By Simone Costa Eriksson
February 28, 2009

The experience of living 13 years abroad in four different countries (USA, Sweden, Poland & Italy), and having an intercultural marriage (with children) has certainly made me a bit less Brazilian than I planned. However, it has probably enlightened my multiple perception of my own Brazilian culture (if not complicated it!). My original curiosity drive to discover the world had slowly turned into a ‘chronic cultural shock syndrome’, when the excitement of being a newcomer was replaced by the constant search for the ‘cultureless’ universal essence of humans wherever. It was when I became an intercultural psychologist and coach. My first thought, when asked to describe ‘foreigners through Brazil eyes’, was to elaborate the answer based on the two most striking cultural differences between Brazilians and foreigners (specially from North America, North Europe & Australia): time orientation, and levels of communication.

Do you control time or does time control you? The Brazilians’ lack of punctuality and their ‘ability’ to ignore time can drive foreigners crazy. If Brazilians meet an old friend, even on the way to an important meeting, they would probably choose to chat and they would find it very difficult to interrupt the conversation; they would most probably prefer to be late for the meeting favoring relationships over punctuality. My Swedish friends (from Campinas Expat community) still can not get used to waiting 2-3 hours in a doctor’s office for a confirmed appointment, then when it is finally their turn, the doctor does not even apologize. At work, foreign executives’ main complaint is that Brazilian co-workers tend not to keep deadlines and come up last minute ridiculous excuses and justifications such as ‘I have not really understood what was supposed to be done’ or even ‘I do not agree with it’. On the other hand, Brazilians can not understand foreigners’ ‘obsession’ to keep the time since there are always other more important things to worry about such as people’s ability to be flexible, gentle and tolerant towards ‘un-expectable’ troubles; they prioritize keeping good relationships and time is just a detail. For Brazilians, foreigners’ difficulty to be flexible confirms that ‘gringos’ are, in general, hard, rigid, inflexible and unreasonable. It takes a lot of intercultural competence from a foreign executive in Brazil to be able to respect the local culture and, at the same time, to align team work in a way that the ‘international time orientation’ is kept. Learning to communicate becomes essential.

Another interesting difference between foreigners and Brazilians can be explained by how deep and how fast they go into emotional and private topics in social conversations. The five culture communication levels, as they are called by Pollock D. & Van Reken, R., start from superficial, still safe, judgmental, emotional, and finally, total disclosure. Foreigners seem to need much more time in the superficial stage to trust and feel comfortable before going into private topics; for Brazilians going too slowly would demonstrate a lack of interest and even a sign of coldness. If you have taken any intercity bus in Brazil, you could experience that it is common that people who never met before would start telling each other their deepest secrets before the bus arrives at its destination. On the other hand, when I lived in Sweden, it took me a long time to realize that when people asked me ‘how are you?’ they were not interested in listening to how I really was and to what I was doing, they just wanted to have a superficial and short answer to keep a formal and impersonal conversation. For foreigners in Brazil, the Brazilian way of keep asking personal questions is probably very intrusive, and even impolite. In a working environment, not only is it difficult to avoid having too personal conversation, but it is the thermometer of how integrated people are. Professional and social lives are very much inter-related in Brazil.

Foreigners should be aware of the differences in meaning and importance of time and levels of communication. It does not mean you should accept and agree with them (not all Brazilians agree either). It is however, advisable to understand the social values behind these differences as well as to find constructive ways to react to them. If you find yourself getting too irritated and not being able to function as well as you would like, get professional help such as intercultural training & coaching.

Simone T. Costa Eriksson, MBA, Psychologist and Intercultural Coach is a Brazilian with 13 years experience living abroad (USA, Sweden, Poland, and Italy), mostly as an expatriate mother of two, and currently living in Campinas. She holds seminars and workshops for HR professionals, expatriate families & children, international schools and Brazilians working abroad. More information can be seen at her website Campinas Expatriate community.

Readers comments:

Your piece on time and relationships of Brasilians is excellent. Your explanation about how time is viewed is particularly insightful, and I agree 100%. You hit the nail on the head! I am an ex-pat American and former biz executive from LA. I have travelled extensively throughout US, Europe and South America. Now I have made my home in Brasil for the last few years.

Wherever I go, I accept the customs and live with them, and this includes the Brasilian time continuum.” I live with it, but it still bugs me. Since coming here, I have always sought to better understand the nature of most Brasilian’s attitudes and behaviour about time. Rather than always unhappily complain, it is better to understand the basis for the behavior. Brasil is a big country, so I ask why do Brasilians have such a seemingly low regard for time, or, conversely, why do I regard it so highly?

Both directly, and indirectly, you have enlightened me. It makes better sense now. Regarding the time it takes to see something more clearly: After living here for a few years, it only took me a few minutes to understand this “time continuum” more clearly. What a good use of my time to read your article.

— Scott

By Alison McGowan
February 25, 2009

Pousada Beijamar was one of the very few pousadas chosen from the internet, rather than a personal recommendation, and we definitely lucked out. Situated right on Apaga Fogo beach and just off the main road from Porto Seguro to Arraial D`Ajuda, it is an ideal first stop for anyone flying into Porto Seguro, and infinitely nicer than the innumerable other pousadas along the same stretch.

Beijamar opened only 3 years ago and owners, German and Brazilian have created a place of great charm and lots of comfort. There are 20 apartments, with tiled floors, terracotta walls and furniture made of local fibre and wicker work. These are dotted about exuberant tropical gardens and all have varandas and hammocks. There are 2 swimming pools, both with bars, and a restaurant for those who don`t want to travel the 3km or so into Arraial d`Ajuda. The day we arrived the owners were not there and several staff had decided to take the day off (including the chef) but the receptionist, Renato, rustled us up a very passable steak and chips, and left us chilling nicely by the floodlit jacuzzi and pool.

About the location
Porto Seguro was where Brazil was first discovered by Portugal in 1503, and there are several historical sites and churches worth seeing, but most people don’t stay there, and head straight for the beaches to the north and south of the city. To get to the Beijamar you have to get the balsa” or ferry which takes you across the Buranhem river to the road leading south to Arraial d’Ajuda. Count 8 pousadas on the left of the road and you are there, right on Aracaipe beach. Actually beach is the only thing there is on this stretch. If you need any essentials or want to eat out you will have to drive or get a cab into Arraial. For those who prefer peace and quiet and the sound of birdsong and waves, you’re most definitely in the right place.

Not to be missed
– Portinha “kilo” restaurant in Ajuda
– moon rise, right in front of you
– all the nightlife and sights in Arraial d’Ajuda
– a serious conversation with Louro, the pousada parrot

* beautiful beachside location
* service from the staff
* fabulous tropical gardens and pool

Try a different place…

… if you want to be where the action is, or you don’t want the beach to yourself.

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on Visit her site at

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel 7 Colinas, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Estrela do Mar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

By Jeni Bonorino
February 24, 2009

Recently I asked a group of people, What comes to mind when you think of Brazil?” It is no surprise that the words “beach, coffee, Brahma and samba” came to mind long before the word “wine.” When I asked what they knew about the wines from Brazil, most people didn’t know where to start.

Let’s warm up with some basic facts.

  • In 1875 Italian immigrants launched Brazil’s wine culture.
  • Brazil currently has over 1,000 wineries.
  • Miolo, Casa Valduga, Dal Pizzol, Pizzato, Salton, Chandon, Vallontano and Don Laurindo are popular wineries.
  • Red wines are more abundant than white wines.
  • Brazil is highly regarded for its sparkling wine industry.
  • Nine out of Brazil’s 27 states cultivate wine grapes.
  • Vale dos Vinhedos is the name of an influential wine sub-region in Brazil.

    Brazil is a country that excels naturally on the world’s stage from the love for its culture to its richness in natural resources. So why not wine?

    The production of “fine wines” in Brazil is relatively young. While Robert Mondovi started making Napa Valley wines in 1966, it wasn’t until the mid-eighties that Brazilian wineries switched their focus from grape growing to making wines from their own vineyards. By the 1990’s significant financial investments were made in winemaking technologies, helping Brazilian wines turn the corner from being a fail-safe hangover to fine wines that are elegant, bold and age worthy.

    The export of Brazilian wines now span over 25 countries with wineries such as Miolo, Pizzato and Casa Valduga gracing intercontinental wine lists and appearing on the shelves of fine wine retailers. Wine industry leaders such as the influential French Oenologist Michele Rolland has added Brazil to his mouthwatering rolodex of global wineries for which he consults; while the well-respected wine critic Jancis Robinson has given her blessing to the optimistic Brazilian wine reviews written by her tasting team.

    So what type of wines does Brazil produce? The wine selection is as diverse as the country itself ranging from white wines, to red wines, to sparkling wines. You will find that many white wines are made from the Chardonnay grape and are light to medium-bodied with a with a crisp and elegant nature. Brazilian white wines also tend to tread softly on the oak making them a perfect companion with meals from pizza to codfish. Red wines are commonly made from Cabernet and Merlot grapes (or a blend of the two) and are often aged in either French or American oak. The result is an elegant, medium to full-bodied wine best served with rich foods such as roasted red meats, risotto with mushrooms and hard cheeses such as aged Gouda.

    The sparkling wines of Brazil are often a pleasant surprise for people learning about Brazilian wines. Considered a portfolio centerpiece for many wineries, sparkling wines range in style from brut (dry), to extra-dry (sweeter) to demi-sec (considered a dessert wine). Regarded as one of the best regions in the world for growing grapes intended for the production of sparkling wines , Brazil has many fine producers to choose from including Miolo, Chandon, Dal Pizzol, Pizzato and Cave Geisse. Recently Miolo Brut was selected as the best national sparkling wine in a blind tasting promoted by the magazine Veja São Paulo.

    Brazil is the fifth largest producer of wine in the Southern Hemisphere with over 1,000 wineries and 880 hectares of vines planted between the 8th and 33rd southern parallels. Grapes are hand harvested and irrigation is not necessary except in the Vale do São Francisco, the world’s biggest tropical vineyard, located in the northeastern state of Bahia. A very productive wine region that provides a grape harvest twice a year, the wines of Vale do São Francisco are fruity in nature and often reasonably priced.

    Brazils’ most important wine-producing state is the southern-most state of Rio Grande do Sul. Bordering the winemaking countries of Uruguay and Argentina, Rio Grande do Sul is home to over half of Brazils’ grape vines and includes the important wine region of Serra Gacha which produces 90% of the country’s wine. Developed in 1875 by Italian immigrants who brought their native vines and wine making culture with them, the wine regions of Rio Grande do Sul continue to be managed today by the 4th and 5th generations of these immigrants.

    When visiting Brazil’s wine country there is no doubt that a trip to the sub-region of Vale dos Vinhedos in the Serra Gacha region should be part of the agenda. Located an hour and a half northwest of Porto Alegre near the town of Bento Gonalves, there is a strong European influence and obvious sense of pride for Italian ancestry. Home to chic hotels, a wine spa and 31 top wineries, Vale dos Vinhedos was proudly named as Brazil’s first “Geographical Indication,” which is a controlled identification given to regions such as “Champagne” in France. A region that produced 10 million bottles of wine on its own in 2007 wines from Vale dos Vinhedos display a numbered, white seal of origin guaranteeing many factors including the source and production of the wine.

    As Brazilian wines continue to become part of the cool crowd in the school of wine it is important not to knock it until you try it. For further lessons on the subject my door is always open.

  • February 24, 2009

    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 your own comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

    I have lived in São Paulo since August 2008 and experience the same problem nearly every time I shop at a supermarket: the cashiers usually do not have correct change. For example, if I have 50 Reais and the bill is 47.55, the cashier will always ask me if I have change and if not, they occasionally even give me just 2 Reais in change, expecting me to overpay by 45 centavos. The amount is small, but I imagine over several years this could add up. Is there a shortage of change in the country?

    — Carol

    Hi, Carol,

    Yes, there is.

    It’s not that the Banco Central doesn’t make enough coins, it’s just that Brazilians are not used to paying with coins, so sometimes shops run out of change.

    It’s a cultural resistance that comes from our past economy, established only a few years ago. Back then, it was better to get candy than 10 centavos.

    But anyway, you shouldn’t feel bad to ask for the proper change, it is the right thing to do.

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    By Joe Lopes
    February 24, 2009

    The Play’s the Thing!
    Nostalgia and the fog of remembrance often blind us to the reality of what life was like for the poor of the poet’s time. So let’s not mince words: it was exceedingly rough. The unrelieved harshness of their hand-to-mouth existence, so close in proximity to Sin City’s Mount Olympus-like natural wonders, compelled many of Rio’s neediest to huddle for shelter alongside its hilltop communities.

    Finding misery as well as comfort in each other’s company, they were nonetheless sandwiched in like sardines in makeshift corrugated shacks. Sadly, the horrendous living conditions frequently mimicked the horrendous behavior of some of the favela’s residents, including the local constabulary charged with providing for their well-being.

    Poverty and hunger, rampant corruption and out-of-control crime, child abuse, drugs, prostitution, broken homes, and juvenile delinquency – problems we deal with daily whether they be on the streets of Philadelphia and in the slums of Mumbai – were the unfortunate outgrowth of this dysfunction and neglect.

    Vinicius was not unmindful of such matters, as we know, nor was he at all ignorant of the turbulence endemic to the warlike ethos of Orpheus’ era. With a firm nod in the direction of Euripides, the best of the Athenian playwrights, he was able to transpose many of the starkest elements of Greek drama – repositioning them against everyday Brazilian slum life – whole scale into his Tragdia carioca em trs atos.

    This is an important distinction, as elaborated on by Professor Thais Flores Nogueira Diniz of the Federal University of Ouro Preto, in her essay, O Mito como traduão, em Vinicius de Moraes” (“Myth as Translation in Vinicius de Moraes”). The play, she writes, is a celebration of Rio de Janeiro culture, not Greek culture; and Orfeu, an individual with so-called “special qualities,” is both an un-godlike non-hero and quasi-immortal with his own tragic story to tell.

    Oscar Niemeyer, the original set designer (who incidentally marked his stage debut with this piece), and a master of curvilinear shapes and forms, was himself strongly influenced by classical antiquity, as was Lila Bscoli de Moraes and her designs for the beautifully captivating gowns. Beyond this, Niemeyer’s plans for Brazil’s futuristic new capital city – by filling its “vast empty space” with “sensuous white curves in glass and concrete” – were the visible manifestation of what Jobim and de Moraes aurally tried to provide with their epicurean taste in tunes.

    Orfeu da Conceião is dedicated to Vinicius’ daughter, Susana de Moraes, and prefaced by two literary quotations referencing the mythological poet-minstrel and his lyre: the first from John Dryden’s “Ode in Honour of St. Cecilia’s Day,” and the second from “La Crema” by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

    There next comes a series of directives, the most informative of which stress that, “All the personages of this tragedy should be played by black actors. The popular slang employed throughout, which fluctuates with the times, can be adapted to fit these new conditions. The music and lyrics should be used as is, although the play can be altered in the same manner as the slang.” Carlos Diegues later took Vinicius’ injunction to update his story “to fit these new conditions” literally, and to its ultimate extreme.

    A recapitulation of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, excerpted from The Golden Legend of Gods and Heroes by Mario Meunier – apparently the inspirational source for the Carioca’s imagination – follows a listing of the play’s dramatis personae. Orpheus, the offspring of Apollo, the god of clarity, reason and light, represents the duality present in all artists and their art. A serious figure, as well as an adventurer and inveterate skirt-chaser – until he meets up with the lovely tree-nymph Eurydice – he is a musician and a poet of surpassing skill and grace whose melodic inventions caused the very birds of the air to give pause before taking flight.

    Musician and poet Vinicius de Moraes knew the type only too well. As we have seen, he telegraphed those qualities he found within himself by expressing (as Caetano Veloso, in a brush with purple prose, once cleverly put it) his soul’s “sweetly tragic aspects through music” and verse. Nine times married, as opposed to his songwriting partner’s lowly two, and a sensualist right down to the marrow in his bones, he successfully transitioned to the theater platform via an extraordinary leap of faith in the untested Tom Jobim, who with a thin veneer of confidence at his disposal had the wherewithal to make it all happen.

    While it’s tempting, I admit, to equate an artist’s past or present experiences with his completed projects, or to read too much into them (that, of course, would be too simplistic for anyone to do), there are many instances in Vinicius’ “Carioca tragedy in three acts” where one gets the uneasy feeling the actual events of his sybaritic existence were being staged for our amusement and gratification – an uncomfortable reenactment of the poet-musician’s life as a voluptuary, i.e. a person “given over to luxury and the pursuit of sensual appetites.”

    Hot-blooded Latin temperaments blend flawlessly with Aegean passion and lust in the play’s lengthy first act, which takes place in a hillside slum. After the opening speech by the leader of the chorus, and an expository sequence between Clio and Apolo, Orfeu’s parents, the title character wanders in with Eurdice’s name on his lips. There’s a scene for mother and son, in which Clio begs him to forget about marriage (“You can have any girl”), along with a passage wherein she warns Orfeu not to provoke the jealousy of other women – advice unheeded by our hero.

    The object of his affection soon arrives. The lovers trade terms of endearment, while Eurdice half-jokingly confides that she is dead from love of Orfeu (prophetic words indeed). He in turn calls her the “beauty of life,” among other amorous declarations, in the famous monologue that follows (with its gorgeous guitar and flute accompaniment, it is the closest thing in the play to an aria). His poetic ruminations provoke the ire of Mira, his jealous ex-girlfriend. In their angry exchange, Orfeu reveals heretofore-untapped levels of macho posturing: he’s notorious, among other things, for his uncontrollable temper towards his women.

    In addition to the above incidents, there are numerous references to the plight of the impoverished (“Poor folk don’t marry,” his mother implores him, “they just live together”), Eurdice’s premeditated stabbing by the envious Aristeu (soon after Orfeu’s deflowering of her maidenhood), and the infernal ravings of Dama Negra, a terrifying harbinger of death, who at the curtain claims Eurdice’s lifeless form with her huge mantle.

    Act Two occurs in the nether-regions of the city, here depicted as a combination dance palace and single’s bar called Os Maiorais do Inferno, or “The Big Shots from Hell,” where the biggest shots of all, Plutão (“Pluto”) and his obese queen Prosrpina (“Persephone”), preside over an all-out Bacchanalian orgy of wine, women and samba. The act is primarily taken up with Orfeu’s crashing of the Carnival revelers’ party, his drowning of his own sorrows, and his pathetic cries of “Eurdice, I want my Eurdice,” first evidenced in Act One and now duly mocked (“We are Eurdice”) by the taunting denizens of the club.

    Act Three is in two scenes. In the first, which is reminiscent of the communal outpouring of grief in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, we are back at the slum. Orfeu’s parents and friends are in mourning for the dead Eurdice. Individual voices recite an irreverent form of the Roman Catholic Creed (a hint of Orfeu’s “divine” nature), with the hero curiously at its epicenter. One by one, the slum dwellers recall the couple’s sad tale of woe. Several of the townspeople take the inconsolable Clio away to a waiting ambulance, the drivers of which stubbornly refuse to come up the hill (for fear of their lives). The delirious Clio blames Eurdice for all the trouble she has brought to her son and their once “happy” community.

    The scene now shifts outside to a house of ill repute on the outskirts of town. Mira is seen drinking and picking a fight with a patron. A bewildered Orfeu appears. He walks around in a perpetual daze and speaks to his departed Eurdice as if she were still with him. His attitude and behavior rekindle the drunken Mira’s wrath, as she and the other enraged women fall upon their hapless prey. They attack with all the fury of females scorned, slicing and dicing him up with their knives and switchblades.

    Relief comes in the ghostly apparition of Dama Negra, who entices Orfeu to join her in death by imitating Eurdice’s love call. Orfeu resigns himself to his fate, as the women pounce upon him one last time. Emerging from the bloodletting with the hero’s guitar in hand, Mira flings it over the cement wall. The violence comes to an end in the same manner as before, with Dama Negra claiming Orfeu’s corpse with her cape amid the soft sounds of his guitar, mysteriously playing on its own in the background. The curtain falls on the chorus’ spoken apotheosis.

    The most striking thing about these episodes is how little they have in common with Marcel Camus’ rosy-eyed vistas of Rio, circa 1959: no streetcar-conducting lead; no enchanting ferryboat ride; no colorful costume pageant, as such; no return and parting of Orfeu’s lost love; and no voodoo mumbo-jumbo, either. Dama Negra does get to perform a bit of macumba during portions of Act One; oh, and Cerberus, the guardian canine of the realm, puts in a guest howl at the second-act dance club.

    Otherwise in Camus’ “grand illusion of Carnival,” Orfeu is not torn to shreds by an angry mob of whores but instead falls off a steep cliff holding on to his expired love, after being knocked on the head with a rock by Mira.

    In this respect, Diegues’ 1999 re-filming comes closest to the poet’s original intentions, capturing the systemic violence of the hilltop slum that was markedly absent from Camus’ sanitized concept. That said, neither picture even remotely approaches Orfeu da Conceião’s lyric foundation, its soul-stirring poetic imagery, or its refinement and classical construct. If the piece intermittently betrays melodramatic overtones, seriously over-playing its hand when it comes to the emotional and physical state of the title character’s suffering and distress – think Milton’s Samson Agonistes – Jobim’s perfectly-limned musical responses keep it from wallowing in its own excess.

    Factor in a whopping Fat Tuesday celebration and a healthy dollop of Afro-Brazilian dance sequences, choreographed by the debuting Lina de Luca, and voil: you have the makings of a total work of art, a stunning realization encompassing a veritable periodic table of theatrical elements – “music, poetry, drama, scenic and lighting design, and dance” – with all the pomp and majesty (as well as the flaws) inherent in that much-maligned term “opera,” or, in this case, “drama with music,” which is probably a more accurate description.

    All the World’s a Stage.No, Really It Is

    Should we continue to hold out hope, then, that Orfeu might one day be restored to his proper place on the world stage? Anything is possible, if the opportunity were ever to arise. (Broadway producers, take note.) But, as we have tirelessly strived to point out to readers, de Moraes was catastrophically put in the awkward position of having to bear witness to the cinematic “decimation” of his most-prized work.

    The record clearly shows that Vinicius walked out on the premiere of Camus’ Black Orpheus, the first of two film adaptations. Perhaps the poet was stunned by the palantir-like glimpse he was afforded of the future misdirection of his country; where it was headed, and how those in the public trust conspired to have it so – that’s an awfully big maybe, however. Of one thing we are certain: the vision sickened him right down to his gut, so that he lashed out in the only way an artist of his standing could lash out: by taking the “law” into his hands (or his feet, as the situation demanded).

    In defense of his own modern take on the tale, director Diegues took care not to offend the easily disturbed ghost of the playwright’s past: “In the original play there’s a poem in which Vinicius says that everything in the world dies except for Orpheus’ art, which is forever – and I tried to visualize that.” The actual lines, which are given to the members of the chorus and form the play’s philosophical conclusion, vary somewhat from his recollection but are no less inspiring:

    Para matar Orfeu não basta a Morte.
    Tudo morre que nasce e que viveu
    Só não morre no mundo a voz de Orfeu.

    To kill Orfeu, Death is not enough.
    Everything that is born and lives must die
    In the world only Orfeu’s voice lives on.

    – Vinicius de Moraes, in the Conclusion to Orfeu da Conceião, 1956

    It is incumbent upon us to insist that, even if the country itself were to fall off a cliff – which it very nearly did at key moments in its recent history – Orfeu’s voice (and, by implication, Brazil’s music) would continue to live on in the world as well.

    One of Vinicius’ closest friends and allies, contemporary writer and poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, offered this discerning opinion of the artist: he was “the only Brazilian poet,” Drummond maintained, “who dared to live under the sign of passion. That is, of poetry in its natural state.” Orfeu da Conceião, de Moraes’ most ambitious literary creation, was the fulfillment of this sign of passion, his poetic and unvarnished imitation of slum life in its natural state. God help the person who came between him and that vision.

    In Lucia Nagib’s Brazil on Screen: Cinema Novo, New Cinema, Utopia, the learned author goes into excruciating detail on the “natural state” of writer-filmmaker Carlos Diegues’ vision for Orfeu. One scene, in particular, has special significance for us:

    “As the film draws to a close, the favela hill returns to its everyday violence after the ‘great illusion of carnival’ [sic] is over, as sung in ‘Felicidade,’ a song by Jobim and Vinicius, delivered with innocent simplicity by Jobim’s adolescent daughter, Maria Luiza Jobim, who plays a minor role in the film.”

    The opening line of that song, which happens to fit in perfectly with this chapter’s main heading – and which is also the first to be heard in the French-made Black Orpheus – is simplicity itself yet speaks volumes of the illusory effect the annual ritual of Carnival has on the lives of the poor:

    Tristeza não tem fim
    Felicidade sim
    A felicidade do pobre parece
    A grande ilusão do carnaval
    A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
    Por um momento de sonho
    Pra fazer a fantasia
    De rei ou de pirata ou jardineira
    Pra tudo se acabar na quarta-feira

    Sadness has no end
    Happiness does
    A poor man’s happiness is like
    The great illusion of Carnival
    You work all year long
    For a brief fulfillment of a dream
    To play the part of
    A gardener, a pirate or a king
    Only to have it end on Wednesday morning

    What can’t be deemed an “illusion” is Carnival’s restorative power; how its raw, incessant energy seems to electrify every one of the participants gathered, in spite of four solid days of nonstop action and fun. After a highly favored Samba School falls to a lesser parade rival, the drums quickly go silent as the crowds begin to disperse. You’re awakened from “a brief fulfillment” of the dream that was Carnival to the reality at hand.

    It’s not a pretty sight: all those drained and disappointed bodies and faces. But hey, there’s always next year, which is another way of saying that “happiness” will return to them – in some way, shape or form – se Deus quiser (“God willing”), a common Brazilian expression, along with the other assorted rituals of one’s life: birth, death, anniversaries, baptisms, weddings, funerals, and what have you.

    Life has a continuous ebb and flow – a beginning and an end – and “sadness” is just an orderly part of that flow, catalogued and classified, for all time, by the movie Black Orpheus, the music of bossa nova, and the fortuitous teaming of Jobim with de Moraes, the incomparable partnership that started it all.

    Here’s one ritual, though, we might want to set by the wayside: if there is anyone out there who winds up in the same, awkward position a certain temperamental Brazilian poet once found himself in, let him declare, here and now, he will not run out of the matter what happens inside.

    Copyright 2009 by Josmar F. Lopes

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

    To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 16
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 15
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 14
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 13
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 12
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 11
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 10
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 9
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 8
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 7
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 6
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 5
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 4
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 3
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 2
    Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 1
    Brecht, Weill & Buarque: The Brazilian Play’s the Thing! Part 3
    Brazil: “Opera” in the Amazon – Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, or The Madness of Foreign Men Part 4
    Brazil: “Opera” in the Amazon – Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, or The Madness of Foreign Men Part 3
    Brazil: “Opera” in the Amazon – Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, or The Madness of Foreign Men Part 2
    Brazil: “Opera” in the Amazon – Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, or The Madness of Foreign Men Part 1
    The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 5
    The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 4
    The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 3
    The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 2
    The Brazilian Beat Goes On: My Own “Best-Of” List of Present-Day Bossa Nova Classics Part 1
    Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 4
    Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 3
    Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 2
    Brazil: The “Italian” Composer from Campinas Part 1
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 6
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 5
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 4
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 3
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 2
    Bringing People Together: Electronic Voyages to Brazil Part 1
    Brecht, Weill & Buarque: The Brazilian Play’s the Thing! Part 2
    Misunderstanding Brazil’s National Anthem: A Crash-Course in the Hymn of the Nation
    Brecht, Weill & Buarque: The Brazilian Play’s the Thing! Part 1
    Theater, the Brecht of Life: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera, Part II
    A Walk on the Weill Side: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera Part 2
    A Walk on the Weill Side: The Influences on Chico’s “Modern” Street Opera Part 1
    Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 5
    Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 4
    Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 3
    Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 2
    Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Brazilian Bach Part 1
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 11
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 10
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 9
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 8
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 7
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 6
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 5
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 4
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 3
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 2
    Two Brazilian Charmers Part 1
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 21
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 20
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 19
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 18
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
    Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
    Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
    Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
    Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
    Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
    Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
    Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
    Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
    Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
    Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
    Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
    Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
    A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
    A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
    Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
    A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
    A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
    “Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
    “Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
    “Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
    Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
    Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
    A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
    The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
    A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
    Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
    Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

    By Jose Santiago
    February 24, 2009

    The Law Number 60/2004 of the National Immigration Council which garanteed foreign individuals the right to legal residency throughout an investment of at least USD$50,000.00 was revoked.

    The new law is the

    DISCLOSURE: All information herein given is merely for elucidative purposes. It reflects current Legislation, which can be modified in the future. In case of questions regarding a particular case/issue, always consult with your own attorney.

    Previous articles by Jose:
    How Foreign Individuals Can Invest in the Brazilian Stock Market
    Non-Resident Bank Accounts for Foreigners in Brazil
    Brazil: General Guidelines for Foreigners who Intend to Open a Brazilian Corporation
    Brazil: Myths and Facts Regarding the Investment Visa Program
    Brazil: The Importance of a Title Search When Buying Real Estate
    Brazil: Restrictions for Foreigners When Buying Rural Properties
    Brazil: Having a Child Abroad for US Citizens
    Careful When Buying Pre-Construction Properties in Brazil!
    Understanding Brazil: Sending Money Home from a Real Estate Deal
    The Closing Process in Brazil
    Permanent Visas in Brazil
    Brazil: International Money Transfers
    Brazil: Squatters Rights (Usucapião) – Be Aware!
    Brazil: Annual Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number Valid
    How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 3
    How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 2
    How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 1
    Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 4
    Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 3
    Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 2
    Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 1
    8 Reasons to Invest in Brazil’s Real Estate
    The Brazilian Resident Investor Program for Foreigners
    Brazil: Annual Required Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number
    Legal Aspects of Acquiring Real Estate in Brazil

    By Stephen Thompson
    February 24, 2009

    Sometimes I think back nostalgically to the days that I lived in Brazil, when I thought that battling Brazilian bureaucracy was my biggest problem, and that life would be better in China! I took for granted the good things about Brazil, things like political and religious expression, but especially quality of life.

    By quality of life I mean things like weekends spent doing eco-tourism” in places like Brotas or Bonito, or walking in the serene valleys of the Chapada Diamantinha. Things like the possibility of retiring to a sitio in the Atlantic Rainforest, a place I saw by a waterfall with a view of the sea and where I imagined myself. Things like the wide availability of delicious fruit and vegetables of all kinds. Things like the high quality physical education professionals working in Brazilian gyms, where I had the best healthy post work out buzz I’ve ever felt.

    It took me ages to find a decent gym in Shanghai, and I still think the personal trainers at Competition in São Paulo are better. So when I had the chance to work for Infinitum, a Brazilian company bringing personal trainers and quality of life to China, I jumped at the opportunity. Infinitum plans to organise road races in China to raise money for charities fighting child obesity, diabetes, hypertension and breast cancer. These diseases are all increasing rapidly as Chinese abandon their bicycles for cars, eat more junk food, and spend too much time on “business entertaining”, and get stressed out trying to make the most of the current economic boom. There will be short and medium runs, from 3k to 10-15k, and we will encourage sponsors to display their products and services in a pavilion at the start and end of the race. We will offer pre-race fitness training to those who are require it. We’re looking for sponsors who work with health-related products and services, such as healthy food, water filters, hospitals and gyms.

    We also hope to organise an exhibition about the environment in Brazil, more specifically the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon rainforest represents the best of Brazil; its greatest and richest concentration of plants and wildlife diversity, its oldest and most exotic indigenous cultures, languages, arts and crafts, preserved by people some of whom have still not been contacted by outsiders.

    During the last few years of China’s rapid development, imports of raw materials from Brazil have increased rapidly, directly increasing the pressure on the Amazon rainforest, as Brazilian soya bean farmers discover a new market.

    We hope to have a race to mark the opening of the event; we imagine thousands of people running through the streets, calling out for fresh air from the “Lungs of the Earth”.

    There has been a positive response from professionals in the exhibition business with whom I have spoken. They see it as unique, a first of its kind in China, and bound to be a success. They also see many associated potential business opportunities for sponsors, including sales of Amazon products, tours and health-related products. They think that if we successfully hold the exhibition once, the subsequent publicity will guarantee domestic corporate sponsorship for future events in Shanghai or other cities. They also point out the timeliness of the event, as the Chinese government and civil society are increasingly preoccupied with pursuing sustainable development rather than the breakneck industrialisation which characterised the 1990s.

    It took us nine months to get our company opened in Shanghai, showing that Brazil is not the only place with bureaucracy problems; long enough to give birth to a child! But finally we are in business and looking forward to bringing Brazilian quality of life to China…

    Stephen Thompson lived in Brazil from 2001 to 2005. He is married to a Brazilian and has a daughter.

    To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:

    Amazon Exhibition in Tokyo
    Other Places to Speak Portuguese (Apart From Brazil): Macau
    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

    February 19, 2009

    Brazil’s equivalent of the House of Representatives (Cmara dos Deputados) yesterday approved the bill for the visa amnesty programme for illegal immigrants. The bill will now go to the Senate for the last leg of the approval.

    The details of the bill are that anyone who entered Brazil up to the 1st February can ask for provisional residence, accompanied by the entry receipt and proof of nationality.

    Those applying will also need to prove that they do not have a criminal record in either Brazil or abroad (typically their home country), and they will need to pay for the CIE (Carteira de Identidade de Estrangeiro, the foreigner’s identify card).

    Carlos Zarattini (from the political party PT-SP), the proposer of the bill, estimates there are between 150-200,000 illegal immigrants within Brazil. His reasoning behind the bill is that illegal immigrants tend to be exploited because of their problem situation, unlike legal workers.

    The provisional residency can only become permanent if the immigrant can prove that they have a legal job within Brazil, or possess sufficient savings or other income to care for their family. They also cannot owe any tax to the government, and cannot leave Brazil for more than 90 days during the provisional residency period.

    Can’t make this up