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
December 27th, 2016

If you are planning on living in Brazil, it is essential that you understand how the healthcare system works here. The country offers a free Unified Health System funded by the government and known locally as SUS (Sistema Ùnico de Saúde). Hospitals that are covered by this system are known as municipal hospitals. Both Brazilians and foreigners can get access to the services offered by these hospitals by showing an ID and a SUS card (Cartão SUS), which is issued by all Brazilian municipal offices, health centers, hospitals and clinics. You can also order one online at 0 Comments/by

By Pedro Souza, Staff Writer
August 25, 2015

So you have found your love in Brazil and wants to get married, but between you and your (hopefully) happy marriage, there stands a bureaucratic process for you to conquer. Do not be afraid, for we have written this article to guide you through the process. First, you need to gather the documents that you will be presenting at the cartorio (registry office). You should have a notarized copy of your spouse’s ID, an original and up to date copy of their birth certificate, your original birth certificate (certified by the Brazilian Consulate in the issuing country), receipt showing that the birth certificate has been legalized (GRU receipt), a translated copy of your birth certificate and passport, a declaration of non-impediment and a notarized ID copy of two Brazilian witnesses. You might also need to register your passport and birth certificate at the Cartorio de registros and bring a proof of address in Brazil.

In order for your spouse to get a notarized copy of an ID, they need to request a photocopy of an ID, which can be done in any cartorio at the cost of roughly R$5. They also need to apply for an up to date birth certificate from the state that they were born. As for your birth certificate, it needs to be recognized in Brazil, which can be done by sending it to the Brazilian consulate with a cover letter asking them to legalize it. Once you get your birth certificate back, you need to pay a fee at a branch of Banco do Brazil through a GRU form.

After you have gathered all the documents that are necessary, you need to go to the Cartrio de Registro Civil e Pessoas Naturais (Civil Registry), and apply for permission to marry. They will then give you a date and a time for you to pay a fee of roughly R$300, sign some forms and present two witnesses that know you well. On this day, you should show the officer that you have a basic understanding of Portuguese if you don’t want to hire a public translator. After this process is finished they will send the documentation to another official office for approval. Once the documents are approved, you will be notified and asked to sign another form, in which you need to list two godparents as witnesses and attach a certified copy of their identification to the form. After this is finished, you are finally allowed to marry on a date of your choice.

One thing to remember is that whether or not you chose to have a wedding ceremony, it is required for all Brazilians to have the civil wedding as well, whether in the registry office or elsewhere (at additional cost). At the registry office both the bride and the groom are allowed to have 8 people present, or 16 in some cases. Once this process is finished, you are finally married, and free to enjoy your marriage.

You can contact Pedro via pedro@gringoes.com.

Previous articles by Pedro:

16 Funny Brazilian Expressions
The Best Festivals in Brazil for the EDM Lovers – Part 1
6 Common Mistakes Foreigners Make Trying to Speak Portuguese in Brazil
Brazil: 10 Hiking Trails for Nature Lovers in the State of São Paulo – Part 1

By Ricky Skelton
May 12, 2015

I was travelling in one of Brazils tourist towns a while ago and withdrawing stupid amounts of cash every day to cope with it all. Back in the Big City later, I couldnt get any money out. Naturally wondering if Id spent all my money (or the banks overdraught money if you want to split hairs), I didnt think too much more about it. Then Blondie returned from a bank trip to tell me a story about a couple warning her not to use a certain cash machine as it had some odd wires coming out of it. We discussed the disgrace that is the security measures of Brazils banking system and promised to keep an even closer eye on the machines we use, and check them properly for extraneous devices, which I always do anyway.

Too late!

The same day I called my bank back home to see if my card was blocked. Apparently not, but Id run it up to the limit with the last couple of days of withdrawals. Hang on – run that one by me again… I hadnt made any withdrawals the last couple of days, but they can sometimes delay in appearing. So she checked some amounts with me, making sure they were legit. Two hundred thousand from the…

Whoa there cowgirl! Two hundred what? I nearly had heart attack imagining the unauthorised overdraught fees. How did I take out that much? I must have been drunk early that day… Still… 200k is a lot of reais.

… in Santiago.

Santiago is like Salvador, a place you have to check twice to see if it might be a Brazil one or another Latin American place. No, must be the one in Chile. I started sweating as she ran through the list of recent transactions, thankfully at the same time as Id been making withdrawals throughout the weekend. the card was still in my hand and hadnt left it except for withdrawals, some by Blondie – you dont suppose…? I didnt mention her to the bank, it might lead to awkward questions from someone who didnt trust my Brazilian lady as much as I do.

So all those frighteningly high amounts were only good old Chilean pesos, and as Ive never been to Santiago, it was all quite easy to point them out, cancel yet another card, and wait five minutes for the money to be put back onto my account. Just a couple of forms to sign later to state the fraudulent activity for the police, and Im in the clear. Marvellous. Good luck finding the thieves, and even better luck in trying to get the Brazilian banks or police to provide any help with that or even acknowledge that they have a problem. We called the possible banks, the denied any responsibility.

So as far as inevitably getting roubado in Brazil goes, having a card cloned is about as good as it gets for anybody with a gringo bank account. I can only imagine how much bureaucracy would be involved in the same situation with a Brazilian bank card. I imagine ten years of legwork for nothing to ever be refunded. The thought makes me shiver. I also have the feeling that as most of the card-cloning stories I hear from Brazil involve gringoes that there is definitely some huge scheme going on here, involving the banks and the staff of banks, a huge conspiracy to defraud us all of our dollars by some Brazilian jeitinho.

So I was all happy with life that afternoon, thinking that while having something stolen in Brazil is very common, having it stolen with no violence necessary, all valuables safely returned, and nothing but a painful wait for the correio to deliver the new card. And even better – surely, statistically speaking, having been robbed means that your chances of being robbed again in the near future dwindle somewhat, so the cloning puts back the inevitable and far more ugly type of robbery to a later average date, no?

This thought kept me amused for another couple of weeks, at least until I discovered that it had happened again with another gringo bank card. Im going at the rate of one every couple of months now…

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Understanding Brazil: Pizza
Around Brazil: Porcaria de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Holding Hands
Understanding Brazil: Statues & Self-Worth
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes Part II
Understanding Brazil: The Pub
Understanding Brazil: Protesting
Understanding Brazil: General Elections
Around Brazil: Oktoberfest Parade in Blumenau
Cultural Brazil: The Alambique
Around Brazil: Whale-Watching in Santa Catarina
Brazil: Tainha Time
Deported from Brazil? Part 2
Deported from Brazil? Part 1
Brazil: The President in Florianpolis
Swine Flu in South America?
The Best Club in Brazil…?
The Great Brazilian Animal-Off (Land)
Understanding Brazil: Giving Directions
Understanding Brazil: Driving
Understanding Brazil: Farra do Boi
Brazil: Catching Flu’
Around Brazil: Garopaba
Understanding Brazil: Funerals
Brazil: Bernie the Berne
Around Brazil: Journey to the Amazon Jungle
Around Brazil: Crazy Town Ceremonies
Around Brazil: Crazy Town
Around Brazil: Manaus
Around Brazil: Santarem & Alter do Chao
Around Brazil: Amazon Swarms and Amazon Storms
Understanding Brazil: Playing Pool
Around Brazil: Gurup
Around South America: Peninsula Valdes
Around South America: Patagonia
Around South America: Montevideo, Uruguay
Around Brazil: The Amazon
Around South America: Bariloche, Argentina
Understanding Gringoes: Drinking
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 2
The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off Part 1
Understanding Brazil: The Kids
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: So Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

Ultrasound250

By B. Michael Rubin
Feburary 18, 2015

I recently had a medical exam called an echografia in Brazil. Im not sure of the English term for it, but by way of visualization, it resembled a pregnant womans ultrasound test.

Step One: The anorexic diet plan. I am required to maintain total abstinence from all food and drink, except water, for six hours prior to the test. It should be noted that asking me not to eat for six hours is like suggesting an alcoholic skip Happy Hour.

As an aside, my pre-occupation with food began in infancy when, my mother claims, I was so voracious she needed to supplement her milk with bottled formula. As I have no recollection of this, I choose not to question the validity of a mother running out of milk. Suffice it to say my interest in food has been a lifelong affair.

For people like me who love to eat, hearing todays nutrition experts declare that consuming food every 3-4 hours is the most healthy diet was more exciting than the first time I heard the Beatles. In Brazil, grandmothers are ahead of the experts; they have been offering this advice for centuries. Brazilians eat frequently, five or six small meals a day.

Step Two: My wife, who is Brazilian, drives me to the clinic for the test. After six hours of fasting, I am so light-headed I feel like George Clooney weightless in Gravity. I am in good hands with my wife, who is not only a careful driver, but adept at finding reliable clinics that accept my health insurance card in full payment.

Once we arrive, I discover the clinic requires no forms whatsoever. Instead, there is a 5-minute digital interview with a young lady whose fingers move so quickly over her keyboard she appears to be typing nonsense. Nevertheless, she soon prints out a document, has me sign it, and the writing-free interview is complete.

As we have arrived early for the exam, my wife and I wait in the reception area, where I eye the free coffee and candy like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. At the scheduled test time, a clinic worker calls my name simply to inform us the doctor is running late. I consider the last time a doctors delay was announced openly in the US.

While I continue reading my book, my wife fills out a customer satisfaction survey, where she reports that the doctor is late for the test that we scheduled last week. A few days later, we will receive an email apology from the clinic.

Well-accustomed to waiting for doctors in the US, I am content to read. As opposed to being annoyed by the delay, I am relieved to learn a doctor will be doing the test, rather than a clinic technician.

In Brazil, most tests – blood tests, MRI scans – are performed in specialized clinics and labs, not in doctors offices. Once, when a Brazilian physician wrote me a prescription for a shot of Vitamin B12, I took the prescription to the local pharmacy, where a girl just out of grade school lead me into a back room, addressed my bare buttocks, and administered the shot herself.

At the time, the experience of exhibiting my ass to a young female in a pharmacy caught me by surprise, but Ive now come to appreciate the value of doctor-free procedures here. As a result, doctors have more time to listen and talk to their patients. Often they have no choice, as Brazilians can be verbose, but American doctors could take a lesson in bedside manner from this developing country.

Step Three: My name is called. Unlike medical privacy protocol in the US, no one in Brazil is asked to do anything alone – CAT scans, root canals at the dentist – all allow room for guests. Similarly, there are no visiting hours in Brazilian hospitals: everyone is permitted and encouraged to stay as long as possible, including sleeping overnight in the patients room. If the patient is a senior citizen, he is required to have someone with him in the hospital room at all times.

Like Brazilian doctors advanced degree in beside manner, I find the non-private approach to health care in Brazil comforting. Its difficult enough to be sick, but deciphering a doctors diagnosis alone can be tricky. Not always in the clearest state of mind while sick, its easy to misunderstand a physicians instructions.

I always feel like Im six years old when I visit a doctor or dentist, and having someone with me is an emotional luxury. I had an MRI scan on a sore shoulder last year, and the doctor allowed my wife to hold my foot, which was sticking out from the scanner, as a comfort to claustrophobia. She had to remove every particle of jewelry or risk being sucked across the room like a dust grain into the MRI magnets.

As the clinic clerk leads us through the locked doors of the lab entrance, my wife assures me that the echografia will be simple and painless – nothing more than the spreading of a gooey jelly over my abdomen and a doctor rubbing a camera to see more than is decent.

The clerk then hands me off to a woman in her 20s in a white lab coat holding a clipboard. She leads me into the exam room and asks me to lie down on a table, fully clothed including my shoes. She pulls up my t-shirt and tucks a piece of paper into the elastic of my shorts.

What role the paper plays is a mystery, but I know Brazilians are famous for their cleanliness. I conclude its purpose is to keep the gel off my clothes. It seems the technicians most important function is to keep my clothes clean, and I consider her service with a smile exemplary.

With deft dexterity, the young ladys fingers dance across my lower abdomen, tucking in the paper. As she does this, she quietly says, “Com licena” (excuse me). Although formality is common in Brazil, I am impressed with the politeness of the situation, having a medical worker apologize before touching me. It reminds me of Brazilian waiters who will say “Com licena” before placing items on the table, as if the food needs an excuse for interrupting a conversation.

Thanks to my wifes translation, the technician or Miss Lab Coat as I think of her, informs us the doctor will be arriving shortly and proceeds to busy herself in the exam room. Besides the short table on which I lie, the room has only a computer, plus a chair for my wife. Directly in front of me is a flat-screen TV pitched near the ceiling, perfectly angled to watch while lying down.

A few minutes later, a female doctor in blue jeans young enough to be my daughter enters. She speaks no English, but what do I care, as her bedside manner insists she cradle me alongside her. To be within reach of her camera connected to the computer, my head is touching her leg, my face nearly in her lap.

As the blonde doctor turns on the computer, the assistant jumps to attention with the stomach gel, which she has been dutifully warming. She squeezes it onto my torso with another “Com licena.” The doctor perches the plastic camera on my abdomen, and an image jumps onto the TV. I am watching an ultrasound exam performed on a man. I ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

As the entertaining test proceeds, the camera gazing through the gelatinous goo at my liver, kidneys, and stomach, the nurturing doctor and my wife discuss essential topics, such as how I met my wife.

In 15 minutes or so, the test is finished. I am disappointed it has ended so quickly. As the raven-haired Miss Lab Coat carefully wipes the gel from my exposed body, I feel ill-equipped to handle this much maternal warmth in a sterile health clinic.

Heres a lesson from Brazilian health care: Conduct all tests in small rooms surrounded by young, smiling females. The only thing missing from this exam is nervous tension, the trauma that American doctors seem to bring into every meeting.

How warm, transparent jelly allows a plastic camera to see through layers of skin and fat is a mystery. However, I do know that when I came to Brazil, I was terrified of inadequate medical care in a poor country; I was wrong. The comforts of the bedside manner in Brazil are not easy to forget.

For a stalling maneuver, I deem it appropriate to ask questions. I insist the doctor hit me with the cold, hard facts – the full prognosis. Through my wife, the doctor explains that the two kidney stones which had been diagnosed by a US doctor have disappeared. She suggests that perhaps what my American doctor had observed were mere calcium deposits. In calming neutral tones, rather than calling the American diagnosis incorrect, she states there was simply nothing big enough that she could see to call a kidney stone.

Im so surprised to learn of the vanishing stones that I forget all my other questions. As the soothing doctor turns away and leaves the room, I shout, Obrigado (thank you), one of the few words in Portuguese I can pronounce. At hearing Portuguese, the doctor giggles and mimics the word back in a ticklishly high voice. Then she glides out the door with a bright smile and obliges me with her English: “Bye bye.”

The following day, for 10 reais, my exam negatives and written evaluation from the doctor are delivered to my apartment by motorcycle messenger. Another lab sends me a text message that the results of my 25 different blood tests are available on their website, secured by a password. Its all so easy.

Thus, my American kidney stones waltz out the door, going bye bye with the sweet Brazilian doctor. For the first time in my life, Im eager for another medical situation to arise, where Ill be soothed by young women in white lab coats who look more like TV doctors than the real thing.

B. Michael Rubin is an American living in Curitiba, Brazil. He is the editor of the online magazine, Curitiba in English.

Previous articles by Michael:

Brazil: An Expats View
Brazil: Joao Pessoa – A Quiet Gem
Brazil: Communication for Foreigners

By Ricky Skelton
Like many gringoes who come to Brazil, I was hoping to find an exotic job in an exotic place and improve my language skills (or develop some) along the way by working with exotic Brazilians. The latter was the only one to come true, but not in the way that I’d expected. Teaching English was always the backup plan, and so it came to pass. No surprise to anybody who has tried to find other work in Brazil. I taught (I use the past tense, but I may not be finished with it yet) in a couple of places, with São Paulo being the main one. And what a frustrating experience it was, and not only because I wasn’t very good at it. That wasn’t down to my students, hell no. I generally genuinely liked them: lawyers, doctors, psychologists, journalists, film-makers, and students of all these and more. I was proud of their English because they taught me everything I know about my language. Everyday was a school day. And they paid me for it.

Not much though. As well as the usual traipsing around the hot streets of Sampa for very little money, the same experience that everybody has, the biggest problem for me were the cancellations. The Paulistas I met are loveable people (all conspicuously fair-skinned, sadly), but they have a work ethic that I really struggle to identify with. 14 hour days, 6 days a week! Perhaps they prefer to stay long hours at the office to avoid the reality that they live in São Paulo and there is no beach to go to after work. Admittedly I worked long hours too, or should I say that I was out of the house for 14 hours a day but working for three of four of them as my busy students would ring up to cancel while I travelled for hours between classes. They usually had too much work on. Three or four per day was the average, and then the weekly Bank Holiday on a Thursday meant that I could forget Friday and Saturday too, and only worked a three day week! No wonder I had no money. Not even enough for the Metr fare one day, so I had to cancel one of my own classes. Oh the irony. The emergency credit card wasn’t working either. Bad day.

Still, better than the day one of my students had. She was my best canceller because she always gave me days of notice. I was walking to her house one night thinking that at least I could rely on her. I arrived there to find she’d been car-jacked at gunpoint outside the house 15 minutes before. We had to cancel. And bleeding heart that I’m not, I couldn’t charge her. It is impossible to have a class when somebody is shaking with fear! She took it all in her stride though, it had happened to her before, and made me a hot drink to calm me down, telling me not to be scared.

So I think we’ll put it all down to experience and move on. And my Portuguese? I never spoke a word of it. Just English. All day. Every day. It didn’t improve at all.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Lenois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lenois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s the final part of Joe’s excellent and epic guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

Tools of the Teaching Trade
When I finally get home, I take a brisk shower to shake off the effects of the subway and bus ride, but wasn’t really able to relax, not with that HBO video on my mind. After grabbing another bite to eat, I hunker down to commence my laborious transcription.

Wouldn’t you know it, the telephone rings, only this time it’s Flora, apologizing for having wasted my time and asking me to please return the video tomorrow, as she has just learned that it’s not needed after all. Relieved, I graciously thank her and proceed to turn off the computer, television set, and VCR-now I can relax!

Some teachers may be curious as to what tools they might need in order to be set up for the life of a fulltime English-language instructor. Believe it or not, there’s really not all that much involved.

If you plan to teach in-company, you should carry with you a sturdy portable cassette player/recorder, preferably by a reputable maker. Try to avoid those quickie bargain-basement brands found on the stalls of so many camels (street vendors) scattered around town. They’re not worth the plastic they’re fabricated from. Cassette tapes are relatively cheap in price and can be used to record the sessions for later student playback.

The cassette player will be most useful for listening activities that accompany your language books. You’ll probably need some pointers on how to develop a decent library of materials, and on which learning aids to buy.

My own experience taught me that the excellent Interchange series of books (Cambridge University Publishers), along with Focus on Grammar, Business Objectives, True Stories in the News, Great Ideas, and other related workbooks and cassette tapes, are all good for practicing the Communicative Method. The best thing about them is that the teacher’s manuals come with ready-made lesson plans, thus saving you gobs of preparation time.

Where can you purchase these books and tapes? A good place to start is Livraria Cultura, located along Avenida Paulista in the Conjunto Nacional building, easily accessible by subway or bus. There are branches of this major bookstore chain in most large urban centers, but all their wares can be ordered online or by telephone. The staff are cordial and knowledgeable, an unbeatable combination in the time-is-money-conscious São Paulo. If you mention you’re a teacher at Livraria Cultura you may be able to get a discount.

Another excellent resource for teachers is Special Book Services, or SBS for short. They’re situated on Alameda Barros, in the Santa Ceclia section of the city. As a self-employed language instructor, you can even participate in their program of discounts (anywhere from 5 to 10 percent off) on goods and items bought at any of their branch outlets. They’re not as large a concern as Cultura, but offer a wide variety of teaching aids. And the employees are equally patient and polite, though not as well informed as the people at the Cultura stores.

Teaching at home will require additional implements in the way of blackboards, whiteboards, chalk, dictionaries, thesauruses, erasers, folders, markers, highlighters, paper, pens, and pencils, in addition to classroom furniture. These can be found in stores specializing in school and office supplies.

One of the best is Unilivros on Rua São Bento in downtown São Paulo, which caters to students and faculty of most of the well-known institutions of higher learning, including various private schools, colleges and universities. Their materials tend toward the pricier side, but they’re worth the extra cost if you are seriously inclined to making the teaching profession a lifelong endeavor.

For electronic or computer equipment, many of the local department stores are prime candidates for your patronage. Try Casas Bahia, Eletro-Brs, Lojas Pernambucanas, or other similar establishments, readily found in the ubiquitous shopping malls in just about every neighborhood.

Be wary of stores offering a payment plan called parcelado, or monthly installments, as the interest on your original purchase will mount up precipitously; their rates are notoriously high at best, so avoid them like the plague.

As a final wrap-up to this topic, it may be to your best advantage to buy as many of the teaching aids you think you might need even before you reach Brazilian shores.

Of course, it’s difficult to plan that far forward, or to anticipate your future needs, with regard to the type of students you’ll be teaching; but it could save you big bucks later on, and spare you a major portion of your expense outlay, in buying up as many of the books, tapes, learning materials, and videos as you can possibly lay your hands on. These items are very expensive in Brazil, due mostly to the unfavorable exchange rates-although they are all supposedly free from import duties and taxes.

Don’t forget to ask for assistance from colleagues, compatriots, friends, acquaintances, relatives, and people you socialize with who are in the teaching profession, especially those with intimate knowledge of the ups-and-downs of the English language market. You’ll need their expertise, counsel and advice to keep you going when the going gets tough, which it frequently will from time to time-trust me on this.

When in doubt, just drop me a note. I’ll be glad to respond to any questions or concerns you may have about teaching English as a foreign language in Brazil.

Have fun, stay healthy, keep smiling, and boa sorte (good luck)!

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 20
Teaching English In Brazil Part 19
Teaching English In Brazil Part 18
Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 20 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

Language & Cultural Barriers
I get to Santana and immediately mount the long flight of stairs down to street level to transfer to a bus. When I was a rookie paulistano and still green in the ways of commuting, I used to wait on those interminable queues at the subway station for the next bus to take me home. Later, I learned to walk to the next corner, a mere two blocks away, where the choice in bus lines was far greater and the waiting time next to nothing.

Today, I happen to take a bus that I’m not too familiar with, and notice that it turns into a side street I’ve never been on before. Realizing I probably took the wrong conveyance in error, I walk up to the cobrador (change-maker) and ask him if the bus goes to Avenida Nova Cantareira. He stares at me for a moment and doesn’t answer.

Equally perplexed, I ask him a second time if the bus goes to Nova Cantareira. He rattles off some incomprehensible riposte, but then I notice a metal sign behind him that indicates this bus definitely does not go to my desired destination. I hurriedly get off and take the next one to the correct stop.

For someone such as myself – born in Brazil, but raised in the good ole USA – the impenetrable parlance of many of the Nordestinos (people from the Northeast), who populate the greater metropolitan area, both intrigued and exasperated me. But there was more than just their accent at work here. After being away from the country for close to 40 years, the native culture was now as alien to me as that of Afghanistan’s.

As an example, I once went with my wife to the Santana subway station in preparation for a trip to downtown. I decided to make a quick pit stop into the men’s room before venturing forth. It was the first time I had been in a Brazilian public restroom in nearly a quarter century, but I rightly assumed it to be similar (in most respects) to every other restroom I had ever used in my life, so I did not expect much in the way of difficulty.

When I got inside, I was greeted by a long and glistening metallic trough. It was slightly higher than my waist and covered the entire length of the bathroom wall. Not finding any of the usual stalls or urinals I had been accustomed to seeing in the States, I deduced that this must be where the guys did their thing, so I opened up the old fly, stood on my tiptoes, and proceeded to relieve myself.

No sooner had I begun, than a highly indignant subway employee – dressed somewhat like the janitor, I suppose – came over and started yelling at me. He rudely pushed me aside, the action of which led me to inquire as to the reason for his belligerent behavior. I gathered from his loud demeanor that I had committed some grievous faux pas, but couldn’t imagine what it might have been.

Zipping up my trousers, I attempted to explain myself to this hothead. From what I could fathom of the janitor’s shrill reprove, I shouldn’t have been doing what I had just done. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I had urinated in the public sink tank, set aside for the main purpose of washing one’s hands and face.

I beat a hasty retreat from the restroom, flushed with enough vergonha (embarrassment) to light up Jardim Frana at Christmastime, and ran right into the protective arms of my dear and loving wife – who laughed uncontrollably at my discomfort when I told her what had transpired.

Let this particular incident serve as notice to any-and-all male newcomers to Brazil: when in doubt as to the public rest facilities, make sure you ask around before dipping your paintbrush into an unknown well.

It should also demonstrate to all foreign teachers that you must bring your Portuguese language and culture skills up to an acceptable communicative level, or you will be left by the wayside should a truly serious situation develop that necessitates your total involvement.

Part 21 next week…

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 19
Teaching English In Brazil Part 18
Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 19 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

Welcome to Chaos!
Going back home after not having taught class really irks me – especially since I have yet to get started on this dumb HBO video. But I really can’t complain, since I now have the rest of the afternoon to do the transcription.

Hey, what was that? Oh no, the subway has just stopped between stations, and all the lights have gone out! Now the overhead fans have stopped circulating!!! Boy, it’s really getting hot in here after only a few minutes. What the hell is going on now, anyway?

I feel the subway car lurch forward, and several people are thrown together by accident. Well, we’re moving again. Must have been one of those five-minute, energy-saver breaks I’ve heard about – you know, where the city’s subway lines just sit there on the platform, with no lights, for minutes at a stretch. This is São Paulo’s radical new solution for energy conservation. Huh, good thing it was only for a short spell.

The last time I got stuck in a stalled subway car it lasted for over an hour. And another time, all the passengers were told to disembark from a car that had suddenly caught fire. The platform at the Praa da S station was filled up in seconds with people from the other arriving and departing subway trains. It was a positively claustrophobic experience that reminded me too much of Manhattan during rush hour.

Frequent work stoppages and strikes, as well as unplanned delays, demonstrations and detours, are all common occurrences in the big cities, and can happen at most any time.

Luckily, I only experienced a few such minor slowdowns, but they were enough to disrupt the flow of traffic and prevent me from getting to class on time. I would usually try to replace the missing session, but it’s not really a requirement since it wasn’t my fault. Besides, my schedule had grown so large that I rarely had time anymore for replacement classes. You, too, will find this to be the case. Offer to give the student a discount on next month’s payment, if replacing the canceled lesson proves to be impractical.

Early in my teaching career, as I was going to a private in-company class, the bus I was on came to a grinding halt along Avenida Tiradentes and did not move for over ten minutes. Some of the more impatient passengers onboard started to shout abuse at the driver without knowing what exactly was going on.

From my window seat, I could see several perueiros (private van drivers) staging an impromptu demonstration along the side street that emptied out into the main avenue. The van drivers were fuming over some city ordinance or other that required them to pay additional fees to register their vehicles with the Department of Transportation.

In protest, they had strategically parked their vans right in the middle of Tiradentes to prevent any oncoming traffic from moving.

As I was watching them, the van drivers grew more and more agitated with our bus – and started yelling at the driver and at various passersby. I decided to leave in a hurry. Walking brusquely past the dueling drivers, I headed straight for the elevated subway line for the ride back home. I wasn’t about to risk my hide over some ridiculous disturbance, and I certainly wasn’t about to risk being without a means to get back home – which seemed very likely, given the length of time it took to bring the situation to a semblance of normalcy along Tiradentes.

When I finally got home, I tried to contact my student to inform him of the delay and, more importantly, to cancel the lesson. I was told that he had gone to a late-afternoon business appointment and wasn’t expected back in the office until the next morning – and he hadn’t even called to inform me beforehand of this change in plan.

If I had gone to meet him downtown that evening, I would most certainly have been stood up. As luck would have it, I chose the right course of action.

I cite this incident not to scare teachers away but merely to alert them to the very real, and ever-present, inevitability of strikes, slowdowns, demonstrations, and the like; and to train them to be prepared at all times for emergency situations which they may need to face in order to teach.

Always plan on an alternate route to-and-from your class or home. Unfortunately, the options here may be limited, because if traffic stops in one part of the city, it may very likely stall in another.

Congestion in the Big Abacaxi (pineapple) is a universally accepted fact of daily urban life, as is the ever-present crime and violence; in other sleepier towns and villages these problems may not exist, or be as bad, but there might be other hazards that take the place of crawling traffic lanes. Keep your eyes open at all times to avoid serious trouble.

Subway workers, bus drivers, bank employees, autoworkers, civil servants, municipal and government employees, and many other functionaries frequently stage walkouts in sympathy with their brother protesters. In the event of strikes or other mass interruptions, stay tuned to a good all-news radio or television station for the latest up-to-the-minute information.

Part 20 next week…

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 18
Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 18 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

It’s Getting Late
Glancing furtively at the time – an occupational holdover from my Wall Street days – I see that it’s now 12:40 p.m., and still no student. I have the receptionist call Snia again, who, I’m told, has just gone out to lunch. I instinctively grab the telephone receiver and speak to Marly, another secretary, to try and get to the bottom of this.

Hello, Marly? It’s Joe. How are you? Can you tell me if Mrcio has called yet?”

“Yes, Joe,” she replies, “he just called in to say that he couldn’t make it to class today. I’m so sorry about that. Snia didn’t tell you?”

I thank her for this latest news flash, hand the phone back to the receptionist, shrug in resignation, and return my visitor’s badge to the security desk. I then rush out of the lobby with the video in hand, and prepare for the long trek back.

Being stood up is a major dor de cabea (headache), I don’t mind telling you, for private teachers, who are busy enough as it is not to have to worry about no-shows, let alone be able to confront cancellations on a periodic basis. Often, they must plan their day well in advance, and to the split second.

Going to class and not having students show up – especially after they’ve already confirmed the lesson – is a precious waste of time and resources, and downright disrespectful as well. I couldn’t help but get stewed over the situation.

However, students are not always responsible for their cancellations, as business obligations do take precedence over English classes. The teacher must realize this and tread lightly, where the student is concerned, to avoid a direct confrontation with the frequent offender. A well-placed suggestion, or “word-to-the-wise” talk, can usually overcome most stumbling blocks. But be prepared for those inevitable missed sessions; just try not to take them too personally, as they are nothing more than ossos do ofcio (part of the job).

How long should a teacher give a student no-show? I usually waited about half the lesson, say approximately 45 minutes of a 90-minute class. There are no hard and fast rules regarding this, by the way, but a goodly amount of patience – and reasonably sound judgment – are warranted on the teacher’s part before getting up and going on to something else.

One possible solution to this problem may be for teachers to space out their classes more evenly to allow for a variety of unforeseen circumstances. Making gaps, or janelinhas (windows), in your daily itinerary may help to alleviate the stress of those annoying times when you find yourself falling behind schedule. They are also of immeasurable aid in having to replace a canceled class.

Speaking of which, teachers should try to keep those Saturday-morning sessions and early-afternoon weekend hours open for this and other purposes. It may mean postponing a planned family outing at the beach, or that longed-for excursion to the countryside, but it can prove most profitable to you in the long run. You never know when you’ll get a call for that extra teaching assignment, or that last minute translation task, which will necessitate putting in some serious overtime hours.

I frequently found myself working many a Saturday – and all day Sunday, too – just to complete the transcription for one of those “wonderful” HBO cable-TV programs (ah, the good old days!).

Again, you will learn by experience and decide what is best for your own particular situation.

Part 19 next week…

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 17
Teaching English In Brazil Part 16
Teaching English In Brazil Part 15
Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?