into another reefy point, and then arcs inward to form Muro Alto, which isn’t as consistent as Cupe, but a pretty beach and worth a look.

Natal
Load up the dune buggy, and crank up the forró – you’re in Natal, last stop on the www.gringoes.com surf tour!

Praia dos Artistas is just south of the fort, a gritty urban beach that brings out the rabid locals to feast on wintertime swells. If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t belong there. Better to head further south to the famous Ponta Negra, where all the tourist action can be found: restaurants, pousadas, bars, the big sand dune at the south end of the beach, mellow waves, and four year-old kids who can surf them better than you.

If Ponta Negra has you feeling too agitated, try Praia da Pipa about 80km south. Unfortunately, the gringo masses congregate in large numbers here as well, but hopefully they won’t paddle out with you at Baia dos Golfinhos. The waves are usually kind and gentle, and a must-see if you’ve never experienced a spinner dolphin coming at you at “ramming speed”. Makes you glad those dolphins are on our side!

The main beach in “downtown” Pipa is surfable, but involves a long paddle through the rocks. Proceed with caution, or go tackle the heavier beachbreak just to the south of town at Praia do Amor.

Fernando de Noronha
If you’re surfing Fernando this time of year, then you don’t need to read this article!

Well, gringoes, it’s been fun, but the writer’s strike in Hollywood means that I’m out of material. That and I’ve described every Brazilian surf break I know. Which gringo will pick up the torch? Rio? Fortaleza? Ilha do Mel?

Boas Ondas!!!

E-mail John from Cincinnati at jjbravo2000@yahoo.com

Related articles:

The www.gringoes.com Incomplete Guide to Surfing in Brazil – Santa Catarina
The www.gringoes.com Incomplete Guide to Surfing in Brazil – The Litoral Norte
Tico Johnny’s Incomplete Guide to Surfing in Brazil – By Tico Johnny”

By Ricky Skelton
January 21, 2008

After a three day trip had turned into 7 drunken nights, 8 breakdowns, 9 towing booze cruise of 10 remote Amazon towns, we rocked up in Santarem in a different boat to the one in which we set off. We might still have been marooned downriver, sitting ducks for the mosquitoes that can bite through hammocks and clothes. I guess in that empty part of the river, humans don’t stop too often so they have to make hay while the sun shines. Their bites hurt so much we had to go swimming to hide. The thought of another Mosquito Dawn had us begging every boat that passed. One finally stopped at dusk, but only under duress. Saved! We boarded with all our gear and hundreds of boxes in a frantic mid-Amazon sunset swap. It’s not easy to climb between two decent-sized boats with backpacks.

We waved goodbye to our boat, the crazy chef, the captain who was going down with his ship, and the crew who were probably going down with malaria if they stayed there much longer. They might still be there for all I know.

The second boat was full already. The only place where hammocks weren’t hanging, dead cows were. A goat was tethered to the front like a figurehead, but despite these accoutrements our new boat lacked the sloppy character of our old one. It had a proper bar at the back for a start, with striplights that attracted a million Amazon moths. Maybe they liked the music pumping out of the speakers. There was nowhere else to sleep except on the benches by the bar. Narrow, hard, noisy and full of insects it might have been, but even this part of the trip had its charm. Once the bar closed, the people and music disappeared and the moon came out. With only three or four electric lights within a hundred miles, an Amazon moon has no competition, especially when it has huge rings around it which can’t be seen all the time. The gentle ripples behind the boat reflected the silver light in calming patterns as the silhouette of the jungle slipped by. At moments like this, there is no need to speak, just smile, enjoy the ambience and be glad that you’re in Brazil.

Even better. A dark, dark cloud was looming over the tree-tops, sweeping millions of stars up in its path, making the brightest of silver linings out of them, and contrasting beautifully with the coming storm. We rolled the tarpaulin down but not all the way. The rain was so loud it was pointless talking. The jungle disappeared behind it as the moon and stars had done. The girl who’d told me once that gigantic rings around the moon meant a storm approaching was as right this time as she had been before. Nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to feel except the rain of the rainforest.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

January 18, 2008

Meet Michelle Monteiro, from the USA, who recently relocated to Recife in Brazil, and is married to a Brazilian. Read the following interview where she 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.?

My name is Michelle Monteiro. I am from the USA where I met my husband Beto. He is from Recife but lived in the USA for 20 years – he’s a 50/50 split now, so I get the best of both worlds. We relocated from the USA about a year ago now to give Recife a try for awhile. We brought our companies with us and operate dually in the USA and here in Brazil. Fortunately for us, one of our businesses is Cabovox, which is a VoIP company so our business phone calls are cheap. We are our own best poster children for the system. My husband has surfed since childhood so we do that a lot. I am learning. Badly.

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

15 months ago we arrived. The story of how we came is funny. We flew here for Carnival and we saw a house for sale. He said to me, Hey that would be a cool house to buy.” I said, “okay.” He said, “no, I’m serious.” I said, “yeah, me too.” He said, “okay, let’s do it. Let’s move here!” I said, “bora!” Yes, it was just like that. 6 months later, we moved our furniture, our office, 1 dog and 2 cats from Florida to Recife. The move alone was an adventure, let me tell you… but that is another story…

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impressions were mixed. Like everyone else who comes here I was struck by the sharp divide of wealth and the mixing of the truly poverty stricken with the middle class and wealthy in every location. In the USA we have poverty but it is usually physically segregated from the rest of society – out of sight out of mind I suppose. The other thing that struck me was the willingness by people at every level in most locations to be helpful and kind to me as the foreigner. Brazilians are much more tolerant, patient and helpful to newcomers than most of my compatriots at home. The USA could learn a few lessons on that one.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I miss family of course, but then there are always airplanes, emails and telephones. I miss a couple of stores that I had there. I used to miss sour cream, but I learned how to make it (and it is better than the store bought at home…). So I guess I don’t really miss very much at all. We won’t live here forever, but for now we are happy.

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

Same as everyone else – red tape, bureaucracy, taxes, bureaucracy and oh yeah, bureaucracy.

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

Wow, there have been so many. It is all in the attitude, you know? When we leave the house, we open our eyes to the possibility of adventure wherever we go. Adventure is a funny thing, you never know where or when you will find it and it is usually the best when it arrives unexpected and unannounced. I cannot tell you how many times we set out on a Friday or Saturday morning in our Javali jeep (“The Beast”) with every intention of coming back that evening and found ourselves washing our clothes in a pousada sink 2 days later because we still hadn’t been home.

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

The variety of things to do that don’t require a large budget and the weird places we can discover with our jeep. Oh and of course… having a maid.

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

Oh lots of places. There is a little “restaurant” open only on Saturdays near Beto’s father’s farm that we ride the horses to. They only have 1 dish to serve but the beer is cold and the food is awesome. There is Marola’s in Olinda to freeze your bottom off on the water while you suck down garlic shrimp and stuffed onions. “Domingo Em A Rua, Recife” in Recife Antigo is pretty cool – lots of activities and street food; there are always some unexpected performances there. Our balcony for breakfast overlooking the water and counting the fishing boats. The truth is pretty much anywhere is my favorite place as long as Beto is there. He has that Brazilian lust for life that makes anywhere the best place to be at the time.

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

Once again… so many. We chased cows on the beach with the car. We went to a country circus and were confronted with a 1-eyed hippo 1.5 meters away. And he was only held in place by a… get this… a wooden saw horse. The gay parade down Boa Viagem was definitely memorable and entertaining. Oh I know! Last year when we watched the Pernambuco governor’s debate between Mendona and Eduardo. Ha ha, get this, in the middle of the debate Mendona accused Eduardo of putting chickens in front of his mother’s house. And when Eduardo of course couldn’t stop laughing, Mendona became irate and shouted “He’s laughing! Look at him! He put chickens in front of my mother’s house!” I guess the chickens worked because Eduardo won. I will never forget that debate as long as I live. Only in Brazil.

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

The poverty.

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?

My Portuguese is coming along… Words with too many syllables are fun. The funniest mistake I made was confusing pão the bread and that other similar word… think about it and it will come to you… for a year I thought they were the same and could never figure out why those 2 things would have the same name; I mean, where is the logic there?? My husband finds this error hysterically funny. I make mistakes all of the time, Portuguese seems to be a language of exceptions not rules. Fortunately people are patient with me.

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

Get advice on the processes! The bureaucracy is bewildering and everything takes 10x longer than it should. Except for pizza which arrives at the door incredibly fast. This is a mystery to me, why does it take 5 separate trips to get a driver’s license (including a doctor and psychologist) and pizza arrives at the door (actually cooked all the way) 15 minutes after you called them? How the heck do they do that?

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

The northeast of Brazil is full of cultural surprises… here we go: butt-skiing and camel riding in Natal; mud bathing or visiting waterfalls; lots of natural, environmental activities; glorious beaches (but avoid the one is Recife, it’s full of sharks); many arts fairs and galleries to explore; the music performances are excellent (and sometimes free); dancing behind the maracatus in Olinda; and people watching – Pernambuco has some real characters and they like it that way.

Thanks for reading my interview! If you visit the Northeast and want recommendations of things to do, let us know! brecifense@yahoo.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 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:

Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
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 Teacher Claudia
January 18, 2008

Heaven, I’m in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly breathe.”

Dear readers, here I am, finally in the place I belong to: Massaguau, Caraguatatuba, São Paulo, Brazil. A tiny beach, known by fishermen mostly, where the sea is rough and steep. There’s a deep canal when you step into the ocean, so you better know how to swim and dive, at least to overcome that part. Once you move three or four meters, you’re safe and sound. Enjoy.

A local fisherman has said that Massaguau means small sea. It may be. He’s not a Native America, so he doesn’t speak the Native languages such as Tupi-Guarani. But it’s all right, we’ll take his word. In fact, we can’t see much sea out there. Ahead of us is Ilha do Tamandu (anteater island), Ilhote (little island) and, at the far back, Ilhabela (beautiful island). We’re not going to the latter one. Too many bugs and people.

We’ll just stay here, doing nothing, watching the sky and making up stories about the clouds passing by.
Where are the people? Where are the tourists? There aren’t. It’s just us. What are we going to have for lunch? It depends on the fisherman. Has he caught any abadejo? That’s the typical fish from the costes, the rocky formations and islands of the area. And for dinner? Pastis de siri, naturally (crab pastries).

E amanh, vai dar praia? Will it be nice at the beach tomorrow, will the weather be nice? It also depends, the local boys answer. A pipa t puxando, então sim! The kites are high, yes, it’ll be sunny! Where are the beach vendors? Sunglasses, sun lotion, bikinis, all sorts of beverages and foods? There aren’t. Sometimes an older boy goes by selling picols (ice pops), made of Brazilian fruit. Some are not really Brazilian, but were brought here a long time ago, usually by Dom Pedro the Second, who wanted to develop Brazil by all means. Picols de caju (cashew), abacaxi (pineapple), coco (coconut), aa, and guaran! It’s just been launched, and it’s really good. And that’s it. If we want a caipirinha, we need to go to a kiosk, up on the sidewalk.

Can we stay here for good? No we can’t, unfortunately. The sun is setting, all the fisher boys play in the sea, the water is nice and warm, it’s finally when I can just relax, no need to worry about the sun. Baby crabs leave the sand, the wind shakes the coconut trees, beach owls emerge from their land nests, and seagulls fly home. Is it a beautiful beach? Perhaps not, I should say. But it’s heaven to my eyes. Best memories, best people, best days ever. At um dia com chuva na praia melhor que um dia de sol na cidade (a rainy day at the beach is far better than a sunny day in the city).

Back at the inn, we end the day listening to Toquinho singing Aquarela. Here’s a piece from it:

Numa folha qualquer eu desenho um sol amarelo
E com cinco ou seis retas fcil fazer um castelo.
Corro o lpis em torno da mão e me dou uma luva,
E se fao chover com dois riscos tenho um guarda-chuva.

Se um pinguinho de tinta cai num pedacinho azul do papel,
Num instante imagino uma linda gaivota a voar no cu.
Vai voando, contornando a imensa curva Norte e Sul.
Vou com ela, viajando, Hava, Pequim ou Istambul.
Pinto um barco a vela branco, navegando, tanto cu e mar num beijo azul.

.

(Watercolor

On any sheet of paper I draw a yellow sun
And with five or six lines it’s easy to make a castle
The pencil outlines my hand and I have a glove
And if I make rain with two lines I have an umbrella
If a drop of paint falls on a blue piece of the paper
In a moment a imagine a beautiful seagull flying in the sky
Goes on, going around the huge curve North-South
I go with it, dreaming, Hawaii, Beijing or Istanbul
I paint a white sailboat, sailing; it’s so much sky and sea in a blue kiss)

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:

On Soul (Brazil as a Mission)
Portuguese Tip: Sounds Part 3 – Vowels
Portuguese Tip: On God – Expressions with “Deus”
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