By Bob Judson
March 17, 2017

So many surfside locations to choose from in Brazil: which one would fit availability, schedule, budget and distance?

Living in Curitiba, Parana, and having two dogs to cart along, we needed to choose a location not too distant in order to control taxi charges and travel time.

São Chico, founded in 1641 – one of the oldest Brazilian cities, is a large island (540K/2) about 4hrs. South of Curitiba by bus (R$40 fare). It boasts various historic sites, including – Igreja Matriz e Museu de Arte Sacra / Nossa Senhora de Graça (Our lady of Grace-Main Church and Sacred Art Museum ), Museu Historico Prefeito Josè Schmit (Historic Museum of Mayor José Schmidt), Forte Marechal Luz (Fort Marshal Luz) 1800 – installation of cannons and trenches to protect the surrounding bay area, O Museu Nacional do Mar ( National Marine Museum) – displays ancient raft-like fishing craft with sails, and a double bow fishing boat based of a Nordic design.

Fewer tourists, fine beaches, low-key informality – beach ware, flip-flops, little street traffic, excellent seafood amply served and reasonably priced (R$60/2).

3 major beaches to choose from, – each has charm and water conditions of its own: Prainha (little beach) where we stayed, has waves for surfing, bars and restaurants along the calçada (seaside) – (a watering hole for singles), partners and families – many bars and restaurants, some offering live music. Another adjoining beach – Praia Grande (great beach) 2+ kilometes long, with crystal-clear water, and strong waves for surfing enthusiasts. A third beach, the most popular – Enseada, the most frequented beach, has mild waters for swimming, entertainment facilities – tour boat, banana boat, sand volley, many restaurants, supermarket, fruit market, Shell gas station, and a bonanza for fish lovers: a fisherman’s market where you can very reasonably buy just caught fish and shrimp.

Negotiating your stay: this can be very challenging so be prepared. Alta temporada (high season) – 15/Dec – 1/Mar; then baixa temporada (low season) before and after these dates. Rates for high season are diaria (daily rate) – from R$100 – R$350+ for various types of accomodations: kitchenette, 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, house for 6 or more persons etc. Try for a pacote (package rate) several days or monthly; this is best to do months in advance, which allows you some leverage for getting a reasonable price.

Weather-wise, throughout December through March – mostly hot, sunny days, requiring lots of solar protetor, warm waters for swimming/surfing and air-conditioning for sleeping quarters.

Security: very safe; you can walk about anytime day or night, town and traffic is slow paced so many people walk in the street. In case of medical need there is a good facility – UPA, about 1/2hr ride from Enseada; however major hospital services such as Unimed, are found only in Joinville, the capital of Santa Catarina, about 1&1/2hrs away.

Transportation: two busses run along the main road at Enseada, the city bus travels to Centro Historico (Historic Center) which takes 1hr. Halfway there is the main shopping center with a large supermarket and a variety of stores and ATM machines. (Note that banks are located only in Centro Historico, but cash (R$300) can be drawn from the Loteria (lottery) in Enseada). Another bus goes to Joinville; there you’ll find all banks, mobile phone services, shopping, restaurants, movies etc.

Come visit: walk, swim, mill around and make new acquaintances, have an “OPA” (local beer) along with a sumptuous fish dinner – while watching the surfers brave the waves under an expansive, ever changing sky…

You won’t want to go home!

By Teresa Cristina
March 27, 2017

The topic of queing in supermarkets is dear to my heart, since I find it so, so annoying – and yes, I am a Brazillian who can not stand this. I thought it would be helpful to write about it, to set expectations for foreigners shopping at supermarkets around Brazil.

Well, the story is more or less this one…. you get your cart at a grocery store, start shopping for all items and then when you are done, you drive yourself to the cashier in order to get your items checked out and paid for. Well, in Brazil you will see folks shopping around and bringing the items to the front where somebody (a mate, a child) awaits with a cart or simply with its body, saving the position in the line. Or, worse yet, you will pick your line, generally speaking, you pick the one with the least number of persons or the least number of shopping carts, and all of a sudden somebody appears in front of you with a cart overflowing of items, just to note his/her mate (family member most of the time) is awaiting in line saving a position in front of you.

Just to keep it entertaining, my last incident was at Super Adega in Brasilia – DF (man! This is the typical place you will see this behavior, the store is full during the weekends and you can observe the worst behavior from Brazillian shoppers). Anyway, I was done with my shopping, picked a line and awaited patiently, but then I saw the young man in front of me restlessly looking towards the back of the grocery store. I thought to myself, this is not going to end well. He had his cart in front of me, naturally, when all of a sudden his wife arrives with a packed cart and enters right in front. I politely said that was not OK and they should do that no more in respect of others.

As a Brazillian, I always encourage people to speak out about these type of incidents, since it is very offensive to any individual; you take your time to shop, while somebody else is playing smart on your account. More than once I have politely let people know this is not OK, and my right for picking up a line with a pre-known number of people and items in front of me needs to be respected. Do the same. If you are a foreigner, Brazillians will tend to feel a little bit more ashamed for being called upon their bad behaviour. Or, you just take it easy, seeing it as one more characteristic of Brazillian culture, and be cool about it. Maybe as I grow old here in Brazil, I will just learn to accept this type of behavior, which today I do not.

By Pedro Souza
March 27, 2017

With a rich musical heritage, Brazil boasts a plethora of musical legends. In a country that produced musicians such as Villa Lobos, Raul Seixas, Baden Powell and Chico Buarque, few musicians are as loved and missed as Tim Maia. Maia, whose real name was Sebastião Rodrigues Maia, was born in 1942 in the neighborhood of Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. During his teenage years, he started playing drums at a band called “Tijucanos do Ritmo” formed in a church near his house. Maia soon switched to playing the guitar however.

In 1957, he founded a vocal band known as “The Sputniks”, which featured musicians such as Roberto Carlos, Arlênio Silva, Edson Trindade and Wellington. The band acquired some degree of popularity playing in a rock program in the TV channel “Canal Tupi”. After “The Sputniks” disbanded, Maia left Brazil to live in the United States in 1959. It was there that he had contact with soul music, which he quickly fell in love with. He started singing there in a vocal group called “The Ideals”, where he was known as “Jim”. His stay in the United States was short however, ending when Maia was deported back to Brazil in 1963 after being condemned for theft and drug possession.

Coming back from the United States, Maia brought soul music with him. In 1968, he produced Eduardo Araújo’s album “O som é o boogaloo”, which played an important part in the history of soul music in Brazil. It was also this year that he launched his first solo album through CBS, a compact disk with the song “Meu País” and “Sentimento”. In 1969, his popularity increased with the release of his second compact disk, this one with the songs “These are Songs” and “What Do You Want to Bet”.

While Maia’s name was growing, fame would come in the following year with the release of his album “Tim Maia”, which contains some of his classic tracks such as “Primavera” and “Eu amo você”. This album was followed by a series of other successful albums in between 1971 and 1975 named “Tim Maia Volume II”, “Tim Maia Volume III” and Tim Maia Volume IV”. In 1975 however, his career went through a drastic change due to his contact with a spiritual doctrine known as “Cultura Racional” (Rational Culture). In between 1975 and 1976 he launched two albums named “Racional Volume I” and “Racional Volume II” in which he expounded the doctrine of the Cultura Racional. Despite the fact that few people know about Cultura Racional nowadays, the albums he wrote during this phase are considered by many to be among his best, with a musicality heavily influenced by funk and soul music. After disagreements with Manuel Jacinto Coelho, who was the leader of Cultura Racional, Maia turned his back on the doctrine and took the albums out of circulation, turning them into a collectors item.

Maia proceeded to cruise through the eighties in a whirlwind of concerts and drugs, releasing more successful albums such as “Tim Maia” (1986) and the LP “O Descobridor dos Sete Mares”. In 1985, he recorded a version of the song “Um Dia de Domingo” from Michael Sullivan and Paulo Massadas together with the legendary MPB singer Gal Costa. He also took part in a musical named “Cida, a Gata Roqueira” (Cida, the Rocker Cat) in 1986, inspired by the movie “The Blues Brothers”. Maia began the 90’s releasing an album in which he interpreted bossa nova songs, displaying once again his amazing versatility. He would go on to record more bossa nova, soul music, pop and funk songs through the nineties. Unfortunately, his heavy drug use was taking a heavy toll on Maia, who became known for his problems maintaining his schedule for concerts and recordings. In march 1988, Maia was attempting to record a TV show when he felt ill and left the recording room without any explanation. He was taken to the hospital that day, where he would die from a generalized infection on March 15 at the age of 55.

Thus died one of the biggest musical legends in the history of Brazil. The country mourned that day, and musicians from all over Brazil paid tribute to Maia. Although his life was cut short, the mark he left on the Brazilian music scene remains strong. Nowadays, the man is no longer with us, but his music lives on and reminds us of his greatness.

By Pedro Souza
March 27, 2017

In the center of Brazil lies the state of Goiás. In Goiás one finds Brasília, the capital of Brazil, but the state is also home to wonders such as the state park of Chapada Diamantina. Going there, one will also be greeted with a local culture and a local way of speaking Portuguese. To get you acquainted with the Goiano Portuguese, we have made a compilation of local slangs and expressions below.

Acho paia (I find it “paia”): And expressions used when someone thinks something to be of bad taste.
Véi: The Goiano equivalent of “dude” or “man”.
Trem (Train): While the word “trem” means “train”, it can also mean “thing” in Goiás.
Prego (Nail): A person that is annoying or bad at something.
Encabulado: In most of Brazil, it means “ashamed”. In Goiás to be “encabulado” is to be impressed.
Dedar (To finger): To “dedar” someone is to snitch on that person.
Dar trela (To give trela): To give “trela” is to have a laughing attack.
Madurar: When the sun rises, the day has “madurado”.
Fuça: This word can either mean an animal’s nose or a person’s face.
Posar (To pose): In Goiás, to pose means to sleep.
Esbaforido: Tired, exhausted.
Agoniado: When you are in agony, you are “agoniado”
Segue toda a vida (Go ahead your whole life): When giving directions, Goianos will say that when telling someone that they have to walk for a long time in a straight line.
Caçar (To hunt): Goianos don’t search for something, they hunt it.
Mala (Bag): In the rest of Brazil, a “mala” is an annoying person. In Goiás, a “mala” is a cunning person.
Custoso (Costly): This slang can either mean a stubborn person or something that takes a lot of effort to accomplish.
Ta cedo moço! (It is early man!): An expression used when saying goodbye, regardless of how early (or late) it actually is.
Veiáco: A veiáco is someone who is quick-witted.
Clarear um caso (To clear a case): To solve a problem.
Comer na gaveta (To eat inside the drawer): When a person is being stingy, that person is “eating inside the drawer”.
Dormir no macio (To sleep somewhere soft): In Goiás, a person that lives an easy life is “sleeping somewhere soft”.
Matando o bicho (Killing the animal): When someone in Goiás says he is “killing the animal”, it means he is drinking an alcoholic beverage.
Esticar a corda (To extend the rope): If a person is asking too much from someone, that person is “extending the rope”.
Montar no gavião (To ride the hawk): To be disappointed or ashamed.
Picar a mula (To sting the mule): To run away.
Leréia: When someone is trying to deceive you, that person is talking “leréia”.
Espandongar: To “espandongar” is to ruin something or to create chaos or disorder.
Trelente: Someone who talks too much or who has no discretion.
Dar rata (To give a rat): To do something stupid.
Lascou!: When things goe wrong, a Goiano might exclaim “lascou”!
Esturdia: These days.
Estar com a orelha em pé (To have the ear up): When someone “has the ear up”, that person is suspicious or alert.
Sair da brasa para a labareda (To go from the embers to the flame): To go from a bad situation to an ever worse one.

February 27, 2017
By Pedro Souza

With dazzling nature, warm and friendly people, wild parties and a rich culture, Brazil has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, it is also known for its high crime rate. That being said, this shouldn’t be a problem if you take the necessary precautions. With this in mind, we have compiled some safety tips so you can enjoy your stay and have some peace of mind.

1. Dress like the locals and blend in with them. You are much more likely to be targeted if you are clearly a tourist.

2. Don’t wear jewelry or clothing that is too expensive in public, as this might attract robbers.

3. Avoid walking alone at night on empty streets.

4. In urban areas, there are some parts of the city that are extremely dangerous and others that are safe. When going to a city, learn where you are safe and which areas you should avoid.

5. If you get lost and find yourself in a shady place, try to relax and act like you belong there. If you are visibly nervous, this will make you much more likely to be targeted.

6. Learn some basic Portuguese. It is always good to have an idea of what people around you are saying. A basic vocabulary will also be of great help in case you have to ask someone for directions, help or talk to the police.

7. If you are out partying by yourself avoid getting blackout drunk, as that will make you an easy target.

8. Pickpockets are common in certain areas, and they are known to prey on tourists. When taking public transportation or visiting a crowded tourist area, do not put valuable items in your back pockets or in parts of your backpack that are too exposed. Getting a money belt is also a good idea.

9. Do not carry a lot of cash with you, and distribute your money between different pockets if possible.

10. Do not leave valuable items unattended in public places.

11. Don’t hang your bag or backpack in your chair when eating.

12. When walking around the city, try to check your path before going rather than opening a map in the middle of the street and showing everyone around you that you are lost.

13. Consider couch surfing or try to find a contact in the place where you are going. Few things will make you safer than having a local to show you around.

14. Get adequate health insurance.

15. If you happen to be robbed, do not resist under any circumstance.

16. Be aware of your surroundings. Simple as this is, it makes a huge difference.

17. Do not enter a favela. They are generally unsafe, especially for tourists.

18. Have the contact details for the nearest embassy of your home country in case of emergency.

19. When walking around, don’t be afraid of staring at people. This will make you more aware of what people around you are doing, and it is not considered rude in Brazil.

20. Be careful when crossing the street, as drivers are often quite aggressive.

21. When using ATMs, give preference to the ones inside banks.

22. Be alert but don’t be paranoid. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

By Pedro Souza
February 27, 2017

Once the capital of Brazil, Salvador is now the capital of Bahia, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The third largest city of Brazil, Salvador is a peninsula that stands between the Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) and the Atlantic Ocean. Salvador has a strong African influence, which is visible in the cultural manifestations and religions of the city, as well as in its ethnicity. The city is divided by a cliff into two parts: Cidade Alta (Higher City) and Cidade Baixa (Lower city), which is by the bay.

In the Cidade Alta you will find the Pelourinho, which is probably the most popular tourist spot in the city. Considered a historical site by UNESCO, the Pelourinho is a neighborhood teeming with very well preserved buildings from the colonial era. The area also has plenty of museums where one can appreciate the rich history of the city and find artisanal shops that sell beautiful handicraft for those that want to bring a gift back home. Restaurants and bars also abound in Pelourinho, inviting travelers to take a break to enjoy a hearty meal or a few beers. While visiting Pelourinho is a must in Salvador, one must be watchful for pickpockets that prey on distracted tourists. When going there, don’t wear jewelry and never put anything valuable in your back pockets or in the front pockets of your backpack.

The city also offers plenty of beaches, although most of them are quite crowded during the weekends. Among the most beautiful beaches are the ones located in the Costa Azul (Blue Coast), a stretch of beaches between Pituba and Piata. The beaches in this region are great for swimming and sightseeing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars in case you get hungry or feel the need for a beer. For those who want to enjoy a good seafood meal or do some windsurfing, the Amaralina beach is the place to go. As for the ones who want to know how locals live, try visiting Boa Viagem on a Sunday. For a more eclectic atmosphere try the Itapuã beach, a beautiful white-sanded beach located in an artist village. One can also take the green line, a toll road, and explore the beaches to the north of the city. Passing through sand dunes and coconuts, hundreds of kilometers of white-sand beaches are just waiting to be explored.

Salvador is also known for its vibrant nightlife, offering a range of bars and nightclubs for the party-lovers. On Mondays, a good option is the Ribeira neighborhood in the lower city, where people gather to drink and party. On Tuesdays, the party is at Pelourinho, which fills up with concerts all over the area. As for the weekends, the whole city erupts in parties for all tastes. The Carnaval parties that takes place every February in Salvador are also remarkable, being amongst the best parties in the country.

The people of Salvador are also a reason in itself to visit the city. They have a reputation for being very friendly, warmed and relaxed, even for Brazilian standards. They also tend to be very welcoming towards tourists, making a traveler feel at home. If are willing to engage with the locals, you will definitely make friends quickly, and maybe even fall in love.

Whether you want to come to visit historical sites, enjoy the nightlife, explore the beaches, do all of these things or something else altogether, going to Salvador is an unforgettable experience. If you wish to have an authentic taste of Brazil and immerse yourself in the magic of Salvador, come and enjoy!