By Patti Beckert
April 20, 2010

My first encounter with the custom of raising singing birds in Brazil came as my husband and I were on our way out from the home we were renting at Enseada Beach. I saw the most curious thing. There was an elderly man walking down the street with a bird cage in his hand, and in that cage was a small bird. Of course, I asked Charles if the man was cuckoo (no pun intended), and he told me about the people who catch birds from the wild and/or raise them from birth for the purposes of competing against other bird owners.

He told me that the birds that sing the longest and the sweetest songs are the champs, and they can fetch a pretty penny for their owners. If the bird is exceptional, it is worth its weight in gold. The most highly prized bird for singing is the curio, a small bird akin to the canary. It has a very sweet song and can fetch upwards of $R30,000!

For as long as we lived at the beach house, I would see that man, every day walk his bird. What he was doing was allowing the bird to hear other birds in order to make him sing more. Owners believe giving their birds the opportunity to socialize with other birds will make them the best singers. It’s important to note that most birds are bought for much less money, but it is the daily care and training that turns an ordinary curio or trinca ferro into a champion.

When we moved up on the hill in Jaragua do Sul, we had a builder come and do some work on the house and property we had purchased. The first day he was there, he pointed up into the trees and said something to Charles in Portuguese. Charles later told me that the man had heard a black robin in the tree and said if he could catch it, it would make him rich. For the duration of his building project, he would do everything in his power to coax that bird out of the tree. He brought special food, whistled, and darn near tried to climb the tree trying to catch the bird with the beautiful voice. It was an obsession for the builder.

It was no surprise to me that the painters we hired to paint the interior of the home we bought in Itajuba brought with them each day their birds in cages. Before setting up to do the painting, their first order of business was to find a lofty spot above the second-story balcony, or in the carport from which to hang their cages. There were two birds, each in its own cage, and we would hear their sweet songs all day long. The owners of those birds would often look up and tweet at them to get them to start singing. It was a real sight to see grown men behave so affectionately toward their feathered friends. But, of course, how could they not? Those birds might some day be their ticket out of poverty.

Patti Beckert is originally from Florida, USA and married to a Brazilian, who is originally from Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil. A freelance writer, she presently resides near Austin, TX, but has lived in Southern Brazil and maintains a blog about her experiences at Brazilians Love Candy!

April 20, 2010

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 love Brazil, and hope to return there and marry my girlfriend. One thing I have found is the women there have a thing about cleaning and cutting finger and toenails! I have to admit I love this, just sitting there while your loved one gives you a manicure. Has anyone else experienced this?

— Stephen


It’s true, it is unacceptable to be with unpolished nails, if you are a woman in Brazil.

I don’t know where it comes from, but I see Brazilian manicures gaining space like the Brazilian wax, all around the world.

I’m sure other people will agree with you too.

Best Regards,


Foreigners visiting Brazil sometimes know a bit of Spanish, but rarely speak Portuguese at a functional level. When speaking with a Brazilian who is not fluent in English (or whose fluency in English is unknown), is it better to try to negotiate communication in English as best you can (with body language, hand signals, etc.) or is it better to speak Spanish, hoping that the Brazilian will understand enough of it to make do?

I ask because I’ve been told that a Brazilian is neither surprised nor insulted if an American does not speak Portuguese, but is insulted if an American substitutes Spanish for Portuguese — with the obvious implication that Brazilians must understand Spanish since Portuguese is nothing more than a sub-standard dialect of Spanish.

— John


Of course Spanish is much more like Portuguese than English so, if the Brazilian doesn’t speak English, you should try to communicate in Spanish. I don’t know anyone that will be insulted because you’re trying to communicate as best you can.

Go ahead and speak Spanish or even Spanglish… people here don’t care about that. Really.

Thanks for your question,


Readers comments:


Brazilians wouldn’t be insulted if you tried to use Spanish to talk to them. What bothers Brazilians is the fact some of these people assume Spanish is our native language, or Portuguese and Spanish are the same language.

Getting some information about the country you’re visiting may be useful. People are pleased when they see you made an effort to learn something about their country.

I’d like you to tell us where you leaned *”Portuguese is nothing more than a sub-standard dialect of Spanish.”* Having studied to get my degree in Portuguese language, it’s the first I ‘hear’ this.*

— Fabrcio

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 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: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
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

By Alison McGowan
April 20, 2010

Although the Pousada D’Oleo de Guignard looks as if it has been here forever, it was actually built only a few years ago – and is a tribute to the work of owners who have managed to combine the best of traditional design, including a wood burning stove in the kitchen, with the latest design in bathrooms and facilities, all in accordance with ecological principles.

The 11 suites all bear the names of authors and are well appointed with large comfortable beds, TV and wi-fi. There is also a beautiful pool and an interesting lounge and library with books on local history and photographs. We didn`t actually manage to stay here on this trip, but will definitely be coming back in the future. A wonderful find.

Tiradentes is wonderful. After hours of rolling green hills, dark pink and terracotta earth, and seemingly interminably potholed roads you reach this picture perfect, almost unspoilt, colonial town, nestling at the foot of the huge escarpment of Sa Jos, where gold was first found in the early 1700s. The town owes its existence to this, but its fame to Joaquim Jos da Silva Xavier, popularly known as “Tiradentes”, or “teethpuller” who, convicted of rebellion and treason, was allegedly hung drawn and quartered in 1792. Recent research would suggest that there is actual more to this story than meets the eye, that it was actually someone else who was killed and that Tiradentes himself lived out his days quietly in France… but for the real story you will just have to come here.

These days Tiradentes is becoming better known, but it still retains a sleepy feel outside of festival season due to its difficult access.

Not To Be Missed
– walking tour, or horsedrawn cart tour around the town
– steam train trip to São Joao del Rey
– festivals of cinema in January; gastronomy in August
– churches, particularly the Matriz de Santo Antonio
– local handicrafts from Tiradentes and nearby Bichinho

* peace and tranquility
* possibility of cooking for yourself
* excellent common spaces: pool, kitchen, lounge, library
* lovely gardens

Try a different place…
… if you want to be in the centre of town or you don’t have a car/don’t like walking – it’s a good 40 minutes trek into Tiradentes

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

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Bela Vista, Novo Airão, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Agua de Coco, Ceara
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Alcino Estalagem, Lenois, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada 0031, Cumbuco, Cear
Brazil: Maguire’s Guesthouse, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Casa do Amarelindo, Salvador, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão, Par
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

April 20, 2010

Meet Ken van Zyl who has lived in Brazil for almost 20 years. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

My name is Ken van Zyl. I hail from Cape Town, South Africa.

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

I did not want to leave South Africa but due to the political unrest in my country, and my wife being a Brazilian, I decided to take early retirement and emigrate in 1991… this was before Mandela became president.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impressions of Brazil was that it was very primitive; this was mainly due to the fact that I was accustomed to getting whatever I wanted on the end of my fingers; things such as: hot water cylinders, having hot baths (here everyone showers), electric stoves (I was not used to having a gas bomb near my kitchen stove). When I wanted to buy a house, I was repeatedly offered semis as a complete house. To me, a house was a building that was completely separated, had a backyard and front garden.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I missed going to my favourite stores and buying what I liked such as; ginger beer and pineapple beer (I now make my own from recipes I bought while visiting friends in the States), baked beans, chilli beef, etc.

I was accustomed to C.0.D (cash on delivery), but here they wanted the money up front. To get around this, I would issue post dated cheques… this way I guaranteed that if what I had ordered did not arrive as promised my order was immediately cancelled because I cancelled payment on my cheques. I no longer have this problem, because after living on the Ilha de São Vicente for almost twenty years, I am well-known at the stores, shops, restaurants that I frequent.

When I came to Brazil, a very good friend, Cecilia, asked me to teach proficiency, and later TOEFL to her students on a part-time basis; something I’m still doing today, mainly for the opportunity of speaking my mother tongue.

I missed South African cuisine mostly, such as: ‘stywe pap and braaivleis’ accompanied by ‘klippies’ (Klipdrift brandy), and ‘potjiekos’.

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

My most frustrating experience must be when I tried to buy an ice cream in Rio. I kept on asking for ‘sabonete’, and was repeatedly told to go to a drogaria… after much frustration, I looked around for a beach vendor selling ice cream, and learned the word was ‘sorvete’.

I was one very embarrassed ‘gringo’. Since then, I have learned to do some homework first.

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

My most memorable experience is the first time that I was taken to C.R.E.I. hospital when I contracted dengue fever. I was appalled at the treatment of the poor patients. People actually died in the corridors in front of my eyes. One minute, a patient asked for the door to be left open, the next he was lifeless. It made me realize the truth of the Scripture In a twinkling of an eye”.

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

What I like most about Brazil is the variety of places to visit. My wife and I go on excursions every opportunity we get. A lot of my Brazilian friends tell me I have seen more of their country than most Brazilians.

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

As a historian, I love reading the history of the country in which I am living, and find great satisfaction in talking about Xica de Silva, Lampião, Tiradentes, etc… common people who played an important role in shaping Brazil.

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

As for a humorous situation, that’s difficult to say because my sense of humour is completely different to a Brazilian’s.

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

Even today after so many years of marriage, my wife does not fully understand the English sense of humour, and many times feels as if I’m belittling her countrymen, when in reality I’m not. Today I keep my opinion to myself… it’s much safer.

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

As for my Portuguese, I read it, understand quite a bit, but do not speak it. My problem is with the conjugations.

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

As for advice to any newcomer; throw away your timepiece when making friendly arrangements to meet. Brazilians may be on time for official dates, but when it is informal, be prepared to wait.

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

I think a must for all tourists is to visit Iguau, and the point where three countries meet.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

By Stephen Thompson
April 20, 2010

Nothing is stranger and more remarkable in the world of international relations and alliances than the recent cosying up of Brazil’s new democracy in the post dictatorship era with the people’s dictatorship of China. How can Brazil’s leaders, who themselves were persecuted socialist dissidents in their youth, identify so closely with a party-state which has abandoned socialism while maintaining dictatorship with censorship, propaganda and repression? The answer lies in the shared opposition to US hegemony, more than infatuation with China’s model”.

China’s ruling CCP has a long history of “exploiting contradictions” between its foes and making alliances with the enemies of its enemies. For example, following the 1960 Sino-Soviet split, China fostered proxy wars to undermine the Soviet Union’s influence in Angola, by funding the UNITA guerilla army, which was then fighting the Soviet backed government in Luanda. Similarly, China’s reluctance to sanction Iran can be understood as support for a proxy who is pushing back against the US, and this support is only limited by China’s realistic assessment of it’s continued weakness in relation to the US led anti nuclear proliferation alliance.

Another example of this could be seen in China’s relations with Europe in the last decade, which it tended to value more, and tended to improve, during conflicts with the US. Growing assertiveness on China’s part is leading to a closer US-Europe relationship, as the two sides find themselves more frequently on the same side in disputes with China

Brazil’s leaders also see value in alliances with countries which share their hostility to US foreign policy and its Monroe doctrine. This hostility springs from their experience in their youth of repressive dictatorship which was supported by was CIA, which was well documented at the time by Philip Agee and others. CIA support was crucial in undermining other democratically elected governments in Chile, Argentina and other places, where they were replaced by authoritarian dictatorships which ignored human rights far more than China does today. In Brazil, several hundred people were murdered in a few years. It was this failed policy which led Brazil’s socialist leaders to their current cynicism towards of US human rights advocacy, and their friendly relationships with China, as well as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and others. The negative repercussions of earlier US policy in its “back yard” are still being felt in the South America.

China on the other hand is always quick to take advantage of antagonism towards the US, and it uses this effectively in its government propaganda. Propaganda has been a hallmark of Communist Party’s “fight for hearts and minds” ever since the birth of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1920, and before that in the Bolshevik experience of information use, from which they learned this method. To this they added the traditional shrewdness of Chinese strategy, which is well known in the west through Sunzi’s “Art of War” – disinformation has a long history in China, and religion has never exerted a moral deterrence against lying to the extent it has in Northern Europe since the protestant reformation. As early western travellers such as Lord Macartney noted, their is no shame in lying in China. The same could be said for the Catholic religion, where all is forgiven at confession.

When Hu Jintao visited Brazil in 2005, Brazil opened its market to China in the hope of political support for its bid to join the UN security council. The gesture, which cost Brazil thousands of jobs, was not reciprocated. Indeed, no advanced country has recognised China as a market economy, because this means giving up the right to take action against dumping in the WTO. And China is clearly not a fully market economy – the Communist Party-State has a monopoly of the main industries there. So why did Brazil make such a wasteful concession to China with no guarantee of return?

It could be that Brazil’s leaders just do not understand China – they have not done their homework. Unlike Europe, North American and Japan, South America has no sinologists, no university courses in Chinese Studies, few Chinese language courses or exchange programs with Chinese universities. So when Itamarity needs advice on China policy, they have no home-grown expertise to turn to for advice.

But it could be that even with such advise on hand, Lula would still push for his grand alliance regardless of cost. He seems to share with the Chinese a love of making large wasteful displays. Witness his recent emotion on winning the Olympic Games, even though he must know this is equivalent of pouring gasoline on the endemic fire of Brazilian corruption, and even though Brazil desperately needs to increase spending on more important things, such as health and education.

Ultimately, it seems that Lula has no gratitude – gratitude for the forces of Democracy which brought him to power. He began his career in an era of military dictatorship, without free elections, and with press censorship, when dissidents and activists were routinely abducted, tortured and even killed by the Brazilian police. Without the democratic rule which was won in the 1980s, he would never have come to power. So why is he now allying his country with China, which leads the world in censorship, repression and authoritarian rule? Does he have no sympathy for the hundreds of people who are in jail in China because they tried to get compensation for their injured children, or because they organized a petition, or because they sent an email to a foreigner? Brazil’s alliance with China undermines the forces of democracy which brought Lula power. So Lula must have a short memory, or no sense of gratitude.

You can contract Stephen via

To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:

Running After My Boss
Brazil: Run for your life!
If God is a Brazilian…
Amazon Exhibition in Tokyo
Other Places to Speak Portuguese (Apart From Brazil): Macau
Brazilian Music in Translation
China is Quite Popular in Brazil These Days
Brazil: Physical Fitness and Personal Training in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: Physical Fitness and Personal Training in São Paulo Part 1
Brazil: What’s in a Name?
Brazil: Go East, Young Man
Brazil: This Is The Life I’ve Always Wanted
Brazil: Stolen Computer
My First Business Failure in Brazil Part 2
My First Business Failure in Brazil Part 1
Getting your Brazilian Steak Fix in China
Brazil: Birth and Dying
Imaginary Voyages to Brazil
Brazil: Probably the Best Country in the World to Live In
Great Brazilian Inventions: The Kilo Restaurant
Brazil: Things you wanted to know… and will never know!
Brazil: Expensive, Trendy, and Extremely Beautiful
Brazil: Not Really British Enough
Package Holidays to Brazil are Back On Track
Brazil: Reverse Culture Shock
Brazil: The Legal System
Brazil: Saying Goodbye to a Bilingual Kid
How to get Brazilian Citizenship
Getting Work in Brazil
Acquiring and Running a Small Business in Brazil
Brazil: To Free Or Not To Free
Brazil: Trail Biking in Chapada Diamantinha
Brazil: So Near, but So Far Apart
How to Get Into University in Brazil
The Pleasure of Driving a Car in Brazil
Brazil: The Bairro of Flamengo in Ro de Janeiro
Brazil: The Information Technology Law
Managing a Brazilian bank account
Brazil’s Middle Class Ruled By Political Apathy

By Jose Santiago
April 16, 2010

The period for the individual tax returns have begun and expire on April 30, 2010. Here are the major changes for this year. Who must file a tax return:

1. Individuals that received taxable income of more than R$17,215.08 in the year of 2009 due to salaries, commissions, rent income, pensions, or rural activities must file a return;

2. Individuals that received exempt, non-taxable, or taxed at the source amounts that added compiled more than R$40,000.00 in 2009;

3. Individuals that sold assets, rights, stocks, or goods and accrued capital gain;

4. Individuals who had possession or ownership of assets and rights up to December 31, 2009, which values together or not achieved more than R$300,000.00 (that includes real estate properties, vehicles, bank accounts, and etc);

5. Individuals who acquired legal residency in Brazil in 2009.

These are only a few major changes for 2010, which could vary from case to case depending upon the tax exemptions and other variables. Every tax payer must consult with their own attorney and/or accountant before filing their income tax return and avoid being audited, fined or sanctioned by the Brazilian tax Authority.

Jose C. Santiago
Attorney at Law
How to Get Divorced in Brazil
Brazil: Advantages and Disadvantages of Importing a Vehicle to Brazil
Changes to Investment Visa Law
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

April 10, 2008

This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian – for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Is there anywhere I can buy books in English? I find it too hard to read for enjoyment in Portuguese. Do any gringoes want to consider a book swap? I have over 70 books in English to trade…. Just a thought.

— Lori Martins (MG)


In São Paulo you can find ‘some’ at Livraria Cultura, Fnac, Siciliano and others. Hopefully you have one or more of these bookshops near you, but it is worth trying any large bookshop.

Try the Internet as well e.g. If you’re really stuck then the backstop is It takes a few days to come, along with some import tax.

I hope you can find someone to trade.


(Contact if you want to swap books with Lori)


I’ve read about lots of points of views of Brazilian girls and their views of relationships, etc.

I think the Brazilian boys deserve some attention. How are they when talking about relationships and views of family, girls? Will they hold on or just have a good time. And I know you can’t say “all”, more so the general picture.


— Malin

I’d guess men and women are at the same stage. We all want to settle, but with someone special, right? And apparently it isn’t something you can plan on doing.

I don’t think it’s Brazilian the ‘just having a good time’ thing. In my very personal opinion, I see people struggling at work, with not enough free time to meet new people and maybe get lucky… I don’t know.

All I can say for sure, since you asked about the boys and I have three brothers, is that boys are just like us when it comes to holding on to a relationship: “If it isn’t someone really special, generally speaking, why settle?”.

Thank you for you question,

Vanessa T. Bauer

Readers comments:

There are no taxes on books. I have ordered from (they accepted my Norwegian Visa card while the shipping was to Brazil) and the shipment came in with no extra tax. Took 3-4 weeks, but the prices were lower, even including shipping, than the same books ordered from a shop in Brazil.

— Svein

In response to English Books, I often use Amazon market place. The books are cheaper even with the one off market fee. You can get DVDs too without tax paid as they come direct from the owner.

If you live in SP the best English book shops are the Culturas, shopping Conjunto Nacional (next to Consolacao metro) Av Paulista. Cultura, Vila Lobos (used to be but moved it all to Paulista stores.

— Andrew

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 with “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

Previous questions in this article series:

Ask a Brazilian: 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

Can’t make this up