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 Robert Eugene DiPaolo
August 4, 2014

If you’ve never been to Brazil and are planning to go or if you are living in Brazil and struggling to make sense of your experience, the following which I’ve called A Quick and Dirty Guide to Brazil and Brazilians should be of some help. Don’t worry if you are living in Brazil and have yet to make sense of your experience, you are in good company. Lots of people have (and are having) the same experience. I would recommend 1808 The Flight of the Emperor; How a Weak Prince, a Mad Queen, and the British Navy Tricked Napoleon and Changed the World. 2007, Translated from the Portuguese in 2013 by Andrew Nevins. Not because the translation into English is great. It’s not. It’s wooden and would have been better done by a native English speaker. But the fact that it was not also provides you with further insight into how Brazilians think, or sometimes don’t think. This could have been an excellent book, which I would have been able to recommend without the caveat with respect to the translation into English.

But before we get to that, let me tell you how I ended up in this country. But before I get to that, let me tell you a joke a Brazilian told me the first time I came to Brazil. It’s a funny joke, which I think will help you understand my quick and ditty tips on how to survive your trip to, or existence in, Brazil.

God made Brazil and thought my God (yes, I know it’s sort of funny God saying that, but that’s how the joke was told to me, so…) what a beautiful county, gorgeous beaches, wonderful fruit, marvelous landscapes, no natural disasters, etc. It’s not fair.” So, in order to balance things out, he created Brazilians!

Really, a Brazilian told me this joke, which I used to think that was a just joke, but it is far closer to the truth than I would care to try to explain, but I will try as that’s the whole point of this column and this column in particular. So, here goes… But, first, back to why I came to, and have remained in, Brazil.

When I first came to Brazil I was as excited as a five year old whose innocence had yet to be stolen by the harsh realities of the world in which we exist. It was 1997. I, a boy from a small town in Ohio, had lived in NYC for three years and was sent to São Paulo (SP) by the law firm for which I worked. I knew nothing about Brazil, and as the joke goes I thought that Buenos Aries was the capital of Brazil and that Brazilians spoke Spanish. SP seemed like NYC, which I loved, but on speed. What could be better than that? I didn’t know about the crime, the violence or the prostitution (which is legal in Brazil), etc. Yes, it’s true, prostitution is legal in Brazil. It’s being a pimp that is not legal. This leads to some fairly bizarre situations, which only make sense if you understand the laws regarding prostitution in Brazil. So, there is a lot of prostitution in Brazil. Just like there was in 1808. And it’s not hard to find if that is what you are looking for, and for good or bad, many people who come to Brazil for work or pleasure are looking for just that. I was a just naãve boy from a fairly small city in Ohio, working in NYC, who liked discovering new places and doing new things. I was like the proverbial kid in the candy shop. I thought Brazil was the perfect place. The people were overly friendly. The food fresh rather than processed. What wasn’t there to love about Brazil?

What happened next was an accident. Believe me! Since I had done one transaction in Brazil, I was now the so called expert on Brazil at my firm, and I was asked to do another transaction in Brazil. This time for an internet company, which was another money losing, but venture capital rich dot.com that was soon to list its shares on NASDAQ (a branding experience during the dot.com 1.0 era) and was buying up companies in Latin America like there was no tomorrow. If you ask me the whole dot.com 2.0 looks and sounds a lot like dot.com 1.0, despite all the talk about this time it’s different. Whenever someone tries to tell you, but this time it’s different, don’t believe them. Better, do the exact opposite. On the other hand if you really believe Facebook is worth 85 times more than its earnings (yes, 85 times!) go ahead and buy the stock. Or worse, Twitter, which doesn’t make any profit, is a money losing company that like its distant cousins in the dot.com 1.0 world went public without having made a profit. Like I said it all sounds and feels way too familiar to me, and I lived through dot.com 1.0. Or, as I like to say, I’ve been there, seen that, done that and don’t believe this time it’s different no matter what Larry Summers says!

I went to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia and even to Spain, doing deals for this company that made no financial sense (counting eyeballs – what kind of metric is that?) to me, but what the heck, I got to go to a lot of new places on someone else’s (the client’s) dime. Then the most amazing thing happened. A Brazilian company which was on the other side of one of this internet company’s transactions called me to ask me if I would be his company’s lawyer since it was receiving a sizable venture capital investment from a prominent US investment bank. And I will be honest with you, he did not call me because I was the best US lawyer he knew. He called me because I was the only US lawyer he knew, and he wanted me to work for his company. That is probably the highest compliment a lawyer can receive. To be hired by someone on the other side of the table after that deal was done.

Once again, I felt like a kid in the candy shop. And more to my amazement, this kept happening, over and over again, and before you knew it, I had two jobs, not one! The first, doing all the work the law firm asked me to do. The second, doing all the work I was bringing to the firm as a 6th year associate. Yes, as a 6th year associate! Unfortunately the junior partners at the firm were not too pleased with being out done by a 6th year associate, but that is another story, which I hope to get to one day. In the meantime, if you are interested in reading about my experience as a white collar slave working in BIG LAW NYC circa 1994 – 2004, you can read about it in my blog The Slumbering Dogmatist, which can be found at this following link – Brazil: The Beautiful Circus – Conjugating the Culture of Brazil
Brazil’s Surprising Expansion of the Legal Definition of a Tax Haven
Getting a “Permanent” Visa in Brazil
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 5 – Acquisitions, Investments and Joint Ventures
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 4 – The Despachante
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 3 – Starting Your Business
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 2 – The Variety of Brazilian Companies
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 1

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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