By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
June 17, 2015

When travelling to foreign countries, it is always worth making an effort to learn and speak a few words of the native language. When doing so, it is impossible to avoid making mistakes, which are part of the learning process. That being said, there is nothing stopping you from preparing in advance for the pitfalls ahead. Listed below are 5 common mistakes made by foreigners when speaking Brazilian Portuguese.

1. Mixing up gender articles: In English, articles are gender-neutral. The Portuguese language however, has not only male and female articles but also nouns. A "pedra" (rock) for example is a female noun, while an "armrio" (closet), is a male noun. Because of that, "the rock" translates to "a pedra", while "the closet" in Portuguese is "o armrio". It is recommended for foreigners to learn the gender of the most common nouns.

2. Saying thanks in the wrong way: Saying thanks is one of the first things people learn when studying a foreign language. Because Portuguese is not a gender-neutral language, foreigners get it wrong all the time. The word for thanking someone in Portuguese is "obrigado", which roughly translated as "obliged". A female person would say "obrigada", which is the feminine version of the word.

3. Using the wrong gender for third person possessives: Like articles, the gender of possessives is defined by what is being possessed, not by who possesses it. The word "my" for example, as in "my wallet", has a feminine (minha) and a masculine (meu) version. So the correct of saying "my house" is "minha casa", since "house" is a feminine noun, while "my book" would translate to "meu livro", as "book" is a masculine noun.

4. Using Spanish expressions: Whether from Spanish speaking countries or not, many tourists who visit Brazil have a background in Spanish. This background can be very helpful when trying to understand Brazilian Portuguese, since both languages are quite close. That being said, foreigners with a background in Spanish tend to let it spill into their attempts at speaking Portuguese, with Spanish words such as "quiero" (want) and "muy" (much) being frequently used.

5. Speaking too formally: The Portuguese that Brazilians speak in their daily lives is really different from written Portuguese or from the Portuguese one learns taking classes. Foreigners tend to be too formal when attempting to communicate with Brazilians, which makes it harder for them to understand. One should also be aware that grasping casual Portuguese is harder than it sounds, since it varies a lot from region to region.

6. Talking in a robotic way: Brazilian Portuguese has a smooth and uninterrupted rhythm. The way most foreigners speak Portuguese isnt only strange and robotic in the eyes of native speakers, but also makes it harder for them to understand what is being said. A wave is a good analogy for the rhythm that Brazilians apply to their sentences. When speaking Portuguese, you should speak your sentences in a tone that increases and decreases. Do not forget to transition smoothly from word to word, in an uninterrupted way.

You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
June 17, 2015

The state of São Paulo has a lot more to offer than being the largest city in South America. Its countryside is teeming with opportunities for outdoor lovers to explore and enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic Forest, which extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil all the way to Argentina and Paraguay. We have compiled for your enjoyment some of the best hiking trails in the state.

Trilha do Poo

The city of Caraguatatuba, 125 kilometers to the east of São Paulo, is a coastal city full of trails waiting to be explored. Among them is the Trilha do Poo, a great choice for those that love adventure but also want to bring their families to join in the fun. The trail is 3.5 kilometers, and while it isn’t a walk in the park, it is still a family-friendly trail.

Waterfalls and rivers are among the main attractions of the walk, which has a 2 meter deep pool where visitors can bathe themselves. Tennis shoes or boots are necessary, as it involves crossing many streams. There is also a variety of fauna and flora contributing to the beauty of the trail, with many native plants and animals such as tamanduas, agoutis and toucans living in the region.

The trail is located in the Serra do Mar State Park, which is open to visitors from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Visitors are divided into two guided groups of 35 people, one leaving at 9:00 am and the other at 1:00 pm. To set up a visit either drop by the state park’s administration, located at R. Horto Florestal 1200, Rio do Ouro, or call (12) 3882-3166.

Trilha da Pedra Grande

Located in the State Park of Cantareira, this is one of the most popular trails among the inhabitants of São Paulo. Due to its length of 9.6 km and its inclination it can be quite tiring, although it isn’t particularly challenging and can be tackled by practically anyone. The trail offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Atlantic Forest, where you can find a variety of plants and animals. Some common native mammals that are popular among visitors are the quatis and howler monkeys, which can be found along the trail.

The trail also has a few other attractions, such as an area that has a lake with carp, a children’s playground, and practical considerations such as a place to eat and a bathroom. There is also a small museum called Casa da Pedra, where one can see exhibitions. But the main highlight of the trail is the Pedra Grande, a rocky plateau at its top from where tourists are treated to a gorgeous view of the city of São Paulo. From the Pedra Grande, you can also see the Jaragua’s peak and even the Serra do Mar when the skies are clear.

The beginning of the trail is located in the outskirts of São Paulo, at the Rua do Horto, 1799. The trail is open everyday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, but it is only possible to walk it without guides on weekends and holidays. Visitors can schedule a guided walk via the following number: (11) 2203-3266. If you wish to experience the best view of the city of São Paulo, you should not miss this opportunity. Trilha do Mirante da Anta Located in Ribeiro Preto, 270 kilometers away from the city of São Paulo, the Trilha do Mirante da Anta is a great option for the weekends. The snaking trail is 4.2 km long, passing through rocky terrain and dense forests. It is considered a trail of medium difficulty, accessible to most people but not recommended for small children. The vegetation of the trail is a remarkable sight, especially when the flowers blossom during the spring.

It is also a great place for birdwatching, with species such as toucans, woodpeckers and jacutingas being quite common. The highlight of the trail is a panoramic view of the Intervales State Park, at an altitude of 962 meters.

Guides are optional, but a visit has to be scheduled either by calling the state park administration (15) 3542-12456, or by sending an e-mail to the following address:reservaintervales@fflorestal.sp.gov.br. The entrance of the trail is at the Pica Pau inn, which can be accessed through the municipal road, kilometer 25. You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com.