By John Fitzpatrick
August 27, 2009

Norman Normal, a middle-aged expatriate journalist, was awakened as happened every day in São Paulo by a pack of dogs barking. They howled and bayed crazily as they did at several points during the day and, as usual, their owners made no attempt to shut them up. Norman wished the Higienopolis Poisoner who had terrorized dog owners in that district in the mid-90s by feeding poisoned meat to their hounds was still around.

Once up, Norman looked down from his bedroom on the 13th floor at the crossroads where three avenues met and wondered why he had not noticed the location when he moved into the apartment years earlier. Although it was only seven oclock, the traffic was already building up. Within an hour it would be at a standstill and the noise level would reach deafening point as engines revved, horns tooted, radios blared and motorcyclists whizzed by, snapping side mirrors, hurling abuse, giving the trapped drivers the finger or leering at passing girls. The sun was streaming down, ensuring an even more hellish start to the day and he knew he would be sweating within minutes of going out.

First, breakfast. Fortunately his wife had taken his teenage daughter to school, leaving a table covered in low-fat yoghurt containers, fat-free milk, low-cal sweeteners and other debris, so he had some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, some of the millions of ants who lived in his building had started their breakfast and were crawling over the bread that he had specifically asked his wife to wrap up so that he could get to it before the ants. As neither of his females ate bread, they were uninterested. As his wife (who had studied biology and never let him forget it) said: ants are a source of protein and, in any case, are usually only active for about three months in the year so you have nine months of ant-free bread”.

He dumped the bread in the bin and settled for a cup of coffee and the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. The front page listed a scandal in the Senate, a scandal in the House of Representatives, a scandal in the São Paulo state government, a scandal in the São Paulo mayor’s office, a scandal in the foreign ministry, a scandal in the Brazilian football federation, a scandal in the… oh forget it!

Love Letters
Then he went to the readers letters page. One letter called for Lula to be tried for treason because he was too cozy with Venezuela’s dictatorial Hugo Chavez, another called on Lula to invade Bolivia and Paraguay and give those no-good, ungrateful Indians and mestizos a lesson for their ingratitude to ever-generous Brazil, a third called on Brazil to stop licking the boots of Argentina’s president Kirchner while a fourth demanded that governor Jose Serra should expel all those lazy, good-for-nothing Northeasterners who were making such a mess of the beautiful city of São Paulo. Other letters described the Estado as: a) the “greatest newspaper in the history of the world”; b) a “beacon of truth and liberty”; and c) the “savior of the nation’s freedom, democracy and interests”. All of this was due to the wisdom, patriotism, generosity and sheer amazingness of the enlightened family which owned the paper.

Time for the other pages. Twelve people killed in a bus crash in Pernambuco in which the driver was drunk, did not have a license and ran away after the “accident”. Police shot dead 16 drug traffickers in a favela in Rio, five of who just happened to be below the age of 10. One state governor is accused of having sex with 15-year-old girls and another with 15-year-old boys. Ronaldo (aka Ronalducho or Fat Ronnie) has had lipo surgery to remove part of his beer belly while pretending he was having a routine check-up. Xuxa, Adriane Galisteu, Ana Maria Braga and Giselle Bundchen (people who are all famous because they are famous) are pictured together at a reception given by Luciana Gimenez to celebrate the publication of a biography she has written of her pet cat Fifi. He skims the business section more professionally to see if there is anything new or unexpected there but it’s just the usual collection of overlong news items and long-winded comments by columnists.

Time to go. Norman leaves the fortress-like condominium in which he lives in one of São Paulo’s middle-class districts. Two large security men in shabby black suits stand by the gate as he leaves. He says good morning to them, the condominium staff and assorted maids arriving for work, including his own, a middle-aged woman originally from Bahia called Lourdes. While hundreds of thousands of middle-class people like him are traveling across town to their offices, hundreds of thousands of working-class people like Lourdes are traveling across town to clean up the apartments of the lazy middle class. Norman had never had a maid in Europe but his Brazilian wife had made it crystal clear to him that a maid was as essential fixture in any middle-class São Paulo home. Therefore, Lourdes was a part of the family whether Norman wanted her or not.

Moment of Pleasure
A taxi to work from the rank round the corner. A quick peek to check that he will not be trapped with some of the nuttier drivers, like the evangelical who tries to persuade him to turn to Jesus, the young one who worked as a pizza delivery boy in Chicago for a year and likes to practice his vocabulary of American swear words or the hypochondriac who categorizes every complains he has had in his life. Thank God, it’s the miserable one with the moustache who barely acknowledges his presence and sets off in typical fashion by jumping a red light and almost knocks over a couple of pudgy joggers. The trip takes him through the posh Jardins area with its mansions and palm trees. Norman always feels good at this time of the day as the traffic is still light and he usually manages to see flocks of little green parakeets careening around in the dappled sunlight.

This moment of pleasure does not last long and all too soon he is in the financial district with its glass and metal towers, traffic jams, building projects that never seem to finish, crowds of people, streaming from the metro and bus stops, all heading like drones to their offices. A five-minute wait for the lift which he shares with 20 other people. Not only does it stop at every floor before reaching the 15th where his office is but he is squeezed between a large-buttocked cleaner, a gangly office boy with bad breath, acne and a Corinthians shirt, and a gaggle of receptionists smelling of soap and perfume.

A blast of freezing air conditioning hits him as he enters the gigantic floor where he works. Some wage slaves are already sitting in front of their screens but most will arrive later. Norman’s client is a news agency which provides material on Brazilian finance and business and his day is spent tracking down information on the movement of shares, commodities, currencies, interest rates, inflation indices and a million items that make the economy go round. From his office he has a view of a traffic-clogged avenue remarkably similar to the view from home. Not for the first time does he think: “I remember when I was a young ambitious reporter dreaming of becoming a foreign correspondent in an exotic place like Brazil. I saw myself paddling up the Amazon in search of stories about Indians and hidden treasure, flirting over a cocktail at the Copacabana Hotel in Rio de Janeiro with a sparkling-eyed mulatta or receiving the Pulitzer Prize for a hard-hitting series on arms trafficking in border region linking Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Instead, I find myself in the middle of the world’s noisiest city trying to find out why soybean prices have suddenly risen by 3.5% or asking economists their views on the latest wholesale price index.”

Time for a Hug
His Brazilian colleagues start arriving. They hug, kiss, grasp, grope, fondle, caress and tickle each other as though they havent met for years although only about 12 hours have passed since they were last together. Despite the open affection and love, Norman knows that many of them cant stand each other. He gets a couple of pats on the shoulder from some passers-by and mumbles a few “tudo bems” to be sociable. He hopes the office secretary, Flavia, will not be in a bad mood today, her big brown eyes brimming with tears as a result of the latest row with her boyfriend who treats her like a goddess one day, showering her with love, devotion and presents and like an old boot the next, ignoring her, talking to other girls and behaving as if she doesnt exist. Thankfully, she’s in a good mood, gives him a big smile, switches on her computer and reads her on-line horoscope. “Meu Deus – a new man will enter my life today and sweep me off my feet. Que legal!”

Like most of the younger people in the office Flavia spends most of her “working” day surfing the Internet, sending e-mails and instant messages to her friends or talking very loudly on the phone about her latest diet, visit to the hairdresser and manicurist. Norman is amazed at how they blatant they are about their lack of interest in work but no-one seems to care. If Flavia’s boss looks over her shoulder and notices that she is checking out a new range of shoes or belts, he doesnt seem to care. If the woman who brings round the coffee starts telling everyone about her grandson who is saving up to buy a motorbike, the whole department stops and listens to her, even the boss.

This doesnt mean people can do as they please. In fact, the place is a jungle and firings are merciless and routine. No-one ever resigns by giving a couple of weeks notice. There is always the feeling that anyone leaving has been fired rather than resigned and Norman is glad he works as a freelance and not a member of staff.

Ebony and Ivory
Most of the staff are white or almost white except for the cleaners who are almost all black or almost black. There are also quite a few “Japanese” , i.e. Brazilians of Japanese descent around. The ethnic origins make no difference and they are all proudly Brazilian. They are a typical São Paulo mixture of Italian, Portuguese, Spaniards, Lebanese, Germans, Lithuanians and migrants from every Brazilian state. They have names like Pedro dos Santos Nakamura Baumann, Guido Nascimento Svansbjrg Bechara Domingos and Luciana Pereira Sanchez Pelligrini. There are a couple foreigners like Norman around, including a German and some Argentineans but they are all integrated and can hold their own in conversations about football or the latest gossip.

He gets his head down and immerses himself in economic trivia that would send anyone else to sleep but he knows that all these statistics and indicators have a value to the investors, businessmen, traders and clients who pay top dollar. After a morning writing, phoning and messing around with his e-mail, arguing with know-all sub-editors at HQ in New York, drinking coffee, yawning and daydreaming, he looks at his watch and heads off for a sandwich in a nearby padaria. This is another favorite part of the day and he prefers to be alone. He sits at the counter and watches the short-order cook fry eggs, bacon, sausage, chicken, hamburgers, cut sandwiches, clean the griddle, slice and season salad, melt cheese, take cans of soft drinks from the fridge, wrap takeaway orders, write out receipts and memorize garbled orders from four waiters all at the same time. Norman has never seen anyone work so hard or so fast.

Free Lunch
He prefers the counter to the seating area where hundreds of office staff eat their meals. As it is a kilo place where the price depends on the weight, people fill their plates from the huge choice on offer. It’s common to see someone with sushi, spaghetti, chicken, beef, chips, rice, beans, eggs, salad, peas and fish on the same dish. Afterwards many of them turn the clock back to children days and treat themselves to an ice cream and it is common to see a group of middle-aged men in suits walking back to the office licking their lollies as though were five and not forty-five. The reason they can afford to eat as heartily as they get meal vouchers as a perk from their employers. Whoever said “there’s no such things as a free lunch” had never been to São Paulo. Like the other freelance and outsourced staff, Norman has to pay his own way.

He heads back to the office and nips quickly into the bathroom where the Brazilian men – most of whom seem to be called Marcello, Eduardo or Fernando – are preening themselves. They all bring their toothbrushes to work like good little boys and stand in front of the mirror brushing, gargling and spitting. Some also use toothpicks and dental floss. Others comb their hair and stare deeply into their own eyes as though they love themselves. “If this is what it’s like in the men’s room what the hell is it like in women’s,” Norman mutters as he squeezes past the gaggle of Latin Narcissi.

He spends another few hours at his desk, files his last items for the day and heads off to a nearby college where he gives a presentation on Brazilian politics to a group of students from a famous European business school who are on a trip to Latin America. He tries to explain the complicated nature of the political scene. A Constitution which is over 300 pages long and needs the approval of three-fifth of the two houses of Congress before it can be amended. A Senate in which three chairmen have resigned in less than a decade accused of corruption. A congressional ethics committee, most of whose members have been accused of unethical behavior. A country in which public employees can retire in their mid-40s, where criminals who are graduates go to separate jails from common criminals in the unlikely occurrence of them being caught. A president who said white men with blue eyes were responsible for the financial crisis. A system that devotes more educational resources to universities attended by middle-class students than it does to basic education for poor children.

The trouble is the visitors dont believe him and think he’s making it all up. The questions are often the same – racism, the destruction of the Amazon, poverty, street children, misery and social deprivation. When he tells them that Brazil is a dynamic country and most of the people are fairly happy and optimistic they dont believe him either. They want Brazilians to be miserable and downtrodden and politically correct like them but Brazilians refuse to fit in with their caricatures.

Homeward Bound
He has also received invitations to a cocktail reception at a fancy hotel for an American economist who won the Nobel Prize and to a speech by the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange but events like this no longer have their former appeal and he decides to head home. He walks back and when he crosses Avenida Nove de Julho finds himself in the lush piece of paradise in the Jardins he had passed through earlier in the taxi. However, the flocks of parrots have disappeared, the sunlight has headed elsewhere and the wide avenues full of cars.

He passes some joggers, dog walkers and middle-aged couples holding hands. As usual he wonders why they do this. Are they still in love? Are they afraid that someone will steal their spouse? Is it some kind of means of security he knows nothing about? He passes a one-legged beggar who stands by the traffic lights, hobbles round the cars and is surprisingly successful. Norman interviewed him once for an article and learned that he had lost his leg as a teenager due to some illness which had gone untreated when he was a child, had spent 30 years working as a carpenter’s assistant and now, at the age of 62, was planning to get married. His fiance, a gap-toothed, wrinkled, old prune, confirmed that she was to be his wife and partner. She was also a beggar and they had met at work. A touching tale of love and romance which could only have been nurtured in São Paulo. Despite his ragged clothes and seamed, filthy face the beggar earns much more than the minimum wage and lives rent-free in a shack on the edge of one of the main highways. He told Norman that he was quite happy with life and expressed no grudge against the rich motorists he begged from. “Theyre good people. They care for me,” he had said.

Oh to be in Rio!
Soon he was back in his own neighborhood with its familiar shops, smells, noises and people. He wishes he was in Rio where he could walk along the beach front at Ipanema, breathe in the sea air, take off his shoes and socks and walk along the sand. However, this was not to be. Instead he bought some things from a supermarket and headed home. He got a smile from Lourdes, a scowl from his daughter who was doing her homework while watching TV, listening to her iPod, talking on her cellular, singing to the music and admiring her newly varnished black fingernails. His wife had not yet arrived and was probably stuck in a traffic jam on the Marginal ring road listening to radio reports on how bad the traffic was. A helicopter thundered above his building sending reports on the traffic to the radio and TV stations.

He switched on the television and flicked through the local channels, skipping the evangelical rallies, early evening soaps and hovering over the action news programs which specialized in covering horrific traffic accidents, bank robberies and gruesome murders. The lead story on the BBC World service news was about India as always. The second story was also about India and the third about Pakistan. It was as though the British Raj still existed “Maybe one day well get a story about Brazil,” he said as he switched to CNN. Oh no, it was the bearded bore Wolf Blitzer sitting in his “Situation Room” along with “the best political team on television.” No thanks – goodnight Wolf.

Outside in the street the dogs were yowling again as they always did at this time of the evening. Trying to ignore them, he skimmed through his e-mail. Apart from routine professional stuff there were the usual pleas for information about Brazil. “Dear Norman, I read one of your articles on Brazilian politics. Ill be coming to São Paulo next month and wonder if you can tell me the times of buses from the airport to my hotel in Avenida Paulista.” Another: “Dear Sir, I know you are a journalist in South America. I have fallen in love with a Chilean girl through the Internet. I am thinking of meeting her in Mexico City next Tuesday but I dont speak Spanish. Your advice would be invaluable. Phone me. It’s an emergency.” And another: “Is Fortaleza a good place to buy real estate?” There was also a typical message from a friendly local: “Gringo bastard, go home, Bush lover! Brazil hates you!” Delete, delete, delete, delete!

By then it was time for a shower. When he emerged clean, refreshed and feeling on top of the world his wife had arrived and they settled round the table. His daughter had even removed her iPod and they chatted about the day. The meal was interrupted by telephone calls from his sister-in-law, mother-in-law and his daughter’s best friend. A television station in Washington also called and asked if he could take part in a live discussion program starting in 30 minutes on the Catholic Church’s position on abortion in Brazil. “Thanks but no thanks.” He had learned a long time ago never write or say anything about religion. He was also impatient with the absurdly short deadlines from the broadcast media which seemed to think he was just hanging around waiting for them to call.

Dog Tired
Around 10 he headed for bed. He put Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis on his bedside cassette player very quietly, picked up his collection of Keats poems and was all set to read “The Eve of St Mark”, which always soothed him. He was settling into the beautiful opening lines and escaping into another world:

“Upon a Sabbath-day it fell;
Twice holy was the Sabbath bell
That called the folk to evening prayer;
The city streets were clean and fair
From wholesome drench of April rains;
And, on the western window panes,
The chilly sunset faintly told
Of unmatured green valleys cold,
Of the green thorny bloomless sedge,
Of primroses by sheltered rills,
And daisies on the sheltered rills”

… when the dogs started up their racket, snarling like Furies auditioning for the Hound of the Baskervilles.

The end to another perfect day.

Boa noite Norman – dorme bem!

John Fitzpatrick 2009

John Fitzpatrick is a Scotsman who first visited Brazil more than 20 years ago and has been based in São Paulo since 1995. He is a journalist by profession and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicaes, which provides corporate communications and consultancy services. He can be contacted at johnfitz668@gmail.com.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Brazil: The Plot Thickens as Lula’s Presidential Candidate Faces Health Crisis
Congress Still Tramples on Brazilians Rights 25 Years After the “Direct Elections Now” Campaign
Hold the Front Page – Brazil’s Interest Rates Head for Single Digits
Around Brazil: The Many Faces of São Paulo – Tips for Newcomers
Brazil: Will Obama Mention the “Brics” or just the “Rics”?
Brazil 2009 – The Year of Living Dangerously
Brazil: São Paulo Mayoral Election – a Foretaste of the Presidential Race?
Looking for Brazil’s Moon Under Water
Brazil’s Lula Finally Stops Playing the Blame Game
Brazil: Coming Up – Serra versus Dilma?
Brazil Becomes Middle Class but Not Bourgeois
Where is Brazil’s Barack Obama?
Brazil: Lula Loses Some of His Moral Luster
Lost Your Job on Wall Street? Head for Brazil!
Brazil: Lula Loves Investment Grade – Whatever That Is
There’s No Business Like Oil Business – in Brazil Anyway
Benefits of Brazil’s Growth Start to Spread
Let Brazilians Sort Out the Problems of the Amazon
Brazil’s Politicians Set to Cash in on Oil and Gas Discoveries
Brazil: Lula Learns the Lesson of Not Planning Ahead
Cops and Robbers Brazilian Style
Brazil: Oscar Freire – São Paulo’s Street of Dreams
Brazil: Lula Called to Account on Tax
Will Lula Leave Brazil in Safe or Unsafe Hands?
Senate Spits in the Face of the Brazilian People
The Lord Mayor Goes Zapping the NYSE in Brazil
Brazil: Economic Boom – Political Gloom
Around Brazil: Natal – Sun, Sand Dunes and Solitude or Hassle, Hustlers and Hookers
ACM – Brazil Will Never See His Like Again
Brazilians Let Politicians Treat Them as Doormats
Senate Chairman Upholds Tradition of Treating Brazil with Contempt
Brits Turn Their Backs on Brazil
Look Out for the New BBC – the Brazilian Broadcasting Corporation
Navel Gazing in Brasilia – Largesse in São Paulo
Brazil’s Politicians Share the Spoils
Cida – A Brazilian Entrepreneur
Ten Top Brazilian Songs to Download on Your iPod
Lula Lets Brazilians Down by Failing to Exercise His Authority
Brazil: Laid Back Lula Finally Gets His Team (Almost) Together
The George W. Bush PR Show Comes to Brazil
Briefing Bush on Brazil the CIA Way
US Authorities Tackle Brazil’s White Collar Criminals
Brazil’s Opposition Parties Try to End Disarray
Lula Faces Arm-Wrestling Contest with New Congress
Brazil Waits for Lula to Return from Holiday
Around Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba
Brazilians Start to Stand Up for Their Rights
Darfur – Brazil’s African Side Show
Economics and Politics in Brazil – a Tangled Web
Brazil’s Strange Idea of Democracy
Brazil: John Pizzarelli – the Boy from Ipanema
Brazil’s Stock Market: the Path to Riches or Rags?
Brazil: Lula Unlikely to Change Course after His Massive Victory
Brazil: Privatization – Lula and Alckmin Defend the Indefensible
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 2
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin Hits Lula but Lands No Killer Blow
Brazil: Lula Pays the Penalty for Complacency
Brazil: Does Lula Deserve to Win?
Brazil: Cardoso Writes a Poison Pen Letter
Monte Verde – Brazil’s Green Mountain
Brazil’s Gross Disappointing Product
Brazil’s Election – Alckmin Hands Lula Victory on a Plate
Lula Hits Back at Congress
Brazil’s Presidential Election May Not be a Walkover for Lula
Pity the Brazilian Voter
Brazil’s Fainthearts Let the Nation Down
Now is the Winter of Brazil’s Discontent
World Cup brings Out the Best and Worst in Brazil
Brazil’s Big Spender
Brazil: The Dogs of War are Unleashed in São Paulo
Brazil: Self-Righteous Indignation Marks Bolivian Nationalization
Brazil: Lula Still Vulnerable
Brazil: The PSDB Takes the Hard Road
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 3
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 2
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin the Hare Takes on Serra the Tortoise
Patronizing Brazilians the Politically Correct Way
Brazil: Election Gives Voters Chance to Clean Up Congress
Brazil: João Pessoa – a Victim of its Own Success
No Consistency in Brazil’s Foreign Policy
Brazil: Sitting in the Shadow of Sarney and Magalhes
Brazil: Gentrification Creeps Up On São Paulo
Dirt Flies as Brazilian Parties Aim for Presidency
Brazilians Vote for Guns and Death Not Peace and Love
Brazil’s Gun Lobby Launches Hysterical Campaign Against Arms Ban
Jews and Arabs Find Success in Brazil
Brazil’s Politicians Start Looking Ahead to Next Year
Brazil: Lula Down but Certainly Not Out
Brazil’s Congress Struggles to Cope with Ongoing Crisis
Brazil: Scandal Threatens Presidential Mandate System
Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – São Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?

By John Fitzpatrick
August 27, 2009

Please note that this article was originally written on August 19, 2009.

Welcome back Marina Silva! By announcing her resignation from the Workers Party (PT), she has paved the way to become the candidate of the Green Party (PV) in next year’s presidential election. The fact that Silva, a former environment minister, has no chance of winning is less important than the effect of her announcement. This has stirred life into what looked like a two-horse race between President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s candidate, Dilma Rousseff, and the likely PSDB candidate, Jose Serra, the governor of São Paulo. It also increases the chances of other candidates, like Ciro Gomes of the PSB, standing and means there is now a greater chance of the election going into a second round.

Marina Silva could attract the support of a broad range of voters who are attracted not so much by her leftist policies as her image and vote for her as a protest. The more traditional element of the PT which has still not accepted having Rousseff imposed on it in dictatorial fashion by Lula could be tempted by her even though she has deserted the party of which she was a member for more than 20 years. These PT dissidents are also fed up seeing Lula stand up for the Senate chairman, Jose Sarney of the PMDB, who has been at the center of a scandal for months over allegations of nepotism and corruption.

Voters who are just sick to death of the endless corruption and venality that has been flowing out of the Senate this year will see her as one of the few untainted members. She resigned as Lula’s environment minister in 2008 because she believed the economic growth policies being driven by Rousseff were overriding threats to the environment.

Women voters who are put off by Rousseff’s rather harsh image as a humorless former guerrilla could go for Silva’s more feminine approach. Her family background – one of 11 children born of poor Northeastern migrants in the Amazon state of Acre – will appeal to millions of Northeasters still in their home states and those scattered across southern Brazil.

She is also a born-again Christian which is a strong card even in a country as Catholic as Brazil where millions have turned their back on the church of Rome and joined evangelical churches. Furthermore, Silva has good contacts among social groups at home and abroad. Add to this the possibility that her running mate could be singer Gilberto Gil, a former culture minister, and you have all the ingredients for a fascinating – and entertaining – contest.

Serra must be delighted by this development as he is the current leader in opinion polls and Rousseff is still lagging far behind. If she has to fend off Silva and perhaps Gomes, both of whom will push a more leftist” agenda, then her task will be harder even with Lula’s support.

Despite all these points, Silva will still face enormous problems and could easily end up like another woman candidate, Senator Heloisa Helena, who hit the headlines after leaving the PT and standing as the presidential candidate for the breakaway PSOL party. Many people found her a refreshing change, even although they did not back her policies, but she made little impression in the presidential campaign and has virtually disappeared from view.

One big problem is that the PV is very small and only has a handful of members. It is virtually invisible as a party and only has a couple of big names, such as Fernando Gabeira who performed well when he stood as mayor for Rio de Janeiro in the last elections. The other “big” name just happens to be a “Sarney” – Sarney Filho, the son of the beleaguered senate chairman who is also a former environment minister. This shows that the party is not ideological and it has made no impression on the public even considering Brazil’s enormous presence in issues environmental. Its tiny size also means it has very little access to the free television and radio advertising which parties are entitled to at election time. This means Silva will have to link up with one or more of the bigger parties to gain more air time.

Finally, despite her five years as environment minister, Silva just does not seem wily or tough enough to cope with the responsibilities of being president of a country as complicated as Brazil where the political system means that there is no room for the kind of idealism she conveys. After all a president cannot resign just because things are not going his – or her – way.

John Fitzpatrick 2009

John Fitzpatrick is a Scotsman who first visited Brazil more than 20 years ago and has been based in São Paulo since 1995. He is a journalist by profession and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicaes, which provides corporate communications and consultancy services. He can be contacted at johnfitz668@gmail.com.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Will Brazil’s Sarney Fall on His Sword?
Brazil: Lula Starts to Throw His Weight Around
Congress Still Tramples on Brazilians Rights 25 Years After the “Direct Elections Now” Campaign
Hold the Front Page – Brazil’s Interest Rates Head for Single Digits
Around Brazil: The Many Faces of São Paulo – Tips for Newcomers
Brazil: Will Obama Mention the “Brics” or just the “Rics”?
Brazil 2009 – The Year of Living Dangerously
Brazil: São Paulo Mayoral Election – a Foretaste of the Presidential Race?
Looking for Brazil’s Moon Under Water
Brazil’s Lula Finally Stops Playing the Blame Game
Brazil: Coming Up – Serra versus Dilma?
Brazil Becomes Middle Class but Not Bourgeois
Where is Brazil’s Barack Obama?
Brazil: Lula Loses Some of His Moral Luster
Lost Your Job on Wall Street? Head for Brazil!
Brazil: Lula Loves Investment Grade – Whatever That Is
There’s No Business Like Oil Business – in Brazil Anyway
Benefits of Brazil’s Growth Start to Spread
Let Brazilians Sort Out the Problems of the Amazon
Brazil’s Politicians Set to Cash in on Oil and Gas Discoveries
Brazil: Lula Learns the Lesson of Not Planning Ahead
Cops and Robbers Brazilian Style
Brazil: Oscar Freire – São Paulo’s Street of Dreams
Brazil: Lula Called to Account on Tax
Will Lula Leave Brazil in Safe or Unsafe Hands?
Senate Spits in the Face of the Brazilian People
The Lord Mayor Goes Zapping the NYSE in Brazil
Brazil: Economic Boom – Political Gloom
Around Brazil: Natal – Sun, Sand Dunes and Solitude or Hassle, Hustlers and Hookers
ACM – Brazil Will Never See His Like Again
Brazilians Let Politicians Treat Them as Doormats
Senate Chairman Upholds Tradition of Treating Brazil with Contempt
Brits Turn Their Backs on Brazil
Look Out for the New BBC – the Brazilian Broadcasting Corporation
Navel Gazing in Brasilia – Largesse in São Paulo
Brazil’s Politicians Share the Spoils
Cida – A Brazilian Entrepreneur
Ten Top Brazilian Songs to Download on Your iPod
Lula Lets Brazilians Down by Failing to Exercise His Authority
Brazil: Laid Back Lula Finally Gets His Team (Almost) Together
The George W. Bush PR Show Comes to Brazil
Briefing Bush on Brazil the CIA Way
US Authorities Tackle Brazil’s White Collar Criminals
Brazil’s Opposition Parties Try to End Disarray
Lula Faces Arm-Wrestling Contest with New Congress
Brazil Waits for Lula to Return from Holiday
Around Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba
Brazilians Start to Stand Up for Their Rights
Darfur – Brazil’s African Side Show
Economics and Politics in Brazil – a Tangled Web
Brazil’s Strange Idea of Democracy
Brazil: John Pizzarelli – the Boy from Ipanema
Brazil’s Stock Market: the Path to Riches or Rags?
Brazil: Lula Unlikely to Change Course after His Massive Victory
Brazil: Privatization – Lula and Alckmin Defend the Indefensible
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 2
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin Hits Lula but Lands No Killer Blow
Brazil: Lula Pays the Penalty for Complacency
Brazil: Does Lula Deserve to Win?
Brazil: Cardoso Writes a Poison Pen Letter
Monte Verde – Brazil’s Green Mountain
Brazil’s Gross Disappointing Product
Brazil’s Election – Alckmin Hands Lula Victory on a Plate
Lula Hits Back at Congress
Brazil’s Presidential Election May Not be a Walkover for Lula
Pity the Brazilian Voter
Brazil’s Fainthearts Let the Nation Down
Now is the Winter of Brazil’s Discontent
World Cup brings Out the Best and Worst in Brazil
Brazil’s Big Spender
Brazil: The Dogs of War are Unleashed in São Paulo
Brazil: Self-Righteous Indignation Marks Bolivian Nationalization
Brazil: Lula Still Vulnerable
Brazil: The PSDB Takes the Hard Road
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 3
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 2
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin the Hare Takes on Serra the Tortoise
Patronizing Brazilians the Politically Correct Way
Brazil: Election Gives Voters Chance to Clean Up Congress
Brazil: João Pessoa – a Victim of its Own Success
No Consistency in Brazil’s Foreign Policy
Brazil: Sitting in the Shadow of Sarney and Magalhes
Brazil: Gentrification Creeps Up On São Paulo
Dirt Flies as Brazilian Parties Aim for Presidency
Brazilians Vote for Guns and Death Not Peace and Love
Brazil’s Gun Lobby Launches Hysterical Campaign Against Arms Ban
Jews and Arabs Find Success in Brazil
Brazil’s Politicians Start Looking Ahead to Next Year
Brazil: Lula Down but Certainly Not Out
Brazil’s Congress Struggles to Cope with Ongoing Crisis
Brazil: Scandal Threatens Presidential Mandate System
Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – São Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?

By Paul Barnett
August 27, 2009

Bezzeros, arguably the creative capital of Pernambuco, is home to important artists such as wood block printer J. Borges, and to the Centro de Artesanato which features the work of artisans from the whole state of Pernambuco. It is also famous for its unique form of Carnival, Papangu, which involves the use of elaborate masks. Additionally, Bezerros is the gateway to the Serra Negra mountains, an ecology reserve.

Basic Facts
Bezerros is a municipality in the State of Pernambuco, near the city of Gravat. It is approximately 50 minutes (approx. 100km) by car from Recife along the well maintained BR232 highway.

It has a population of approximately 57,000, and an area of 492.6 km, in the Agreste (a narrow, mostly hilly, zone between the coastal Zona da Mata (forest zone) and the semiarid Sertão).

History
In 1740 a family of farmers settled in what is now the town of Bezerros. The first two inhabitants of the private estate were two brothers Terciano and Zebóbio Torres who developed farms. Other brothers Jos and Grancisco Bezerra settled soon after, and all worked in farming.

The son of one of the Bezerra brothers disappeared and was given up as lost, but his father made a promise to Saint Jos that if his son were found he would build a chapel. The child was eventually found on the ground beneath a leafy tree. Upon the site of the tree the Matriz Church (Igreja Matriz) was built.

One theory suggests that the city was named after the brothers Bezerra (meaning Calf), the other theory suggests that it is named as such due to the importance of cattle farming in the area. Today the town still hosts live stock auctions each Saturday morning. Here visitors can see traders in typical countryside dress, similar to that that several generations of their families have no doubt also worn.

Attractions
The town has several attractions for tourists. It is the gateway to the Serra Negra, an ecological reserve formed of a mountain range that has an average altitude of 1000m and extent of over 10km. It is home to countless species of native flowers, trees, birds and other forms of wildlife. It also includes several caverns. The mountain top views of the Agreste countryside are quite spectacular and can be enjoyed from several vantage points including the chalets of Canta da Serra for those lucky enough to stay in the region or from Bar Mirante for those on a day trip.

The Serra Negra offers great trekking, but it is also possible to explore by bike, horse or jeep. The reserve has an area of Atlantic Forest (Matta Atlantica), and for the more adventurous, there are areas to enjoy radical sports.

Whilst in the city do not forget to pick up some locally made products. You can find excellent honey, cheeses, cakes and even locally grown artisanal coffees. The town market is also worth a visit if you are there on Saturday.

The region also has a lot to offer to visitors interested in the arts and crafts of Pernambuco. It is home to artists like J. Borges and his son, famed for their carvings for wood block printing, most famously seen on the covers of popular literature pamphlets called Cordels. They depict typical Brazilian scenes plus characters from folklore, myths and legends including, of course, the legendary bandits Lampiao and Maria Bonita.

In Bezerros you will also find the Centro de Artesanato de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Artisan Centre) with a permanent exhibition of the work of the most important artists from across the state, and a shop where works can be purchased. A visit to the centre is an opportunity to see great craftsmanship, and to learn a lot about the folklores and traditions of the state.

Carnival & Papangu
The towns carnival is one of the largest and most important in the interior, beginning ten days before the main festivities with the Bloco Acorda Bezerros (carnival group called the Waking up of the Calves”), dressed in pyjamas and carrying dolls. Revellers join an improvised dance through the streets in the early hours of the morning. They congregate in the city Centre on Rua 15 de Novembro (15th November Street).

A unique feature of Carnival in Bezzeros is the use of masks made by individuals and over 30 workshops. Older generations suggest that the tradition of wearing masks began when men wanted to be able to enjoy carnival by using disguise to avoid their wives. But, the real name for the party Papangu relates to the cornmeal porridge “Angu” eaten during carnival. “Papa” means to eat. The meal is offered by friends and neighbours, and it is said that the mask allowed people to eat greedily without embarrassment. Success of this trick requires the wearer to keep secret the design of their mask in the days before carnival.

The author gratefully acknowledges the many sources that were consulted in the writing of this article. While they provide the foundation, the interpretation and opinion are entirely those of the author.

Previous articles by Paul:

Around Brazil: Recife

By Jose Santiago
August 17, 2009

Brazil’s current laws only allow the importation of vehicles such as cars and motorcycles that are brand new or older than 30 years. Under any circumstances used cars are allowed to be legally brought to Brazil unless they are, of course, older than 30 years.

The frequent question I hear in my office is; how much it will cost me to import a car to Brazil as an individual (final price). The answer is simple, the cost of the vehicle itself plus around 125% of its purchase price due to taxes, freight, fees, etc.

However, currently, individuals that are importing a car for their own use do not have to pay the I.P.I. tax, this according to latest jurisprudence and Supreme Court decisions, therefore, this cost is reduced to around 115% of the value of the car, which in almost all cases is worthwhile because of the expensive vehicle prices due to heavy taxation.

For example, a brand new Toyota Canry XLE that costs, in the USA, around USD$25,900* (Invoice price/Source: tabela FIPE).

The biggest advantages are the savings and the economy which is around 30% in this particular case.

The disadvantages are the following; a lot of bureaucracy, timeframe (around 3 months from purchase to delivery), and warranty issue; this one because some brands do not offer local warranty on self-imported cars, but there are several court decisions already obligating multinationals to warranty their vehicles here in Brazil, even if purchased abroad directly by the owner.

With the US Dollar rate dropping, again the prices have and will become even more attractive and more advantageous for any type of car and motorcycle to be imported to Brazil.

Should you need additional information related to this matter, please feel free to contact my office.

*PRICES COLLECTED FROM SOURCES ON 08/17/2009.

Jose C. Santiago
Attorney at Law
How Foreign Individuals Can Invest in the Brazilian Stock Market
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

August 17, 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 stumbled on your site while doing some due diligence before I join the hordes of foreigners investing in Brazil. I have found a couple of nice properties in Rio through an American who has a real estate company there. We agreed on the price and everything went smoothly until we got to the payment part. He wants the money to be paid in the USA. I know that this is contrary to all advice. In Brazil the money has to go through the central bank of Brazil so that they can guarantee the title transfer. To add insult to injury he wants me to deposit the money into several bank accounts which belong to different people who have nothing to do with the deal. Mind you, I have a lawyer checking things for me over there in Rio. She keeps reassuring me that it’s fine and that there is no risk involved. I am not used to this way of doing business. In short, I smell a rat.

— Anon

Hi,

Based on my thoughts, bearing in mind I’m not a specialist, this doesn’t sound good at all.

I would ensure that you have independent references for your Brazilian lawyer, or perhaps try and contact a US lawyer with experience of Brazilian property purchase.

Very much better to be safe than sorry with this type of deal.

Good luck

Vanessa

This may sound like a very silly thing, but I would appreciate it if you could write an explanation of the doorman etiquette/ how to enter a building in Brazil. I was caught off guard today entering my sogros building. The doormen didn’t recognize me (I am normally with
my husband and they always recognize him) and I ended up waiting outside for a very long time. My husband told me I should have used the intercom instead of talking to the people outside because they are only for the cars entering the building. Is there anything else I am missing that could make things go more smoothly in the future?

— Molly

Ol Molly,

Usually you should call someone from your cell phone before you get to the building and ask them to call the doorman and let him now you’re about to arrive, that you have a black or white car, etc.

Doing this, when you get to the car entrance, the doorman will already know who you are and let you in.

Or you can always get a Jaguar and never have to wait for anything.

Beijo, thanks to you for the question,

Vanessa

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

Previous articles in this series:

Ask a Brazilian: Dating in Brazil
Ask a Brazilian: A Question of Race
Ask a Brazilian: Corruption and Lula
Ask a Brazilian: Leather and Telephones
Ask a Brazilian: Treatment of Animals
Ask a Brazilian: Well-to-do Ladies
Ask a Brazilian: All Souls Day and Halloween
Ask a Brazilian: Answering a Question
Ask a Brazilian: Revoked Visa
Ask a Brazilian: Pedestrian Problems
Ask a Brazilian: Trash
Ask a Brazilian: Tiles
Ask a Brazilian: Headlights
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

The next get-together will be held at Bikini’s Beach Bar, Av. Cabo Branco. It will be on the 20th September 2009 starting at about 1pm and finishing around 7pm. Harvey (the owner) has suggested that to make this event a little different, people could bring their own food and share it (maybe people could bring a national dish from their home country).

This seems to be a good idea as we have so many different countries represented at these meetings. We could have great variety of dishes to choose from. There were people from Bolivia, Norway, Sweden, USA, England, Holland, Russia, Switzerland, Portugal and Spain. People traveled from Recife, Natal and Campina Grande. Over 80 people turned up for the last do.

People who don’t want to bring their own food can still have something to eat at the bar which also serves food.

There is a great wealth of experience at these get togethers as many people have not only started working again and set up businesses but are also building homes and getting involved with the community. For expert legal advice, a local English speaking law firm have offered to come along. Normally, there is someone from the Prefeitura to generally answer any queries in English or Portuguese.

We will as always have a book and DVD exchange so be sure to dig out those old books you keep meaning to bring and swap.

There is plenty of space for the children and there is a large climbing frame with swings and slides.

Any questions about the do, then please post on the Gringoes forum under Meeting up” Joao Pessoa meet up.


By Ricky Skelton
August 17, 2009

One surprising fact about Brazil that doesn’t fit with our lazy Latin stereotypes is the amount that people work. Not only does everybody in Brazil do something, from those selling doces on the buses and beaches to Paulista high-rise office workers, but they do it for long hours. At home, being a student means staying in bed smoking maconha all day and not being capable of making your two hours of Art History or Theology lectures a week. In Brazil, even students work full days then study another four hours at night, 5 nights a week.

Nobody works harder throughout the country than the fishermen of the southern coasts during Tainha Time. In the late autumn and winter months of May, June and July, the coastal waters of Santa Catarina are inundated with huge shoals of tainha, a type of mullet. Following tradition that has been maintained since the very first Azorean settlers arrived on the island, the local fishermen take to the open seas in their wooden boats day after day to make hay as the sun shines.

While the boats may have motors, the nets don’t. With no winches, all the catches are landed by hand. The nets are large to allow the young tainha to escape, while the adults are taken in great numbers into the boat. The typical Floripa fisherman is short and stocky, with a deep tan and arms that make Popeye look like me. While out at sea, it is impossible to appreciate the amount of work that goes into pulling a net with perhaps dozens and dozens of 3-5kg fish.
Boat after boat arrives on the beach or at the dock to unload huge catches. Enormous nets are also spread out from the beaches, and the whole male half of the community, kids and adults, join in the pull. The sands are soon piled full of hundreds of tainha, glistening and flopping around in the winter sun. One single cast into the waves with a personal net can bring in three or four at once.

As an insight into the traditional lifestyles that still form a big part of Florianopolis life, a trip to see the daily tainha catch arrive is very worthwhile. A helping hand may also result in you being one of the many people walking the streets of Floripa carrying a large fish as thank you for your help.

Clean it, gut it, fill it with fresh coriander and garlic, wrap it in aluminium, then put in the oven or the churrasco for 30 minutes. Leave the foil off for another 10 minutes or so and you can eat your catch.

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Deported from Brazil? Part 2
Deported from Brazil? Part 1
Brazil: The President in Florianópolis
Swine Flu in South America?
The Best Club in Brazil…?
The Great Brazilian Animal-Off (Land)
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?

By Alison McGowan
August 17, 2009

The Casarao Amazonia is very difficult to miss – in every sense. An imposing, totally refurbished, colonial house, painted a bright light blue, it stands out in a town of wide largely unasphalted avenues and simple one-story houses. But it is not to be missed in another sense too – for its 10 spacious and super comfortable suites, its fabulous food, courtesy of Rosa and Gustavo, and its impeccable service. Add that to the Italian style, the lovely Brazilian touches of woodwork and ceramics, the swimming pool with whirlpool, the free wi-fi which actually works, and the Casarao really ranks as one of the top pousadas we have ever stayed in.

About the Location
The Ilha de Marajo is the biggest island in the Marajo archipelago, which at 500,000 square kilometers is the largest marine archipelago in the world. Although inhabited by Marajo Indians as long as 1500 years ago, this is very much an undiscovered paradise these days – a place where you can find excellent beaches, forests, wetlands, rivers and the most incredible variety of flora and fauna, starting with the ubiquitous water buffalo which roam, seemingly wild, down the spacious grassy avenues of the capital city of Soure. This is a place to come with time – to visit the beaches, walk in the forest, visit local fazendas, and boat down the river. Take superb local guide Jedilson – and he will find you sloths and alligators and monkeys and birds in places where you would never ever think of looking. Back in town you’ll need space in your luggage for the amazing woodwork and ceramics of local artisan Ronaldo Guedes. Marajo overall? A special place of wonderful surprises, and one we definitely didn’t want to leave. A golden closure to our Amazon trip.

Not to be Missed
– the flocks of red guara in October and November
– the boat trips, beaches and fazendas
– ceramics and woodwork at Ronaldo Guedes
– homemade pasta and pizza at the pousada

Starpoints and caveats
* excellent pousada cuisine – both Brazilian and Italian
* fabulous swimming pool and open bar
* superb service

Try a different place if…
… you prefer rustic to chic, or you prefer jungle lodge style

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on alison@hiddenpousadasbrazil.com. Visit her site at http://www.hiddenpousadasbrazil.com/.

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Mila, nr. Ubatuba, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Beleza, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Bambu Bamboo Pousada and Spa, Parati, Rio de Janeiro
Random Ramblings on the Weather in Brazil
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijamar, Bahia
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 Joe Lopes
August 17, 2009

To read part 1 of Jose’s article click the relevant link at the end.

Lisbon Story and Well Beyond
It seems the fado standard has been placed in exceptionally capable hands with Mariza. Other contemporary practitioners of the form, such as Cristina Branco, Aldina Duarte, Ktia Guerreiro, Msia, and Dulce Pontes, continue to hold up their end by keeping the flame of fado’s essence alive. While popular within their own country’s confines, they have yet to command the attention of outside audiences the way Mariza has, or to reach out beyond the borders of Lisbon’s famed Alfama district.

One Portuguese artist who did reach out beyond Lisboa, and whose face and voice outside audiences have clearly grown accustomed to over the years, is the lovely Teresa Salgueiro, former lead singer of the group Madredeus.

Their music, which some critics have labeled as cloying and pretentious, comprises elements of traditional fado with touches of folk, tango, New Age, world-beat, Middle Eastern, flamenco, and other sources factored in. True to his family’s surname (which, in English, is rendered as Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who first circumnavigated the globe), guitarist, musician, and producer Pedro Ayres Magalhes, one of the group’s founding members, is the individual most responsible for its wide-ranging repertoire.

Fado is sung in the first person.telling sentimental stories,” Magalhes explained in a 1995 interview with New York Times writer Alan Riding. “Our themes are as universal as possible, talking about feelings, life and death,” a statement that convincingly supports the conclusion Mariza eventually came to reach.

When you listen to one of Madredeus’ carefully-concocted creations-O Esprito da Paz (“The Spirit of Peace,” EMI, 1994), for example, or their 2000 compilation Antologia (Metro Blue)-you experience an atmosphere of calm resignation blanketed against a soundscape of six-string Spanish guitars (surprisingly, the balalaika-like guitarra portuguesa, a necessary staple of fado since its inception, has been banished from the proceedings); harmonically absorbing accordion flourishes firmly grounded by the cello’s deep-bass fullness; punctuated intermittently by synthesized keyboards, originally programmed by Rodrigo Leão, the other founding member, and later by Carlos Maria Trindade, the producer and piano player of Mariza’s Fado Curvo.

The standout, however, is Teresa’s elegant soprano tone, whose vocals well up from the center position. The name Salgueiro, in Portuguese, means “willow” (as in “weeping willow”). It’s a sound that, in reviewer Imre Szeman’s poetic wordplay, “combines earthly desire and cosmic awe, material longing and transcendental hope, and which settles over you like a state of grace.”

The urge to hold back one’s tears, then, is diminished amid the gentle sweep of her voice-delicate, supple, and ethereal-as it passes over you in soft, undulating currents. There are but a handful of performers that can do this to a person. Teresa Salgueiro happens to be one of them.

While still a teenager, Salgueiro was discovered in the late 1980s, working as a singer in a Lisbon bar, by Magalhes and Leão, who asked her to join their newly formed band of five. Impressed by their sound, she agreed to increase the number to six by becoming the group’s only female member. “A gift of nature,” Magalhes conceded at the time. “It was strange to find someone who is 17 who sings with [such] joy and with the same timbre and vigor as the voices people remember hearing in Portugal.” Not for nothing was she billed as the unheralded “successor” to the great Amlia Rodrgues’ fado crown.

Resultantly, Madredeus was lifted to local prominence during an especially fertile period for world music, where the ethnic diversity of such artists as The Chieftains, Enya, The Gipsy Kings, Youssou N’Dour, and Yanni was much celebrated and highly in vogue. The presence of young Salgueiro only added to the equation. Even so, the group remained stubbornly Lisbon-bound.

It was German film director Wim Wenders who eventually rescued Teresa and her band-mates from anonymity. Wenders was so taken with their work that he used several of Madredeus’ songs to accompany Salgueiro’s soft-spoken screen persona in his 1994 movie Lisbon Story (Viagem a Lisboa). “I wanted to film them as they performed,” the director asserted to Riding. “They were playing with such pleasure, such intensity, and integrity; and Teresa’s voice filled the small space with so much emotion that I felt a shiver running down my spine.”

Their compelling soundtrack (entitled Ainda) was rushed into production in order to fill the skyrocketing demand for Madredeus’ music. By then, Teresa’s charming and totally un-self-conscious portrayal of herself, pitted against Wenders’ cinematic alter ego, actor Rudiger Vogler, had become a winning combination with viewers. The film went on to do for present-day Lisbon what Black Orpheus had done for Rio in its sixties heyday.

From there Madredeus toured all over Europe, as well as Africa, Asia, the United States, and South America. During a yearlong 2006 sabbatical, Salgueiro resolved to strike out on her own, eventually reemerging as a well-regarded soloist in São Paulo for a January 2007 series of live performances at the Golden Cross Jazz Club (formerly Tom Jazz) in the high-profile neighborhood of Higienópolis.

The concerts were held to commemorate her recently concluded EMI project Voc e Eu (“You and Me”). As ambitious a recorded undertaking as any in recent years, the CD showcased the entire spectrum of Brazilian popular song, beginning with the thirties and forties, the so-called “golden age” of samba and choro; moving on to the prime bossa-nova period of the 1950s and ’60;s, right down to the pop-based chart toppers of the mid-1970s.

Included were such classics as “Marambaia,” a lively number often associated with Elis Regina; “Na Baixa do Sapateiro” (“Bahia”) and “Pra machucar meu coraão” (“To Wound My Heart”) by the ever-popular Ary Barroso; “O samba da minha terra” (“My Country’s Samba”) and “Saudade de Bahia,” both by the late Dorival Caymmi; Luiz Bonf and Antonio Maria’s lilting “Samba de Orfeu” from the movie Black Orpheus; the beautiful “Se todos fossem iguais a voc” from Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes’ inaugural Orfeu da Conceião collaboration; a sampling of Jobim’s best work with other lyricists (“Estrada do sol,” “Intil passagem,” “Triste,” and “Meditation”); and concluding with Chico Buarque’s prize-winning “A banda” from 1967.

The best that could be said about Salgueiro’s attempts at this more pop-driven song structure is that she excelled brilliantly in the fast numbers. A side-by-side comparison with the late singer-actress Carmen Miranda, who was herself of Portuguese extraction, left little doubt of her rhythmic capabilities and care for note values.

Teresa covered herself in glory on the lightning-quick “Marambaia” and on Jobim’s gossamery “Chovendo na roseira” (“Double Rainbow”). But she may have wandered too far from the fado realm-a codfish out of salt water, most likely-in the slower-paced bossa-nova items. Here, her thick native-born accent became more of an actual hindrance than an obvious advantage. The dissimilar vowel sounds of her Lusitanian ancestry clashed with the more-rounded demands of the title tune, written by Vinicius with Carlos Lyra; or the highly literate “Insensatez” (“How Insensitive”), one of master Jobim’s loveliest incantations, done to flawless perfection by him and Frank Sinatra nearly four decades prior.

What was the motivating force behind this amalgam of styles? “Voc e Eu symbolizes the encounter of a Portuguese singer with the music and musicians of Brazil,” Salgueiro explained to the Mundo Lusiada Website, “a partnership and a communication built through music; above all, [it is] the acknowledgement of our collective individuality before the individuality of the other, the joy of having a dialogue and the willingness to make this encounter possible.”
“Ever since I was a child,” she remembered fondly, “I loved to hear the sound of the Portuguese language in Brazilian music, and early on I admired and followed their interpreters, their authors, and their composers.”

Nonplussed by her detractors, Salgueiro insisted these songs were “[m]elodies that have always captivated me with their beauty and sophistication, words that have enchanted me by the power of their images and their ability to evoke so much simplicity, always close to the popular vernacular, the poetry of longing and of love.”

The album’s final tally, a formidable twenty-two tracks in all, posed a monumental challenge for any pop stylist, then and now. But for Teresa Salgueiro it was an especially noteworthy endeavor, one she greeted with her customary graciousness and aplomb. “Finally, we can live this experience for the first time directly with the public. I am grateful to [pianist, arranger, and musical director] João Cristal for teaching me to sing these songs and sincerely hope to share this happiness with many others.”

On the heals of her successful live solo work-held over for several nights by popular demand-can there be any chance that Teresa will get back together with her old fado crowd? The answer appears in the credits for Voc e Eu: listed as executive producer for the album, in addition to its head of mastering and art direction, is the leader and co-founder of Madredeus, composer-lyricist Pedro Ayres Magalhes. Burning her artistic bridges is definitely not a part of Salgueiro’s lounge act.

To be continued…

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 JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Brazil: Neither Fish nor Fado Part 1
Brazil: “Tristeza Não Tem Fim” (“Sadness Has No End”) Part 17
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?

After a lengthy absence (the last meet up was nearly 3 years ago in Drake’s Bar) and due to popular demand we are recommencing our www.gringoes.com meet ups in São Paulo. The next event will be held at a very cool and relaxing bar/restaurant called Chacara Santa Cecilia in Pinheiros on Thursday, Sept. 3 from 8pm. The meet up is being organized by Tania Magalnic, a well-traveled Brazilian currently living in São Paulo and married to a Dutch citizen. The meet up will be a very informal/casual event, free of charge (except for what you consume), with the objective of getting to know and socialize with other like-minded individuals. Please let us know if you plan on attending the meet up, including a short introduction of yourself and guests (age, nationality, profession etc.) so we can get idea of numbers and profile to expect. We also welcome suggestions for future meet ups/events.

Where: Chacara Santa Cecilia
Rua Ferreira de Araujo 601, Pinheiros
www.chacarasantacecilia.com.br

When: Sept. 3 (Thursday) from 8p.m.

Cost: Entrance free. You pay what you consume.

Confirmation: Please confirm presence by email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com and check 0 Comments/by