September 23, 2009

The hash house harriers are known all round the world as a drinking club with a running problem”. If you aren’t already familiar with the concept of hashing, wikipedia gives http://www.sosprevention.com/16BNHHH.html

September 23, 2009

Classic rock and roll, Guinness on tap, and English-speakers from around the world at São Paulo’s most traditional pub.

One night special: order two pints of Guinness or two pints of Kilkenny and get a glass of Kilkenny on tap for free.

Thursday, September 24
Starting at 10 pm

Finnegan’s Pub
Rua Cristiano Viana, 358
(Pinheiros) São Paulo, SP
Reserve a table: (11) 3062-3232
R$10 cover charge

For more, visit:

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September 23, 2009

The Storm are São Paulo’s resident American Football team. In the next few days they are playing for the National Championship, called the Torneio Touchdown. The game has all those extras that bring spectators e.g. half-time shows, live music, cheerleaders etc.

www.tinyurl.com/mapaelzopiteri

By Eleanor Stanford
September 18, 2009

I wasn’t going to do it.

I wasn’t ready to write about our nanny, Dete (pronounced Detchi), the bab who watches the baby until noon while I’m at work, and then stays until 4:30 or so to do the laundry and cooking and cleaning.

I didn’t know if I could describe the immediate and intense affinity I’ve felt for her, or the turbid stew of guilt and appreciation and abject dependence that her presence stirs up in me.

So instead of even trying to parse those feelings for the moment, instead of trying to peer into that murky caldo of class and race, gender and ethnicity and nationality, simmering in my kitchen, instead let me describe her for you.

Dete is striking. She has high Indian cheekbones and sun-mottled skin like a parchment map and a long black ponytail that she winds around and pins on top of her head.

She’s close to forty, and has three kids: Lorena, who’s twelve, Felipe, who’s eight, and Enzo, who’s five months, exactly one month older than my youngest.

Dete comes from a small town in the interior a few hours away. She left her parents and moved to Salvador when she was fourteen to live with her four older brothers and three older sisters.

Her demeanor is meek and easy-going, but you can tell you don’t want to get on her bad side.

She is playful with my sons. From the first time that she saw them, she called them papai, a term of endearment which literally means, Daddy.

She called me Miss Ellie (Mees Ellie), or Senhora, until I felt so uncomfortable I asked her if she could just call me Ellie.

OK, she said, without changing expression, so that I thought maybe I had said the wrong thing, but since then she’s called me Ellie, and it feels less uncomfortable to me.

I don’t know how it feels to her.

She still calls my husband Senhor.

At first we called her Nete. This is how we were introduced to her by the family she worked for previously, neighbors who were moving to Ecuador. She had been with them for nearly five years, since their younger child was a baby.

After about a week another neighbor corrected us. You do know her name is Dete, don’t you?

Uh, no. We didn’t.

When I asked her about it, she shrugged. Yeah, my name’s Dete,” she said, standing over the sink, scrubbing a carrot.

“So why do they call you Nete?” I asked.

“When I started working for Mister Douglas, Nicky was five. I told him my name was Dete. He said, OK. I’ll call you Nete.

“And I said, sure, why not. So they’ve all just called me Nete ever since.”

She laughed about it, and I did, too, but after that we started calling her Dete.

Eleanor Stanford is a poet and guidance counselor. Her book, The Book of Sleep, was published in 2008 by Carnegie Mellon Press. She lives in Salvador, Brazil, and blogs at 0 Comments/by

By Alison McGowan
September 18, 2009

The hotel BeloAlter was a wonderful find. Originally rejected as being too remote and a hotel, rather than a pousada per-se, we only moved here when the original pousada with the fabulous views turned out to have no windows to see them through, no hot water, and a plethora of plastic flowers. It turned out to be a great decision. Far from being remote, the hotel is only a 5 minute cab ride or a 20 minute walk along the beach from Alter do Chao, and it has most of the attributes of a jungle lodge whilst costing less than half the price. Owners Irene and Ze Carlos do everything to make your stay comfortable, service is excellent, there is a choice of beach or pool and the solar heated showers are wonderful. If you want some simple comforts in the jungle, with lots of things to do and places to go, you couldn’t find a better place.

About the Location
I had heard rumours for a couple of years of the existence of sandy beaches in the Amazon, but had not realized there are actually hundreds of them in summer, when the rivers are at their lowest (July through to November). The beach at Alter do Chao is probably the prettiest of all and has the most beach bars. However, relaxing on the beach with your feet in the water, eating freshly fried fish, is only one of the many things to do this Boat trips are a must- round the Lago Verde (Green lake) up the Igarape dos Macacos for a swim in the stream, bird watching, over to Ponta de Curucu for the sunset. Then there is the Escola Floresta nature reserve/ school and finally a visit to Belterra, Henry Fords rubber project, established in 1934 and sold back to the Brazilian government at a US$20m loss in 1945. The town is a copy of small town America, and it has been little touched since the Americans left. Everyone smiles and the old timers will tell countless stories of how it used to be if you can manage to take a Portuguese speaker with you.

Not to be Missed
– boat trip round the Lago Verde (Green lake) and up the Igarape dos Macacos
– eating fish cooked on a bonfire on the beach at full moon (piracaia)
– dolphin watching at sunset with John Lennon, local boat man
– visit to Belterra

Starpoints
* great swimming pool and local beach
* walking distance from Alter do Chao village
* excellent food and service

Try a different place if…
… you mind the noise of monkeys and frogs
… you want to be near restaurants and bars

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 – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casarão da Amaznia, Soure, Ilha de Marajo, Par
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 Ricky Skelton
September 18, 2009

Voc pensa que cachaa gua
Cachaa não gua não
Cachaa vem do Alambique
E gua vem do ribeirão

This Carnival Classic was my first introduction to Alambique, learning the words of a Brazilian song while dancing behind a Rio trio electrico driving along the Ipanema Beach road one sunny afternoon. I looked on maps and in guide books and couldn’t find this place from where Brazil’s famous firewater originated. It took me a few months, maybe even a year – not of constant searching obviously – before I realised that Alambique was more of a place in the house rather than a place in the world.

I had never visited one though. Having seen the menu of a cachaaria, I knew that Minas Gerais has hundreds, the mountains of the south have a few, and even places I have visited such as Paraty have plenty. The original alambiques were powered by water running down mountain streams, with the water-wheels turning the grinding wheels to squeeze the caldo de cana from the harvested plants.

I also knew that my Florianopolis had many little alambiques around the coastline and in the hills, but that almost all of them had closed down. I felt a little shame that I had been in Brazil so long without actually visiting one, even though I don’t particularly enjoy drinking pinga pura. It hurts too much. Still, after an afternoon’s struggling through half-closed trails in rural Floripa hills, with Blondie scratched to bits and turning into a sulky 6 year old girl while also blaming me for her choice of footwear, I celebrated like we’d arrived at Eden when I saw the magical sign – Alambique do Zeca. It explained why I just thought I’d seen somebody walking down the trail with a urine sample for the doctor.

One of the only two alambiques left on the island, the other run by his brother, Ze makes what is regarded by those who know as some of the finest cachaa in Brazil. So he told us. He built the barn himself, and I can’t imagine any alambique looking more perfect – wooden wheels; packed-soil floor; stained and stencilled barrels; smoke; copper furnace; and the smell of all those things and more, mingling together to enter your senses, exactly the same earthy odour found in any alambique in the colonial history of the country. Brazil was built on that scent.

The whole cachaa process is simple but labour-intensive and done by Ze’s own fair hand, the planting, harvesting and processing of the sugar cane. He leaves the juice to ferment on its own, before stoking his fires and distilling the proceeds to produce one of the simplest spirits around. The evil liquid is then transferred to barrels of different sizes and colours to sit for a year, two years, five years, however long our cachaa expert prefers.

We arrived in daylight and left in the dark, stumbling down the down the dusty track with the lights of the beach villages twinkling way below. It didn’t seem so long, but we went through the different types – white and yellow; and the different flavours – apple, ginger, banana, honey, plum and one rocket fuel that would only bow down to absinthe. I could barely remember my own name when we hit the trail with still miles to go until we found the road. I remember some of the story though – that in spite of being one of Brazil’s oldest traditions, the alambique is a dying art. The artesans are prevented from burning their fields to regenerate the soil. I can understand if this if for environmental reasons, although it makes me wonder if the big business of Brazil had a hand in such decisions. It would be a shame if such an important part of Brazilian culture was to disappear at the hands of the larger factory operations.

Everyone should visit an alambique if spending enough time in Brazil. Do it soon though – while you still have a rustic old alambique to visit.

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Whale-Watching in Santa Catarina
Brazil: Tainha Time
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 Kieran Gartlan
September 9, 2009

A big thanks to everyone who attended last week’s meet up at

To read about our previous meet ups:

Brazil: www.gringoes.com São Paulo Meet Up “Debrief”

By John Fitzpatrick
September 8, 2009

On the last day of August, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took part in a long-awaited staged event in Brasilia at which the government formally announced the new model for exploiting the so-called pre-salt” layer of oil and gas off Brazil’s coast. His speech, in which he described August 31 as Brazil’s “New Independence Day”, was made under a giant screen bearing the words “Pre-salt: Asset of the Federal Government; Wealth of the People; and Future of Brazil”. Despite the build-up and audience of about 3,000, it was a rather flat affair, enlivened only by a handful of protestors from Greenpeace who made a mockery of Lula’s security system by holding up banners and then presenting him with one.

The chairman of the House of Representatives, Michel Temer, gave a rambling opening speech in which he referred to the “post-salt” layer, while the beleaguered chairman of the Senate, Jose Sarney, sat silently uneasy on the podium, presumably scared to speak as he would likely have been heckled.

The chief of staff and likely PT presidential candidate, Dilma Rousseff, gave a warm-up speech in which she summarized the proposals the government was sending to Congress. These included making the state-controlled company Petrobras the sole operator in the pre-salt areas with a minimum share of 30% of the contracted consortium.

The audience included São Paulo governor Jose Serra, Rousseff’s likely opponent, who squirmed in discomfort as Lula made a scathing criticism of the administration of his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which ended Petrobras’s monopoly of oil exploration in 1997. Serra was one of Cardoso’s most senior ministers at that time.

Other participants included Sergio Gabrielli, the CEO of Petrobras, which Lula repeatedly referred to as “our little darling”. Luciano Coutinho, the chairman of the national development bank, the BNDES, was also there. Despite the fact that these two will jointly assume responsibility for undertaking and financing the massive task of turning these assets buried up to eight kilometers below the sea into treasure, they nodded to each other and smiled in agreement with their leader’s words.

Lula adopted a nationalistic and populist tone and made it clear that the wealth would remain in Brazilian hands and the bulk would go to the “people”. He claimed that the present system under which Petrobras (“our little darling”) had to compete with other competitors, some of whom were, believe or not, “foreigners” was unfair. The only way to stop these nasty foreign capitalist exploiters was to give Petrobras unrestricted rights to the oil reserves. He also announced that: 1) a new public company called Petro-Sal would be established to handle the shared production contracts and oil and gas sales from the pre-salt area and represent the federal government; and 2) a New Social Fund would be set up to ensure that a substantial part of the resources would be invested in social, educational, science and technology programs and combating poverty.

The speech left more questions than answers, particularly in relation to the government’s estimates for the price of oil when it is finally brought to the surface in around 15 years time. Earlier that day, the government leader in the Senate, Romero Juca, said the government would buy the equivalent of up to US$50 billion in Petrobras shares with the cost being met by barrels of oil (at US$10 a barrel). Rousseff repeated this price of US$10 but did not explain how she had arrived at this figure. Even Petrobras had given no figure when it issued a formal material fact notice earlier that day. This blunder pushed Petrobras common shares 4.5% lower and dragged the São Paulo stock market index, the Ibovespa, down by 2.1%.

The main political row has arisen over Lula’s demand that Congress should pass the bill within 90 days under a fast track system. To expect a body like the Brazilian Congress which moves at a glacial pace to meet a deadline like this is to expect miracles. However, miracles sometimes happen and we can be sure Lula will use all his means to get what he wants by making all kind of dodgy backroom deals with his so-called allies in the PMDB to get their support.

Much of this will involve pork barrel agreements under which parties and politicians will get resources and positions and, equally if not more importantly, will get Lula’s backing when they stand in next year’s state governorship and Congressional election. Lula’s standing in opinion polls is still enormous and everyone wants his blessing.

Even Serra was rather subdued in his criticism, merely saying that three months was not a lot of time to discuss a project which had taken 20 months to be carried out and he had understood that there was a consensus that the fast track system would not be used.

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 Ricky Skelton
September 8, 2009

The Whales are Here! Santa Catarina whale-watching season began in July with the arrival of the first three Southern Right Whales of the 2009 season. The Instituta Baleia Franca (IBF) had a little ceremony to open observation season after two adults and one calf were spotted playing around off Praias Ibiraquera and Ribanceira, between Imbituba and Praia do Rosa. Local authorities enjoyed a little jolly for the opening ceremony at Pousada Vida Sol e Mar in Praia do Rosa, which had already been organised. The three whales timed things perfectly and saved the local dignitaries the embarrassment of opening… nothing much.

The whales continue to visit the beaches and bays of Florianopolis and the rest of Santa Catarina through until October or November time. Whale-watching as an activity can be enjoyed at many of the beaches, with a little luck. Favourite beaches on the island for the whales include Moambique & Barra da Lagoa, Armaão, Matadeiro (where they were once herded into the sand for slaughtering – hence the name of the beach) and Pntano do Sul.

From the sands and the headlands of all these beaches, it is possible to see a whale or few going through their morning… their morning what? Nobody really knows why the whales come so close to shore at this time of year. They only seem to be playing, rolling around on top of each other, flapping the water with their flukes (a technical term that only those of us who have broken our whale-watching virginity are allowed to use – ‘fins’ to the rest of you), blowing, diving, breaching (another term) and all kinds of interesting behaviour. One theory has it that they hide their calves from the orcas of the area, but if that was really the case, then why do they only appear close to the shores in the morning? Do orcas only eat breakfast? Do they have an afternoon siesta?

There are more whales up and down the coast of Santa Catarina, with by far the best place to see these huge, beautiful, curious creatures being a boat trip out from Imbituba. This port town lies around 90km south of Floripa, slightly further south than Garopaba and Praia do Rosa. There are more whales per beach than anywhere else in Brazil (don’t check that stat please, I just guessed) and they like to hang around the waters of Rosa, Ibiraquera and Ribanceira in particular. These surf and kite-surf beaches can all be a little wild for putting a boat out, so the best idea is to drive to Imbituba.

The whale-watching voyages are run by IBF and are properly organised trips, with the whole coast being an Area of Environmental Preservation.

Luis and his team of guides run them from their office at the old Imbituba train station. Before the trip, a little education video is shown to the passengers about the work of the IBF and about the whales in general. The boats head out of the port and along the coast to where the whales have been sighted by fishermen that morning. The boats don’t drive too close to the whales as it can be disturbing. With calm seas, the boats can stop though, and the whales come nosing around to see if their visitors are worth impressing. This affords wonderful photo opportunities, and is one of the only places on earth that you can possibly come within touching distance of such a large creature in the wild.

Florianopolis is the usual starting point for tours, with Praia do Rosa certainly being the best place to stay close to Imbituba. Staying overnight there is not necessary to make the boat trip, but if you want to give yourselves the best chance of being nose to nose with a Southern Right Whale, a night in Rosa is a must. This way, if the seas are too rough for the humans to brave, or the whales are playing elsewhere along the Santa Catarina coastline, you can always have another try the next day. The arrival of Brazil’s largest creatures is not guaranteed, but a memorable encounter with nature certainly is if they are around – especially if you find yourselves being interviewed for one of the Sunday night Brazilian TV Specials, as my own mother did!

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Brazil: Tainha Time
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 Joe Lopes
September 8, 2009

To read part 1 and 2 of Jose’s article click the relevant links at the end.

A Great Little Noise
For all their novelty and fame, Teresa Salgueiro and Mariza both represent, in their own specialized way, the modern views of an already established, older order. Between them, however, they share certain undeniable traits. Some of the more familiar include a finely honed (if somewhat flamboyant, in Mariza’s case) fashion sense, an appealing voice, an attractive and outsized stage presence, an artist’s innate sense of what the public wants, business and financial smarts, and the big theatrical gesture.

As a yardstick for superior vocal ability, big theatrical gestures (in the form of graceful arm and hand movements) are the stock-in-trade as well of another, better-known Marisa: MPB singer, producer, songwriter, arranger, and Tribalista, the Rio-born Marisa Monte.
In an October 2002 interview for Brazzil magazine’s music editor Bruce Gilman, Marisa revealed, quite offhandedly, the real reason behind the spontaneous use of her upper extremities in many of the artist’s live presentations.

They’re the kind of gestures that I make when I’m talking. Really, I talk a lot with my hands. It’s funny because.in some songs my hands are attached to the guitar, and I really miss moving them. It’s like a suspension of my expression. Moving my arms and hands is something that really helps me to sing and to communicate a song’s meaning.”

Whatever it took, for the past twenty years Marisa Monte has successfully communicated many a song’s meaning not only through sweeping hand gestures but also via her phenomenal voice and stunning good looks on stage. Today she stands as one of Brazil’s most dependable pop-music exports, a full-blown example of the heterogeneous nature of talent.

“I’ve never started from the premise that my music is this or that,” she made known in a 2006 New York Times article. “Even for me, it’s difficult to pick a label. People don’t know if I’m pop or something else. The labels never last long anyway, because at any moment it becomes easy for me to destroy all the theories.”

Guitarist and musician Arto Lindsay, who has presided over several of Marisa’s recorded entrees, referred to her as a person of wide taste, “but also very mainstream. One of the secrets of her success is that she has really popular taste, and so is very honest about doing what she does and looking for the best from every genre.”

The possessor of an obviously open and gifted mind-set, the star let Gilman in on some of her “secrets” with a purposely longwinded back-story involving her own artistic coming of age: “When I was eighteen, I went to Italy to study opera, which gave me the opportunity to study the repertoire and to live outside Brazil awhile. But after living in Italy for a year, I began to see Brazil with different eyes.

“For the first time, I could see how rich, original, and unique Brazilian music is in relation to the rest of the world. I saw myself a long way from home and realized how hard it was going to be to put aside all the cultural weight, the density of my background. Never before had I felt so Brazilian.

“To escape my background, to forget all the culture that had been implanted since birth, I would have had to live outside of Brazil for the rest of my life. I also knew it was going to be very difficult for me to put aside modern production techniques.

“And since opera is something that is turned more toward the past, I could see clearly how, for me, it was more important to be in Brazil than to be singing opera in Italy. So I came back when I was nineteen. I had been receiving invitations to record pop music in Brazil since I was sixteen, but studying in Europe was just a way of taking enough time to find my way, to decide what I really wanted.”

By her own calculation, Marisa has told this thrice-familiar tale “millions” of times, including at least once to her musical colleague and friend, producer Arto Lindsay. “And I am sure I’ll keep telling it forever,” she chortled. “Even if I write it down, it’s not the same as hearing it in my unique voice.”

Ah yes, that “unique voice.” Gilman has praised its “extraordinary dexterity,” “a mezzo-soprano, warm in timbre and unbelievably flexible,” blessed with “a wider sweep of coloration on all ranges than most voices in contemporary Brazilian pop.”

“Silvery and liquid,” raved Times reporter Larry Rohter, “it glides, flutters and skips above her songs with a delicacy that invites listeners to relax and enjoy the ride.” Mr. Lindsay alluded to Marisa’s unparalleled “work ethic” and “beauty that matches her voice,” along with applauding her interest in Brazilian and Portuguese literature and her “understanding of the way pop art works.”

“For me, it’s all art,” she responded. “I’m interested in what’s going on in other artistic expressions as a reference for what I’m doing. And I like to talk to people from other cultural areas because I think it’s interesting to compare the process of creation, the concepts in the works, and to exchange these kinds of feelings and ways of production.”
By way of example, she has frequently surrounded herself with an impressive array of individuals with “other artistic expressions”: Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes, Nando Reis and David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Laurie Anderson, Bernie Worrell and Philip Glass. But the first to unlock the possibilities may have been longtime supporter, journalist, songwriter, television and music producer Nelson Motta-not quite the haute voix of the avant-garde, but an astute judge of latent talent nonetheless.

Here, in an excerpt from his Noites Tropicais: Solos, Improvisos e Memórias Musicais (“Tropical Nights: Solos, Improvisations, and Musical Memories”), are Motta’s earliest recollections of the nineteen-year-old singing sensation:

“What I saw and heard gave me the vivid impression of being before a [person of] real talent. And more: of a strong scenic personality, of a youngster with an optimal musical culture and superb taste in repertoire. And an obsessive desire to learn, to better herself, and to grow. It wasn’t just her ambition to cut a record, to play on the radio, or to become a pop star. She wanted to be a stage singer, much like the lyric singers of old; and the recordings, if they materialized, would be a secondary natural consequence of all that. Because she believed that great music happened live-with all of its risk-taking, lack of a safety net, and short-lived moments-just like in the theater and the opera world.”

Not surprisingly, her adolescent idol was the soprano Maria Callas-one of those “lyric singers of old” that, by sheer coincidence, was the same role model that inspired her namesake, fadista Mariza, to take the artistic plunge. Her connection to Velha Guarda (“The Old Guard”) da Portela Samba School of Rio, from where her knowledge of Carnival and samba must have derived, proved profitable to her development as a performer. (It helped that her father Carlos had once been cultural director for the group.)

What about all those recordings that were expected to have materialized from her stage successes? Not to worry. Unlike many artists who issue album upon album of mindless filler, Marisa has spent much of her time in thoughtful contemplation as to what exactly to leave behind for posterity.

To date she’s recorded a total of eight solo albums and one group effort-not very impressive numbers in themselves, but hardly second-rate studio fodder either. Her first, MM (World Pacific) from 1989, was a live performance based on an early TV special. If anything, it set the tone for what was to become her signature eclecticism.

The songs were drawn from all quarters, and highlighted the work of a contemporary rock band, an Italian pop-rock artist, a purveyor of Brazilian soul, and a psychedelic group from the seventies, along with a few standard-issue set pieces from different time periods, the most memorable of which was a version of the Motown classic “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” as well as tracks that paid tribute to Carmen Miranda, George and Ira Gershwin, and Kurt Weill.
Irrespective of its title, her second album Mais (World Pacific, 1991) did not feature “more” of the same, but took a different turn in that she co-wrote many of the numbers with ex-Tits partners Reis and Antunes. A cover version of Caetano Veloso’s “De noite na cama” (“At Night In Bed”) and selections from sambistas Cartola and Pixinguinha, in addition to an item by a gentleman identified only as Nordestino, rounded out the program.

She continued along this same line for her next major outing, the improbably christened Verde, Anil, Amarelo, Cor de Rosa e Carvão (Blue Note, 1994), marketed in the U.S. under the banner Green, Blue, Yellow, Rose and Charcoal. The guest list for this super-production read like a namedropper’s guide to everyone under the musical skylight, i.e. Gilberto Gil, Carlinhos Brown, Celso Fonseca, Paulinho da Viola, Velha Guarda da Portela, Messrs. Glass and Worrell, Romero Lubambo, Fred Hammond, and so forth. It was perhaps Marisa’s biggest seller abroad.
Her subsequent work, Barulhinho Bom (“A Great Little Noise,” EMI, 1996), a double-compact disc combination of live performances and studio proficiency, only solidified her pop-music credentials; in fact, it went above and beyond anything she had done before. From that point, extensive touring, the presenting of more and elaborate stage shows, playing on and producing albums by other artists-even the creating of the record label Phonomotor for the purpose of preserving of her own projects-took precedence over domestic bliss.

Nevertheless, two more releases followed: Memórias, Crnicas e Declaraes de Amor – “Memories, Chronicles and Declarations of Love” (Blue Note, 2000), was a title that seemed lifted almost word-for-word from Mr. Motta’s recently published memoirs. It won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Pop Album in 2001. Topping that envious honor, the 2002 launch of Tribalistas on Phonomotor, with fellow participants Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes, hit Number 12 on the Billboard charts, earning generous Grammy notices and winning one for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album.

Not until she became pregnant with her son did Marisa take some needed time off. Following a three-year hiatus, she came back, fully charged, in 2006 with two back-to-back albums of mostly new material by her and Tribalista band members Brown and Antunes, Universo ao Meu Redor (“Universe All Around Me”) and Infinito Particular, both for EMI. With a little help from some old friends (Adriana Calcanhotto, Caetano Veloso, Jaques Morelenbaum, Eumir Deodato, João Donato, Paulinho da Viola, Philip Glass, and Daniel Jobim), these works turned out to be winners as well.

Marisa herself took a more proactive role in their production, exemplified by her mastering of some rather exotic musical instruments. Many of them, such as the auto-harp, melodica, kalimba, metaphone, cajon, vocoder, baixo, cowbells, and reco-reco, sounded suspiciously like leftovers from a discarded Uakti session. Even computerized electronics were no barrier to her experimentation.

“I love manipulating the sound of everything. You can create new instruments that don’t exist or new tonalities for traditional instruments. Plus, the mixture of the pure sound with the processed sound is really cool.”

Nelson Motta was right about a lot of things. Mostly, he was spot-on concerning his former protge having the patience, the self-discipline, and the intestinal fortitude to take her musical ambitions to Valhalla-like heights. Of course, Marisa has never been content to stay within predictable parameters-and, as far as we know, no safety net was ever extended for this peerless risk taker.

Turning once more toward the past, however, if she had lived during the early part of the twentieth century Marisa would surely have raised the bar for the likes of Rosa Ponselle, Geraldine Farrar, Maria Jeritza, Claudia Muzio, Lina Cavalieri, and other prima donnas of their ilk. And that’s no small feat, either, since they were all true operatic superstars of the first order, renowned as much for the beauty of their voices as for their fabulous looks on stage.

In the breadth and scope of their knowledge, however, they would be no match for our modern-day diva. Why, back in the day she might even have forced them into some type of early retirement, or taken over at a moment’s notice. That’s just so like the theater and opera world, isn’t it? A world and a culture Marisa Monte has yet to completely escape from.

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 2
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
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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
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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
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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
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