Are you a Gringo” (foreigner) living in or travelling around Brazil with experiences you would like to write about, or with advice to offer? Are you a Brazilian who would like to explain about Brazil to foreigners, and help give advice on what to do, and where to go? Perhaps you just write a frequent blog about Brazil, and would be interested in publishing some of this on our site?

If you are interested in writing an article, or series of articles, or posting your blog content on www.gringoes.com we are interested in hearing from you! Don’t be shy! All we ask is that the articles are focused on Brazil, will be of interest to foreigners either travelling or living here, and are written in English. If you are unsure about a topic then drop us an email or a draft article. Unfortunately we can’t offer payment for any article, but if you offer a service or have a website we can give you a free plug within the article. Send your articles or any questions to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “articles” in the subject.”

MatthewWard250

Meet Matthew Ward, from the UK, who has travelled to and is now living in Brazil. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

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

I’m 36 years old, British, from the Bournemouth area, where I was an English teacher for foreign students, though here in Brazil as well as teaching I’ve worked in Human Resources – mainly dealing with training and development for a large Brazilian metallurgical company until earlier this year.

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

I arrived here to live on 1 June 2002, though I’d already been for three weeks holiday during each of the previous three years, so I kind of knew what I was getting into – or thought I did! Mine is a classic EFL teacher’s story – I married one of my students (Brazilian of course) and though we lived in Bournemouth for just over four years, my wife found it hard to settle and so we decided to try life here.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I think the people made the greatest impression when I first visited. I was very lucky in that I had my wife’s huge extended family to welcome me, but I’ve always found the hospitality and warmth of Brazilians overwhelming. Another thing was the scenery – it was much greener than I expected, at least in the interior of São Paulo where I live. Being a hot country, I expected it to be brown and arid, rather like Spain. And of course the huge gap between rich and poor, which doesn’t exist on the same scale in Europe any more. It’s Dickensian, writ large.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Actually, I’ve just returned from my first holiday in England since I arrived just over four years ago. I miss family and friends the most, watching cricket and rugby, British comedy and the fact that people at home are instantly in tune with you, because of their similar backgrounds and cultural experiences. The hardest part in the beginning here was having no history with people, the fact that everyone I met was a total stranger who had very little in common with me. The longer I stay and the more I’m building a history here, the easier it’s becoming, but it was really difficult in the beginning.

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

Firstly, bureaucracy – it took me over a year to get my RNE and Carteira de Trabalho, despite legally being entitled to both by marriage. And secondly, the lack of information – especially signs. This has become something of an obsession. Though I lack political ambitions, one post I’d accept is Minister for Signs, I’d make sure everything was adequately indicated both in public places and in public buildings, especially outside São Paulo city. I simply can’t understand why people don’t think about these fairly basic necessities. At the company I worked for there was a bus station owned by the factory for all the coaches bringing workers to and fro all day on the various shifts, and none of the buses ever had any indication on them of their destination. Either you had to ask somebody, who often didn’t know either, or wait and follow someone you recognised who took the same bus daily, and had somehow gained access to privileged information.

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

Singing in the Teatro Carlos Gomes in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, during the Encanta Blumenau” choir festival in November 2005. By chance I saw the company’s male voice choir perform one evening and decided to audition, was accepted and we travelled to Blumenau to perform. I can’t imagine life without singing now. Having since left the company, I now sing with another male voice choir in Sorocaba. I blame my mother – she’s Welsh.

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

The warmth of the people, the warmth of the climate, the fruit (especially papaya) and the general racial and religious tolerance.

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

One restaurant stands out – Bar do Alemo in Itu, in the interior of São Paulo state. The same chef has been there for 45 years, and their “bife a parmeggiana” is second to none.

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

Whilst I was working in the factory, one day I was called to my boss’s office by his secretary, who said it was urgent. When I got there I was introduced to an English engineer who was working at the factory on a short-term contract and who was having difficulty negotiating his way through the trials and tribulations of renting a flat, as he spoke little Portuguese. He was only the second Englishman I’d met in Brazil. After helping him out we started chatting and I asked him where he was from. It turned out he lived in Wallisdown, in Bournemouth, about a mile from where my old flat was. And as if this weren’t coincidence enough, his wife was also an English teacher for foreign students in Bournemouth.

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

One thing I found difficult working for a large Brazilian company was how hierarchies seem very rigid and people are very aware of their status. It was never really clear how I should address people, it was something I had to feel my way through. It’s ironic, because Britain is a much more class-ridden society, but at the same time work relationships I had there were much more informal – respectful, but informal. My British bosses used to ask me to do things – my Brazilian bosses told me to do things.

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?

I’m lucky in that I have a background in languages. I read Italian at University and also spoke fluent French and Spanish at one time. Working in a Portuguese-only environment also helped enormously, everyone in my department used slang so I picked up some very useful, if not always socially acceptable, expressions. So, I guess I’m pretty comfortable in most situations now. Knowing Spanish can be confusing – many words are similar or the same, but many are different too. You can’t simply use the Spanish word all the time.

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

Ride the culture shock. I went through the classic phases – loving everything because it was different, hating everything because it was different, then reaching a point where I just accepted everything was different, without the strong emotions. Also, be patient with the language. Pay attention to what people are saying and try to use expressions you hear. Concentrate on what you can understand and say instead of what you can’t – you are making progress, honest! And immerse yourself in the language, watch the appalling soaps, listen to the news, read. You’ll be learning all the time, even if you don’t notice it. Also, if possible, look into legalising your situation in Brazil via the Embassy or Consulate in your home country, which can often be much quicker than leaving it until you arrive. And joining a male voice choir is a great way to meet people…

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

As I’m not a city slicker, I can only indicate what I’ve enjoyed. If you like football, catch a game, it’s cheap and the atmosphere’s great (avoid the “classicos” though, which can suffer from crowd trouble). Eat at a churrascaria, if you like meat. Visit Ilhabela and the north coast of São Paulo state.

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.

If you’re in São Paulo on Oct. 30, come along to our Oktoberfest Party and meet the rest of the gringoes gang at the Pe na Jaca” bar in São Paulo’s bohemian neighborhood, Vila Madalena.

Where: pé na Jaca, Rua Harmonia, 117, Vila Madalena, São Paulo

When: Thursday, Oct. 30, from 7.30pm

Entrance: FREE. Includes one free drink if you arrive before 20h30

Please RSVP to gringoes@www.gringoes.com or join the Facebook event

October 6, 2014

Meet Yolanda Rother who moved to Brazil 2 months ago. Read the following interview in which Yolanda tells us about some of her 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 Yolanda, and I am half German half Jamaican. I was born and raised in Berlin, where I am completing my masters programme at the Hertie School of Governance.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here? I arrived in São Paulo exactly two months ago to start my graduate exchange semester in International Business and Public Administration.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil? My first impressions were the flow of life reminds of Jamaica, São Paulo is massive, and I like the people.

4. What do you miss most about home? Surprisingly, shopping is way cheaper in Europe than it is here. But this has a good consequence, I spend less money ;-)

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil? Attempting to find the Policia Federal to register for my RNE/CPF. I made to the Policia Federal Rodoviaria, to the Civil Policia, and only on my third try the actual Policia Federal. But they, this way I got a chance to discover new parts of the city.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)? Enjoying Gilberto Gil at Parque Ibirapuera – so freaking awesome!

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)? I love the Brazilian mentality of sharing – share a beer, share a feijoada, share a kiss.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here? I love to hang out at the new Hospital Matarrazo exhibition – there’s always something new to discover there.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil? Everyone thinks I’m Brazilian – until they realise I can hardly speak Portuguese.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking? German is all about punctuality and efficiency. Here it may take three people and up to 8 minutes to get a Pao de Queijo.

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? Portuguese is not as easy as I thought. Currently I am speaking a mix of Spanish, French, Portuguese and sign language. But I know that it will improve soon!

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil? São Paulo is more expensive than you’d expect! But so worth it. You can follow Yolanda at Twitter: @yolandatweets.

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: Dave Rooney – Australia
Bina Bina – USA
Mike Jewell – USA
Niki Wang – Singapore
Sheldon Feingold – USA
Vitor Salas – Portugal
Joseph Low – USA
João Ferreira – Portugal
Hunter Peak – USA
Priya Ferreira – UK
Ryan Griffin – USA
Rami Alhames – Syria
Maya Bell – New Zealand
Melanie Mitrano – USA
Rob McDonell – Australia
Jennifer Souza – USA
Scott Hudson – Australia
Bill Holloway – USA
Elaine Vieira – South Africa
Pieter Kommerij – Netherlands
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 Alastair Kinghorn
October 6, 2014

Known more correctly as cachaca or aguardente de cana-de-acucar, this is Brazil`s national tipple, and many an ardent fan has been toppled by this potent brew.

Distilled from sugar cane juice, traditionally in a small pot still whereas it is known as artesanal”, and sometimes sweetened, or aged in barrels, or steeped in a variety of fruits, it is much more than the main ingredient in Brazil’s national cocktail; caipirinha.

To begin with I could not own up to the fact that I disliked the taste of pinga. It was just too much for my Brazilian drinking companions to take on board, as they obviously simply adored the stuff judging by the vast quantities that they were capable of consuming at all hours of the day. Not that all of them were alcoholics you know, but shall we say, aficionados.

Accustomed as I was to opening hours kept by public houses in Great Britain, I found it pass to say the least, that pinga is consumed by many a Brazilian workman at breakfast time on cold winter mornings. It remains my opinion to this day that alcohol should not be consumed until the sun has passed the yard arm. The afternoon should be reserved for drinking tea, and not until 5:30pm should a glass of sherry be offered.

It is said that Campari, the Italian bitter tasting vermouth, has to be tried three times before you develop an appreciation of it. I found that it took much longer than that to appreciate pinga, unless its strong fiery taste of raw sugar was heavily disguised with lime juice, refined sugar and diluted with plenty of ice.

It is in that fashion it is easy to develop a liking for pinga when it is contained within a caipirinha, and although I prefer my own mix, which uses Sagitaba cachaca, sugar syrup instead of granulated, and lime juice, instead of mashed whole fruit, there are many varieties that I have tasted that are just as delicious, including the use of caju (cashew) fruit instead of lime.

Undaunted by my earlier distaste, I continued to experiment with pinga, purely in the interest of scientific and literary research you understand. I moved on from 51 (the most popular brand), to São Fransisco, and Ypioca. Both of these produce cachaca aged in barrels and it was this “sipping” cachaca that I became fonder of, although I have to admit that it was rather more the effect that attracted me, rather than the taste, which was only slightly more palatable than the cheaper brands.

Curiosity and encouragement to experiment further, from friends and acquaintances, led me into what I would describe as a Pingeria or Cachaca emporium during a visit to Paraty. The place was literally wall to wall and floor to ceiling in the stuff! My enquiries brought further questions to be answered, “How much did I want to spend?… “Did I want a recent bottling or something more than ten years old?”.

I was astonished! Here were bottles of pinga that had price tags equivalent to those on rare bottlings of Scotch Single Malts! But would the taste be in the same league?

I wrestled with temptation to exceed the limit on my credit card and opted for a variety of miniatures, explaining my intent to the sales assistant and requesting his expertise in making a representative selection. After much haggling the price came down to R$100 for ten very small bottles. I could have stocked myself up with 51 for nearly a year!

Several days later in my kitchen at home I sat down with my son and daughter to a little experimentation.

Shot glasses were labelled, a list of subjects tallied, and we turned our backs as my son poured.

Our rules were simple;- each tasting was to be described and then given points out of ten. Once my daughter and I had sampled the first five, my son took his turn. Then we repeated the process with the final batch. Bottled water was on hand for rinsing of glasses and throats.

The subjects tasted, in order, were as follows:-

No.1 Minha Deusa, Prata, Betin MG, 40%
No.2 Claudionor, Prata, Januaria MG, 48%
No.3 Pedra Branca, Ouro, Paraty RJ, 42%
No.4 Matodentro, Ouro, Paraitinga SP, 42%
No.5 Engenho D`Ouro, Prata, Paraty RJ, 45%
No.6 Rochina, Prata, Mansa RJ, 46%
No.7 Seleta, Prata, Salinhas MG, 42%
No.8 Reserva Do Gerente, Prata, Guarapari ES, 42%
No.9 Vale Verde, Ouro, Betin MG, 40%
No.10 Boazinha, Ouro, Salinas MG, 42%

I heartily recommend spending an evening such as we had that night! It was hilarious to say the least, and although we cannot claim to be experts in the finer points of pinga, our conclusions were surprisingly similar, even if our descriptions were sometimes less than scientific!

The results were as follows:

1st – 28 points – Pedra Branca – “soft and creamy with tobacco notes”
2nd – 26 points – Vale Verde – “suave with tobacco and vanilla notes”
3rd – 22 points – Matodentro – “smooth with fruit and banana notes”
4th- 20 points – Seleta – “smooth with vanilla and olive notes”
5th – 19 points – Engenho D`Ouro – “smooth with salty notes”
6th – 18 points – Reserva Do Gerente – “dry with smoky notes”
7th – 17 points – Claudionor – “smooth with honey notes”
8th – 14 points – Boazinha – “smoky”
9th – 13 points – Minha Deusa – “smoky”
The wooden spoon with only 4 points – Rochina – “!”

I have been kind enough to omit some of the more critical remarks such as: “metallic, paraffin, cream soda, nail varnish, plasticy, harsh and raw dung”!

What, might you ask, is my opinion now of the national drink of Brazil?

Well, I certainly have a much better appreciation of the range of quality on offer, and some of it is very good indeed. However, although I would rather drink pinga on a cold rainy day than Coca Cola, in preference I would rather stick to Scotch, especially since I can safely say that I like its flavour, and I can pick up a litre of Bells for under R$40, compared to over R$200 for some of those in the list above!

We did however, sleep very well that night!

2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Alastair is an expat originally from Scotland now living in rural Southeastern Brazil close to the city of São Paulo. He has led a variety of lives since leaving school at the tender age of seventeen. In the merchant navy he spent six years travelling the world including a trip to Rio and Santos in 1971. He then tried his hand doing a series of jobs in London as;- Mini Cab driver, Fashion allocator, Warehouse manager, Meat factory worker, before deciding to become an architect. He then went north to the Scottish Highlands for the next six years. Worked there as an architect, and as skipper of a pollution control vessel on the Moray Firth. He opened a shop selling stationary and art supplies. Started an arts group with an annual exhibition, became a member of the Community Council and ran as candidate in local elections, before returning south to London in ’86; due to recession in the Highlands. Worked in commercial architects practices in London during the ‘Yuppie’ years, before yet another recession hit the construction industry. Entered Local Government as an Estate Surveyor for Westminster City Council, then as Technical Manager for Camden and finally Repair Centre Manager for Greenwich. Took early retirement in 2006 and emigrated here to Brazil. Settled in Peruibe SP for three years before moving to Pedro de Toledo in the foothills of the Jureia mountains. Married and divorced three times he spends his time between his sitio, working part-time in a local imobiliaria, writing, photography and listening to classical music. Alastair decided to create Brazil: Alco and Bebidas
Brazil: Copo de Vagabundos
Brazil: Modestia
A Fora de Prazo
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September 8, 2014

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Ana Gauz. Read on as Ana tells us about her impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

I am from Rio (I used to live in Leblon) and I am currently working at a very nice store as a sales associate (my first retail job ever!). Back in Brazil, I used to work in the film industry.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

I believe the obstacles are the same to any person that moves to a different country: adjusting to another culture, the food, how people relate to each other, the way they dress… Not to mention the language!

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

As tourists, I would say not trying (hard) to blend in, in order to avoid attracting burglars and scammers, as well as displaying their nice and big and expensive cameras at any place. In our online world, one should know better than visiting a place without learning about it in advance. About expats living in Brazil, I just don’t know.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

In the US, it’s the way people dress, especially bathing suits. I’ve been living here for 5 years and sometimes I think I will never get used to them. But I also believe it’s more so in the suburbs, where I live. Whenever I go to a big city, I usually see more people dressed more accordingly to what I was used to in Brazil. I mean, more contemporary and youthful.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

I love the English language. Period. Every accent has its own beauty. The American accent just flows, it’s music to my ears. The British one sounds sophisticated. The Australian and South-African accents are fun.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Hawaii, hands down. Natural beauty that reminded me of Brazil (except for the volcanos, of course), but more developed, with better services.

7. Favourite foreign food?

Italian food. Portuguese desserts.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Band – Queen Book – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen Movie – I can’t choose just one. There are sooo many! I love all Woody Allen’s movies, but there are so many others: The Untouchables, The Piano, Amlie, The Hunt, The Truman Show…

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

I have never dated a foreigner and most of my friends are married to Brazilian men. Sorry!

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

Sure! I have many incidents, but the one that struck me the most was when an acquaintance of mine told me, very straightforward, that she doesn’t mind hugging but she does not like being touched, after I rubbed her shoulder as I greeted her. I just said OK”, not knowing exactly what to think about it. But later, I came to the conclusion that I had to adapt, since I am not in Brazil anymore, where everybody touches each other all the time. I’d rather have someone saying that right away than feeling disgusted at my touch or starting to avoid me.

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

Just be open, adventurous, try to enjoy the good things and be careful, a little more than Brazilians themselves need to be. Also, here are some practical tips (more than 2):

1. If you are invited to a party that is supposed to start at 9pm, do not show up before 10 or 10:30pm. The host won’t be ready. Not even business or school meetings start on time. It’s a cultural thing. 2. Try getting used to greeting a friend or acquaintance you come across in the streets, even if you are in a hurry, with 2 kisses on the cheek. Exchange some words, say you are in a hurry, and say goodbye with 2 more kisses. You only don’t need to do this if the person is a little far away or if it is someone you hardly know. 3. People are curious about foreigners, so expect a lot of questions. Obviously you don’t have to answer all of them, but be prepared. We, Brazilians, suffer from “the mongrel complex”. 4. People do not say “Excuse me” when someone is on their way. In Brazil, people just find their way through the crowd, without a word. I prefer the way Americans do.

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com.

Previous Interviews

Daniel Reschke
Adriana Schmidt Raub
Kledson Pires
Juliana Barroso
Maria Cristina Skowronski Flynn
Antonia Sales
Augusto Gomes
Tatiane Silva
Regina Scharf
Rebecca Carvalho
Augusto Uehara
Ana da Silva
Daniel Bertorelli
Marco Cassol
Ana Clark
Vanessa Agricola
Ubiratan S. Malta
Brescia Terra
Renata Andraus
Ana Vitoria Joly
Helio Araujo
Adriano Abila
Anderson Ferreira
Sandra Partridge
Samara Klug Szachnowicz
Flavius Ferrari
Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Alexandre
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

September 8, 2014

So, you’ve made the decision to start looking for a job in Brazil, now what? The following guide suggests five of the best ways to improve your chances of getting a job in Brazil.

After a decade of low unemployment, decreasing income inequality, a growing middle class, a quicker recovery from the Global Financial Crisis than any other emerging market, and sky-rocketing hiring of foreign workers, Brazil’s economy seems to have slowed down and stagnated. This is particularly apparent in the job market.

Further, bureaucracy is slow and complex, which negatively impacts visa applications and taxes. Nevertheless, there are opportunities if you’re prepared to make the effort to find them. Read on to find out where to look.

1. TRANSFER TO YOUR COMPANY’S BRAZILIAN OFFICE

If you’re lucky enough to work for an international company that has offices in Brazil, this is the easiest way into the Brazilian workforce. The visa process is much simpler for a transfer employee than if you move to Brazil without a job. Moreover, your employer will usually help you with things such as finding accommodation, transportation, and health insurance.

2. GET SOME EXPERIENCE

Brazil’s younger population is becoming increasingly educated so the competition for graduate positions is intensifying. If you’ve worked and gained some experience before moving to Brazil, it will be a huge asset. The major industries in Brazil are the large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors.

The growth industries include the renewable energy sector (in particular biofuel), water and waste management, and the automotive industry. Appropriate qualifications and work-experience in any of these industries should serve you well. More so if your occupation is one of those in short supply: engineers, environmental management consultants, and IT professionals.

3. LEARN SOME PORTUGUESE

While the international companies in Brazil often use English as their company language, you may have to deal with Portuguese-speaking clients, partners, advertisers, etc. Furthermore, knowing how to speak the country’s language is greatly beneficial outside of the office.

Don’t forget: even though the written language is very similar to European Portuguese, the spoken language is different, and unique to Brazil.

4. CONNECT WITH LOCAL EXPATRIATES

If you aren’t able to simply transfer to a position in Brazil, then networking with the expat community in Brazil is the second best thing. Connecting with expats in your industry will give you an idea of what local demand is like, what positions are available, and which companies are currently hiring. They may even be able to personally submit your CV to their company’s HR department.

From a social point of view, fellow expats can also help you settle into the Brazilian lifestyle, deal with any culture-shock you might experience, and meet other friendly expats and locals.

5. TALK TO A RECRUITER

Some industries, such as oil and gas, are big recruiters in the region. Others, requiring specialists to operate modern technical equipment, also make an effort to recruit foreigners. Current growth areas for foreign recruitment include: 4G telecommunications, business development, industry, and insurance and reinsurance.

Nevertheless, finding a job in Brazil as a foreigner is difficult. If you don’t fall into these categories, consider submitting your CV to a global recruitment agency. The labor laws are rather strict in Brazil so make sure the agency has offices in Brazil or a good understanding of the relevant legislation.

By Alastair Kinghorn
September 8, 2014

There are pubs in São Paulo, or so they tell me, because I have never been inside one since coming to live here six years ago.

Here we have bars, and every little mercado”, no matter how tatty or remote seems to have at least one white plastic table and chairs where you can squeeze in between the racks of crisps and snacks on sale and sit and drink while the world goes by. These places are a far cry from the social watering holes of my misspent youth. They are not laid out with conviviality in mind or littered with imbibers’ souvenirs of 101 lagers that can be brought back from the far flung corners of the globe. They do not possess a row of ancient tankards hung from polished brass hooks, or a mahogany bar to lean on. They are simply a place where you can down a quick “cachaa” to set you up for a day’s hard labour or where an ice cold can of beer is available. Nothing even remotely tempting or attractive to beckon you inside, except for the poster of the young girl with a cleavage the size of the Grand Canyon, but they appear to be successful for all that, and they mark the clear division between social drinking and regular drinking that sets men apart in Brazil.

I say men, because women seldom appear to drink alcohol, or when they do it tends to be either a discreet glass of beer, or a tooth dissolving concoction of condensed milk and some sort of sweet liquor, called a “batida”. Not that you would expect to find a lady drinking “batidas” in a bar. She might either be offered one at someone’s “festa” or go with her “namorado” to a “clube” for a night on the tiles, and then sneak back to mum and dad’s house in the breaking dawn to be a nice girl again for the rest of the week. This is because the social classes also mark the division between those who “bebe socialmente” and those who “bebe regularmente”. To be one of the first group marks you as one whose attitude towards alcohol is somewhat of the “dilettante” who prefers to drink Chivas Regal rather than Old Eight. Who would rather have their “caipirinha” made with Socatoba and who certainly wouldn’t be seen dead tossing back a 51 on the way to the office in the morning. To be one of the second group is to fall into the abyss, where hardened fellows will grab a can of beer while inside the bus waiting for a queue of people to board and gulp down the ice cold foam before you can say Brahma.

Like so many aspects of Brazilian life, polarisation is clearly evident when it comes to alcohol and nowhere is it more clearly marked than in the prices charged. A few kilometres from where I am writing can be found a little factory where the proud owner will happily fill up your empty 1 litre bottle of “cachaca artenesal” for the princely sum of R$1.50. That is 50p in real money. Now we are not talking about hooch that is watered down just to fill the bottle. This is 40% alcohol from a pot still as recent as yesterday. Enjoying this potent liquid is perhaps the wrong word to choose. To the aspiring “pinga” addict, it is the effect that is the attraction rather than the taste, and to those who suffer from insomnia, this is a sure fire certain cure, albeit with a sting in the tail similar to a kick from an entire football team.

On the other side of the tracks, I know a “botega” in a nearby town where the proprietor will lovingly cradle a bottle of Vive Cliquot vintage champagne in one arm and an authentic Napoleon Cognac in the other, and enquire if “patron” would like to part with R$2,000 for the pair. Not the kind of stuff to be found on one of those little white plastic tables.

2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Alastair is an expat originally from Scotland now living in rural Southeastern Brazil close to the city of São Paulo. He has led a variety of lives since leaving school at the tender age of seventeen. In the merchant navy he spent six years travelling the world including a trip to Rio and Santos in 1971. He then tried his hand doing a series of jobs in London as;- Mini Cab driver, Fashion allocator, Warehouse manager, Meat factory worker, before deciding to become an architect. He then went north to the Scottish Highlands for the next six years. Worked there as an architect, and as skipper of a pollution control vessel on the Moray Firth. He opened a shop selling stationary and art supplies. Started an arts group with an annual exhibition, became a member of the Community Council and ran as candidate in local elections, before returning south to London in ’86; due to recession in the Highlands. Worked in commercial architects practices in London during the ‘Yuppie’ years, before yet another recession hit the construction industry. Entered Local Government as an Estate Surveyor for Westminster City Council, then as Technical Manager for Camden and finally Repair Centre Manager for Greenwich. Took early retirement in 2006 and emigrated here to Brazil. Settled in Peruibe SP for three years before moving to Pedro de Toledo in the foothills of the Jureia mountains. Married and divorced three times he spends his time between his sitio, working part-time in a local imobiliaria, writing, photography and listening to classical music. Alastair decided to create Brazil: Abelhas
Brazil: Seguranca
Brazil: The Ghost of Ayrton Senna
A Scotsman in Brazil

If you’re in São Paulo, don’t miss the chance to attend this rare www.gringoes.com happy hour, and meet some of your virtual buddies in the flesh.
The meetup will be hosted at the gringo-owned pé na Jaca” bar in everyone’s favorite neighborhood of Vila Madalena.
Where: pé na Jaca, Rua Harmonia, 117, Vila Madalena, São Paulo
When: Aug. 21, from 19h30pm
Cost: R$20. Includes one free drink if you arrive before 20h30

Please RSVP to gringoes@www.gringoes.com or you can join 0 Comments/by

By Alastair Kinghorn
August 4, 2014

Have you ever been stung by a bee?

Not a big deal eh?… Unless you happen to be allergic to them and more of that later, but for those of us who live in Brazil, there are bees and then there are bees… and also wasps!

Since coming here to live there have been many who have warned me to take care with snakes, and even more who have displayed great fear of the spiders and even some who will not set foot in Brazil unless they are guaranteed a spider free visit!

I have often asked the people that I meet if they have ever been bitten by a snake, or know of anyone who has. I know of no-one who has suffered a snake bite and only a handful who have known someone who has been bitten. According to sources who publish figures on the internet, some 70 people die each year from a snake bite in Brazil. These are mainly agricultural workers cropping banana and sugar cane, prey to an occupational hazard.

Spiders are a different matter. They are most likely to cause a problem in our autumn season, from April through May, when they come indoors to seek a hibernation nest to lay their eggs. They can be anywhere. Always check your shoes and clothes before using them. I have been bitten by a spider and it is a common occurrence especially if you live in a rural area and work outside without gloves. You can get quite a nasty bite, but you would be extremely unlucky to need medical attention.

Bees, on the other hand are muito perigoso”!

The trouble is that there are so many of them and you can easily fall victim to a sting in any location. In rural areas their nests are formed in the summer months during December, January, February and March, but unlike European bees, they often build their nests on the back of the leaves of ground plants where people pass. The unsuspecting person on foot on a rural trail can easily brush against the leaf bearing a bee’s nest and will be surrounded within seconds by an aerial mob of angry bees intent on protecting their home. Stings are delivered on all areas of exposed flesh and the pain is enough to drive you away from the spot, flailing against the multiple assailants and wishing that you had chosen a different route. Thankfully these “Abelha Preta”, are quite small and their sting, although not be sneezed at, is soon tolerable.

Wasps, (Maribondos), however, deliver a sting that is extremely painful and multiple stings will incapacitate a victim for several hours. Like the black bees, they often build nests where folk are likely to pass by and they attack without mercy. I have been stung on several occasions by Maribondos and can testify to the excruciating pain that they cause and to the disorientating effect of an attack. I had the good fortune to be close to my house where I could seek refuge and administer vinegar to the stings in order to obtain some relief.

Now that you are suitably cowed, and alerted to some of the common dangers to be encountered by the unsuspecting rambler in Brazil, we enter into the domain of the deadly “Abelha Africana”, or African bee.

Some clever so-and-so had a brilliant idea, sometime ago, to create a super race of South American bees, that would make him rich. He imported bees from Africa which had a prodigious capacity for making honey, and crossed them with the native black bees. The result was an insect that reproduced rapidly, could fend for itself in the wild, and made huge amounts of honey. Unfortunately it also turned out to be viciously aggressive and in possession of a sting that delivers sufficient venom to kill an adult horse, let alone a human being!

Now I can just about hear someone saying, “Alastair, stop spooking the tourists! Most of them won’t even go anywhere near a bee’s nest and will never set foot in the jungle without a guide to bear the brunt of whatever creepy crawly lurks unseen.”

Listen up then you Football Fans here for the World Cup and those to come for the Olympics in two years’ time. I have just got back home with my girlfriend from our town Emergency Hospital. Earlier this afternoon she was in town, at a bar. She was just across the road from where I was downloading music from the internet. She was quietly drinking a glass of a popular soft drink, called Guarana, when unknown to her, an African bee entered her glass to take on board a load of sugar for honey making. She took another sip and the bee struck the inside of her upper lip. Within seconds she was in an anaphylactic shock and luckily managed to stagger to where I was, and of course, I immediately took her to hospital. She received emergency treatment, including several anti-allergic injections, oxygen to assist her difficulty in breathing, a drip to alleviate shock and close observation until she began to show signs of recovery. This was all from a single sting. Imagine what many stings could have caused!

Three hours later she was released for convalescence and told to be very careful of the bees.

Very good advice, I would call it!

2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Alastair is an expat originally from Scotland now living in rural Southeastern Brazil close to the city of São Paulo. He has led a variety of lives since leaving school at the tender age of seventeen. In the merchant navy he spent six years travelling the world including a trip to Rio and Santos in 1971. He then tried his hand doing a series of jobs in London as;- Mini Cab driver, Fashion allocator, Warehouse manager, Meat factory worker, before deciding to become an architect. He then went north to the Scottish Highlands for the next six years. Worked there as an architect, and as skipper of a pollution control vessel on the Moray Firth. He opened a shop selling stationary and art supplies. Started an arts group with an annual exhibition, became a member of the Community Council and ran as candidate in local elections, before returning south to London in ’86 due to recession in the Highlands. Worked in commercial architects practices in London during the ‘Yuppie’ years, before yet another recession hit the construction industry. Entered Local Government as an Estate Surveyor for Westminster City Council, then as Technical Manager for Camden and finally Repair Centre Manager for Greenwich. Took early retirement in 2006 and emigrated here to Brazil. Settled in Peruibe SP for three years before moving to Pedro de Toledo in the foothills of the Jureia mountains. Married and divorced three times he spends his time between his sitio, working part-time in a local imobiliaria, writing, photography and listening to classical music. Alastair decided to create Brazil: Copo de Vagabundos
Brazil: Modestia
A Fora de Prazo
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