October 25, 2011

Meet Pieter Kommerij who has studied and worked in Brazil on and off for over 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.?

I was born in the Netherlands, on the island Ameland. I hold a BSc degree in Tropical Animal Husbandry, and have travelled to various countries (Australia, New Zealand, and all countries in South America, and also the USA…). Two years ago I kicked the proverbial bucket at a large multinational, and decided to dedicate time for myself and something I like. As my passion is sailing, I live aboard a 40ft Sailing Catamaran and do charters in the Rio de Janeiro region (Angra, Paraty and Buzios).

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

I’ve known Brazil since 1983 (when I studied here). I stayed a year. Then in 1986 I returned and stayed for two years. The economy then was really bad, and I tried my luck in Australia (which didn’t go well either). In 1997 I got the opportunity to return to Brazil to work for a multinational, first in São Paulo and later I moved to Curitiba.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

So, I have known Brazil since 1983, when I came back in 1986, and the last time in 1997. I can say I am most impressed with the way of life, the way the Brazilians view life.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Good cheese, and plain yogurt…

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

The time it took (takes) to get the divorce procedure over and done with. So, basically frustrated with the lame judicial system in Brazil.

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

That is a hard question. I guess I wouldn’t know which one to choose…

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

The space, the freedom, and the lack of social control – just be yourself and you will be OK.

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

Currently: Coqueiro Verde (Saco do Ceu, Ilha Grande ) and place to hang out: my boat.

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

Like question 6, that will take some time…

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

The weather, the people, the food (fruits).

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?

After so long in Brazil, I would have to say that my Portuguese is fluent. Of course the usual slips (mixing the o and the a and all that stuff…). I learned a lot back in 1983 watching TV.

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

Go with the flow, learn asap/urgent the language and enjoy the good stuff

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

I am not a fan of São Paulo (sorry guys). Yes of course the restaurants etc are great, but in general it sucks up a lot of energy to try to live in this city.

I would recommend some days on board my boat, exploring near Paraty and Ilha Grande.

You can contact Pieter at contato@luminacharters.com.br

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

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

Rich Sallade – USA
Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Michael Smyth – UK
Danielle Carner – USA
Chris Caballero – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Meredith Noll – USA
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Mike Smith – UK
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Jeff Eddington – USA
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
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 Ricky Skelton
October 25, 2011

There was a time, perhaps 40, 50 years ago, when a young gentleman would take a young lady out to the cinema and he would walk her home afterwards. His aim for the evening would be to hold her hand on the way back, perhaps not on the first date, maybe not even the second, but eventually. This would be the first sign that she was or was not interested in him, and things may progress from there. The Beatles wrote a whole song just about that moment when the boy would make a gentle grab for the girl’s hand. Things move a little faster these days, and it doesn’t happen like this anymore, especially not in my town. I’m not sure it ever happened in Brazil like this at all.

Holding hands in Brazil happens at the other end of the relationship spectrum, not when you’re about to embark on a relationship (a mercifully short stage in Brazil, often only about 10 minutes long), but when you are a solid, functioning, living, breathing relationship entity.

Couples in Brazil hold hands relentlessly, obdurately, defiantly, at all times and under all circumstances. They sit side by side in restaurants, holding hands while eating, the half on the left wielding the garfo, the half on the right cutting with the faca, like Siamese Twins joined at the digits. Brazilian couples desperately cling to each other like a middle-aged western tourist clings to her handbag while walking the streets of large Asian cities. They never let go, nor leave each other’s side, which causes all kinds of confusion when two couples walk towards each other in a corridor and neither refuses to budge or let go or walk in single file. I have witnessed situations where two couples faced off for hours, a Brazilian version of the Mexican Stand-Off. It only finished when a third couple walked down the corridor to the toilets, passed straight between them all, and went to separate toilets, still holding hands above the partition walls. I swear this is true. They will go to any lengths at all to maintain the same position, walking sideways like crabs along single-track forest trails, going around in circles for hours sitting side-saddle like The Queen while paddling kayaks or canoes, that kind of thing. It is no accident that forr developed as a dance for couples in Brazil, it was just a natural progression.

Now you may think that this demonstrates the more romantic side of Latin American behaviour, the sweet couples who can’t bear to be apart from each other for more than a few seconds and prove the depth of their love for each other in this simple way. You would be absolutely wrong though, don’t believe any of that nonsense. The only reason that Brazilians hold each other’s hands Until Death Do Us Part is because nobody trusts anybody else in Brazil.

Couples in Brazil hold hands for one reason only – because they know that if they let go for so much as half a second, turn their backs and take their eyes away, their other half will be laughing and joking with a member of the opposite sex, hands touching arms, stroking hair off faces, dancing closely, swapping phone numbers and all kinds of extra-marital horrors. It can happen this quickly, and often does.

So next time you are a stuck at a table with a couple seemingly glued together at the wedding ring, apparently wrestling with both hands clasped under the table, staring into each other’s eyes, all while seemingly talking to their gringo acquaintance, don’t take it too personally. It isn’t that they don’t like you, don’t want you in their company or don’t trust you; it is just that they don’t trust each other.

http://www.aratingailhagrande.com.br/

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

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes Part II
Understanding Brazil: The Pub
Understanding Brazil: Protesting
Understanding Brazil: General Elections
Around Brazil: Oktoberfest Parade in Blumenau
Cultural Brazil: The Alambique
Around Brazil: Whale-Watching in Santa Catarina
Brazil: Tainha Time
Deported from Brazil? Part 2
Deported from Brazil? Part 1
Brazil: The President in Florianpolis
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: So 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
October 25, 2011

Guesthouse Bianca came highly recommended by Alcino of Estalagem Alcino, one of our favourite pousadas in Chapada Diamantina, Bahia. So I was anxious to see the place, chat to owner, Guido, and sample one of his wonderful cachaas. (It turns out there is no Bianca after all – it is just the name of the house, but the wonderful cachaa did indeed turn out to be wonderful!)

This is simply a beautiful place, a lovingly refurbished, stained glassed, 1930s townhouse in the heart of Santa Teresa with a beautiful Moorish style terrace and Portuguese style tiles. There are only 3 guest suites all comfortable and individually designed but the best one (for me at least) is definitely the Sugar Loaf suite with its fabulous views. The idea here is for guests to be able to chill out in comfort and peace in the pousada but also to be part of the local community so although breakfast is included in the price it is actually taken in a local bar.

The whole feel of Santa Teresa is that of a bohemian artistic community and at Guesthouse Bianca you’ll only be a stone’s throw from some of the best restaurants and bars where spontaneous music mixes with local art exhibitions. Want something different? Then just take nearby transport down into Zona Sul for some beach or check out Lapa and the centre of Rio for some dancing. Altogether you couldn’t find a better place to stay in a wonderful location.

Santa Teresa is a wonderfully hidden part of Rio de Janeiro, perched on a hill between the centre of the city and Zona Sul, where most of the beaches are. Long known for its bohemian culture, famous for being Amy Winehouse’s last place of abode in Rio and infamous for being home for decades to Ronnie Biggs, of UK Great Train Robbery fame, the area is a delight of old colonial mansions, and cobbled streets, served by “bondes” or trams, most of which date back over 100 years.

The slower, more “alternative” pace of life here attracts artists, musicians and writers, many of whom hang out in the numerous bars and restaurants dotted about the place. For travellers who prefer laid back charm and history to being right close to a beach, it’s a wonderful place to stay.

Not to be Missed
– Visit to the historical centre
– Restaurants: Hotel Santa Teresa, Espirita Santa and Marc
– Bar do Arnaudo and Bar do Mineiro
– Dancing in Lapa (at the bottom of the hill!)
– Jazz at Triboz and Santo Scenarium, also in Lapa
– A buggy trip round Floresta da Tijuca with Dolores
– Parque das Ruinas a couple of minutes from the pousada

Starpoints
* Tranquil location in the heart of Santa Teres
* Sugar Loaf views
* Personal attention from owner, Guido

Try a Different Place if…
…you have any mobility problems or if you want to be walking distance from the beach.

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 Cool Beans, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Aratinga Inn, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chez les Rois, Manaus, Amazonas
Five Exceptional Beach Destinations in Brazil
Brazil: Relaxation and Rejuvenation in Bahia’s Eco-paradises
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Taruma, Conceicao de Jacarei, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Tanara, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Encanto da Lua, Marau, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Vila dos Orixas Boutique Hotel, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Baia Grande, South Pantanal (Miranda), Mato Grosso do Sul
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa da Carmen e do Fernando, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Palafitas Lodge, Rondonia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Lagoa das Cores, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mangueira, Boipeba (Morere), Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Naturalia, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Cote Sud, Porto da Rua, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ilha de Toque Toque Boutique Hotel, So Sebastiao, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Spa Casinha Branca, Bananal, nr. Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Eco-Rio Lodge, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Castelinho 38, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Amazon Tupana Lodge, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Capao, Serro, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Luar do Rosario, Milho Verde, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada d’Oleo de Guignard, Tiradentes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chal Oasis, Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Bela Vista, Novo Airo, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijo do Vento, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Agua de Coco, Ceara
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, Bahia
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 Cho, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casaro 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

October 25, 2011

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&#145t 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

I hear it’s very hard to get an apartment in the São Paulo area and would have to know someone to be able to get one. Is this true? How would one go about getting an apartment there?

— Rich

Hello Richard,

Getting an apartment in São Paulo is just like getting an apartment anywhere. You don’t have to know someone, of course if you know someone it is easier, but you can walk around the neighborhood that you like and search for signs that says ALUGA_SE (for rent) or VENDE_SE (for sale) in many buildings and houses. On those signs you will find the name of the Imobiliaria (Real Estate Agent) to call and get all the information you need. Or you can even look on the Internet. Search for Imobilirias Coelho da Fonseca, Lopes, Leardi, Fernandez Mera, Pacheco, etc.

Good luck,

Vanessa

Readers comments:

If renting an apartment in São Paulo is anything like renting in Rio, and I suspect it is (at least in the safe and desirable areas) it is, to say the least, difficult for a foreigner if not nearly impossible. Renting in Brasil includes several options, basically there is the short term and there is the longer term.

For short term, meaning several months, full payment in advance is often requested. Short term apartments are usually fully furnished, and cost more than an equal apartment rented for a longer term. It is often the best alternative to rent for short term initially, then as you get to know the landlord and he/she gets to know and trust you, the short term arrangement can simply continue for as long as you like. That is how I rented my first apartment in Rio, and stayed there 6 years. It is a good alternative if you do not know the neighborhood, or while you are looking to buy.

Long term rentals are usually unfurnished (no refrigerator/oven/washing machine, some have only bare light bulbs!) though some long term apartments can be found which are furnished. Long term can be one year though most contracts I have seen are for 30 months. To rent long term (my experience applies only to Rio) generally requires one and now often two “fiadors”. The fiador is a guarantor, who must agree to pay your rent if you don’t.

In my experience, landlords require a fiador who is an individual who lives in the area in which you wish to rent (the State of Rio de Janeiro in this case, though some require residence in the City of Rio itself), who owns property in Rio, and can prove they have adequate income in Brazil to pay not just their own living expenses but also your rent on top of their expenses. Many landlords now require two fiadors. For a foreigner, finding a fiador is close to impossible. Fiadors are most often parents, grandparents or other relatives. Some employers will agree to act as fiadors for foreign employees in Brasil. But, I have heard it said, “friends don’t ask friends to be fiadors”. The lack of a fiador immediately eliminates about 60-75% of all potential apartments. The more desirable the neighborhood, the more likely the landlord can get away with demanding a fiador, and even two fiadors. The fiador requirement is often not stated in the ad for an apartment, you have to call and ask. Of those landlords which will waive the fiador requirement, the majority require what is known as Seguro Fianca, which is basically an insurance company stepping into the role of fiador. But, whereas the fiador acts without pay (I have heard of instances of “fiador for hire” but have yet to find one), the Seguro Fianca is paid. And paid well. The quotes I have received for Seguro Fianca are equal to 2-3 months of rent, each year.

If you can obtain a seguro fianca policy, which comes with a complex application asking for every detail of your financial life and it requires that you have proof of income earned in Brasil, thus eliminating those whose income is from sources outside Brasil such as retirement, pension or other sources. And, paying 14-15 months of rent for a every 12 month year you reside in the apartment is very expensive, none of this premium is returned to you. Some of these policies include repainting the apartment when you leave, which is a selling point to the landlords. Where finding a fiador is impossible, and proving an income earned in Brasil is not an option, that leaves only the small percentage of landlords willing to rent to a foreigner with a cash deposit. They still exist, but the standard deposit here in Rio is now becoming six month’s rent. I had to sue to get my last deposit back, and the deposit was with a Brasilian lawyer. He even appealed when I won in court at the first trial. I then won the appeal, and after two years managed to recover my deposit and a small additional sum for expenses, but the point is you have to realize the deposit may not be returned and if you are leaving the Country it will be extremely difficult to sue and recover from whomever you gave the deposit. They know that.

So, for a gringo who lives and has rented in Brasil (again, only in Rio. If things are that different in São Paulo maybe I will move there!) , I would have to disagree about the response to the question regarding the ease of getting an apartment. On top of the issues related to renting itself, there has been a 140% increase in apartment prices over the past three years in the Zona Sul of Rio and nearby neighborhoods. Couple that with the strength of the Real against the Dollar, and for anyone earning Dollars (or Euros) and spending Reis, it has been nothing short of a financial shock. In my case, I moved out of a place I had rented for 6 years in Ipanema. I had been paying R$4,000 with small annual increases based on the applicable published index, but then a whopping 12% increase last January (effectively 25% considering the value of the dollar at the time) and that breached my affordability limit. Now, the landlord is asking R$8,800 for the apartment! I had to move across the bay to Niteroi to find affordable housing. And, the areas outside Niteroi are extremely affordable, un crowded and almost everything costs less than in Rio. The only drawback is, you are not in Rio.

The one comment in the answer which is very accurate is that the best way to find an apartment is to simply walk the neighborhood where you wish to live and ask each and every porteiro whether there are apartments for rent in their building. That usually puts you in touch directly with the owner, and that allows for sitting down and having a coffee or whatever and getting to know each other. That method is the best in terms of finding a place to rent without a fiador or seguro fianca requirement. But, to put it simply, no, getting an apartment is not easy. Not in Rio and I suspect not in the better parts of São Paulo.

— Phillip

Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you&#145re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

Previous articles in this series:

Ask a Brazilian: Couples and Separate Rooms
Ask a Brazilian: Investments and Lateness
Ask a Brazilian: São Paulo Safety
Ask a Brazilian: Family Closeness
Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy
Ask a Brazilian: Waxing and Electronics
Ask a Brazilian: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Easter and Surnames
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: House Buying and Apartment Entry Problems
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Dating in Brazil
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: A Question of Race
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Corruption and Lula
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Leather and Telephones
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: Treatment of Animals
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Well-to-do Ladies
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
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

Futebol Society is a night football tournament taking place in São Paulo, from 22h to 05:30h on 27th October. There will be 32 teams of 7 players competing all night. There is more information on the tournament here: www.virada-futebol.com.br

If you have a funny or unusual photo depicting life in Brazil please send it to gringoes@gringoes.com with ‘Photo of the Week’ in the subject line. Ideally we are after photos that are of something a little different, not traditional shots of beaches and sunsets. Please send relatively high resolution images (0.5 Megapixel / 640 x 480 or bigger), and let us know where you took the photo and if you have a title for it.

Statues

Brazil Photo of the Week: Statues
Taken by Jonathan Flaum in Recife, PE.

Curitiba

Brazil Photo of the Week: Curitiba
Taken by Jonathan Flaum.

Festa Junina For Everyone

Brazil Photo of the Week: Festa Junina For Everyone
Taken by Alan Grabowsky.

Ibirapuera Park Has Gone to the Dogs

Brazil Photo of the Week: Ibirapuera Park Has Gone to the Dogs
Taken by John Duhig in Sao Paulo.

Blessed Car

Brazil Photo of the Week: Blessed Car
Taken by Marcia Maul in Mercado Central, Fortaleza.

Amor Eterno I (in a series)

Brazil Photo of the Week: Amor Eterno
Taken by Mary Pierce in Paraty.

Special Cat

Brazil Photo of the Week: Special Cat
Taken by Marcia Maul, in a small village in the interior of Brazil (Ceará).

Anita Garibaldi

Brazil Photo of the Week: Anita Garibaldi
Taken by Kit di Pomi, a statue of local heroine Anita Garibaldi, the Brazilian wife and comrade-in-arms of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, in Laguna, Santa Catarina.

Sampa Rugby

Brazil Photo of the Week: Sampa Rugby
Taken by John Duhig at Ibirapuera Park

Chevy

Brazil Photo of the Week: Statue
Taken by Chip Kishel on a road trip between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in 1962

Statue

Brazil Photo of the Week: Statue
Taken by Jeremy Clark photo outside a gift shop in Olinda. Jeremy says “It would make a great Bowsprit Statue on a Portuguese Caravel!”

Tough Times For Angels

Brazil Photo of the Week: Tough Times For Angels
Taken by Alan Grabowsky in Sao Paulo.

Look Out Below

Brazil Photo of the Week: Look Out Below
Taken by John Duhig at Juquehy beach.

Banda Só Bonecos

Brazil Photo of the Week: Banda Só Bonecos
Taken by Marcia Maul.

Shutters

Brazil Photo of the Week: Shutters
Taken by Olivia Coote.

Hangin’ In There

Brazil Photo of the Week: Hangin' In There
Taken by Martin Riordan in Santa Rosa, RS. Martin says, "Although Instituto Butantan says this frog is very common, I have yet to find anyone who has seen one as big as this one. It is about 9cm long. It took up residence in my house about a year ago and normally spends the day sleeping on top of a metal gate. But one day it decided to sleep on the metal mesh of the gate."

Teapot

Brazil Photo of the Week: Teapot
Taken by Marcia Maul at the restaurant Bodega do Sertão in Maceió.

Banda da Ipanema

Brazil Photo of the Week: Banda da Ipanema
Taken by Armando Rozario in Rio de Janeiro in 1969.

Teacher and Class

Brazil Photo of the Week: Teacher and Class
Taken by Maree Voller in Salvador.

Keeper of the Dunes

Brazil Photo of the Week: Keeper of the Dunes
Taken by Rebecca Borges in Canoa Quebrada, Ceara.

Colours

Brazil Photo of the Week: Colours
Taken by Randy "R Dub!" Williams in Recife.

Carnival 1963

Brazil Photo of the Week: Carnival 1963
Taken by Chip Kishel in Jardim Paulista, 1963.

Kids

Brazil Photo of the Week: Kids
Taken by Maree Voller in Salvador.

Hats

Brazil Photo of the Week: Hats
Taken by John Duhig at Juquehy Beach.

39 Degrees

Brazil Photo of the Week: 39 Degrees
Taken by Peter O’Neill at Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro.

Rio 2016

Brazil Photo of the Week: Rio 2016
Taken by John Hamilton at Copacabana Beach.

Terraco Italia Bar

Brazil Photo of the Week: Terraco Italia Bar
Taken by Ron Finely in Sao Paulo.






















Have you an interesting photo of life in Brazil? Would you like to see it posted here? Just email it to gringoes@gringoes.com with ‘Photo of the Week‘ in the subject line

October 2, 2011

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.

Hi I am an American staying at a family friend’s house in Brazil for a couple of weeks. My father lived in Brazil for 5 years after college and made sure to prepare me for the customs and traditions before I arrived. However, he failed to mention that couples sleep separately? I am staying in the wife’s room and for the duration of my trip she will be sleeping with her husband in his quarters. Is this normal for most Brazilian couples as she tells me… (I didn’t want to pry into her and her husband’s personal relationship) but do they work out sex schedules… or I don’t know it seems that a lot of important things happen in the bedroom. I know for my boyfriend and I, our busy schedules keep us apart for most of the day and after dinner or tv or work having that quiet time with that person before you go to bed helps strengthen the relationship. I tried researching online but I didn&#145t find any significant answers. Hope you can help. Thanks.

— Sarah

Hello, Sarah,

I adore your question… leads my head to many things… not that you aren’t right to ask if Brazilians couples sleep together or not in the same bedroom, it is just that… sleeping together in the same bedroom doesn’t make you a Brazilian couple. Couples are couples, they&#145re two humans interacting a lot more than one human could handle. Many couples, in many countries, sleep in separate bedrooms. Maybe for a reason that’s just stupid, like the TV on, or… farting problems!

Some couples I know live in separate apartments. And many of those people are Americans. Actually, more American couples than all of the Brazilians I know. Of course, this isn’t something you tell your friends. Usually one just notices when in a couple’s home, like in the same situation you are living now. I hope you enjoy your staying and everything. Is it that the couple that doesn’t sleep together are nice people? I hope they are.

You see, Sarah, this column was made to ask about Brazilian culture and clear some curiosities you might have, most of the time I don’t know how to do that. I have real classes here, you know more about Brazilians than I do. The percentage of this, the majority of that, statistics. Brazilians are bad in statistics. There’s a classic saying, no idea who said it: There are three great lies in the world: statistics, statistics and statistics.

Your father didn’t fail to tell you anything; statistics says a Brazilian couple should sleep together.

Um beijo,

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: Investments and Lateness
Ask a Brazilian: São Paulo Safety
Ask a Brazilian: Family Closeness
Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy
Ask a Brazilian: Waxing and Electronics
Ask a Brazilian: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Easter and Surnames
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: House Buying and Apartment Entry Problems
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Dating in Brazil
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: A Question of Race
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Corruption and Lula
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Leather and Telephones
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: Treatment of Animals
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Well-to-do Ladies
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
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

October 2, 2011

Meet Rich Sallade who has travelled to Brazil and more recently moved here. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

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

I lived near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Served 4 years in the Navy after High School, and am a Vietnam veteran. I worked as a maintenance manager in a large plastics company that supplied parts for General Motors. I had more schooling and became a software programmer. The last ten years I worked as a maintenance person at a hospital for handicapped children, a most satisfying job. I am retired now.

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

My first visit to Brazil was for 6 months (March 2009 thru August 2009). The reason I came to Brazil is a long story but I will make it as short as possible for the newspaper. In 1999 I was doing family research on the internet, the same time another person living in Brazil was researching her family name. My last name is Sallade my friend’s name was Sallada. We contacted each other through emails and ICQ and we became good friends and promised we would meet face to face someday on a beach in Brazil. Slowly, over time we went our separate ways and to our separate lives. We were both married at the time. In November 2008 my wife died of cancer. I still had memories of my friend and was able to re-establish contact with her, again through the internet. (The internet can be a nice thing if used wisely !)

I made a decision to come visit her and obtained my passport and visa. As the visa extension lasted 6 months, I had to return to the USA but we stayed in contact everyday thru online webcam software. I returned and married my friend and have been here in Brazil since March 2010. We have been married for almost 16 months.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

The first thing I noticed was the wonderful weather. Remember, I left Pennsylvania in the winter time and it was summer in Brazil

4. What do you miss most about home?

The quiet, almost traffic free environment of the small town I lived in.

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

Probably the long waits in lines at stores and the terrible traffic in Rio de Janeiro.

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

My first trip to Sugar Loaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest and the Botanical Garden where we saw many monkeys.

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

I love the oceans and beaches but prefer the green living forests and gardens.

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

I have been to many restaurants in Rio which most gringos are attracted to. I like the quieter side though. Walks along the beaches, touring the open fairs and markets.

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

The biggest laugh I can remember was during a trip to Tijuca Forest. I spotted a long line of ants marching single file and called my wife to come see. She immediately asked me why the ants were carrying all the pieces of white rice. It’s not rice honey, it is their eggs. To me was very funny!!!!

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

Sadly, I think some of the people in Brazil are more rude than people from other countries I have been in. They walk in front of you at banks and stores, interrupt you to talk with people that you are doing business with and worst of all (to me at least) they have no regard for others driving on the highways.

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?

My Portuguese is coming along slowly I think. I can converse somewhat but I know I make a lot of mistakes. It’s slow because no one wants to talk Portuguese with me, probably so they can practice their English.

I confuse chave (key), chuva (rain) and chuveiro (shower). Memory loss comes with age I think.

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

Stay away from dark streets (like anywhere else in the world). Make friends and let them show you around Brazil. Enjoy some of the small restaurants and botecos (people are very friendly and nice). Don&#145t get drunk and become a nuisance!!

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

A tour to Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Statue of Christ should be top of the list. I have not been to São Paulo. I have visited Ilha Grande, Pernado, Buzios, Maric and many smaller cities. Petropolis is near the top of cities to visit, and of course Itaipava.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

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

Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Michael Smyth – UK
Danielle Carner – USA
Chris Caballero – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Meredith Noll – USA
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Mike Smith – UK
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Jeff Eddington – USA
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
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 Steven Nelson
October 2, 2011

There are so many places to visit in Rio de Janeiro that the Botanical Gardens often get overlooked, especially by those who don’t have such green fingers. Personally I would recommend it for just about any visitor to the city, and most would find it rewarding. The gardens can be visited in a couple of hours, and combined easily with some of the city’s more famous sights, or perhaps with the Sitio Burle Marx gardens further out of town. On a sultry summer day in Rio, the shade from the tall palms and other assorted trees is more than welcome.

The Botanical Gardens lie between the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and the mountains of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca, which can always be seen through tree trunks and leaves while wandering around, including Corcovado with the statue of Christ the Redeemer almost directly above. The gardens are now neighboured by the Jockey Club, making the whole area one of the least developed in the city. It was even less developed in 1808, when King Joo of Portugal decided to inaugurate the gardens, soon after arriving in Brazil to escape a potential revolution at home. The original idea was to have a place for spices to become accustomed to Brazil, as they had after being imported into the Caribbean, with nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper having successfully taken there following introduction from the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Strangely despite the success of the gardens, Brazil still seems to be the only Latin country in the world that doesn’t have black or white pepper on every table.

The gardens were opened to the public in 1822, the same year that Joo’s son Pedro had declared independence from his returned father’s kingdom. There are now over 6,000 tropical tree and plant species, with the 900 types of palm being possibly the most spectacular, including the centre-piece Avenue of Royal Palms, and the incredible colours of the Pau Mulatto trees This Amazon spruce sheds its bark completely between July and September, the bark being one of those used in Ayahuasca rituals, and the colours of the smooth trunk include bronze, green, orange and purple. The sight of the whole alley of pau mulattos in their annual Carnaval parade makes you wonder if you actually drank some ayahuasca before arriving at the gardens.

The other essential tree to look out for is the pau brasil. This is the tree that is responsible for the whole of Brazil. Or for the name at least. The Portuguese explorers found the tree with its red resin being useful for dyes. It grew in the Atlantic Rainforest from Rio de Janeiro up to Rio Grande do Norte, including most of the original areas that the colonialists went ashore. The Portuguese cut down this 15m tall tree in thousands and thousands, shipping them off for sale in Europe in order to pay off debts to the English government of the time. They were the original reason for colonisation, before the sugar and coffee plantations had even been considered.

The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens also boasts an impressive Bromelirio and a colourful Orquidrio, as well as houses for carnivorous and cacti plants, the Sensorial Garden, and also the Fountain of the Muses focal point. Waterfalls and trails through the Atlantic Rainforest keep the scenery interesting, while the local wildlife colours the trees and grasses, and would hold the attention of young children, at least for a while! The turtles climbing over each other to catch some sun at the entrance are supplemented by enormous carp in the ponds. Visits from monkeys are common, including the cute tuft-eared marmosets, and the less cute howler monkeys – renowned for their piercing grunts, and also for throwing their faeces at other creatures that invade their personal space.

Hundreds of bird species can be found too, including the vivid colours of parakeets, macaws, humming-birds (the more poetic beija-flor in Portuguese – the Flower-Kisser) and many different types of toucan. They are generally quite small compared to their Amazon and Pantanal cousins, but the yellow-breasted or black-beaked toucans, and the classical tucanuu are numerous in the gardens, flying from tree to tree for berries. Sightings of these wonderful birds and others are far more common in the gardens than outside, as they have become accustomed to the presence of humans over the years, and do not fly off quite so readily as in the forests. Their habit of taking flight at regular intervals, just as you have your camera set on them amongst the foliage, only makes them even more loveable. Personally, I think the toucans are worth the bargain R$6 entrance fee on their own, even if the gardens themselves might not appeal.

They should though. The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens are one of the most impressive in Brazil, South America or anywhere else, and should definitely be on the list of Things To Do in Brazil.

You can visit Steve’s blog at http://are-you-ready-for-brazil.blogspot.com

Previous articles by Steve:

Around Brazil: The Rio de Janeiro Marathon
Around Brazil: Praia do Pontal, Macumba, Prainha & Grumari (Rio de Janeiro)
Around Brazil: The Rio de Janeiro Marathon
Around Brazil: Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro
Around Brazil: Lapa, Rio de Janeiro

By Alison McGowan
October 2, 2011

Casa Cool Beans opened in December 2010 and in less than 6 months rocketed up to the top of Trip Advisor so I was anxious to see what was so good about the place! It wasn’t difficult. Starting from the warm reception at the front gate you get the feeling that this is a place you want to be, where you are amongst likeminded people in the heart of a city, but still have the peace and quiet and friendliness which comes with being in a small community.

There are seven suites at Cool Beans at present (with 2 more planned for the New Year) and each one has been beautifully refurbished with decoration by local artists and artisans under the watchful eye of American owners Lance and David and the ever accompanying dog, Mousse. Walk up the steps and you are surprised by a large terrace with communal breakfast area and bar and great plunge pool for those hot sultry days.

However the real difference of this place comes in the detail. Even before you arrive at Cool Beans you get an email telling you what will be on in Rio during your trip and when you get to the pousada you will find a whole host of other suggestions as well. Nothing appears to be too much trouble to arrange, although you might just find that the best option is sometimes what we did – forget it all and chill by the pool with a book and a super cool glass of local champagne.

About The Location
Santa Teresa is a wonderfully hidden part of Rio de Janeiro, perched on a hill between the centre of the city and Zona Sul, where most of the beaches are. Long known for its bohemian culture, famous for being Amy Winehouse’s last place of abode in Rio and infamous for being home for decades to Ronnie Biggs, of UK Great Train Robbery fame, the area is a delight of old colonial mansions, and cobbled streets, served by “bondes” or trams, most of which date back over 100 years.

The slower, more “alternative” pace of life here attracts artists, musicians and writers, many of whom hang out in the numerous bars and restaurants dotted about the place. For travellers who prefer laid back charm and history to being right close to a beach, it’s a wonderful place to stay.

Not To Be Missed
– A visit to the historical centre
– Restaurants: Hotel Santa Teresa, Espirita Santa and Marc
– Bar do Arnaudo and Bar do Mineiro
– Dancing in Lapa (at the bottom of the hill!)
– Jazz at Triboz and Santo Scenarium, also in Lapa
– A buggy trip round Floresta da Tijuca weith Dolores
– Chilling out by the Cool Beans pool

Starpoints
* Location in the heart of Santa Teresa
* Great plunge pool, terrace and bar
* Style and service of owners Lance and David

Try a Different Place If…
… you have any mobility problems or if you want to be walking distance from the beach.

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 – Pousada Chez les Rois, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Relaxation and Rejuvenation in Bahia’s Eco-paradises
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Tanara, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Vila dos Orixas Boutique Hotel, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa da Carmen e do Fernando, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Lagoa das Cores, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Naturalia, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ilha de Toque Toque Boutique Hotel, São Sebastiao, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Eco-Rio Lodge, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Amazon Tupana Lodge, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Luar do Rosario, Milho Verde, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chal Oasis, Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijo do Vento, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, 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