Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vendedors Ambulante (Street Vendors)

There are many poor Brasilians in Southern Brasil. Most of them are poor not because they don’t want to work, but because jobs are scarce. They are an industrious and inventive people, who won’t take “no job” lying down. They will do whatever it takes to feed their families.

One of the most common sights you’ll find, especially during the holiday season on the beaches are street vendors (vendedors ambulante). They carry anything from fruits and vegetables to sunglasses, to beautiful hand-made jewelry, toys, etc. Anything that can be carried on their backs, on their bikes or on their hand-crafted carts will be offered up for sale to anyone taking the time to listen to their sales pitch.

I once had a guy selling ice cream treats right next to my café, where, of course, I also offered ice cream for sale. But I didn’t begrudge him because he needed that money to feed his family. I stood there and watched--me with no customers and him selling ice cream right and left right under my nose. But it did not make me angry. It made me happy that he was going to have rice and beans on the table that evening. That is the Brasilian way.

Til Later, Tchau!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dia das Almas (All Souls Day)

Every November 2nd in Brasil, families gather at gravesites for the purpose of praying for their departed, cleaning the gravesites and placing new flowers on the graves. It is a sight to behold. Since it is mainly a Catholic tradition and the majority of Brasilians are devout Catholics, there are scores of people at the cemeteries this day. Sometimes they stop for treats or ice cream before or after their individual ceremonies. You’ll see women with scrub buckets and mops walking down the streets.

You don’t see that here in America. Everyone maintains the gravesites at separate times. Although I prefer to remember my loved ones as when they were living and not in the ground, I still appreciate the trouble these people go to keep the eternal resting place of their loved ones’ bodies in as nice a shape as possible.

Til Later, Tchau.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dia Nacional do Fusca (National Day of the VW Bug)

The Brasilians love their Fuscas. You see them more than any other auto on the street and there are some very cool ones in Brasil. They love them so much, in fact, that they've honored them with their own day...Dia Nacional do Fusca. I've found a great little video to click on for today's blog, so be sure to click on the title to see it.

Fuscas come in all colors. I was envious of the guy who painted the inside of our cafe. He had a Fusca painted a really cool color that looked like a mixture of chartreuse and pea green. One day, he was coming from work and someone ran into him. He wasn't injured too badly, but his Fusca really took a hit. Of course, when I heard, I asked if he was ok, and when he said ok, I then asked...what about the Fusca? He smiled and said it would be ok. Since he didn't speak English, and I very little Portuguese, we did alot of sign language, but we got the gist of what was being said. About a month later, his Fusca was finally drivable again and was the same color. What a relief.

If I ever go back, I'd love to own a Fusca.

Til Next Time, Tchau!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Breakfast (Cafe da Manha) in Brasil

I know I've talked about food in Brasil before, but it seems no one tires of hearing how wonderful the food is. Breakfast is no exception. Juice, fruit, meats, cheeses, breads, cakes. You have it all in a typical colonial-style breakfast.

Now for the but part. But...

If you are looking for an American-type breakfast with eggs, hashbrowns, toast, there is no place to find it, and after a while, you begin to miss the things you once took for granted.

I think one of the first places I went after coming back to America was a place called Tee-Jay's in Columbus, Ohio, famous for it's barnbuster breakfast. I didn't have that exact breakfast because it is way too much food, but I did have eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and toast, as I always had before moving to Brasil, and I loved every bite. Now that I'm back in the states, I miss the typical Brasilian breakfast. See? There's just no pleasing some folks.

Til Next Time, Tchau!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gauchos of Southern Brasil

When it comes to cowboys, and country music, Brasil isn't really that much different than the US. They have their country songs, their wide open spaces, and their love for horses.

What is different is the cultural mix in the southernmost State of Brasil, Rio Grande do Sul. You have people of spanish decent from the Gauchos in Argentina, you have Italian winemakers, and you have whole cities settled by Austrians.

The music is as diverse as the people. In one song you may hear a steel guitar mixed with an accordian, in the next, you may hear an Austrian waltz, and the next a Flamenco guitar. It would not surprise me if there are some who mix all these mediums together at once.

As you can see by the video attached to this blog entry, Rio Grande do Sul has some striking similarities to the region we call home to our own Rio Grand. Enjoy.

Til Next Time, Tchau!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Toucans are pretty plentiful in Southern Brasil. When we were living high up in the hills, we would see toucans fly from tree to tree. We'd leave a branch of bananas on a stump for them to eat from.

Contrary to what everyone thinks, or at least what I used to think, that Toucans are responsible for that sound in the jungle in movies that goes something like "ara ara ara," toucans actually make a weird clicking sound and when they fly, they make a loud noise like "eeehnt." Suffice it to say, their sound is not quite as pretty as their appearance.

It was really great to watch these birds in their native habitat, instead of in a zoo. As I mentioned in a past blog entry, Brasilians like their birds, and toucanos (toucans) are no exception. They can be tamed and make fun pets, but personally, I'm fine with just watching them from a distance enjoying their natural homes.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer is a famous architect from Brasil. He is 101 years old and still designs buildings from his office in Rio de Janeiro. He married his most recent wife when he was 98, and she 63.

I don't have to tell you that some people are born great. We all, in fact, have greatness in us. Some are able to recognize, understand, and act on that greatness, abetting its materialization, for the world to see and appreciate. I was fortunate enough to visit one of his museums in Curitiba, nicknamed "eye" and was literally blown away by its shape, size, vision (no pun intended) and unbelievably creative design. Indeed, there is nothing else like it in this world.

Just as those who appreciate a fine painting or sculpture, I appreciate fine architecture. I would go so far as to say that when I see a beautifully designed and constructed building, it stirs something inside. As a child, I remember seeing pictures of Niemeyer's creations in Brasilia, and even then, I wanted badly to someday travel to that city to see those places close up. While in Brasil, I should have done that, but I didn't. I assure you, though, on my next trip, it will definitely be on my list of things to do.

Til Then, Tchau!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rain in Southern Brasil

When I first decided I wanted to move to Southern Brasil, I was assured that it didn't rain that much down there. I'm not pointing any fingers, but that information proved to be wrong. Quite wrong. But it's my own fault really. I must have been asleep in geography class the day we were discussing the attributes of a rain forest. "Rain" being the operative word. Southern Brasil is smack dab in the middle of that country's second largest rain forest, The Mata Atlantica, or Atlantic Forest.

I got to thinking about it I guess because where I'm living now, in central Texas, we celebrate a rainy day. Everything is so dry. But with the dry comes more sunshine and that suits me just fine.

Anyway, just wanted to point that out to you. Southern Brasil rainy, very rainy. Texas dry. That's all I got.

Til Later, Tchau!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brasil Delivery System

Today's video doesn't have alot to do with this blog, other than it has a horse in it and this blog is about horses and carts in Brasil.

You see horses and carts on a daily basis in Southern Brasil. It is a common mode of transportation for many, as well as being a way to make extra money by hauling things and delivering things. I the picture, the owner of this horse and cart was picking up gravel from our yard that we didn't want anymore and hauling it away. We used this guy a couple of times for bringing us wood for our fireplace in the winter. Every time they'd show up, I'd pay the driver and I'd give the horse an nice apple or carrot. The horse probably liked me more than the guy, cause I always made sure the horse got a reward.

When we were getting ready to move back to the States, we sold alot of stuff, and one thing was a vertical freezer. The German neighbor who bought it came and picked it up with his horse and cart. It's nice to know that some folks in this world still do things the old-fashioned way. Southern Brasil was doing eco-friendly before it became a media catchphrase, and continues to use this very efficient form of transportation.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Brasil's Independence Day

The video today is of the Brasilian National Anthem, a very long, complicated anthem, that appears more Austrian than Brasilian. Nonetheless, it is interesting.

Today is independence day in America, when we celebrate our independence from England. Brasilians celebrate their independence day on September 7, the day they gained their independence from Portugal unofficially. There are a couple of things that set Brasil apart from most other countries in their history of gaining independence.

First, Brasil was a monarchy, the only monarchy in South America. It was ruled by the King of Portugal, Dom Pedro. In 1822, when Portugal ordered King Dom Pedro back to Portugal, planning on returning Brasil to colonial status, the King, fearing a revolution of his people, defied the order, ripped the Portuguese colors of blue and white from his chest and declared these words "Independence or Death." That was the beginning of the process of independence for Brasil, without bloodshed. Just a declaration. On May 3, 1823, Dom Pedro and others met in an assembly to create the first Brasilian Constitution.

On August 29, 1825 Portugal finally recognized Brasil as an independent nation, and from then on, Brasil was a free nation. For many years after that, Brasil was ruled by Dom Pedro as Emperor, until April 7, 1831, when he abdicated the throne. On July 23, 1840, Dom Pedro's son, Dom Pedro II, took the throne as Emporor at just 14 years of age.

Who ruled Brasil between 1831 and 184o, I do not know. I do know that Dom Pedro II remained Emporor of Brasil for the next 49 years.

Then, on November 15, 1889, a new republic formed in Rio de Janeiro, and two days later, Dom Pedro II and his family returned to Europe, ending the monarchy in Brasil, leaving it a Republic.

I hope I got this right. At any rate, my purpose was to show similarities and differences between our day of independence and that of Brasil. I hope I succeeded.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Family Barbeques in Brasil

Since this is the 4th of July weekend, I thought I'd write about barbeque in Brasil. Almost every home in Brasil has some sort of churrasqueira (shure-has-kay-rrah) barbeque area either attached to to the home or built adjacent to the home as a free-standing structure. I couldn't miss the opportunity to show you the beautiful churrasquira and pool we built when living in Brasil. These are also called area de lazer (area dee laze-ear), which are areas of leisure or recreation. Barbeque is the center around which all celebrations revolve. Well, barbeque and beer, of course.

American free-standing barbeque grills do exist in Brasil but they are very rare. The closest thing to them are little green barrels (like oil barrels) stood on the side with a top opening and a grill plate inside. Charcoal is used with these grills. We had one and I loved it. They even make little aluminum stands to keep it up off the ground. However, most Brasilians make sure there is enough in the budget when building a home to include either an outdoor stone oven or a churrasqueira.

All this talk about churrasco (bbq) is making me hungry. I'll write more tomorrow...

Til then Tchau!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moto Boys in Brasil

Moto Boys in Brasil--on the road--in traffic--dangerous--always. Brasilians are used to them, weaving in and out of traffic, making complete stops right in front of you for no reason. Speeding past you when you think there isn't enough room between you and the car next to you to fit a piece of paper, yet they squeeze on through. You could call them the daredevils of the working class. They make their money delivering anything from mail to auto parts to furniture. I'm not kidding. If it can be balanced, it can be carried.
And, they deliver lanches and pizza and groceries, water, gas, you name it. That's how they make their money, driving in and out of all kinds of traffic, seemingly impervious to the dangers they face, and the dangers which they impose on a daily basis.
There are no traffic laws for these guys. Even where there are speed bumps and speed stations, they find their way around them and through them, hardly ever slowing down until they reach their final destination. Many are injured, many die. That is the life of the moto boy. They are incredible to watch, and at the same time, you find yourself shaking your head wondering if they are as crazy as they appear to be. Nope, they grew up on motorcycles and I don't think they'd have it any other way.