July 11, 2008

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Renata Andraus. Read on as Renata tells us about her impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

I am from São Paulo and work with events, developing new business and driving more Brazilian attendance to international exhibitions, organizing delegations of executives from different sectors

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

First the language, because different from what many people believe not every Brazilian speaks English and if the purpose of the trip is tourism or especially business it is important to have someone speaking Portuguese for intermediate conversations and to translate different things. Brazilians are very friendly and always try to understand but it helps a lot having someone in the group that speaks the language.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

Being overly concerned with safety issues and not researching about the country and its culture before traveling. Every country has problems with safety, especially the major cities in the world like New York, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil and every tourist needs to be careful with some things. But it does not mean a tourist cannot walk around or cannot use the metro and public transportation. From my experience because I receive many foreigners coming for business they always leave the country very surprised about everything: food, hotels, quality of service, people and even safety.

My advice would be to research about the country and cities you are going to visit and come open minded to a different culture and try new things e.g. food. For example if an American comes to Brazil and only wants to eat at American restaurants he will have this option, but why not try and enjoy the differences from home.

Another mistake is to come to Brazil and only think about Rio de Janeiro, Rio is beautiful but there is so much to see including amazing beaches in places like Fernando de Noronha, Fortaleza, Salvador, Iguassu falls, Amazonia to see the rainforest or Pantanal. If a foreigner comes 5 times to Brazil he won’t be able to see all.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

In South Africa people are always smiling and have a great sense of humour.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

I prefer American, probably because I learned English living in the USA with an American family during an exchange program. It sounds more familiar to me.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

South Africa was my favorite trip because of the mix: very friendly people, great service, beautiful views specially in Cape Town and the safari something I always wanted to do. I felt at home in South Africa.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Italian and Japanese food.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

I like Shania Twain and Bon Jovi, favorite book Harry Potter and movie The Lord of the Rings.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

I never dated a foreigner but I guess Brazilians are closer to their family, considering that we don’t leave the house of our parents usually until we get married and we are always together doing family trips, lunches and dinners and foreigners are more independent of the family because leave the house with 17 years old to go to college in a different city.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

I guess I can call a culture shock when I lived in the USA as an exchange student and could see how difficult it was to make friends. I guess in Brazil when we have someone from another country we want to help, and instantly become friends, we are really open to that and in the USA it took a while to break the ice” because Americans don’t instantly become friends, but once they do is about the same in Brazil.

Another shock for me while a student was to hear some questions about my country, such as: Do you have McDonald’s there? Do you have ice cream? Do you live in trees? Does it rain there? That was a shock for me to know that many people didn’t have an idea of what Brazil was.

And as a professional working with Americans to understand that they are very brief and objective about everything and we are not. I had to deal with these cultural differences when sending e-mails and when traveling also.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?You can contact Renata at re_andraus@hotmail.com.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

To read previous interviews in the Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:

Ana Vitoria Joly
Helio Araujo
Adriano Abila
Anderson Ferreira
Sandra Partridge
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Flavius Ferrari
Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Alexandre
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

July 23, 2008

Meet Nitai Panchmatia from India who first travelled to Brazil ten years ago, and is now working here. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences 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 a global citizen of Indian origin. The last 12 years I have travelled to 30+ countries. Besides India, lived in Brazil, Hong Kong, Dubai and short stints in other countries. But out of all of them, I consider Brazil as my segundo pais (second home) after India. I am a marketing professional and worked in various sectors from telecom to ecommerce, shipping to commodity derivatives. I am a start-up specialist in Brazil, Middle east and India. I am from Mumbai (Bombay) originally and am a vegetarian since birth. I just finished a telecom project in Brazil and now am looking for further opportunities to futher India-Brazil trade.

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

My first trip to Brazil was in 1998. I was working in Hong Kong in a trading company dealing in electrical items from China. They asked me to go on a 15-day trip to South America and see if I could bring some sales. I went to Buenos Aires and then to São paulo. That 15-day-1-suitcase trip got extended to 1 year! What an adventure! I started learning Portuguese talking to taxi drivers, friends, hotel staff, etc. I was blessed with a beautiful and kind receptionist in my hotel who helped me a lot in acclimatising initially. It was love at first sight (with Brazil not with the receptionist). After that somehow, all my further assignments lead to Brazil, at least once every 2 years.

3. What were your first impressions of Brazil?

Please note that I lived in Centro (downtown) of São paulo for first 6 months in 1998. At the time, it was much more dangerous and that area was probably one of the riskiest areas of Sampa. But ignorance was bliss and I used to roam around as if I owned the town, which I realised later was my mistake at that time. But I have not been mugged to-date. My first impressions were that Brazil is very much like India ie; crowded, dirty, poverty, etc. But in time, I realised I was wrong and Sampa is one of the most beautiful and energetic cities in the world. What struck me most at that time (and even now) are the people of Brazil. They truly made me feel at home and I never felt like a gringo, except when I wanted to wear that hat, intentionally!!

4. What do you miss most about home?

Mainly FOOD! Due to few indians in Brazil, there is not much of a market for Indian food or grocery stores. But that is about to change now. I really miss my home food, spices, lentils(dal), etc when I am in Brazil. I also miss going to temples and other places of worship, which I am used to back home. I miss my family and friends. I miss Bollywood movies and music a lot. I miss the cheap bargains on the Indian streets. I miss the street English, which you hear everywhere in India. But Brazil compensates for a lot of other things, so I cant complain

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

Well, there have been many. Once I got my SIM card, I called customer service but noone spoke english. Also, initially, purchase of personal hygiene items were a problem. I used body language most of the time till I figured out the right words. The Lonely Planet phrasebook helped me a lot at the time. Also, opening a company and its various bureaucratic hassles were quite frustrating, till I discovered the jeitinho Brasileiro (the Brazilian way). But in all the frustrating experiences, I grew to learn and appreciate the Brasilian hospitality and its people.

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

I am unable to do justice to all the memorable moments, if I name only one specific incident here. Brazil has been a ‘string’ of memorable experiences, one above the other, which I will cherish all my life. But the one thing common in all those experiences has been the kindness, friendliness and acceptability of the Brasilians towards a lost Indian soul 20,000 miles away from home. I have had strangers on the street help me without any expectations. I have had families who have loved me as their own in matter of weeks. I have had people give me money without asking for anything. I have been taken to hospital by strangers who are now lifelong friends.

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

As you guessed by now, its all about the people. Due to Brasilian attitude to foreignors, I am their fan and am meio-Brasileiro (half-Brazilian). Even I spell Brasil with an ‘s’! Besides the people, I like the variety that Brazil has to offer in terms of natural beauty, climate, landscape, people, cultures, etc. Also I admire the Latin carpe diem culture which we Indians lack the most. We worry and we save. We postpone happiness, luxuries generally to give a security, financial support, etc to family. We work very hard, without weekends and never learn to say NO to our employers. My experience of Brazilians has been otherwise. They draw a line between their work and leisure time. Try and call your work colleagues for work in office over the weekend and you will find out! They will be sunbathing at their praias (beaches). Brazilians live without much pretence which is something I admire a lot! Most of them seem happy with what they have, as long as they get their cervejas (always plural) and churrasco!!

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

Having a hard-core Indian palate, I need Indian food at least 3-4 times a week. My favourite place has been a restaurant called Delhi palace on Av. Juscelino K in São paulo. The best Indian chef in Brazil called Dinesh Rajput is there. But I believe that he has moved to another place called Govinda since June 08, so I will move my loyalties there. I also love the America chain of restuarants which serve amazing Veggie burgers. Also another unassuming place on Rua Antonio Carlos near Av Paulista called Gopalaprasada is excellent. They have set meals for lunch and on Friday/Saturday they serve an A la carte menu for dinner, which is typical south Indian food. On Sundays, I prefer eating at Moema Natural which is the best natural food restaurant in Sampa. My favourite hang out places are Park Ibirapuera, Park Villa Lobos, Cervejaria Opcao near Trainon Masp, Prainha Paulista on Jose Maria Lisboa near Paulista, Shopping Morumbi (best shopping in Sampa) and many others. But my favourite place is a very small town near Sampa called Aldeia da Serra. Its like nothing else I have seen and I like to go there on weekends and unwind. I will build my house there one day and retire!

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

Quite a few but right now I clearly remember the first one. Within a week of my first trip there, I was wondering how to ask the housekeeping to come and collect the laundry from my room. I tried but they did not understand English (remember I was in a rundown Centro hotel for first 6 months). So I called my Indian friend to teach me how to I ask them to take my laundry. He told me ‘Tira a roupa’. So, I took the courage of asking them to come up to my room armed with the knowledge of my first two words of portuguese. When, she was at the door, I told her ‘Tira a roupa’, as I was taught. And WHAM, she slapped me with all her Bahiana strength and stomped away towards the elevators. Shocked and very embarrased, I called my friend and told him this, upon which he burst into a laughter and said that tira a roupa means take ‘off’ the clothes!! Since then I swore I wont ever ask my indian friends for any translation but will learn on my own. Still they joke about it after 10 years.

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

My friend Deepak Sapra has already mentioned some of the striking differences between India and Brazil on this site. Like left hand drive, food, absence of English dailies, sense of dressing, no tea with milk and spices, no railways, etc. These are very well pointed out. But, on the other hand, Brazil is far cleaner than India, Brazilians have more civic sense, high hygiene sense, more light hearted and jovial, care a damn attitude in general. More Westernised and highly influenced by American culture. Frankly, I would rate the people (women) as one of the most striking of the differences. I have to say here that in my travel of 30+ countries, never have I seen so many beautiful people all at the same place. But with the modern approach and attitude of women comes its issues too. I have not seen so many young single mothers also at any given place.

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

I am ok now with my Portuguese but I still have a problem of pronouncing a Caraguatatuba, Itaquaquecetuba or a Pindamonhangaba! I still confuse between bate palmas and bate papo! Olho and oleo is common now. But that’s the beauty in Brazil. One’s mind is always ALERT due to this.

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

My advice would be specific to Indians here since they are beginning to discover Brazil.

1. Don’t wear gold rings, chains, bracelets, etc. Keep them back home
2. If you are veggie and cant cook, please bring food stuff with you. Bring MTR and Parampara packaged Indian food. Also bring dals (Lentils), which is not available here. Bring masala tea packets, in case you cant survive without masala tea. Bring all your masalas with you if you are staying longer.
3. Please don’t open a map in the middle of the road to invite attention and proclaim yourself as tourist.
4. Please don’t bring travellers cheques as they are expensive to exchange. Cash or prepaid debit cards work best.
5. Don’t depend on the Consulate to guide you for everything. Do your homework prior to landing here and book a hotel in advance if you are coming to São Paulo. I recommend staying in flats (service apartments) rather than expensive hotels with matchbox rooms. Remember, we Indians may need to cook, in case you are veggie.
6. This is not a cheap travel destination and you wont be landing in an Amazon jungle. Please budget your trip well and be well dressed for all occassions.
7. Due to São Paulo being a dry place and Indians used to eating lot of onion-garlic-spicy food, I strongly advice daily use of mints, mouth freshners.
8. Please don’t travel by local bus or trains till you know a little bit of Portuguese as its dangerous. Use taxis. Renting a car can be problem as Brazil is not included in the India international driving permit. Please make sure you endorse your local permit from Detran (RTO) before you start driving here.
9. I recommend using a good consultant, whom you trust for all your business needs rather than going for cheap but unreliable service providers.
10. If you are coming for tourism, please take out at least 15-20 days, else you wont do justice to Brazil.
11. From India, I recommend shortest and cheapest travel routes via South africa airways or Emirates. Please note that you must get your yellow fever vaccination before you leave for Brazil. If you are unable to do so for some reason, don’t worry! you can always get it at the airports in São Paulo before your departure to India.
12. Have fun! Have fun! Have fun!

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

I recommend to see some of the places that I have mentioned above. Besides that I recommend to walk around on Paulista, in Centro, take a tour of all the museums, parks, etc. Please don’t miss the view on the tallest restaurant in Brazil called Terraco Italia. The view is breathtaking. Lots of places to see in Brazil but I am sure others have already mentioned most of them in their responses. I would recommend people to try out the local drinks, local food at small unassuming places.

You can contact Nitai via nitaip@hotmail.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:

Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
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

By Ricky Skelton
July 23, 2008
After the resounding success of The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off (thanks Dimmi), finally comes The Great Brazilian Animal-Off – solely judged on which Brazilian animal of the land I would prefer to be.

Gamb 8%
Small possum-like creatures that lives in my roof. Keeps me awake most nights. I dont want to kill them though.

Capivara 12%
Capybaras are not so rare that seeing the World’s Largest Rodent (after Mickey) is a particular treat.

Marmosets and Tamarins 15%
These beautiful little monkeys will be much higher, especially if I visit the Rio reserve that is increasing the numbers of the rare Golden Lion version. For now though, my only memory of them is seeing a photo of one being smuggled overseas crammed into a thermos. His little face looking upwards depressed me.

Howler Monkey 23% (for sound only)
The amazing noise they make at dawn should come from a monkey the size of King Kong. Stay well clear of them though. You dont want to know what they do if you get too close.

Maned Wolf 27%
Loses marks for not looking as cool as the Grey Wolf and for never having been spotted.

Puma 41%
I cant rid myself of the association with Argentina and their national rugby team. Sorry. They do exist in the Pantanal though.

Deer 45%
I wouldnt particularly want to be a Brazilian deer.

Ona 50%
Top marks for being the most beautiful animal in South America. No marks for being too intelligent to come near me in the wild. I havent even seen one in a zoo in Brazil! The Itaipu staff claimed he was hiding in a blind spot in the rocks. Que mentira. The closest I came was stroking a jaguar pelt that a crazy, friendly hippy and his lovely friendly wife were selling in Barreirinhas. It felt as wonderful as it probably once looked.

Coati 52% (for the views)
These little raccoony creatures have a cute gait and they will always remind me of Iguau Falls. Good to be able to get so close to wild animals in such a place.

Capuchin Monkey 58%
Named because of their love of a cappuccino first thing in the morning. Ok, not true, but very nearly for etymology students. Another cute little monkey with the hair of a monk. Good comedy rating.

Tamandua 64%
Such a unique creature with her flared trousers, tail like a flag and face like an ice-cream cone, but eating one thing for the rest of your life? I couldnt be an anteater.

Jaguaritica e Jaguarundi 71%
Smaller cats such as the ocelot are beautifully patterned and very handsome. Perhaps a bit more of a Tasmanian devil-type personality would help though. Again, only known to me through the pelts.

Jiboia 73%
I travelled all around Brazil without seeing a boa constrictor in the forests and the jungles, and then finally, literally, bumped into one in a Florianópolis supermarket. Unexpected.

Macaco Prto 74%
Cute isnt the first choice amongst adjectives that Id like to be called, but the spider monkey being the cutest monkey on the planet wouldnt be the worst thing.

Tatu 77%
Ive seen a few armadillos waddling around, and cute they are in their own way. In some remote Amazon village, I saw the shell of one that was big enough to bath all your children in.

Sucuri 83%
Yeah, sure. Who wouldnt want to be an Anaconda? I also like the fact that one of the rivers in Bonito that tourists happily float down is named after these beasts. Foreign tourists would run a mile if it was called Anaconda River. Uncle Mad also had a story about finding an 8m monster in the Amazon, giving his terrified Colombian friend the tail and saying Hold this – Im going to find the other end.

Paca & Cutia 88%
One Amazon dawn I left my hammock and walked away from our camp. I sat on a log and enjoyed the Sound of Sunrise. The bird chorus was overshadowed by a rustling in the trees. I was worried but couldnt miss the chance of seeing something special. A little agouti appeared snuffling out of the jungle and went right past without even noticing me. I enjoyed the moment.

Bicho Preguio 92%
The sloth is one of nature’s finest gifts. Lack of predators made him lazier than a stoned koala. Talk about an easy meal. Easy fun too, as you can tickle, stroke and examine those long claws very closely in complete safety. Tap him on the shoulder and he only turns around 10 minutes later. Enviable lifestyle.

Ona Preta 99%
The coolest animal with the coolest name on the planet. I fell in love with them after seeing one in a zoo as a kid. The yellow eyes, the sleek fur and the hidden patterns. Loses marks for not being a true species, rather a genetic melanin mutation present in all spotted cats. Oh, what a mutation to have.

Anta 100%
The tapir is the winner. The humble little beast is related to the horse and rhino, but has a nose which makes him look like he’s training to be an elephant. One match-winning fact clinches his victory in my mind. The male anta has proportionately the largest fifth leg of any mammal. No animal in Brazil or anywhere else can beat that.

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Giving Directions
Understanding Brazil: Driving
Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
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?

June 23, 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.

What is the deal with Brazilian headlights? I don’t know about the rest of Brazil, but in Rio all cars and taxis seem to have a setting that is actually lower than a normal ‘dim’ on their headlights. It’s a very low setting they use for driving around town. I have even noticed that many, including the buses, don’t even use their headlights at night. Is the unusually dim headlights a special setting that Brazilian cars have, or is it put on after market? And why…?

— David

David,

Funny you’ve mentioned this. Years ago I almost got arrested in Florida for not using headlights. Actually I was using them, according to Brazilian rules.

There are three headlights phases, right? The one you refer to (I think) is the lowest one, “lanterna”. The lanterna is mandatory for public transportation during the day (although it’s ignored). The second phase, “farol”, is what you’re supposed to use at night. You should also use the farol during the day when on the road, “estradas”. At last, the higher level, “farol alto”, is for exclusive use on big roads, at night, only when it’s necessary (too dark) and IF you’re not running behind another vehicle.

Apparently in America you must have the “farol alto” on the roads no matter what, is that correct? I didn’t know that until:

_ Get out of the car, now!
_ Hello, officer. What’s the problem?
_ You’re not using headlights!
_ Sorry my English, maybe I don’t understand what you’re saying but…
_ Where are you from?
_ Brazil.
Bingo!
_ Oh, really? Que haces en Florida?
_ Me gusta Mickey.

PS: Not using any headlights or using just the lanterna at night is a serious fault for anyone, specially buses.

Thanks for you question,

Vanessa

Readers comments:

Vanessa,

I think you are not a car bug.

Our “lanternas” are known in the US as “parking lights”. I wonder why anyone would park a car with lights or anything else on, at the risk of running down the battery. But they are called so anyway. In Brazil they are required by law to be on while driving in foggy conditions or under heavy rain. Many people in Brazil use them while driving at dusk, or even at night, just to to make themselves visible. This is against the law anywhere in the world, see local details below.

Then there are the headlights, with selectable low and high beams. The light may come from either the same double-filament lamp, or from separate single-filament lamps, depending on the specific car design.

Passenger cars are required to have their headlights on, in low beam, when it’s dark or inside tunnels. The high beam is only for driving at night on unlit roads, as long as there is no other vehicle ahead going in either direction. Buses are required to have their headlights on, in low beam, at all times in the traffic, day and night, just like ANY vehicle in Canada.

This is described in Art. 40 of the Código Brasileiro de Trnsito.

— Z

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: Differences and Love
Ask a Brazilian: What Do the Police Do?
Ask a Brazilian: Contractor Frustrations
Ask a Brazilian: English Books and Brazilian Boys
Ask a Brazilian: Cold Cahaca
Ask a Brazilian: Interruptions
Ask a Brazilian: Travel and Security Concerns
Ask a Brazilian: Gestures and Toys
Ask a Brazilian: Hispanics or Latinos, and Duvets
Ask a Brazilian: Overbearing Sogros
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Bank Transfers
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 Ricky Skelton
July 9, 2008

If you’ve come across this missive by accident after hitting the interweb in search of those directions that your friend emailed, because you can’t find the way to his house, his explanations made no sense and the reference points he gave you to look out for never appeared, there’s a good chance that you are in Brazil. Maybe this should be in the ‘Ask a Brazilian’ section: Why are Brazilians so singularly useless at giving directions to another place? Or perhaps a new Gringoes topic – ‘Ask a Gringo’. Has anybody ever arrived at a Brazilian house after receiving directions from the dono or dona?

The problem with Brazilians giving directions isn’t that they give you the wrong information, it is that they fill your head with so much worthless information that it is impossible to ever find your way to a shop, house, bar, market, club or even hospital. It isn’t just my lack of Portuguese that causes the problems, as Blondie tends to ask the way when we’re both lost together. She comes back as baffled as I do about where we supposed to go next. She is Brazilian though and proved it well when a Peruvian friend arrived the other week. He came all the way from Lima via Rio without any problems at all, finding the right bus at the station, changing later, getting off at exactly the right stop until he ended up right outside our place. Here he was stuck though. Early Saturday morning, we were in bed, he had to call his brother in Peru from the orelhão (enough of a task in itself in Brazil), who then emailed us to tell us our guest had arrived. Blondie hadn’t given him the address. Just a small detail.

When asking directions to a bar in the street, nobody ever says ‘Não tenho idea’. They spend half an hour telling you about where they think the bar might be, usually involving trees that have no relevance to their tale. ‘You’re going to see a tree. Well it isn’t that tree. Go past that.’ More details about how Tio once had a vasectomy on that street, and something about a giant cow follow from what you understand, before they finally tell you to walk 8 blocks then ask somebody else. All directions in Brazil finish with you needing to ask somebody else. That somebody else usually sends you back the way you came and you gradually find yourself getting closer to your target in ever-decreasing circles, like a drowning spider about to go down the plughole. The giant cow remains a mystery.

To be fair though, I did once get perfect directions in Brazil. We were invited to a party in Trancoso, but out in the bush not by the beach as you’d expect. The house owner came to town repeatedly to pick anyone up who wanted to go. The drive was as dark as anywhere could be, with an hour of driving up and down muddy tracks on the rolling hillsides, bouncing through ditches and streams until we reached the house in the middle of just about nowhere. Not being a likely place to find a taxi passing an hour after dawn, we asked how to get back to town. The directions given by the dona da casa were incredible. Turn right; down the hill; through the wooden gate; over the plateau; through the monkey forest; alongside the river; turn right at the flower shop and there you are! Only an hour’s walk somehow. A magic path. Or perhaps it is always that easy when the references are so perfect. We’d arrived at the house and headed to the serving hatch with two fingers held up ready. ‘Dois cervejas por favor’.

‘Where are you from, lads?’ came the answer in a lovely soft Lancashire accent. She was English.

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Driving
Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
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?

July 4, 2008

São Paulo, July 3, 2008: Brazil should use the windfall opportunities brought by the growing demand for its commodities to plan for the future and start to play a greater role on the world stage. This is the view of Octavio de Barros, director of macroeconomic research at Bradesco, Brazil’s largest private bank. de Barros is the co-editor of a book which has just been launched called Brasil Globalizado. He discusses the book and other related issues in an interview with Brazil Political and Business Comment. Here is an excerpt: I worked for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development at the time when Brazil was invited to join and remember how it turned down the chance and decided to remain an observer. No reason was given but Brazil feared that by joining the top table it would lose its so-called leadership of the Third World. This approach is completely wrong. Brazil needs to have the courage to stand up and assume the responsibility that goes with its size.”

You can also read Brazil’s Laws are Made to be Broken by Augusto Zimmermann, a professor of law at Murdoch University, Australia, who points out the inconsistencies in Brazilians approach to the law and explains why this attitude is holding back the country’s development. Here is an excerpt: “In Brazil, social status is far more important than any protection of the law, because laws are generally perceived as not being necessarily applied to everyone. Unlike a typical North American citizen who would use the law to protect himself or herself against any situation of social adversity, a citizen in Brazil would instead appeal to his or her social status.”

In Lula Loses Some of His Moral Luster, John Fitzpatrick reflects on how the recent death of ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s wife, Ruth, on the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the PSDB shows how the ideals which inspired the opponents of military rule have been tarnished by corruption and political wheeling and dealing. This is what he says: “The press might print a dozen stories every day involving crooked Congressmen, state governors, mayors, policemen, lawyers, judges, trade unionists, soldiers and businessmen but you know that not a single culprit will be punished. In these circumstances it is not surprising that the “good” guys have to turn a blind eye at best and remain as clean as they can or, as must often happen, give in and succumb to the temptations. This is what has happened to President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva.”

Brazil Political and Business Comment will shortly be marking its third anniversary with an interview with Mario Garnero, one of Brazil’s leading businessmen who will be talking about his latest book “Brazil in the World: Views on Brazil’s Role in the Global Market”.

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July 4, 2008

Job opportunities in Braslia
Accounts Assistant / Receptionist
The British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro invites applications for the above full-time position (part-time as Accounts Assistant and part-time as Receptionist).

Management Support (Estates / Security / Logistics)
The British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro invites applications for the above full-time position to provide support with estate management, security, transport and logistics duties.

Management Assistant (Estates / Security / Logistics)
The British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro invites applications for the above full-time position to assist the Management Officer with estate management, security, transport and logistics.

General Services Maintenance Electrician
The British Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro invites applications for the above full-time position.

Job opportunities in São Paulo

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July 3, 2008

The Scottish Link Pipe Band are the only Full Pipe Band in Brazil. They have also competed 3 times in the Worlds Pipe band Championships held in Glasgow every year. All are WELCOME to attend the practices:

Dates:-

July – Sunday 6th.July
Sunday 13th.July
Sunday 20th.July

August – Sunday 3rd.August
Sunday 10th.August
Sunday 17th.August

Place:- Cultura Inglesa Vila Mariana. Rua. Madre Cabrini 413 – Vila marianao – S.Paulo.

Times:- 10.30 till 13.00

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By Ricky Skelton
July 3, 2008

For visitors considering driving in Brazil, there is one essential piece of advice that you need – Don’t. But if you’re going to be staying for some time, you may not be able to avoid it forever. There are a few obvious points of which you should be aware – nobody stops at red lights in the dark of the city night, they just slow; signs help for the first turn-off but then generally leave you to fend for yourself; those five lanes each side highways, with cars crossing like ribbons on a maypole; motorbike and scooter riders all seem to have a deathwish, which is regularly granted; helped by the potholes big enough to bath in after rain; and the fact that almost everybody in Brazil who drives and drinks, drinks and drives. The recent police clampdown on drink driving has made the news but will take a long time to change cultural habits, especially until late-night public transport improves.

Glossing over all these minor quibbles, I’d prefer to pick up on the not-so-obvious traits. As with job titles, cars in Brazil are a very important status symbol for those who need material goods to boost their own self-worth. Which is everyone. Might is therefore right in Brazil and the big important people drive big important cars, and it is up to those lesser mortals to stay out of their way. This can be seen outside the gates of the underground car parks of every city block in the country. The two lights flash, the siren wails, the gate rises, and out of the darkness bounds a blackened 4×4 which bounces across the pavement, oblivious to the old dears and pregnant women with prams hurriedly moving out of its path. The signs tell you all you need to know – ‘Cuidado Veiculo’ not ‘Cuidado Pedestres’. There are no signs on the way out of the garage.

Once those cars hit the open road, this aggressive driving style lends itself very well to accidents, which is lucky as Brazilians love to see the aftermath of a good accident. Driving along the notorious BR101, at various strategic points where speed cameras might be useful, the accident blackspots instead have a television van waiting for the call. You can’t call them ‘Ambulance Chasers’ as they usually arrive long before the emergency services, filming the wreckage for live news programmes and interviewing shaking, blood-covered victims awaiting treatment. Death doesn’t make a difference to the coverage, except for the dearth of interviews. I saw some dramatic footage of a motorbike that had crashed in a tunnel, starting with huge smears of blood that led eventually to the bike and a still warm, possibly twitching corpse, lying in a huge pool of sangue. Just to confirm for any watching loved ones, the reporter also held up the photo id of the deceased, and that of his passenger friend, whose body was wrapped around the fence a metre above the road surface. Wonderful afternoon viewing.

I recently enjoyed a journey being driven by a Brazilian surfer. In holiday weekend traffic on the BR101 and in torrential rain, he was driving so close to the car in front that he couldn’t see its brake lights. Any sudden stops in the queue in front brought a slamming on of brakes and a few expletives about the abilities of the driver in front. After two hours of this he started to fall asleep at the wheel. I didn’t want to wake him as his driving had improved. Driving like this isn’t unusual. Brazilians are terrible drivers who all seem to know that every other Brazilian is a terrible driver, except themselves. You may counter this with a Senna, a Massa and a Piquet or two, but I would argue that the careless, aggressive driving style coupled with fantastic natural ability would likely lead to the best Brazilian drivers being amongst the very best in the world. The rest, though, leave me wondering if the Driving Test of Brazil consists of a question – ‘Que isso? If you answer Carro, you pass.

So this is what you have to contend with if you want to drive in Brazil. Dont worry too much though, because worst comes to the worst and you have a tragic accident on a Brazilian motorway, at least youll be famous for 15 minutes in Brazil.

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
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?

July 3, 2008

The Scottish Country Dancing Club meets once a month at the BBC (Brazilian British Centre) in Pinheiros.

The aim is for people to learn some of the traditional Scottish Country Dances, which are increasingly danced at balls and informal events in the UK and over the world. The dance practices are fun evenings; they provide a chance to meet new people, and to have an energetic work out!

The St Andrew Society organises several events throughout the year, at which these dances are performed, and being acquainted with the basic steps makes these events more enjoyable.

Come and join us!

Where: The Brazilian British Centre. Rua Ferreira de Arajo, 741 – Pinheiros
Next Meeting : Mon, 7th July
Time: 8:15pm
Price: FREE!

For those in need of sustenance a cash bar will at hand!

For more information please contact Marcia at Marcia.furlani@lloydstsb.com.br or visit the St Andrew Society Web site 0 Comments/by