By Alison McGowan
February 18, 2014

Kite Brazil was definitely a surprise. A very pleasant surprise but a surprise nonetheless. First of all TripAdvisor has it down as the no 1 hotel in Jericoacoara, a completely different town 12 kms away, and secondly it is classified as a hotel when this is very much a pousada with individual bungalows, communal breakfasts and laid back friendly vibe. What Austrian/Italian hosts Hacky and Dani have done here is to create a kitesurfers’ paradise and at the same time a place where anyone who appreciates nature and tranquility can chill out in total peace.

There are 6 spacious wooden bungalows at Kite Brazil, all beautifully appointed with excellent shower rooms all designed to make the most of local materials and artesanato. Colourful throws on the beds and shelves made out of old kite boards mix with polished concrete floors and inlaid old Portuguese tiling to give a totally unique eclectic feel to the living space which is completed with wrap around veranda, recliner and (of course) a hammock for those long siestas.

There’s no air-conditioning here, no TV and your phone won’t work, but you’ve got a great pool with loads of sun loungers, the beach on your doorstep and high speed wi-fi internet if you really can’t do without your fix. I rather wish they hadn’t had the latter so I could have had an excuse to chill out just listening to the sound of the waves. But either way this place is totally special – a real hidden paradise!

About the Location
Praia do Pre is 294kms from Fortaleza in one direction and around 12kms (or a 20 minute buggy ride) from Jericoacoara in the other and light years away from both in terms of landscape and feel. A few houses, a couple of small shops, a few pousadas, a few beach bars and a kite school are all that exist here apart from a beach which just seems to go on forever. Transport here is normally by buggy, quadbike or 4×4 truck and nearly all the “roads” are pure sand, including the “main road” to Jericoacoara seen in the picture here. A great place to chill out and do nothing, and an even better place if you are into kite surfing.

Not to be Missed
– Kitesurfing lessons with Hacky on Pre beach
– Side trip to Jericoacoara for restaurants and nightlife
– Chilling on the beach with a plate of shrimps and a cool beer
– A trip to the lagoons, Pedra Furada and the lazy tree (Arvore da Preguia)

Starpoints
* Wonderful hosts – Hacky and Dani
* Spacious well designed bungalows
*Choice of pool or beach for chilling
* High speed wi-fi internet

Try a Different Place if…
… you don’t like dogs, or want any kind of choice of restaurants/nightlife on the doorstep. This place is quiet!

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 – Fazendinha Buzios, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Dreamland Bungalows, Marau Peninsula, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Natur Campeche, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta da Piteira Boutique Hotel, Praia do Rosa, Santa Catarina
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Vila do Patacho, Praia do Patacho, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Praiagogi Boutique Pousada, Maragogi, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Calypso, Trancoso, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Maris, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Cool Beans, Rio de Janeiro
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

By Hoover Serres
February 18, 2014

I am a Belgian national living in Brazil for 5 years, working for a big international enterprise and currently living in the southern city of Curitiba. Prior to this, I lived in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belem, Brasilia and Salvador, and had the opportunity to visit all the state capitals except Vitoria (ES), Cuiaba (MT) and the northern ones. My article is centered on my amazing experience living in Curitiba, a marvelous city where I intend to spend many years more.

Since I arrived at the airport, I could perceive that I was entering a somewhat different concept of culture, different from what I had already seen throughout this country. The cleanliness of the terminal, the fine and sober decoration and the politeness of the staff were impressive, and no more than 10 minutes were needed to claim my luggage and take a comfortable bus, which costed me 5 dollars and left me in front of my downtown hotel. I was just discovering that there was a decent public transportation somewhere in this country.

For an European, it can be disappointing to visit a Brazilian town where the thermometers fall below 10 degrees very often, thanks to the altitude of almost 1000m from sea level. But for me, an expatriate personnel who shares the real life with residents, it was a welcoming relief to feel the cold breeze and to be far away from the stove-like temperatures of this entire nation. There’s no necessity to have an air-conditioning set here. Even the hotter days rarely go above 30C, and when they do so, do not last for more than two days. Curitibans like to complain about the weather, specially because it rains a lot (there’s no dry season), but for a Belgian it is pretty fine.

So I was getting used to the city life. It was entirely different from what I had lived before. Public transport, although not perfect, is much better than any Brazilian city, and one can go anywhere with only one fare (about 1 dollar), in a variety of safe and clean buses. Cleanliness, in my is opinion something that distinguishes Curitiba most, it seems to be an obsession between residents, you can walk for many blocks without seeing even a used napkin. It is certainly cleaner than London or Brussels, not the better examples of tidyness, but remeber, we are in Latin America.

This is precisely what I was forgetting as my life was going on. I barely remembered I was in Brazil and within two hours of flight from the enchantment but also mishmash of Rio or Salvador. Walking in clean streets, using public transportation, living in a mild climate and dealing with punctual and respectful people, I had the perfect sensation I was living in some European city. Besides, the variety of parks, more than thirty, are an invitation to practice some sport (I have chosen to be a cyclist). The cultural life is thriving and there’s quality museums and theatres, as well as cinemas and restaurants. These last ones are among Brazil’s best.

What I most like in Curitiba, in spite of my lovel of so many aspects of this place, is the possibility for a typical european like me to blend in among the inhabitants to the point I am not perceived as a foreigner. It is probabily due to the great amount of European immigrants who chose this area to settle in a century ago, which makes Curitiba a melting pot of cultures. Blonde and light skinned people are everywhere and I do not draw attention at all, unless if I talk. My second favourite thing is the custom of talking less and in a lower volume, something that disturbs me in Rio. People here act with great discretion, which again makes me feel more at home.

I did not pretend, with these words, to advocate Curitiba is not Brazil. It does share some problems with its Brazilian counterparts such as poverty and violence. It does have some shantytowns in the fringe areas, as well as places where people should not go at night. The cost of living, significantly lower than in Rio or SP, is rising steadily. Services like telecommunications and water supply, works fairly, but are far from European standards. Indeed, it is Brazil with all the delights and complications, I only want to express my opinion that problems from lack of development tend to be less perceived in this part of the country.

I am having a great experience over here and feeling that i found my place on Earth in this dynamic city, socially and economically well above what many could expect from the absolutely fascinating Brazil.

By Alastair Kinghorn
February 18, 2014

There are few other people who can compete with Ayrton Senna for the title of Most Loved Brazilian Hero” except perhaps for Pele.

Following his death on1 May 1994 in a Formula 1 accident, an estimated three million people flocked to the streets of Senna’s hometown of São Paulo to offer him their salute as his hearse took him to the Legislative Assembly building, where over 200,000 people filed past as his body lay in state.

The day was declared a National Day of mourning, attended by rich and poor alike as his final victory parade took place. Voted the best driver of all time in various motorsport polls, he had been the most successful racing car driver since Fangio and some say the most determined to win at all costs.

At a price that he ultimately paid for with his life.

Since then, more than 30,000 Brazilian motorists have followed in his wake each and every year, as the death toll on Brazilian roads takes it’s terrible retribution against those who believe that they have inherited his incredible driving skills.

You only have to venture out onto your local “rodovia” for a few kilometers before you will encounter an avid fan. You do not need to search for him, as he will spot you immediately as being ripe for the plucking. Nothing will prevent him from accelerating up behind you at maximum velocity, then swerving at the last micro-second to avoid collision with your rear bumper and tearing past your wing mirror so near that the turbulence will cause you to sheer dangerously close to the verge, and then wrenching his steering wheel, he will occupy the space immediately in front of your front number plate for a few tantalizing seconds before releasing a cloud of hydrocarbons from his exhaust pipe and disappearing off into the haze.
No, he will not be driving a Ferrari, nor will he have a collection of advertising across every square millimeter of bodywork. He is more likely to be driving a Mercedes with a sign on the back of his 20 metre long pantechnicon truck that says “Go with God”.

Needless to say that meeting one of these head on while he practices his favourite maneuver on a blind bend is a sure fire way to obey this slogan.

For those who do not own the right to call themselves a “caminhoneiro”, the minimum time to reach your destination is not the most important goal, as long as there is no one in front of you.

Driving lazily along with one arm hanging out of the window, while chatting to your companion is perfectly acceptable, albeit at a speed that will be in excess of the limit required by the law. Should you appear in front of him however, a ghostly spectre wearing white overalls and face scarf will immediately interrupt his reverie, and with a fleeting smile baring his gleaming white teeth he will spring into Formula 1 action. It matters not if there are double yellow lines, warning signs of dangerous bends, rows of oncoming traffic or simply the engine of a tired old Fusca to contend with, he will never rest until he has passed you by, only to once again return to his former speed, but most importantly of all, right in front in poll position.

2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Alastair is an expat originally from Scotland now living in rural south eastern 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 foot-hills of the Jureia mountains. Married and divorced three times I spend my time between my sitio, working part-time in a local imobiliaria, writing, photography and listening to classical music. Alastair decided to create A Fora de Prazo
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By Chip Kishel
February 18, 2014

A story of a young American boy and his family living in Brasil from 1962 to 1964.

I was 10 years old when my father accepted a teaching position at the University of São Paulo, through the University of Michigan and USAID, It was 1962. Our family of four (both parents, my brother Bill and I) sailed from New Orleans to Santos on a coffee ship called the Del Norte. We came from a town in Ohio called Strongsville and bought a new 1962 Chevy Biscayne to bring with us.

During the two week voyage, we socialized with other USAID families that would later become neighbors in Jardim Paulista.

I remember well being picked up in Santos and being driven to a temporary residence in Brooklin. The culture shock of living in a compound like home with glass topped walls and domestic help was frightening to me. The home was next to street car tracks. The street cars were called Bondgies” although the spelling may incorrect.

I was enrolled in the American Graded School and much to my dismay, school began in early August. The school bus was customized with trinkets, religious symbols and hanging fringe, much different than the bland yellow busses in the States. I remember the school being on top of a hill surrounded by forest and secluded. I also recall the school being only a couple of years old.

50+ years ago, an American family living in Brasil was unique. Whole milk was packaged in heavy waxed 1 liter cardboard triangles. The domestic help shopped at early morning open markets. Television was black and white with some American programs dubbed in Portuguese. I was as homesick as one could be and cried often.

A few months later we moved into a home in Jardim Paulista. The residence and neighborhood was more comfortable and we lived closer to people who were on the Del Norte. During this time my father told us of Fidel Castro and his interests to spread communism throughout Latin America. This explains the roving guards on bicycles blowing their whistles randomly all night long. My father was an early pioneer of computer programming. Years later before my mother’s passing, she told me that dad’s mission was to register communists on a database. This explained that on two occasions during 1963 we were directed to stay indoors during some unrest in the city. During the unrest, on the 2nd floor of our home lay guns for each of us. Not for suicide, but for defense. Three decades later, my father gave me an Argentine made 1911 style 22 semi-automatic, which was part of that small arsenal.

Oddly enough, when there was civil unrest and I was at school, the school was surrounded by military personal and vehicles.

My father also wrote monthly articles to an Engineering group every month. Often these articles spoke of political assignments, educational activities and occasional personal observations and family activities.”

February 18, 2014

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

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

I am from Francisco Beltrão, in Paran, a state in the South of Brazil. I graduated from the state University of Maring. Maring is a city in the North of the state which I consider my city in part because of its green beauty and wonderful people. There, I taught English as a second language for 5 years in different schools.

Currently, I am a Fulbright Scholar in Jackson, Michigan, in the United States. I teach Portuguese to speakers of English so they can have a better experience when travelling to Brazil. There is a program called USBC (United States Brazil Connect) which sends students from colleges to teach English in Brazil for a month. I am also engaged in international organizations that help promote integration between native and foreign students.

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

I believe our bureaucracy is serious obstacle. There are so many obstacles to doing something legally that many Brazilians tend to use the so-called jeitinho”, which is a way of circumventing rules by being “street smart”. I don’t see many people doing this here in the U.S, and I think foreigners they are not happy when they realize the way some things work in Brazil.

Another one is the language. I’ve heard a lot of people who speak other languages say that Portuguese is really hard to master. Although there are an increasing and significant number of people who speak English in big cities, if you go to a smaller places, you’ll need Portuguese.

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

I think resisting adapting. When you live in a foreign country, you have to adapt somehow! I’m living in Michigan and the weather now is just much colder than I’ve ever experienced. I’m adapting pretty well and enjoying the good things that winter can give you, even though it’s not my favorite season.

However, I feel some foreigners living in Brazil are not truly willing to adapt. I don’t think they should adapt to things as the “jeitinho” and our bureaucracy, but life is certainly easier and more enjoyable if you try hard to learn Portuguese and you greet people in a proper and warmer Brazilian way! I’ve met people from more developed countries who were regarded as rude because they didn’t care about learning Portuguese and acted too polite and formal in certain situations.

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

The respect for the rules and laws. More than that, the need for organization and rules. I think people in the United States enjoy being in a more organized, controlled environment, with specific rules. For example, I went to a couple of rock shows here in which people could not stand to see it. The benefits are having a nice comfortable seat to enjoy the show and not having anyone in front of you. Although the shows were good, I would rather see them standing! Brazilians like to dance, sing along (loudly sometimes) and be able to go around. When I was in Charleston, I was surprised by how specific the rules to go to a mere water fountain were!

The way people dress in Brazil and in the United States is somewhat similar. There’s a clear distinction between formal and informal. However, people have less need to show their “brandy” clothes or accessories here. There are lots of Brazilians who are obsessed with their appearance and their clothing, almost as if they needed to be distinguished from the ones who don’t dress “properly”. I’ve seen students who put on a lot of make up to go to the University or schools, which is something I’ve never seen here.

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

As a graduate in the study of language, I love languages and accents. I really like hearing different accents. I’m really used to the Northwestern accent now, but if I were to choose one simply because I like its sound, I’d choose the Jamaican accent.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Chicago. Its unique architecture and skyline make you feel happy just because you’re walking around the city. In my first time at the city, I went to all the touristic attractions and museums. It was only in my second visit that I realized the city is worth visiting just to walk around downtown or by lake Michigan. And the food is a hundred times better than in New York, if you ask me! That pizza! Even the hot-dogs!

7. Favourite foreign food?

This is a tricky question. I love Japanese food, Mexican food… If were to choose just one, I’d have to say cheesecake. It’s just too good! I’ll miss American cheesecake when I go back to Brazil.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Pink Floyd, Animal Farm and One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest.

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

Brazilians like to kiss on the very first date. It’s common to meet a girl in a nightclub, exchange some glances, kiss, get each other’s phones and then meet for a real date the next day/week. Kissing is a VERY important thing for Brazilians!

Dating here in the United States nowadays is mostly done with the help of dating websites or phone apps. Most of times, people get to know each other first, and then kiss. The opposite may happen in Brazil!

Also, I think that young people in the United States have lost the ability to communicate with their eyes or their smiles. They mostly rely on their phones

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

I have an American friend who lives in Brazil and he’s been through an interesting ‘incident’. We were in Liberdade, a Japanese neighborhood in São Paulo. We were eating some food from the local food stands when a beggar came to him and tried to put his hand into his plate of noodles. He didn’t say anything when he arrived. My friend pulled his plate away fast, to avoid having his hands touch the food. His mouth and nose were dripping with saliva and snot. It almost fell into his plate. He appeared to have psychological problems. He started to speak by making noises and grunts. In the USA, they have places that are called “soup kitchens”. Most are at churches and other non-profits where homeless people can receive free meals. Most Americans prefer that homeless people get free meals at a soup kitchen. They don’t want to give free food on the street because this will cause more beggars to bother old people, tourists, and others. His first reaction was to say no, based on what they think in America. Normally, he likes to share food with family and friends – but his reaction was to avoid the beggar in this situation. After the man got food from us, he tried to grab a second plate. We then quickly walked away and stood close to a policeman that was watching the park. Months later, he was riding a bus in Rio, and started to eat some candy. Suddenly, a beggar asked him for some food, and he automatically gave him some candy.

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

1. Visit AS MANY regions in Brazil as you can. If one thing can truly define the country, it’s diversity. Fulbright selects people from all over the country to teach in the United States. Whenever we all meet, it becomes clear how many different things (and words!) we have to share. And we’re from the same country

Of course Rio and Bahia are must sees (by the way, when you’re in Rio, please visit the historical convents and churches downtown, like the “Convento de Santo Antonio), but if you don’t want to be spreading stereotypes as “the only beautiful things in Brazil are the beaches and the women”, you should go to the South of the country, which was mostly populated by Europeans in the 19th century. Cities like Blumenau and Gramado have a lot to show about Brazil too.

2. Go to a local market. I always loved to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the local markets in Maring. Not only can you buy really good food, but there are a great place to understand more about Brazilian ways and business. You can bargain, of course, but beware: a “gringoe” accent is not going to help prices go down!

You can contact Daniel via daniel.reschke.pires@gmail.com

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.

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

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

February 18, 2014

Meet Niki Wang who has lived in Brazil 8 months. Read the following interview in which Niki 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.?

I am a Singaporean who is living in Belo Horizonte at the moment. My degree is in Finance and Economics and I speak English, Chinese, Portuguese, Cantonese and Hokkien. Mostly, I translate Asian drama serials from Chinese to English which are then broadcast on television. At other times, I teach English.

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

I stayed here for about a month in 2010. After obtaining my permanent visa, I came here again in July 2013 and I have been here ever since. I am here because I wanted to know what it is like to live in a different country.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

When I first visited in 2010, my first impression of Brazil is that its culture is a very interesting mix of East and West, which is very similar to where I came from. Soybean milk, sugarcane juice and fresh coconut juice are things that all Singaporeans grew up drinking, but they are also widely available here in Brazil. We have the same candied fruits and peanut cakes. Other than food and drink, our family values are also similar. Like Singaporeans, Brazilians are very family-oriented. Young people do not leave their homes until they get married, and even then, they tend to stay near to their parents and extended family.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I miss the convenience, safety and the lower cost of living in Singapore. Where else in the world could you walk out of your house to buy a cup of freshly-brewed coffee at 4 a.m. for less than a dollar and feel absolutely safe while doing that? That is something I will never take for granted again in my life.

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

The most frustrating thing is probably the queues. Imagine queuing up at a pharmacy just to receive a piece of paper so that you could join another queue all over again!

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

Once I boarded a bus in Contagem to go back to Belo Horizonte, unaware that my BHBus card did not work on buses in Contagem. A middle-aged man from the working class paid for my fare and he did not accept any repayment from me. I was deeply humbled by this unexpected act of kindness and generosity. I was especially touched because bus fares are extremely expensive over here.

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

I love my family and the new friends I have made ever since I moved here. Food is awesome and the weather is simply the best! Even summer nights are cool and comfortable.

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

I stay at home most of the time.

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

At first I thought a lot of people are surnamed Correiro because I kept seeing postboxes with the word on them. It was later that I realized the word means postbox. And once I urged a rabbit to eat the senhora (lady) instead of cenoura (carrot). That was slightly embarrassing, but the rabbit did not laugh at me.

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

In Singapore, you would see people wearing Havaianas everywhere you go. The situation is the complete opposite in Belo Horizonte. I saw a grand total of two persons wearing Havaianas during my past seven months here, one grandfather and one grandmother. Isn’t that a strange thing when Brazil is the birthplace of Havaianas?

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 am able to hold simple conversations in Portuguese with old ladies… and my cat. Just kidding! Actually, it was easy to pick up the pronunciations and the grammar. The grammar is very similar to Singlish.

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

Bring money, lots of it. The cost of living over here is insanely high. Or bring everything you can. Bring all your electronics and their power adaptors and an extra for everything. Bring lots of English books and all of your shoes.
Of course, one should join the Gringoes Facebook group before coming here for support and information.

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

When you are in Belo Horizonte, you must visit Pampulha Lake. It reminds me of Singapore’s Punggol Park. Over here at Pampulha Lake, there is a famous church called Church of Saint Francis of Assisi which was designed by Oscar Niemeyer. And if you are lucky, you can even spot capybaras, the largest rodents in the world.

Another must-visit place is Imhotim, a contemporary art museum located in Brumadinho, which is a one-hour drive from Belo Horizonte. It is like Singapore’s HortPark, Botanic Gardens and an art museum all rolled into one and the most wonderful thing is that admission is free on all Tuesdays!

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:

Vitor Salas – Portugal
João Ferreira – Portugal
Priya Ferreira – UK
Rami Alhames – Syria
Melanie Mitrano – USA
Jennifer Souza – USA
Bill Holloway – USA
Pieter Kommerij – Netherlands
Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Danielle Carner – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jeff Eddington – USA
Rod Saunders – 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 Alan B Williams
February 18, 2014

So, my fellow Americans; you want to go to World Cup in Brazil this coming June? You think you have enough money, time, moxie, streets smarts and your high school Spanish will get you by. Think again, Gringo. Here is my primer and a warning.

1) Airfare: I hope your significant other is a travel agent; because you are going to need all the help you can get booking a flight under $2000.00 each. The best way to get to Brazil is out of Miami or Atlanta, direct to Brasilia or Manaus. From there you can get shorter flights to the Northeast or other FIFA World Cup sites. Flying to São Paulo is 10 -12 hours or more. Then if you are heading back up North, add another four hours or more. From Brasilia, Fortaleza is a two hour flight, for example. Of course, if you are heading down South, then Rio is you best bet.

2) Language: Yes, English is the second language for Brazilians, but in my five trips there, only a few people actually spoke any, and one was my wife (and she was an English teacher in Brazil for 16 years!) So bone up on the Portuguese, dudes. You are going to need it for basic everyday survival. And to have great chats over who is going to be in the finals.

3) Drinking: Think you can handle your alcohol? Forget about it! I have served five years as a St. Patrick’s day bartender, six years at the LA County Wine Pavilion, five trips to Europe, nearly 1000 conventions in the USA and I have drank with everyone from the Star Wars and Lost in Space actors to the Swedish Wrestling team, and I am but a talented amateur compared to the Brazilians. The average party in Brazil is a 24 hour deal, with many lasting 3 days. My advice, get a stint at the local Renaissance Faire and practice all night debauchery. For six weeks. That might get you in shape. Maybe.

4) Public Toilets: Good lord, they are awful. I thought French toilets were the worst (and they have those in Brazil, too) but stop at any Petrobras gas station and you will experience the true horror of filth, degradation, germs and yuck. Bring TP everywhere, and Toilet seat covers, and hand sanitizer. Or hold it until you get to a private home. Or do it in the woods, but watch out for snakes.

5) Driving in the city: Don’t even think about it. Brazilians are the best drivers in the World, and the craziest. And the pedestrians all have a death wish. They walk out in front of traffic without a care, and it is up to you to avoid them. Take a taxi, bus, tour bus or train. The busses are packed to the gills, but they run constantly and there is safety in numbers.

6) Currency Exchange: Use a credit card whenever possible. My last trip this winter, I got 2.36 Brazilian Reals to the dollars with Master Card. When I exchanged cash, I got a maximum of 2.15 Reals. I pissed away over 200 Reals this way, and I am still pissed about it.

7) Shopping: The same word in English and Portuguese, and the same prices as well. Check out the downtown markets, and older businesses for gifts, clothing, souvenirs, artifacts, pottery, art and cachaca, coffee and preserves. Avoid the Shopping Malls, as you will experience sticker shock. I do not know for the life of me how Brazilians can afford the clothing and electronics at the mall, except through the payment plans.

8) Hotels: Good luck finding any within the FIFA host cities. You best bet is to stay at a Beach resort and drive the two hours you need to get to a game. That way, win or loose, when you get back to the hotel, you can chill out with a nice drink, some crab, and the calming sound of the Atlantic Ocean to rest your frazzled nerves. Or stay with a host family in Brazil.

9) Night Life: Best in the World. All night dance parties – Forro, that are very affordable, and tons of fun. Pagode at the local clubs is superb; Bossa Nova on Tuesday night at the local bar will put your mind in the clouds. Many upscale restaurants have live music, jazz or traditional sounds. Get out and get your groove on.

10) Luggage: For goodness sake, do not tell anyone in Brazil that you are coming, or be prepared to be a pack mule. Tommy Hilfiger, electronics, whiskey, Ralph Lauren & Play stations are in high demand. On the other hand, if you bring these items to sell, you may be able to pay for your trip.

11) Insects: Heed my warning, the most important item is Bug Spray. Two trips now the airlines lost my luggage and both times my bug spray was lost. This resulted in 100’s of bug bites. Now, I had enough booze in me to ward off the pain, and the mosquitoes probably died after ingesting my blood but the aftermath made me feel pretty damn miserable. And then there was my run in with the Formiga – red fire ants that burn like sulphuric acid. The pain still lingers, emotionally anyway.

12) Food: My favorite is Tapioca, dried and rolled into a breakfast burrito filled with egg and chicken. All the seafood in Brazil is outstanding, and the portions are large enough to split three or four ways. The Churrascuria BBQ’s are great as well, though I have filled my quota of meat intake for the rest of the year. Eat at the Brazilian cafeterias in the malls and avoid fast food like the plague, because with the possible exception of Habib’s, it is bland at best, and you can eat it when you get back to the states. Avoid hamburgers, pizza and sushi as well.

13) Love: Do not fall in love with a Brazilian unless you are prepared to go all the way. And I don’t mean sex. I mean moving there. They are like the Borg; resistance is futile and you will be absorbed. I know because it is happening to me.

Boa Sorte.