By Lance Bellville
June 20, 2012

The Rio+20 Earth Summit Conference on world sustainable development burst into bloom in Rio Wednesday, 20 June, complete with Presidents, Prime Ministers, bankers and big shots, academics and activists from 132 countries dropping into town to tackle a few of the knottier environmental problems nobody has solved including poverty, hunger, global environmental degradation and energy shortages.

Officially it is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” as approved by consensus among the 193 countries that now comprise the United Nations. Judging by events here in Rio this week, the consensus ended at the portals of the United Nations off 44th Street and First Avenue in New York City.

The two central themes were to be the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication – accompanied by an institutional framework to support world efforts on them. But hopes for dramatic outcomes dimmed when President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany – all three of the G-20 Leaders Summit in Los Mexico – stayed away.

The Outcome Document being just that, a piece of paper from the United Nations, requests agreement but no formal ratification from the governments involved.

An estimated 50,000 visitors descended on Rio trying to affect in ways -globally to locally – the seriously dire direction world economic development and population growth have taken the environment in which all fauna and flora – humanity included – is expected to live, breath and prosper. Women have paraded bare-chested for more female participation in the counsels of power and Brazilian Indians have stopped traffic and then marched to the doorsteps of the National Development Bank to protest the building of a huge dam project at Belo Monte near Altamra on the Rio Xingu.

The mayors of 50 cities from around the world have been meeting, led by Michael Bloomberg, New York’s dapper-but-diminutive mayor. They argue that the hope of sustainability is actually in the hands of cities, setting a goal of cutting a billion tons of greenhouse gases by 2030.

The heavy lifting negotiation started taking place behind closed doors last week. But those doors are far from airtight and the news leaking out preparatory to the final Outcome Document that turned out to be long on talk and short on calls to specific action.

The public pronouncements of the representatives meeting here were full of environmental concerns. According to conference insiders the real issues were largely political. With many of the major players including the United States, England and most of Europe in various degrees of economic crisis the interests, as well as the presence of important world leaders, were elsewhere.

The final document is entitled, “The Future We Want.” It speaks eloquently of that goal “Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.” And noting, “We recognize that the twenty years since the [Rio] Earth Summit in 1992 have seen uneven progress, including in sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

With an estimated 1.4 billion people in the world living in poverty, the major thrust of document language centers on economic development, usually with the addition of “sustainable.”

The Outcome Document mentions measures toward achieving a green economy.

While many environmentalists and others involved in the talks around the negotiating tables or virtually within earshot outside wanted to see more concrete suggestions to attack global climate change, the crisis of warming oceans, the world’s disappearing forests and other specifically environmental concerns, there was little to cheer them in the final document.

According to conference insiders, the gaping economic inequities between have and have not nations are a barrier too wide to cross at this time. Environmentalists seem to harbor hope that this document can be a building block toward a climate agreement and forest and ocean protections later on. Said one insider, “You cannot square the circle on how to reach more equitable distribution of wealth among the community of nations.”

In a way, Rio was the perfect setting for a conference wrestling with the world’s knowledge that we cannot continue consumption on the scale it is now happening. Every second fourteen thousand liters of raw sewage gush into beautiful Guanabara Bay. Eighty years ago 500 dolphins lived in the bay. Today hardly 40 swim there. And of the 40 beaches in and around beach-famous Rio, thirty-seven have either filthy or downright dangerous water.

For all its sound and fury, the UN’s talk of the “future we want,” appears to be well into the future.

Previous articles by Lance:

San Francisco Film Festival Features Six Brazilian films – Part 2
San Francisco Film Festival Features Six Brazilian films – Part 1
From the Birds to Fair Trade Certified Producers’ Brew, Brazil’s Best Coffee Gains Acclaim
They’ve Got An Awful Lot of Coffee In Brazil – And It’s Going Fair Trade!
Brazil: Then And Now Rondonia
Brazil: Nova Jerusalem’s Passion Play
Brazil: Up a Piece of Mountain to See a Batch of Theatre
Brazil: Mossoró’s Biggest Play on Earth Heads for Guinness Book of World Records
Brazil: House of Sand Impresses at San Francisco International Film Festival
Brazil: Lower City Helps Kick Off San Francisco International Film Festival
Brazil’s Kayapó Tribe
San Francisco International Film Festival: ALMOST BROTHERS Adds More Fans To Its List of International Devotees
San Francisco International Film Festival: Nelson Friere Documentary Enchants Audiences
San Francisco International Film Festival: Three Brazilian Films

By John Fitzpatrick

Expatriate Scots and descendants of Scottish immigrants across the world are being invited to take part in a project to create a Diaspora Tapestry to be unveiled during the 2014 Year of Homecoming.

Brazil is one of the 25 countries that have been identified and the organizers in Scotland are trying to find representatives and volunteers here who can contribute to the Tapestry by documenting the contribution Scots have made to Brazil.

Each community will be invited to produce between five and ten panels, each measuring 50cm x 50cm.

Obvious candidates for portrayal are Thomas Cochrane, the admiral who helped Brazil gain its independence from Portugal, Charles Miller, who brought football to Brazil and whose father was from Glasgow, and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Brazil’s greatest 20th century poet who often referred to his Scottish ancestors.

The outline of the Tapestry is being designed by Andrew Crummy, the artist behind the recently launched Great Tapestry of Scotland and Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry, an extraordinary 104-meter artwork which was embroidered by 200 volunteers from around Scotland.

It shows the early part of the Jacobite campaign of 1745 and was inspired by the Norman Bayeux Tapestry.

Since its completion in 2010 it has attracted thousands of visitors as it tours the country.
Its enormous success is due to the passion of the volunteers who created it, the astonishing quality of the artwork and embroidery, and fascinating history it depicts.
The 2014 Year of Homecoming provides the perfect arena for the assembly of the tapestry, with representatives from each community accompanying their panels to Scotland for an extensive program of events and celebrations.

Yvonne Murphy Tapestry Coordinator said: We want the diaspora community to tell us what the Scots did when they got to Brazil. Who were the first Scots? Important characters such as Thomas Donahue, Charlie Miller and Dr Robert Reid Kalley are already on our list but are there other stories that should be included? Andrew Crummy will translate the information and images relating to the diaspora stories into design.

“We are also looking for people in Brazil to stitch the panels. Each panel is 50 x 50cm and we provide the traced linen, wool, reference drawing and guidelines. The stitchers need not be experts or even of Scottish descent but should have an enthusiasm for taking part in this global community project.”

The Tapestry is scheduled for completion in early 2014 and all the panels of the tapestry will be brought together in Scotland as part of Homecoming 2014 celebrations.

It will become part of a range of events throughout the year across Scotland, as well as being the focus for celebrations in its own right. After 2014, there will be an opportunity for the tapestry to travel to the diaspora communities.

If you want to become involved or obtain further information, please contact Yvonne Murphy at yvonnemurphy@scottishdiasporatapestry.org, visit www.scottishdiasporatapestry.org or find them on Facebook.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Christmas Boom for Brazil’s Beggars
Iranian Leader’s Visit Takes the Gloss off Lula’s International Image
Election Race: Time for Serra to Get a Move On
Lula – Brazil’s Olympic Champion
Brazil’s Oil Wealth: Lula’s “New Independence Day” Rally Goes Flat
A Life in the Day of So Paulo
Will Brazil’s Sarney Fall on His Sword?
Brazil: The Plot Thickens as Lula’s Presidential Candidate Faces Health Crisis
Brazil: Lula Starts to Throw His Weight Around
Congress Still Tramples on Brazilians Rights 25 Years After the “Direct Elections Now” Campaign
Hold the Front Page – Brazil’s Interest Rates Head for Single Digits
Around Brazil: The Many Faces of So Paulo – Tips for Newcomers
Brazil: Will Obama Mention the “Brics” or just the “Rics”?
Brazil 2009 – The Year of Living Dangerously
Brazil: So Paulo Mayoral Election – a Foretaste of the Presidential Race?
Looking for Brazil’s Moon Under Water
Brazil’s Lula Finally Stops Playing the Blame Game
Brazil: Coming Up – Serra versus Dilma?
Brazil Becomes Middle Class but Not Bourgeois
Where is Brazil’s Barack Obama?
Brazil: Lula Loses Some of His Moral Luster
Lost Your Job on Wall Street? Head for Brazil!
Brazil: Lula Loves Investment Grade – Whatever That Is
There’s No Business Like Oil Business – in Brazil Anyway
Benefits of Brazil’s Growth Start to Spread
Let Brazilians Sort Out the Problems of the Amazon
Brazil’s Politicians Set to Cash in on Oil and Gas Discoveries
Brazil: Lula Learns the Lesson of Not Planning Ahead
Cops and Robbers Brazilian Style
Brazil: Oscar Freire – So Paulo’s Street of Dreams
Brazil: Lula Called to Account on Tax
Will Lula Leave Brazil in Safe or Unsafe Hands?
Senate Spits in the Face of the Brazilian People
The Lord Mayor Goes Zapping the NYSE in Brazil
Brazil: Economic Boom – Political Gloom
Around Brazil: Natal – Sun, Sand Dunes and Solitude or Hassle, Hustlers and Hookers
ACM – Brazil Will Never See His Like Again
Brazilians Let Politicians Treat Them as Doormats
Senate Chairman Upholds Tradition of Treating Brazil with Contempt
Brits Turn Their Backs on Brazil
Look Out for the New BBC – the Brazilian Broadcasting Corporation
Navel Gazing in Brasilia – Largesse in So Paulo
Brazil&#145s Politicians Share the Spoils
Cida – A Brazilian Entrepreneur
Ten Top Brazilian Songs to Download on Your iPod
Lula Lets Brazilians Down by Failing to Exercise His Authority
Brazil: Laid Back Lula Finally Gets His Team (Almost) Together
The George W. Bush PR Show Comes to Brazil
Briefing Bush on Brazil the CIA Way
US Authorities Tackle Brazil’s White Collar Criminals
Brazil’s Opposition Parties Try to End Disarray
Lula Faces Arm-Wrestling Contest with New Congress
Brazil Waits for Lula to Return from Holiday
Around Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba
Brazilians Start to Stand Up for Their Rights
Darfur – Brazil’s African Side Show
Economics and Politics in Brazil – a Tangled Web
Brazil’s Strange Idea of Democracy
Brazil: John Pizzarelli – the Boy from Ipanema
Brazil&#145s Stock Market: the Path to Riches or Rags?
Brazil: Lula Unlikely to Change Course after His Massive Victory
Brazil: Privatization – Lula and Alckmin Defend the Indefensible
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 2
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin Hits Lula but Lands No Killer Blow
Brazil: Lula Pays the Penalty for Complacency
Brazil: Does Lula Deserve to Win?
Brazil: Cardoso Writes a Poison Pen Letter
Monte Verde – Brazil’s Green Mountain
Brazil&#145s Gross Disappointing Product
Brazil&#145s Election – Alckmin Hands Lula Victory on a Plate
Lula Hits Back at Congress
Brazil&#145s Presidential Election May Not be a Walkover for Lula
Pity the Brazilian Voter
Brazil’s Fainthearts Let the Nation Down
Now is the Winter of Brazil’s Discontent
World Cup brings Out the Best and Worst in Brazil
Brazil&#145s Big Spender
Brazil: The Dogs of War are Unleashed in So Paulo
Brazil: Self-Righteous Indignation Marks Bolivian Nationalization
Brazil: Lula Still Vulnerable
Brazil: The PSDB Takes the Hard Road
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 3
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 2
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin the Hare Takes on Serra the Tortoise
Patronizing Brazilians the Politically Correct Way
Brazil: Election Gives Voters Chance to Clean Up Congress
Brazil: Joo Pessoa – a Victim of its Own Success
No Consistency in Brazil’s Foreign Policy
Brazil: Sitting in the Shadow of Sarney and Magalhes
Brazil: Gentrification Creeps Up On So Paulo
Dirt Flies as Brazilian Parties Aim for Presidency
Brazilians Vote for Guns and Death Not Peace and Love
Brazil&#145s Gun Lobby Launches Hysterical Campaign Against Arms Ban
Jews and Arabs Find Success in Brazil
Brazil’s Politicians Start Looking Ahead to Next Year
Brazil: Lula Down but Certainly Not Out
Brazil’s Congress Struggles to Cope with Ongoing Crisis
Brazil: Scandal Threatens Presidential Mandate System
Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – So Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?

By Joe Naab
May 29, 2012

I will share with you in this article the best tip I know that will literally add more than 1,000 words to your Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary by the time you finish reading.

Required Student Level
Even a beginner can benefit from this tip, especially if they refer back to it or simply keep it in mind as their skills improve over time. The most impact from this tip will come to those who know how to conjugate verbs. The most basic conjugations are learned at the basic level, with a few intermediate conjugations added later.

What’s Great about this Tip
What’s great about this tip is that there’s nothing at all to memorize. You can use this on the fly as you are thinking what you want to say in English and can instantly translate it into Portuguese. I’ve been doing this for years and rarely do I get it wrong. It’s simply awesome!

The Fundamental Thing to Know
Here it is-nearly all English words that end in tion” (eg. translation), will be the same word in Brazilian Portuguese, except that the “tion” will be replaced with “ão” (eg. translaão). The “c” with the little fishhook beneath it is called “c cedula”, and has the sound of an “s”. the “ão” in Portuguese, for those who are already speaking it, has the dreaded nasal sound, as if you are pushing the word “own” both up into the top of your nose and deep back into your throat at the same time as you say it.

This is the Tip of the Iceberg
This is already a decent tip if all you got was an immediate one-to-one translation for words ending in “tion”. I have no idea how many words in English end in “tion”, it must be in the hundreds, easily. Some examples off the top of my head, – agitation, frustration, dictation, contemplation, observation, rumination, organization, temptation, immigration, experimentation. What’s great, as I wrote above, is that you don’t have to find all these words in a premeditated manner and then memorize them all. The process will arrive in your head instantly at the moment you need it.

The Awesome Multiplication Factor of the Tip – It’s in the Verb!
Take special note that all English words that end in “tion” are actually verbs at their root. Translation is to translate, organization is to organize. Note also that not all English verbs have this form of the verb. There is no “talkation” for the verb, to talk. Thus, there is some limit to it’s application.

The technique that produces the multiplication factor is to reverse engineer this form of the word, ending in “ão”, into the dozen or more verb forms of the word. In doing this you literally add thousands of words to your Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary without any need for memorization.

NOTE: I am noticing now that almost, if not all these words, are Portuguese verbs that end in “ar”. This will make it’s application even simpler.

An Example of the Full Set using the Verb, to Experiment
We begin with the word “experimentation” and then work it through.

  1. experimentation –> experimentaão
  2. to experiment (infinitive) –> experimentar
  3. experimenting (gerund) –> experimentando
  4. experimented (past participle) –> experimentado
  5. I experiment –> Eu experimento
  6. You experiment –> Voc experimenta
  7. He/she experiments –> Ele/Ela experimenta
  8. We experiment –> Nos experimentamos
  9. You guys experiment –> Vocs experimentam
  10. They experiment –> Eles experimentam
  11. I used to experiment –> Eu experimentava
  12. You used to experiment –> Voc experimentava
  13. He/she used to experiment –> Ele/Ela experimentava
  14. We used to experiment –> Nos experimentvamos
  15. You guys used to experiment –> Vocs experimentavam
  16. They used to experiment –> Eles experimentavam
  17. I experimented –> Eu experimentei
  18. You experimented –> Voc experimentou
  19. He/she experimented –> Ele/Ela experimentou
  20. We experimented –> Nos experimentmos
  21. You guys experimented –> Vocs experimentaram
  22. They experimented –> Eles experimentaram
  23. I will experiment –> Eu experimentarei
  24. You will experiment –> Voc experimentar
  25. He/she will experiment –> Ele/Ela experimentar
  26. We will experiment –> Nos experimentaremos
  27. You guys will experiment –> Vocs experimentarão
  28. They will experiment –> Eles experimentarão

In Closing
This lists adds the three general uses of the verb (infinitive, gerund and past participle), plus verb conjugations for the four most common verb conjugations that you’ll use every day, – present, past continuous, past single occurrence and future indicative. Note that there are at least three other conjugations that are more advanced that can also be derived as above. I left them out for simplicity’s sake.

So there you have it, literally thousands of new Brazilian Portuguese words that you don’t have to memorize added to your vocabulary in the time that it took you to read this short article. Enjoy!

Joe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life!, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He is presently working on a near-coastal, countryside real estate subdivision project outside the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. He can be found at http://brazilforlife.com and reached by email at info@brazilforlife.com. His Youtube channel is called BrazilforLifeTV.

Previous articles by Joe:

How to Work and Support Yourself in Brazil


By Joe Naab
May 7, 2012

For most Americans today, we have long forgotten the era when people bought a residencial lot and then designed and built their own home. Today, homes are what developers of residencial housing tracks build for resale in the ever widening landscape of Suburbia. Not so in Brazil.

In Brazil, the lost art of unique and personalized home design is not only alive and well, it is by far the norm. Of course, this won’t apply as much in densely populated urban areas where there are no available lots to build, but Brazil is giant and there are so many beautiful places to live, some would say the better places, where inexpensive lots are available and the owner is free to build to their own taste with very little restriction or regulation.

The Size of Lots in Brazil
The standard-sized lot in Brazil is 450m2 (square meters). For those thinking in square feet, there are 11sqft in 1m2, so you can think along the lines of 5000sqft. Lots can be as small as 350m2 up to about 1500m2. Getting above this size you move into a range that is certainly available, though not so available in urban and suburban zoning. Also, above this size, the word lot”, or “lote”, no longer applies, and you enter the size range of “Chcara”, which could be translated into “small estate”.

The Price of Lots in Brazil
The price of lots varies tremendously, not only within a city, but from region to region in Brazil. I’m going to use Florianópolis as an example because I’ve been here studying and working in real estate for eight years. There are several factors affecting values other than size and neighborhood, and I won’t cover them here for the sake of brevity. They consist of things such as the type of title, if the lot is in a gated neighborhood (here, called a “condominium”), legal residencial tract, or in neither of these two.

A lot in a nice gated neighborhood will cost from R$250,000 to R$500,000. These are the most expensive lots on the island, and these neighborhoods can be in the hills with panoramic views of the sea, or very near the beach, or both. A lot in a legalized residential tract where all the lots within the tract have public title, roads are paved, sewage system is installed, there are usually sidewalks and easy access to electric, water and phone, – will cost from R$90,000 to R$200,000. (NOTE: our readership is international and exchange rates can be all over the place so I leave it to the reader to convert into their local currency).

Lots that aren’t in gated neighborhoods nor in legalized residencial tracts most often cost the least. Today, about the lowest price that can be paid on the island is R$50,000, and for these lots, which vary a great deal in size, location, quality, etc., you could pay up to R$150,000 and above. The general range is R$50,000 to R$150,000.

Note that eight years ago, when I arrived, the simple lots averaged R$15,000, the residential track lots R$40,000, and the gated neighborhood lots R$80,000. Prices have increased dramatically, though they are flat and stable today.

The Broad Measure of Construction Cost for Homes in Brazil
It is very, very difficult to get any architect or builder to give you a phase by phase breakdown of the costs associated with building a home. What you’ll get instead is a quote for a price per square meter of the size of the home, and this includes everything – foundation, walls, roof, doors, windows, complete bathroom and kitchen, electrical, hydraulic, deck, and most finishings.

Within this system of pricing, you will often hear of different levels of quality, such as “this price gets you a simple home, this price gets you a typical home, and this price gets you a luxury home.” The difference is often in the finishings, such as the quality of doors, windows, floors, and the kitchen and bathroom installations.

One very important thing to consider is the size of the deck, which here is called “varanda”. Because this is outside had has fewer walls and may not have hydraulic (water) and electric, it is factored in at 50%. The way this is done is taking half the area of the varanda and adding it to the size of the enclosed space of the home. So, for example, a home with 200m2 of inside space and a 50m2 varanda will have a 225m2 (200m2 + 50% of 50m2), for the purpose of giving bids and calculating construction costs.

Home Construction Costs in Reais per Square Meter
The following prices are for the combined costs of a labor and materials. The going rate of good labor today is R$300 to R$350 per square meter, so you can figure the difference in cost is due to materials. This cost number, in portuguese, is called the “cubi” (KOO-bee), the construction cost per square meter.

  • R$800/m2 – Simple home, still quite nice, modest finishings, no complex design elements.
  • R$1100/m2 – Very nice quality home, good architect, reputable builder, quality, but not extravagant finishings.
  • R$1400/m2 – This would be a luxury home (marble floors, luxurious detail) and the price could be much higher, too.

Home Construction Costs in U.S. Dollars per Square Foot
To help you do this yourself in the future, simply divide the price above twice as explained here. The first division is the exchange rate of the USD versus the Real. This will get you USD’s per square meter. For example, today the exchange rate is 1.90. Then, you divide this outcome by 11, which is how many square feet there are in a square meter. This gets you the cost in USD’s per square foot.

  • $38/SqFt – Simple home.
  • $53/SqFt – Very nice quality home.
  • $67/SqFt – Luxury home.

Adding it All Up
I’ll leave it to the reader to calculate the myriad of cost combinations of lots, home sizes, and quality levels. There is no upper limit to what you can spend, so I’ll give you an example of a lower limit.

You buy a lot here in the reasonably priced beach neighborhood of Rio Vermelho 1-2km from the beach for R$50,000. You build a 70m2 two-bedroom home with a 20m2 varanda. Your building size for the “cubi” calculation is 80m2. Your cost to build will be R$64,000, so you’ll invest R$114,000 total. With today’s exchange rate of 1.90, this would be $60,000 USD’s.

I hope that helps you to gain a better understanding of the costs of building your own home here in Brazil.

Joe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life!, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He is presently working on a near-coastal, countryside real estate subdivision project outside the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. He can be found at http://brazilforlife.com and reached by email at info@brazilforlife.com. His Youtube channel is called BrazilforLifeTV.

Previous articles by Joe:

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By Our Man in São Paulo
May 7, 2012

On one side, large plasma screens showing Barcelona v Santos, on the other a coffee bar selling refreshments. This did not feel at all like the kind of hospital I was used to. Along one side the wall was clear glass behind which stood row after row of cots – each with their own individual webcam.

Filled with tables and chairs, the waiting area was more like the kind of coffee shop you find in an airport than a hospital. This feeling was engendered mainly by the large plasma screen at one end which displayed a list of names highlighted in different colours. Instead of a list of planes, this board displayed a different kinds of arrivals. It was a list of all the deliveries scheduled that day.

On each line was written the scheduled time of arrival, the mother’s name, the doctor in charge of the delivery and the status. Each line was highlighted in a colour dependent on its status, white was ‘scheduled’, yellow was ‘in transit’ to the theatre, green indicated that the caesarean was in progress and blue showed that the mother was recuperating from her anaesthetic.
My sister in law had a C-section scheduled and we’d all been invited to witness the event. Those fortunate enough to be able to afford private healthcare in Brazil are able to schedule the birth into their diaries. In this case the birth had been scheduled for the Wednesday but, following tests, the procedure had been brought forward to Sunday.

My own daughter had been born by emergency caesarean in St George’s, Tooting, South London after 48 hours of labour and bucket loads of drugs failed to coax my wife’s cervix to dilate more than 8cm. The combination of my daughter’s elongated cranium and the site of the surgeon massaging my wife’s drug soaked womb, in an attempt to get it back in, left me with the impression that planned caesareans might not be such a bad idea.

I was still marvelling at the arrivals board when the Sunday football on the other plasma screen was interrupted by the hospital logo superimposed over pink cartoon clouds. A group waiting at tables suddenly became quite excited and rushed to the screens with cameras at the ready. There followed a short animation in which a cartoon stork carrying a pink bundle flew over a cartoon São Paulo and dropped the bundle onto the roof of the hospital. Then a live picture of a newborn baby appeared surrounded by pink graphics displaying the names of the baby’s parents together with the delivery time and weight of the newborn – though, in my experience, Brazilian’s are a lot less bothered about discovering the exact time and weight at birth than we are in the UK.

The sight of this group of Brazilians taking photos of a screen displaying images of a baby whom moments earlier had been cosy in its mother’s womb was fantastic enough but what followed was truly jaw dropping.

When the time came for my sister-in-law’s name to change from yellow to green, we left the cafe and took the lift to the floor below where we were shown to a large frosted window next to a large number 1. It was at one end of a narrow corridor which seemed to accommodate frosted windows 2 to 7.

After a short wait the window suddenly became miraculously defrosted revealing an operating theatre just at the moment my niece-in-law was being removed from her mother’s womb in time to be held aloft for the mother and, masked father inside and the photo snapping crowd outside to see.

Unexpectedly the window remained defrosted to enable further photo opportunities with father holding the baby while mother was being sewn up. Mother, apparently had no objection to a sea of grinning faces watching her have her innards shoved back inside. Preferring instead to share the birth of her daughter with family and friends in this way.

According to the Brazilian Association of Nurse Midwives and Obstetrics C-sections account for 70% of deliveries in public hospitals and 90% in private hospitals but if this is true it reveals a dramatic growth in C-sections since 2006 when rates in public hospitals were measured at 30.1% and in the supplementary (private) health sector at 80.7%. Nevertheless, both rates are considerably greater than the World Health Organisations recommendation that the C-section rate should not be higher than 10-15%.

In addition to the obvious disadvantages of increased and uncomfortable recover time, risk of scarring, infection or complications a recent Brazilian study has revealed that Caesarean delivery is associated with an increased risk of obesity in adulthood. Nevertheless, the speed and convenience of the C-section is too good to pass up for increasing numbers of Brazilian mothers who choose to have their children delivered this way.

By Steven Nelson
May 7, 2012

One of the most rewarding activities that you can do in Brazil is to swim with dolphins. Getting so close to such wonderful, friendly aquatic life is a special moment for those who take part, and usually one of the most memorable moments of even the longest visit to Brazil.

There are two main possibilities and very different in every way they are too. The first and perhaps the best known is in the Amazon area around Manaus. The Amazon River System is full of freshwater dolphins (full of many things really, including manatees, peacock bass, pacu and dourado as well) which can be seen surfacing at regular points from any Amazon batelao, igarit or gaiola traversing the waterways from Belem to Tabatinga, Boa Vista or Porto Velho.

Being sociable creatures, the dolphins (known locally as the boto, which is a sub-species of dolphin rather than the genus golfinho) tend to travel in family groups with a couple of youngsters swimming with the parents. The females can grow up to 8ft/2.5m long although usually they come in around the same average length as a human, although slightly heavier. These botos do look strikingly different to the dolphins beloved of marine park crowds, with their narrow beaks and bulbous foreheads. The beaks have evolved to find food amongst the narrow gaps between roots and vegetation of the Amazon riverbanks and the igarapé creeks of the flooded forests. One interesting fact about them that can be noticed while they feed is that their vertebrae do not fuse, allowing them to rotate their flexible necks through 180 degrees. They are also very different in colour to other dolphins at times – some of the Amazon River Dolphins are pink. Some are a more usual grey colour, others still a mixture of grey and pink.

In a couple of areas close to Manaus, the Amazon River Dolphins have become accustomed to human contact, and seem to enjoy spending time with their two-legged friends. Of course, this is in no small way down to the fact that they receive fish for their time and trouble, but they have also been known to stay around and play for hours with visitors, even when the fish have long been fed to them. As long as the occasion is supervised by a local wildlife expert, the pure joy of a close encounter with the largest freshwater cetacean in the beautiful surroundings of the Amazon Rainforest could stay with you for a long time.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the visitors and seemingly the friendly dolphins themselves (‘friendly’ as long as you are not fish or crustacean of course) that these kind of visits are beneficial for both sides. This type of semi-captive feeding colony may well bring the dolphins too close to humankind and too accustomed to contact, when not all humans would be so delighted to meet them. The Amazon River Dolphin is listed as an endangered species, with polluted waterways, diminished habitat, fishing and general river traffic in the Amazon area all affecting their population. Amazon folklore tells of the dolphins as mythical creatures, the killing of which brings bad luck. They are also thought to turn into attractive men at night, and impregnate local girls before returning to the river!

Perhaps swimming with Amazon River Dolphins will encourage more care to be taken with them and more conservation projects throughout the whole Amazon River system. While visitors to the Amazon can swim with the local dolphins, the local people have more chance to find work helping this to happen and (similar to the Projeto TAMAR sea-turtle work along the Brazilian coast) this will lead to an increased conscientiousness with regards to this unique creature and its environment. If this were possible, then a swim with an Amazon River Dolphin could be as rewarding for the dolphin population as it is for their humans friends.

Activity Information: Swimming with Amazon River Dolphins is best done as part of a visit to an Amazon Lodge along the shores of the river. The easiest ones to visit are within an hour or three boat or boat and road journey from Manaus. Reputable lodges always include local expert guides with their trips to see the dolphins.

You can visit Steve’s blog at Great Things To Do In Brazil: Favela Tour
Around Brazil: Tandem Hang-Gliding in Rio de Janeiro
Around Brazil: The Rio de Janeiro Marathon
Around Brazil: The Rio de Janeiro Marathon
Around Brazil: Lapa, Rio de Janeiro

By Carl Venzke
April 17, 2012

You can forget about proms in Brazil. The serious party is reserved for graduation. Graduates invite family, friends and significant others to help them celebrate. With a graduation class of 50, these parties have more than five hundred guests. Students pay for the party through fees they pay each month while they study. The parties are held in special reception centers used for weddings, graduations and other special events. The event is formal. Ladies wear party dresses or evening gowns and men wear suits and ties.

I have been to about three of these college graduation parties since living in Northeast Brazil and they go late. They usually begin around eleven in the evening and continue until four or five in the morning. Guests arrive between ten and midnight. Hors d’oeuvres, soda and setups are served all night. People bring their own alcohol and always have enough to share. A band begins to play around eleven. Music begins with Brazilian or American standards and maybe a little bossa nova. Moms, dads and other old folks dance to the slow stuff while the kids socialize. Next the band plays a mixture of American and Brazilian pop music. Brazilian pop is known as MPB (Msica Popular Brasileira) and everyone can dance to it.

Between midnight and one in the morning the band takes a break and the dance floor clears. Graduates are introduced one at a time to great fanfare and unique fashion. Each graduate appears at the end of an elevated runway. Music of their individual choosing is played as they make a dancing entrance. At the end of the runway there is a photo op. Family and friends gather to snap a pic for later posting on one of the social media web sites. The graduates and their escorts congregate on the dance floor. A champagne toast is given after all have been introduced.

Now the party gets rolling. The band plays Brazilian dance music. Here it is a mixture of Pagode, Ax, and Samba. A buffet dinner is served around two. Party favors, noisemakers, goofy glasses and head gear are handed out to all the guests. Boyfriends and girlfriends join in and around two-thirty flip-flops are passed out to all the women for more comfortable dancing. As the party becomes wilder, the music changes again. This time bands here play a combination of Forró, Calypso and Brega. This is the down and dirty Brazilian dance music attributed to the Northeast of Brazil.
Things start to wind down after four. By five the sun is coming up, the band stops playing. Everyone heads home to recover. The party is relived over the next several days through photos and conversation.

Bottom line… Brazilians know how to celebrate important life events.

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Do you want to go on a free tour of the Theatro Municipal in So Paulo? The tour will be of the theater itself and theater museum and will last for a little less than 2 hours.

Note: The tour will be conducted in English and is limited to 32 places.

The tour will be at 1pm on Saturday 17th December 2011.

To reserve your place you must contact Bill Stewart via bill@wsaj.net

By Ana Corazza
December 7, 2011

When he told his family the great news he had just received from his boss it was a celebration. His wife had already started organizing a big dinner; his teenage kids were already planning vacations in the Swiss Alps next season. Everyone was happy until he had the chance to say that they would have to move to Brazil.

The whole idea of going to South America on vacation was great, but to leave the country and live abroad wasn’t in their plans. The worries began: what about the violence, what kind of cars do people drive there, who would support them with the real estate issue, where would they live, what school for their children, how would it be to live in Brazil not speaking a word of Portuguese and knowing almost nothing about the people’s way of life and culture?

But they were moving to Rio after all, what a dream! The wonderful and famous city of Rio de Janeiro, a place used to receiving foreigners from all over the world. It wouldn’t be so bad. So they moved. It was a great opportunity.

The first few weeks at the hotel were comfortable. It really felt like being on vacation. Finding an apartment wasn’t so hard after all, the real state agency contracted by the company took care of everything. They had a car available for the family – with a driver – in the first month. Time passed. They started to find out what would it be to finally have a routine as expats in Brazil. Until they started to feel at home” with the only difference they weren’t really at home, at least not just yet.

So one day dad parked the car in front of Santos Dumont Airport – the national airport of Rio de Janeiro – hours later he came back, got the keys from his pocket and… the company’s car wasn’t there anymore. He looked for it, managed to ask the cab drivers if they had seen his car. Nothing. He took a cab and told his secretary the car was stolen. After a while they found out he had parked in a forbidden area and the vehicle was towed by the Transit Department – Detran-RJ.

Days later, after a weekend in a nice hotel in Angra dos Reis, a town at 157km far from Rio, dad ate acaraj, a spicy delicacy from Bahia, and went back home feeling like his stomach had moved to his back. It was Sunday night, he couldn’t stand feeling so sick. So the couple decided to take a chance and go to the closest drugstore to buy a medicine for him.

They managed to speak Portuguese, the attendant managed to speak English. They tried to explain what he was feeling and what they needed but no one seemed to understand. So they pointed saying “He has a pro-blem, um pro-ble-ma” and pointed to his belly. Finally, the attendant answered: “Oh, I got it, you want Viagra. Right? Viagra”. “No, no Viagra. He’s got diarrhoea”, the wife replied.

That night they left the drugstore laughing. He had some tea at home and woke up feeling better the next day. The family thought it was better to have some Portuguese lessons and so they did. And it helped them get through many other situations they would have to face in the future. Some were worth laughing about, others not so much.

This story and many others were told to Ana Corazza and Maria Arruda by their students in the 11 years they’ve been helping foreigners of the many different nationalities to communicate in Portuguese and understand Brazilian culture and way of life.

Most recently they designed Projeto Brasileirinho, a project created to help unite foreigners – be they residents or tourists in Rio de Janeiro – and Brazilians around the linguistic and cultural aspects of Brazil in order to provide a better integration, assimilation and comprehension of the diversity of Brazilian people as a whole, thereby contributing to a more positive and productive intercultural exchange.

Projeto Brasileirinho starts its activities in 2012 at Instituto Cultural Casaro de Austregsilo de Athayde, in the charming neighborhood of Cosme Velho, in Rio de Janeiro. The cultural institute is surrounded by the largest urban forest in the world and only a few steps away from one of the most visited tourist spots of Rio de Janeiro and the world – the Christ Statue. For more information, visit: www.projetobrasileirinho.com.br

December 7, 2011

Meet Elaine Vieira who moved to Brazil at the start of the year. Read the following interview in which she 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.?

We are a family with one child from South Africa currently on a 2 year assignment in Brazil, So Paulo with a South African based company newly established in Brazil, doing contract work with Unilever.

I am a qualified Food Service Manager with a Diploma from Hotel School. I specialise in food franchising New Product Development as well as Menu Design and Development.
My passion is teaching young children to cook and develop social and kitchen skills together in a group environment as well as fun social adult and couple cookery lessons.

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

Jan 2011 with my husband and daughter. He is under contract with a South African company called Smollans, who is contracted to Unilever to implement merchandising and sales systems.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Busy and big. City of contrasts. Well developed in some areas yet so underdeveloped in others. A lot of similarities to South Africa but so many more people.

I expected more of a European feel to the city much like Buenos Aires and more English spoken.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Communication and last minute plans and weekend getaways with friends and family as well as the attitude of can do” without bureaucracy and language communication barriers.

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

Trying to load airtime onto my phone and not understanding the instructions. Telephone calls trying to make doctor bookings. Applying for the RNE and waiting for hours for no apparent reason other than slow systems. Finding black leather school shoes. Mostly getting different responses from different people on the same enquiry or process. No consistency – outcome depends on who you ask.

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

Taking our first drive to the beaches of Guaruja and ending up at the Sofitel hotel for two days on our first weekend in Brazil.

It was fabulous and so unexpected. A world class experience and such a treat.

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

Variety of world class restaurants and the love and tolerance for children and animals.

Restaurant Week.

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

Tea connection in Jardins

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

Asking the security guard for a massage instead of a message and taking the ferry to Guaraja from Santos then in error driving back onto the ferry to Santos so having to take it straight back to Guaraja. Three trips in 45 minutes.

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

For such a busy city with so many people and traffic, I find the drivers considerate and respectful. Driving in South Africa is an aggressive experience as well as the crime levels are quite high. As a family we feel safer here in Brazil than South Africa despite everyone&#145s views that Brazil is so dangerous. That all depends where you are coming from. Perspective.

Price of wine from South Africa is outrageous.

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?

Coming on slowly as I do not do lessons.

Language is the most frustrating barrier to living a life of semi normal semblance in Brazil and a must. I confuse verbs and male female words and in fact lots of words and days of the week. Oh dear. My daughter will end up teaching me.

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

Learn Portuguese before coming and get to the beach often to get out of the city. Explore the city and get behind the wheel as soon as possible. If you wait too long you will get the fear.

Also make sure you drive everywhere with your GPS on so you can save interesting locations or shops or restaurants you drive by cause you may never find them again.

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

Sofitel hotel for a night in Guaruja. Argentinian restaurant like 364 in Itaim. Local Lanchonette for lunch at peak hour lunch time. Good cup of coffee in well known coffee shop like Suplicy or Santa Grau. Walking Avenida Paulista. Experiencing lunch on a Saturday in Vila Madalena. Walking around the shops in Vila Madalena. Hot Chocolate in Tok n Stok. Frozen yoghurt. Walking shops on Alameda Lorena and Oscar Freire between Haviana and Emporium Santa Luiza.

You can contact Elaine via elaine.kitchen.essentials@gmail.com.

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:

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