Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jewish Grandmother Discusses Circumcision

On my most recent visit to Sao Paulo I had an interesting conversation with an expat friend of mine and was surprised to find out that she had no idea circumcision was not practiced in Brazil, at all.
Yep, in case you didn't know, every Brazilian men you are looking at, is not circumcised.
Even baby boys born with a birth defect called phimosis, no longer need circumcision, Brazilians developed a treatment with steroid topic creams that stretches the foreskin and avoids the costly and dangerous procedure of circumcision.
Gilson's nephew is 5 years old and had to go thru the treatment with the topic steroid cream and was able to avoid circumcision, his sister was so happy to have been able to keep her little boy intact.
It made me realize, that despite being a fundamental difference between most American men and Brazilian men, the staggering majority of people are not aware of this fact on both sides.
After the eye opening conversation with my friend, I wanted to ask my sisters and other women friend in Brazil if they had any idea most American men are circumcised.
They had absolutely no idea and were horrified with the fact. WHY would they do that to perfectly healthy babies? was the common impression I got from asking Brazilian women if they were aware of the widespread practice in the US.
I think many American parents understand now that there is absolutely no reason to circumcise their infant baby boys in 2012, you know, now that we all have soap and indoor plumbing and we don't live in tents in the desert with no plumbing and no infra structure for normal hygiene.
I know many parents in the US who feel extremely guilty for having practiced infant male circumcision on their baby boys, but it's done and it's too late to reverse it, most usually say they were young and naive and listened to their doctors or nurses recommendations, you know, the same ones who got a couple thousand dollars for performing the 5 minutes long surgery for them.
It is frequent topic of discussion in the US nowadays, mainly because Insurance Companies no longer consider circumcision medically justified and do not cover the procedure.
Young parents now are faced with the costly decision of paying 3 to 5 thousand dollars out of pocket if they insist on performing a circumcision.
So, in the past 5 years alone, circumcision rates in the US have dropped from around 90% circumcised down to only 60% circumcised, and many are forecasting this number will drop well below 50% in the next few years.
We have seen 3 baby boys born on our street in the past 4 years, and none of them were circumcised, one couple from across the street even came knocking on our door and asked us what did we think about it, considering they knew we are from Brazil and they found out on the Internet that we don't practice circumcision. We told them, just don't do it, if you are concerned your son will feel bad because he looks different from other boys, let him do it when he grows up if he chooses to do it.
That way you give him the choice, over something so important on a man's life.
They did NOT circumcise their baby boy, and 2 other neighbors followed their example.
I saw this video today on Facebook and found this to be a very eye opening conversation.
Hope you learn something from it like I did.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Sidewalks in Brazil

Our dear fellow blogger Jessica, from FIQUE TRANQUILO wrote this cool post about Sidewalks in Brazil, more specifically in her town of Santos, Sao Paulo, which is located about 1 hour away driving from the city of Sao Paulo and South America's largest and most important harbor.
Awesome patterns and just so you all know, this is an art form imported into Brazil from Portugal. You can find this cool mosaic type sidewalk all over Lisbon.
If you ever watch them repairing one or setting up a new mosaic sidewalk, it's labor intensive and it does require skills, each stone is shaped in a certain way with small chisels and hammered into place carefully so they don't brake but fit together perfectly to form the desired design.
Here is her post:


One of the things I love here in Santos are the sidewalks.  This pattern is the most common, and I think it's called Rio, because they have this design all over Rio de Janeiro as well.

You can read more on Jessica's post HERE.




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Extremely Scary Ghost Elevator Prank in Brazil

This Brazilian Prank on You Tube went completely viral in the US today, it even hit the nightly news.
So, in case you missed it, here we go!
Born Again Brazilian, the doll on the girl's arm reminded me of your fear/horror of Brazilian dolls!
Ha! LOL!!! :)


Monday, November 26, 2012

40 pounds Heavier in 7 hours

Ok, continuing on our European journey thru Belgium and Amsterdam.

So this is how I was feeling as we waited for our Amsterdam train :(
I described on our last post the actual flight and the great conversation I had with Georgie, the awesome lady from Belgium that I met on the flight from New York to Brussels.
So, the first impression when arriving in Brussels was that we were 40 pounds heavier, and EVERYBODY smoked, even before we got out of the luggage carousel area, smoke filled that air, and I don't think I had felt that since sometime in the late 80's, not indoors anyway.
See, we didn't actually ate like pigs and gained 40 pounds each on the flight from New York to Brussels, but everyone was so much thinner in Brussels, that we felt so much fatter...instantly... :(
The Brussels Airport felt a bit small to me, it was like we were landing in Ribeirao Preto, a city in the state of Sao Paulo, it really didn't fell like the capital of Europe.
The Airport was nice, don't get me wrong, everything was functional, clean, modern, I think I just had the wrong expectation regarding the size of the Airport and the city.
By the way, there was a great train station right under the Airport where you could choose between the ubber expensive "Thalys", the fast train, or the regular train.

This is the Thalys, not the train we took
Our options were, 200 Euros a piece for a one way ticket from Brussels to Amsterdam or 90 Euros each on the regular train. The difference was 30 minutes sooner arrival in Amsterdam, so we passed, decided to try the "Thalys" on a longer journey when time and comfort justified. The trip between Brussels and Amsterdam is about 2 hours on the regular train (our option) and 1:30 minutes on the "Thalys" .

The spacious Thalys, definitely our choice on the next European trip
As a travel trip I must say that after a little research I realized that the Thalys can be a lot cheaper if you buy in advance, depending on the day and how far in advance we could have paid as little as half the price for a nice, quick Thalys trip from Brussels to Amsterdam, the problem was that we were flying into Brussels to catch the train to Amsterdam and the Thalys does not change tickets and does not refund if you are late. Long story short, if your flight is late, you miss your train and has no recourse for a refund, we were flying American Airlines and our odds at being late were too great, it turns out we were right, our flight was 3 hours late leaving New York and we would have wasted 200 Euros if we had purchased the Thaly's tickets in advance.
Gil and I bought this awesome little" backpacks" at Ikea, I know what you are thinking,  I am a big critic of Ikea, but the darn store is growing on us :)
What I love the most about it is the durability, and flexibility of this compact backpack on wheels, plus the hidden pull out handle, and a zipper attachment on the outside for your laptop. You can't beat it for under 100 bucks.
We always try to fly without any checked luggage nowadays, principally if we have a connection, which is a certain way to be delayed or to loose luggage.
As soon as we arrived we headed to the underground train station and bought our tickets on the first train to Amsterdam.
Gilson always tells me how complicated trains can be in Europe, and my only experience with trains in Europe up to that point was in London and it was a breeze.
Well, think again my friends, Gilson was right, I had no idea how complicated trains in Europe can be, principally because they speak ENGLISH in London and I think that city is very tourist friendly, not the case elsewhere, train stations announcements are not in English.
However it was easy to find people who spoke English in Brussels (Airport), so we hoped on our train, which included a connection on a small town just outside of the Airport.
There were no direct trains from the Brussels Airport to Amsterdam, so we had to either take a city train to downtown Brussels, and then take our connection or take a train somewhere else where a train to Amsterdam was going to pass.
The train we caught at Brussels Airport was to a town called Machelen, Belgium, just outside of the Airport, a short 10 minutes and 2 stations down, from Machelen we would tke our connection train to Amsterdam.
Machelen is a suburb of Brussels, an old train platform that has been there for almost a century, again, cigarette smoke filled the air. I just couldn't stand it and we decided to walk away from the smoking crowd and wait for our train at the extreme end of the platform, where we could still watch the clock with the train's timetable.
Gilson was already having a coffee withdraw so I went down to the underground part of the station where you could find everything from coffee to newspapers and magazines, including hard porn magazines, yes, welcome to Europe, you are no longer in the land colonized by the Puritans!! ;)
I started to notice similarities with Brazil right away, not only on the station itself but in people's attitudes, Brazilians are way more influenced by European than we could ever dream.
When I went downstairs I saw the doors to the street and decided to take a peak out, I saw a couple of CAFE'S right across the street from the main entrance to the train station, so I decided to run over there and get Gilson's coffee from a CAFE instead of the train station vendors.
I ran across the street and it turns out both CAFE'S were still closed and guess what, at a closer look, they were not the CAFE we are thinking of, they were places dedicated to strip tease shows and old man smoking themselves to death, ugh, no coffee.
Got back into the station and bought Gilson some great EXPRESSO coffee from one of the vendors, great quality coffee by the way, and no Starbucks, YAY!
Our train tickets to Amsterdam said 10:37am. Many trains were coming and going and we were paying attention as the station clock approached 10:37am, not understanding the language made me a little tense and with a felling I was missing something.
Neither of us speak or understand FLEMISH, or FRENCH, which are the languages spoken on the station's speakers and written everywhere in Belgium.
I started to have flashbacks to my trip to Budapest when I couldn't understand a thing anyone said and couldn't read anything anywhere, frustrating to say the least. I guess now I understand how frustration it must be for some of you folks moving to Brazil and not speaking or understanding a word of Portuguese... :(

10:37am comes around and NO TRAIN anywhere to be found!
I started telling Gilson: See! Aren't Europeans supposed to be on time? 10:40am and no Amsterdam train yet!!!
Something must be wrong, the station was empty by now, with the exception of a couple of American tourists carrying around the exact same backpack we bought at Ikea, HA, lol, we also suspected they were Americans because they came near us to escape the cloud of cigarette smoke towards the middle of the platform... and then we heard them speaking! ;)
At around 10:45am, other trains started to come into the station and other people were hoping in and out of them, but none of them said AMSTERDAM on them, so we stayed put and I started to panic, there were all kinds of announcements on the station's speaker, but we couldn't understand ANYTHING they were saying :(
Around 11:00am, I decided to go look for someone and ask where our Amsterdam train went!!
I found a gentleman wearing "TRAIN STATION UNIFORM LOOKING CLOTHES", so I asked him if he knew what happened to our 10:37am train from MACHELEN to AMSTERDAM and this were his exact words, in perfect ENGLISH:

Train station gentleman's answer:  
I "THINK" the 10:37am train's engine wasn't working too well this morning when I saw it at central train depot!

I thanked the polite gentleman and went back to Gilson to brake the news to him.
So I tell Gilson the train station worker told me, OUR TRAIN'S motor wasn't working too well this morning, and he wasn't sure if that train was coming at all.
He also told me we could "try" and catch the 11:37am train to Amsterdam, because he knew THAT one was operating normally and it had no "ENGINE" trouble.


Are you kidding me! I was fuming, what the hell kind of train system are they running here! They desperately need skilled operations managers in Belgium, and I was ranting away, fuming mad...UGH!!! Because we would be late to meet our friends in Amsterdam for lunch.
A meeting 23 years in the making. More details about that in the near future.
What do you mean! YOU THINK... the train had engine trouble!!!! Either it had or not! What the hell! Just too weird!
I told Gilson I wasn't gonna be able to wait until our LUNCH in Amsterdam with our friends to eat. I got an awesome little sandwich at the train station and tried to cool off a bit.
At 11:37am sharp, our train showed up at the station....we had been staying away from the cigarette smoke in the center of the station, so when the train stopped we entered the last train car, the one right in front of us.
Let me tell you one thing, I was not impressed, at all, the train car we walked in was spacious, but very old, think "ORANGE FORMICA" on the walls with dark red vinyl seats, but it was clean and comfortable, good enough for me, but again, not impressed.
However, to my surprise, we had gotten into the FIRST CLASS car by mistake, it happens when you don't understand the language or the rules.
So when we showed the "ticket taker" our regular (Economy Class) tickets he got all tense and told us we were in the wrong car, he said that in Dutch/Flemish first, and after my startled look of oblivion, he explained it again in perfect English, that we were sitting in FIRST CLASS when we were supposed to be sitting in the 2nd Class cars.
OMG!! Really!! This is FIRST CLASS!!!!!
I was thinking the old ORANGE FORMICA FIRST CLASS train car was so so, and got scared to think what would 2nd class look like!!! :(
It turns out, 2nd class wasn't so bad after all, it was just a little tight, and super crowded, because we later found out, there was no engine trouble what so ever. Trains were on strike, so all passengers from the 10:37am train got jammed up into the 11:37am train which was already half full.
We just happened to land in Belgium in the middle of a HUGE fight between government and the people for a hike in taxes, YES, a HIKE in taxes. Both in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Dutch actually pays 19% income tax, and their government have just approved an income tax hike to 21%, so all hell broke loose, and the trains were on strike.
That is when I get really mad, they pay 19% in taxes now and get UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, among many other nice amenities.
We pay a hell of a lot more taxes and go broke if we get cancer and have no health insurance! Europeans were constantly asking us WHY oh WHY Americans are against universal health care, they just don't get it, and never will, because contrary to what we hear in the US, universal health care is really good in Europe.
So, back to our main topic, the trains were NOT MALFUNCTIONING, but I think the polite railroad worker gentleman didn't want to be so blunt, so he made up a story on the spot, now the weird phrase " I "THINK" the 10:37am train's motor wasn't working too well this morning when I saw it at the main train depot!"  made more sense.
According to Gilson trains around Europe are quite nicer and more spacious, what happens here is that the trains between Brussels and Amsterdam are almost like city trains, because the two cities are actually very close to each other.
We really enjoyed the ride to Amsterdam, it's amazing to see how these people, both the Belgian and the Dutch take advantage of the flat geography to use bicycles as an efficient and healthy mode of transportation, not just within their cities, but from the train we could see nicely paved and well signaled bike lanes all over the country side, going thru the woods, next to beautiful lakes and rivers, connecting one little town to the other, all lined with trees providing shade to the riders, really really nice.
Sorry, but I still hadn't taken any pictures up to this part of the trip, were were still trying to get over the fact of how FAT we looked compared to everyone else around us, plus the language barrier and the train confusion, pictures were not a priority for us up to that point.

Amsterdam HERE WE COME!!!


To be continued shortly!!!!  :)


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday in the US 2012!

I know deep inside this offends my Brazilian values to the core!!
Scenes of an Alligator feeding frenzy attacking Zebras at a river crossing in Africa come to mind.
Ay ay ay!
Glad to say this Brazilian only went to a Black Friday madness once, never again.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving season, and I will sure be back writing soon.

Abracos a todos

Thursday, October 11, 2012

American Airlines fiasco & a True Love Story!

Getting there:

Gil and I have been back from our European tour for almost a week now, but we have both been miserable with a horrible cold we caught on the last days of our journey.
I am feeling a little better now, so I should start sharing with you the first impressions and points of view from these two Brazilians in the Netherlands and Belgium.

American Airlines fight their management for benefits and jobs

Ok, so our trip started with the ever so nasty drama of American Airlines and their fight between the executives and the pilots. See, the executives screwed up big time, poor management, and now, in the reorganization efforts, they are punishing the workers, by cutting hours and benefits and the pilots are not putting up with it, can you blame them? I don't! I am with the pilots on this one.

Our plane was replaced and we had to wait for tests on equipment 

So, what they are doing now, they are following the rules, by the book, no, seriously, by the book like they never do. So, if there is a coffee pot malfunctioning, they ground the plane and wait for the new coffee pot. If there is one arm rest not properly attached, they call and wait for the maintenance personnel to repair it before they take off.

End result, we take our plane from Boston to New York's JFK with no major delays, but when we arrive in New York, the pilot requested a new Airplane, saying there was something wrong with the originally scheduled plane, probably some bird poop on one of the wings or something like that, God forbid we fly to Brussels with an Airplane containing bird poop on the wing.
This strategy by the pilots has the goal to delay as many flights as possible and piss off the public and pressure management to ease up on cutting the pilots benefits. Clever, but irritating if you are a passenger.

Understand more about American Airline's fiasco from this CHICAGO TRIBUNE report.

To be honest with you, I had paid so little for our tickets that I told Gilson I was prepared for all the insanity, we were armed with Valium, ear plugs and fluffy face masks, we should be ok.
We finally see the new Airplane pulling up, and sure enough, they had to run all sorts of tests on the new (old) plane to make sure it was safe to cross the north Atlantic.
Long story short, we boarded the plane 3 hours late, and sat on the tarmac another 3 hours, half of our first day would be consumed by American Airlines tit for tat little war.
As it turns out, it wasn't all bad. Gilson took a Valium before I did, and had his Ipod hooked up and the fluffy face mask before I could put the rest of our stuff on the overhead bin.
As soon as I sat down and got ready for the long flight, this bubbly, smiley Belgium lady, approaches me and says, Hello!!!! My name is Georgie, I will be sitting next to you, I am from Antwerp, Belgium, this is my husband Francois!!!! What is your name???? :)

I swear, it might sound cold and weird, but for some odd reason, I haven't spoken to people on airplanes for the longest time.
Maybe because I usually drug myself and put on the face mask and the ear plugs before the other person even sits next to me, I know, very UN-Brazilian of me.
I was just caught completely off guard and was wondering how long we would be talking and how tired I would be the next day in Belgium trying to find the right train on the right platform.

Georgie and Francois- The love story of a life time!

It turns out I had one of the best conversations on a plane ever!!!
And ended up in tears, all melted and sobbing like a 3 year old girl who just saw her Barbie shredded to pieces by a mean Pitbull. ( Ok, you got the picture, I got emotional as hell).

Ok, hear me out, Georgie is just one of these great, positive, bubbly personalities that you might want to punch on the face if she catches you in the wrong day, wrong mood.
But I was kinda mellow, and ready to see my long time friends I hadn't seen since 1989.
Georgie goes on to tell me she LOVES Americans because we are soooo nice, so positive, so polite and so gentle all the time.
I was scrachting my head and thinking, lady, you must have been in the deep South, because you are surely not describing anywhere in the Northeast...such as Boston, Philly or New York city! :)
Georgie tells me that they come to the United States once a year, her husband and her are semi precious stones dealer.
There is this International Semi Precious Stone Dealer Convention in Tucson, once a year.
So they meet Stone dealers from all over the world, she told me she buys and sells lot's of stone to folks in Brazil and all of Europe.
She actually buys stones from all over the world and sells them to sculptors and artists all over Europe and Brazil.

Georgie's Belgian Friends move to Petropolis- Rio de Janeiro

She goes on to tell me her best friend from Belgium, woke up one day and just said, we are moving to Brazil!! That is it, we want good weather and a beautiful landscape.
Her friends think Brazil have the nicest birds and they love carving birds on stone, so they decided to move to Brazil carve Brazilian birds out of rocks, granite and semi precious stones.
OK!!! It sounded odd to me at first, how random can that be? But really cool at the same time.
So, her best friend and the husband sold everything they had, applied for some kind of artist/entrepreneur VISA and moved to Petropolis, a medium sized town just outside of Rio de Janeiro.
It turns out, they became a reference in entire region for Birds carved out of stone, granites, amethysts and other semi precious stones.
The Belgian couple who immigrated to Brazil is actually making a ton of money, and Georgie knows, because they buy all their stones from her.
She is getting ready to go visit Brazil and see how her Belgium friends have adapted to life in the nice town of Petropolis-RJ.

Love story- Continued

I never miss an opportunity to ask European folks how much they pay in taxes, how much they pay for their health insurance and how is their health insurance in details, I also ask how much is gasoline, heating, mortgage rates, I know, I am a big sponge of information.

As it turns out, we pay taxes out of our behinds, and we don't get much in return what so ever, not to mention, we have no universal health insurance (with the exception of Massachusetts) and a pathetic Social Security system on the brink of bankruptcy after years serving as a cash cow for dirty politicians borrowing money from it and never paying it back, and then they say SS is broken, oh, don't even get me started on when they start calling it "entitlement".

So, Georgie tells me they pay 36% taxes, but that is because her husband and her make a lot of money, they make over 150 Euros per year, combined, so they are at one of the top brackets of the tax payers in Belgium.
Most middle class Belgian pay between 19% and 25% in taxes.
Yeah, that is a hell of a lot LESS than we pay in the United States, and they have UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, we have Blue Cross Blue Shield for 1500 dollars a month  :(

PS: Sidetrack Alert! If you want, just skip this paraghaph when I go onto a little sidetracked rant of my own!! :)
See, Europeans don't have as many WARS, like we do all over the place.
I tell you, it sucks to be the POLICE of the world.
We would easily have enough money to afford health care for every one, plus have decent roads and bridges that are not falling in the water and killing dozens of people like the Minnesota disaster. We have bridges and overpasses on I-95 connecting Boston and New York that are being supported by wood beams, because the concrete has been completely corroded by ice and salt and heavy traffic of HUGE trucks. It's a shame.
But, priorities, priorities, we need to have wars all over the place, so our people are on their own when it comes to health care and our infra-structure is falling a part! SHAME!
I wish and hope that we can change for the better.

Side track alert activated, see, I am terrible!
Here I go ranting into the political arena when I have a beautiful love story to share with you that moved me to tears.

Ok, back to Georgie and Francois

So, after I talk Georgie to death about politics and taxes, she goes on to tell me, she has been married to Francois twice.
I said, TWICE!!! What! How? Why?
She goes on to tell me they fell completely in love for the first time back in 1963, and got married.
They were both young and had brilliant careers in Banking, they both were working and going to school at night and taking their Masters in Business.

So, they didn't want to have any children, school and career was the main priority.
Georgie told me this is their country's biggest problem, most people of her generation, folks born in the 40's and 50's, didn't want to have any children, their priority was money, and career.
Their population is aging fast, and there are no people to work in their factories.
The solution was to import immigrants from Morroco back in the 70's and 80's and started paying a lot of money for Belgian willing to have children.

So, Georgie and Francois. after 9 years of marriage, slowly drifted a part, they were still great friends, but didn't have much in common anymore, plus, Francois really wanted children, but Georgie didn't, so they divorced 9 years after their first marriage.

Georgie met another man called Pierre and felt madly in love with him, got married again and lived very happily with Pierre for a little over 30 years.
Francois was very sad, he always loved Georgie to death, didn't want the divorce, but finally decided to move on with his life, he met another lady, married and had one daughter.

On a beautiful crisp, sunny fall morning in Antwerp, Pierre suddenly had a massive heart attack during breakfast while reading the daily newspaper and died on the kitchen table before the paramedics even had a chance to arrive and start CPR procedures.
Georgie was completely devastated, sad and became gravely depressed.
Thoughts of suicide were constant and she had no more reason to live.

A couple months after Pierre died, Georgie finally gathered some strength and started cleaning up Pierre's closet.
Georgie found a box of pictures at the very deep end part of the closet that she hadn't seen since the 70's.
It turns out, the pictures were not Pierre's, but they belonged to Francois, and they were pictures of cars they had owed together when they were married in the 1960's.
Georgie and Francois both loved cars, they loved classic cars, sports cars and that was one of their passions and one of the things that got them together in the first place.
She decided to call Francois to tell him about the pictures, but was reluctant because she knew his present wife wasn't very fond of her.
She decided to call anyway, and told Francois about the box of pictures of their car collection from the 60's that she had found.
He had been looking for a picture of his favorite car ever, it was a special edition BMW, special custom trim from factory, special dash board, the car was made up to his specifications from the factory in Germany.
It was white, with a large Blue Stripe, like a race car, the car also had a cool blue dash board, matching the rest of the car.
The little BMW was a powerful 8 cylinder beast.
The fastest car Francois ever had.
It turns out, all the pictures from their favorite car in the 60's was in box Georgie found inside Pierre's closet.

1963 BMW similar to Georgie's and Francois! Picture a large Blue strip over the car

I love this BMW's style!! Love me some classi cars! :)

They arranged a meeting for the picture swap.
Francois started crying the minute he saw Georgie after so many years away, and she told him she was depressed and wanted to end her life, she saw no more reason for living.
That is when Francois told her, that he had always, ALWAYS loved her, and that he never wanted to divorce her and that he had been miserable all this years, he really didn't love his present wife and wanted nothing but another chance to make Georgie HAPPY!!!
Awwww! Isn't that awesome!!!!! So cool! I love a good love story!
Tell me! Doesn't it sounds like the ultimate chick flick plot, but it was a real story and I was completely melted in tears when she got to this part of the story.
I felt really privileged to learn about this awesome Belgian love story.
Francois divorced the woman he lived with for 30 years but wasn't happy with her and married Georgie again.

Georgie is so happy now, she can't even remember how she could have been soooo depressed.
They travel all over Europe now and sell beautiful semi precious rocks/stones they buy on their once a year trip to Tucson, Arizona.

I learned a lot about the Belgian people from Georgie's story, I learned their main staple food is FRENCH FRIES with Mayonnaise, and the love a bloody Steak! Who knew!!
The Belgian people are very well off, their income is 50% higher than the Dutch for example, they LOVE CARS, and they do not drive your stereotypical tiny FIAT like you might think all European people do, from silly Hollywood movies.

Georgie drives a Chrysler Minivan and Francois has a brand spanking new Chrysler 300.
They love large gas guzzler/American cars, they have driven Pontiacs, Buicks and Cadillacs all their lives and they are going thru a Chrysler phase right now.
Belgians have lot's of jobs, they have not outsourced jobs to India or China, they don't even comprehend the concept of outsourcing jobs.
It is just so stupid and obnoxious to export jobs and leave your own people homeless that they just don't get it. Can you blame them?

They don't get why we do it, or allow our Corporations to get away with murder it.

If you think things are SUPER expensive in Europe, think again, not the case, not at all.
Despite the fact that most things are made locally, in Germany, Belgium or France, they do not pay an arm and a leg for electronics for example, like we do in Brazil.
Their prices in general were slightly higher than they are in the US, but the quality of everything was so much higher it was totally worth the premium price.

Don't even get me started on the higher standards of food in Europe, well, everything really, not just food, no Garlic imported from China in the supermarkets we visited.
Gilson and I were in love with the creamy delicious taste of milk and pastries. Never tasted milk this delicious anywhere. Gilson says milk in the US tastes like Cauliflower, it must be all the hormones and chemicals. I really don't taste differences in the milk in the US or Brazil, but I did taste a HUGE difference in the milk we drank in Belgium and the Netherlands.

As a disclaimer for the first of my European posts, I will bitch and rant about things in the US that I found out are crappier and lower quality as in Europe, but I still love this awesome country that has been my home for the previous 15 years, and in time I will recover... ;)

Ufa! Enough for one post, I will write again soon with more exciting events and adventures in Europe.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ray and Gil in the Netherlands and Belgium

We are SUPER excited with our coming trip, Gil and I are traveling to Belgium and the Netherlands next Wednesday, September the 27th and staying for 7 days.
The only bad news, is that we are flying American Airlines, UGH, well, life isn't perfect, but we sure know how to make the best of it, a Valium, ear plugs, a comfortable eye cover mask, and that part of the trip can just be erased from memory or prevented from ever entering our happy brains.
We fly into Brussels and take the "BULLET" train into Amsterdam.

Fast Train from Brussels to Amsterdam
Netherlands and Belgium

I have never been in one of these super fast trains and can't wait to try it.
I ride the Amtrak Acela all the time between Boston, Providence, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington DC, but it's only called fast, because it doesn't stop in every little town along the way, but it's nothing like the bullet trains in Europe or Japan.
The train ride between Brussels and Amsterdam is about 1 hour and 30 minutes, not bad.
Gil and I will have no car for 4 days, which is making me a little paranoid, I know, I am bad. But I like to go wherever I want, whenever I want and I am not used to share my space.
How is that for an Americanized Brazilian brat? ;)
But all kidding aside, Gil and I will be in good hands. Let me explain WHY we are going to Europe next week.
See, when I was a Rotary Exchange Student back in 1989, I lived in the US for one full year, in Oklahoma, and in the middle of my one year living here, I went on a 45 day trip with 57 Rotary Foreign Exchange students from all over the world.

This is the route of our 1989 trip around the US, it included Toronto, Canada and Cidaud Juarez, Mexico

I made friends from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, France, Italy,  Argentina, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Mexico and a TON of Brazilians, mostly from Sao Paulo state, 1 from Parana state and 1 from Minas Gerais state and I know I must have forgotten to mention a country or two.

Rotary Exchange Program Summer Bus Tour USA-Canada-Mexico 1989
I am the dude in the far right, skinny, with HAIR, wearing those God awful yellow sweat pants and my friend Miguel from Curitiba right next to me in the green polo shirt.

Me, Daniela, Miguel, Luciane, Ana Luiza,  and Marcio walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
I know, PINK sweat shirt, you are thinking that was so gay of me, let me clarify something, I am gay, and hate PINK, HATE pink with the passion.
But have you ever been in San Francisco in the summer wearing nothing but jeans shorts and a T-shirt? No! I have! You would cry like a 3 year old little girl.
Then you try to cross the Golden Gate Bridge on foot and freeze half to death, IN JULY people!!! JULY!
Alex, you would freaking turn blue and die in under 30 seconds.
Well, I was skinny, very HOT I know, and had all my hair still on top on my HUGE HEAD.
We went to one of those touristy stores in Chinatown and I bought the CHEAPEST sweat shirt the dimes, nickels and quarters found in the bottom of my JEANS backpack could afford, and apparently PINK wasn't a popular color, it was the cheapest, on sale for U$5,00 bucks, so PINK sweat shirt it was.
I thought it was the right price to use it one afternoon going across the Golden Gate Bridge. :)

For the first time since 1989, our group has re-organized, and Facebook played a fundamental role as a tool to make that possible. We have our own Summer 89 Bus Tour Community, and we will meet in Amsterdam to see each other after our trip of a lifetime, for the first time in 23 years later.
How cool is that?

Folks are coming from all corners of the world, you can imagine my level of excitement.
So, our friends from Amsterdam and the UK are preparing canal tours, bus trips into the interior areas of Holland, Cheese tours, Clog Factory, Cycling Tours, Canal Tours, a picnic at Vondelpark, Heineken Tour, Ann Frank and Van Gogh Museums, you name it!
However, we would love to hear from any of you who might have any experience in Amsterdam and and principally BELGIUM, and might want to share some tips, and recommendations with us.
That would be great! Principally because we don't have any locals guiding us thru Belgium.
I love when you share tips, when I was in Houston, Ginger from Flowers and more shared an awesome Persian restaurant and Bakery in that city, it was probably one of my favorite places to eat in this country EVER!!!

Our dear fellow blogger Sara, from Our Crazy Happy Life also one of my favorite Oklahoma Cowboy fans ;) , gave me a great tip on the BEST MEXICAN FOOD I ever ate in my life, that was my last night in Houston. Thank you so much Sara, I will treasure that for life.
I still crave Mexican Food, living in Rhode Island you get no Mexican Food what so ever, you might as well be in Sao Paulo, there seems to be more Mexican options there, ok, Ray, here you go side tracking gain.
Ok, so, please don't be shy, and share any tips, restaurant, hotels, scenic routes, small charming little towns, anything you think we could visit and enjoy as much as you did.
Again, talking to Ginger on facebook, she told me about the awesome little town on the coast of Belgium, called Bruges, it's on the coast. Colin Farrel was in a movie called "In Bruges (2008)", a cool action thriller. HERE is the link to "In Bruges".
So, needless to say, Bruges is on our travel plans, thanks again Ginger.

I love History, so I will enjoy Bruges, and have been doing a lot of reading about it all.
We also included Ghent on our trip, because besides the fact that Ghent is an awesome historic little town, it is where the BELGIUM WAFFLE was invented! You think I would miss that! Not in a million years, Belgium Waffle making class included. MAX Restaurant in Ghent, Belgium is the place where Belgium Waffles were invented, a couple of centuries ago, the same family still runs the place, several generations down.
Reading the reviews is so entertaining, they go on to mention that the restaurant has a line up front every morning, mostly Americans, waiting to eat Belgium Waffles for breakfast.
The owners often get irritated and have to explain every single day, that Belgium Waffles are not eaten for Breakfast, they don't even have the Waffle Iron and oven turned on until about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, about the time they start serving the Belgium treats.
Belgium eat Waffles plain, with just a coat of powered sugar, with coffee, as a mid-afternoon pick me up snack. No whipped cream, no fruit, jams or syrup, but they keep all these items for American tourists, who insist in eating Belgium Waffles the American way.
The Americans describing the experience often mention how light the Waffles are and that only one won't suffice, you should order many of them if you are hungry. :)

One thing that made me literally sick to my stomach was to read about the recent History of both countries and discover that most towns near the border with Germany look modern, everything is pretty much new, because they were all completely destroyed by the Germans, during the Nazi invasion of WWII.
It makes me sick to remember I am part German, it makes me sick because I can't believe HUMANS allowed this to happen. It mostly makes me sick because I come to realize, it is very possible that this could happen again. You don't understand how Germans were brainwashed by the Nazis? I have one word for you: "Tea Party", ok, that is two words.
And I am not saying Tea Party folks are Nazis, but they have a similar level of stubbornness, ignorance and may I dare say, racism, that Germans had in the decades preceding that horrible war.
One more thing before I get carried away in "side tracking land", despite the fact that I am part German, my Paulista grandfather fought in Italy and helped defeat the Nazis in that country.
Yes, in case you didn't know, Brazil had a significant participation next to the United States and the Allied forces and played an important role in defeating Hitler in Europe, and that makes me feel a little better about the whole thing of being half German.

Back to our post's topic, I wanted to explore all of Belgium, but because of our short time, 4 days, we will concentrate in the towns that were better preserved from the Nazis destruction, and visit the regions closer to the sea, where our greatest and best friends forever, the British, helped defend from the BASTARDS Nazis, Tom, your people are awesome!!! Please thank your grandparents for me when you see them again!! :)

No, we didn't have enough time to learn Dutch, but I heard they all speak English very well over there, so I am not too worried about that.
Belgium mostly speaks French but most people also are fluent in English.
Gil knows a little French and he lived in Louvain-la-Neuve, a small town just outside of Brussels, Belgium, when he was 19 years old, we will definitely include this town in our trip.
So, please, please, share any tips you might have for us for Belgium or Holland.
We will most definitely post pictures and a post trip post.

Thank you


Friday, September 14, 2012

Brazilian Marshmallow - Maria Mole

Brazilian Marshmallow- Maria Mole- Invented by Antonio Bergamo from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Gil shared this information with me and I thought it would be could to let you all know about the Brazilian Marshmallow.

Maria Mole Bicolor - Strawberry flavored Maria Mole

In case you haven't tried yet, it is heavenly if made home and enjoyed fresh.
You probably have tried it at Festa Juninas, when they are served more often.
There are several versions, the most common being the one rolled in Coconut, not my favorite.
You can also find it strawberry flavored, which is pink. Also not my favorite.

Maria Mole with a layer of cherry Jello

My favorite is the one my grandma makes it, fresh, homemade heaven, no coconut, no strawberry flavors, just plain white.
It is a typical Brazilian treat, made with sugar, egg whites, colorless gelatin, and optional shredded coconut - (not my favorite version).

Diet Maria Mole, looks delicious if you ask me

When the dessert is ready, the consistency resembles that of Marshmallow, but it's not sticky, it is said to be the Brazilian version of Marshmallow, very popular at the Catholic festivals in June, called "Festas Juninas".

Maria Mole made with wood handle sticks for parties

Maria Mole was invented by Antonio Bergamo, in Sao Paulo, he was a Paulistano of Italian ancestry. Antonio Bergamo manufactured candy and he wanted to find a way to use all the "egg whites" left over from the making of other candy that only used egg yolks.

Creative version of Maria Mole imitating a chess game

So he ended up achieving a harder consistency from beating the egg whites and added colorless gelatin to the mix, he was afraid it would turn to hard, but to his surprise, when the mix cooled down, it didn't harden too much, it remained soft, hence the name "Maria Mole" or rufly translated to "Soft Mary".

Brazilian creativity at it's best

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Moma Duck knows best!!! :)

A heart stoping video! The Ducks make it across this Canadian Highway!
But I have to say I held my breath for 1 minute and 18 seconds.

Have a good weekend everyone  :)


Monday, August 27, 2012

Crime rate down in Sao Paulo

Violent crime is down in Sao Paulo, 13% lower than last year

This is great news, principally because we are thinking of moving back home to Sao Paulo and after living in the US for 15 years we are as scared of news regarding crime as your typical/garden variety American expat. :)
We had heard and read a few articles here and there about more crime in Sao Paulo and that freaked us to no end, even our BFF and fellow blogger Alex has writen us before asking about certain articles he was reading around about the increase in crime in Sao Paulo and we all searched about it together, called people and searched a little more.
I happen to have a very close family member who is a Police Chief in Sao Paulo and this person has kept me very well informed about what is going on with the news of crime being up and then being down.
First and foremost I read this article today HERE, that goes on to say that murder rates are down in Sao Paulo by 13% compared to the same time period last year. Which is great news.
Before you go lighting up fireworks to celebrate, let me share the insider's information on the situation.
What happened in Brazil recently is a shift in the balance of power among criminal organizations, they are loosing space and shifting Geography, they are going into new areas and trying to find their niche.
With the approaching "Soccer World Cup" in 2014 and the Rio "Olympics" in 2016, the state of Rio de Janeiro needed to help locate phisical space to built some of the venues where the Rio Olympics will take place, and some of the Soccer events for the World Cup.
If you are familiar with Rio de Janeiro, there isn't much space to go around, the Geography of the region is very peculiar, which in my opinion makes Rio on of the most spetaculars places on earth, principally where natural beauty is concerned, the beaches, lucious green mountains, giant bolders, water falls, lakes, just out of the world beautiful.
Space is limited, the city is squeezed between Ocean and Mountains on a thin strip of land.
The city has to find space, which is already mostly occupied by urban development. The only alternative for the government of Rio is to claim back some of it's stolen government land to built the new venues.
If you are from Brazil, you most likely HATE favelas, you are not proud of them, you don't think they are cute, you don't think they are decent and you don't think it's a matter of human rights to keep this people in favelas, there is no way we should improve life in the favelas.
We should move them to safe areas, period. If you think otherwise, you are most likely not familiar with the situation.
The obvious traditional defenders of the favelas "status quo", are religious leaders, who want to be popular and gather more pupils to their churches, opportunistic politicians who want the obvious extra vote in their districts, foreign human rights watch groups, who in my opinion don't really understand the situation and other groups that have various random reasons to think favela living is worth preserving.
First of all, Rio favelas are built on dangerous cliffs that are suceptable to mud slides, not to mention fires with no access to Fire Department services in case of emergencies.
Favelas dwellers cut down natural vegetation that holds the "MOUNTAIN" together, and build flimsy little wooden shacks on top of it, and eventually build some fragile concrete and block walls, without proper foundation and nothing with the supervision of an civil engineer or any infra structure to hold the building/house firmly on that cliff.

Police moves into Rio Favelas, thugs run away to other Brazilian cities

Long story short, in my opinion, no human being belong in favelas, these people deserve a decent, safe place to live, with sewer services, police, ambulances and fire department access, a place well built and firm ground and proper public transportation.
They deserve a place with legal electrical, water and internet/telephone connections that won't just burst into flames because they steal electricity and clump up 300 connections in one and cause explosions, fire and death.
And ultimately, with the end of FAVELAS in Brazil, crime will have a much harder time to find "hiding" places and easier to control.
I have no doubt in my mind we will see that in our lifetime.
So, back to our main topic of discussion here, crime in Sao Paulo is up and then crime in Sao Paulo is down and there is a good reason for that.
I will tie it all together with my previous favela rant in Rio and the removal of some Rio favelas along with the "pacification of some of Rio favelas", bare with me.
See, when government started bulldozing some favelas down to the ground in Rio, and claiming their land back, they also started to bring in highly organized and powerful police forces into the remaining favelas, with the goal in mind to make the entire city safer for the upcoming sports events.
Police goes in, organized crime comes out and where did they go?
If you answered "other" cities, you got it.
Organized drug crime moved to other large Brazilian cities, wherever they could hide and continue to do business.
By the way, in my opinion, if you smoke pot and think it's an inocent thing to do, you are a direct part of the crime problem, come on, where do you think that pot comes from? Not from Lojas Americanas or Pao de Acucar, that is for sure.
I am not anti pot, if you can/could get it from a legal source, and if you like/enjoy/need it, good for you, but please either get it from a legal source or stay the hell away from it.

Rio favelas remain occupied by Police and the Brazilian Army and see an instant reduction in crime

They moved to Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Salvador, you name it, and upon their arrival, gang wars errupted, increasing the crime rate in Sao Paulo for example.
Sao Paulo was caught off guard, until they noticed increase in murder rates in the outskirts of the metropolitan region.
Sao Paulo, different than Rio, has a lot of space, we are not limited and surrounded by mountains like Rio, so our favelas and poor areas where most of the crime takes place is far away from the Sao Paulo I grew up and know as my home town.
There has been a fight for power over the drug business between the newcomers, who are "just kicked from Rio criminals" and the long established Sao Paulo crime gangs.
It took the state of Sao Paulo and it's police force a little while to catch up with what was happening and built a strategy to tackle the new challenge and we are now finally seeing the results of their efficient and hard work.

Principles of crime reduction, Sao Paulo Police is using efficient methods to fight crime

Violent crime is down again and continue on it's lowering trend that started back in 1998, about the same time Gil and I left Brazil, when crime had reached it's peak in Sao Paulo.
I am glad to see that the reduction of crime rates in Sao Paulo continues on a down spiral trend, not that it ever bothered me too much, because truth be told, in Sao Paulo crime happens far away from the parts of the city my family and I always lived, so it realistically doesn't affect me or my family directly, but less crime is always good news and always good for the overall image of the city.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The price of a CAR in Brazil!

I found this video today on a series of YouTube videos called "O Canal do Otario", which translates to "The Sucker Channel".
This particular video uses the Volkswagen Gol as an example of how Brazilian consumers are swindled by excessive taxes and abusive profit margins by Car factories and Car dealers established in the country.
By the way, I just found out Brazil has the largest amount of car factories anywhere in the world, who knew? Interesting fact, and proof that high import tariffs are a by far one of the most successful strategies adopted by the Brazilian government. Even the Chinese are ticked off they can't just import their cars into Brazil and are being pressed to open their car factories in the country and employ locals.
Long story short, the video calls the Brazilian consumer, or actually any consumer in Brazil for that matter, so they might as well be talking to you if you live in Brazil and have bought a car in recent years, and it will make you feel even worse if you bought a Volkswagen Gol.
So, the video goes on to say that a brand new Gol in Brazil costs R$37,000 and change, while the same car considering all import tariffs and shipping goes for R$22,000 in Argentina and for R$18,500 in Mexico. For the same amount you could buy a brand new Chevrolet Camaro in the United States.
Also, it shows that a brand new Volkswagen Gol costs only R$8,5000 to be made, including materials and labor, before taxes, and dealer and factory profits.
So if you would add 100% for taxes, 100% of profit margin for the factory and 100% profit margin for the Volkswagen dealer, you are still at R$32,000, and R$5,000 short of the price of the car for the end consumer in Brazil.
The video announcer goes on to say that he is not picking on Volkswagen in particular, he just chose the Gol as an example because it has been the NUMBER 1 car sold in Brazil for the past 25 years and it is also exported to a large number of countries around the world.
However the example is similar to all car companies with established manufacturing plants in the Brazilian territory, and in case you are not aware (like I wasn't before watching this video), they are the following:

Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Fiat, Mitsubishi Motors, Citroen, Peugeot, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Chevrolet, Toyota, IVECO, Renault, BMW, Audi, Chrysler, Dodge and the list goes on... *this list is just for Car factories, it doesn't apply for buses or trucks.

The video ends with a plea for consumers to avoid buying cars and walk, use a bicycle or public transportation instead, saying it is better for your health and your pocket.

I noticed the Portuguese in the video is very clear so I decided to post anyway, it might be a good training if you are a Portuguese beginner.




Monday, August 20, 2012

To Kiss or not to Kiss! Brazil edition!

We Brazilians love to kiss and we start early!! :)

After reading and making a comment on THIS POST on Rachel's blog, I decided to write this post (as per my dear friend Rachel's suggestion ;) )
This is one of the most talked about culture characteristic for new comers and expats moving to Brazil.
It is ever talked about among Brazilians, trust me.
First and foremost, let me be clear, crystal clear when I say this, we are talking about an "air kiss", it's a gesture, and symbolic form of greeting, you are not supposed to give or receive a juicy wet kiss on anybody's cheeks, PLEASE!!

Wrong way to kiss when greeting in Brazil!! Yes, you will get bitch slapped if you try this!! ;)

I think it's important to clarify that, when I see and hear about people behaving in such a senseless defensive way, as if they are avoiding being tongue French kissed by everyone they see, it's not that people, relax... it's a simple warmer than you are used to form of greeting.
So I decided to talk to Gil about it to help me remember what are the "rules" on the greeting kiss in Brazil. I also called my mother, an aunt and my grandmother in an effort to be as informative and helpful as possible.
Please read my answer to Rachel's post below, it's pretty complete and it should help you feel more confident with the so talked about "Brazilian greeting kiss"!!  :)


The cardinal rule of Brazilian good manners is to never ever turn your face away or block the other person by extending your arm, this would be the quickest way to offend Brazilians and show them you could care less for local customs or any possibility at friendship or a friendly existence. Such a rude sign would contribute to the wrong “stereotype” some people have that Americans overseas are rude and arrogant.
Having said that, there are some basic rules when greeting folks in Brazil, here we go:

-As a general rule, 1 Kiss in Sao Paulo, 2 Kisses in Rio, but don’t stress, people brake this rule all the time, just go with the flow on this one, it is even cool to make a little joke while going for the kiss, and ask, 1 or 2 kisses? it helps to brake the ice and puts the other person at ease, I always did that and sorted out the other person’s intentions and avoided awkward moments :)
-If a lady is sitting down, and someone arrives to greet, she can choose to remain siting while greeting or she can decide to stand up, women get to choose as they please.
-Gentlemen never get to choose, in Brazil, it is always polite and expected that a gentleman stands up to greet whoever is arriving at the scene.
-There is a very popular joke of the Brazilian “kissing game” that we say ( 3 pra casar ), usually people throw that in to brake the ice, make a joke, put people at ease, and it means, “3 kisses to marry”, as in wishing the person good luck to get married soon…and married people do it too and laugh about it.

Guys don't kiss while greeting in Brazil!! :)

-If you come into a room filled with strangers and a few friends, you kiss your friends and family, not every one in the party. Now if you are going to a family reunion, good luck, you will be kissing every one you see… and you don’t kiss anyone in a room filled with strangers…:)
-If you are being formally introduced to someone, 2 kisses is the custom, but if it’s a professional setting, a hand shake is enough and kisses not expected.

Relax people, it's an air kiss, like air guitar!! R E L A X!! :)

-You should never approach to greet and kiss, someone that is eating, this is a really big no-no in Brazil, we are very particular about meal times, and if you can’t avoid it, keep it short and don’t ever go for the kiss, EVER during a meal, a short wave and a smile are more than enough, even with family and close friends. :)

Absolutely NO KISSING while someone is eating! Brazilians are very peculiar about meal time!

-As a general rule it’s not really a class thing, but it is a thing of your inner circle. You kiss people that belong to your inner circle, mainly family and close friends. If someone at work is close enough, you kiss them, but as a general rule, people don’t kiss each other at work environments, and again, keep in mind, some people will always brake this rule for different reasons, and if they do, it’s ok, don’t panic, and NEVER extend your arm or turn your face away, again, this is the ultimate insult in Brazilian culture, just go with the flow, and you will survive another awkward moment ;)
Answering your specific questions, first your observations are all correct, the teacher will kiss a parent if they have become close enough and consider each other friends.
If you saw someone in the morning, you kissed and greeted them in the morning, no need to repeat it when you see them again, once a day is fine.
The surprise hug moments, I always ask 1 or 2 kisses and I avoid that issue for myself, like I said, it’s both a way to brake the ice and know what the person intends to do. :)
I hope I was able to clarify the kissing etiquette rules in Brazil… :)

E um beijo ( Paulista ) no seu rosto… :)


I hope you guys will find this useful, and just like any culture, there are exceptions to the rule, and parts of Brazil that might have different customs, this is more in the Rio-Sao Paulo-Minas and South of Brazil areas. I am not too familiar with the North and Northeast parts of Brazil but I would be surprised if the culture rules change too much.

Forte abraco a todos


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Somos São Paulo / We Are Sao Paulo. 7 bilhões de Outros / 7 billion Othe...

I just found the video above on "Eyes on Brazil" and I thought it was very interesting to share them with you.
These are interviews from "Expats" or "Immigrants" to Sao Paulo, from people who immigrated in the beginning of the last century, people who came during or after WWII and all the way to recent arrivals.
I would like to point out to M, from Born Again Brazilian that at the 20 minutes mark a grandson of Japanese immigrants shares the story of his grandparents "hating" mortadela and throwing it away while preferring to eat plain bread  ;)
I also thought it was interesting to hear the Chinese/Brazilian girl saying her Chinese parents called her a "Banana" because she is "yellow" looking on the outside, and "White" in the inside, because for the Chinese, Brazilians are white, as in "Western Cultured".
We usually hear people talking about Brazilians as if they have an impression that we are all darker, and have a darker complexion, which might be true for some parts of Brazil but definitely not for Sao Paulo and the south of Brazil. I will never forget when I was 17 years old in Oklahoma and a man told me I couldn't be Brazilian, because I wasn't "dark enough"!!! His exact words were "How come you are white? If you are from Brazil...and my reply was... because my parents are white... and I left at that... :)
Ok, so when you have a whole hour available to immerse yourself a little deeper in what it means to be in Brazil, to live in Brazil and to become a Brazilian, take the take to watch this amazing collection of interviews from Sao Paulo immigrants.



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Brazil more equal than the US?

I decided to share this great blog post that I read today.

Sao Paulo, my hometown

I was very surprised when I read this post at Bill Maher's.
Brazil is indeed on a roll.
Take a look at what he wrote:

Brazilians believe that God is indeed Brasileiro

  Rio de Dinero

By Bill Maher

The greatest thing about America was that you could come here with nothing and, purely by hard work, become fabulously wealthy.
But this isn’t happening anymore. More and more money is concentrated in the super-rich while wages for the middle-class are stagnant and the poor are, well, if they’re lucky they might get some cheese and a flu shot. 
The worst part is, while America is turning into a banana republic, actual banana republics are starting to turn into what America used to be. 
I don’t know much about Brazil, other than that they do amazing things with wax. And have you seen the carioca? It’s not a foxtrot or a polka. There I go quoting 1930's show tunes again.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Saturday Night Live - Zeca Chuteira - 22/07/2012

So, the biggest gossip to hit the Brazilian celebrity scene is the recent revelation that UBBER HOT Brazilian Soccer player and celebrity RAI, left his wife 2 years ago and has been dating the also HOT and HIP Zeca Camargo, who is a Globo TV/Fantastico host.
They are so hot it hurts, and that bothers a lot of people!!!!

Here is a picture of Rai:

Rai, Sao Paulo soccer player and a Sex symbol in Brazil

And here is a picture of Zeca Camargo:

Zeca Camargo, TV Globo Fantastico Show host

In Brazil we have a nick name for women/girls who are the equivalent of "groupies", but instead of rock stars they prey on soccer players, we call them "MARIA CHUTEIRA", a rough translation would be snickers Mary, but chuteiras are special soccer player shoes with the spikes.
So, now, the ever so conservative Brazilian public has started the jokes, saying that now, we have a new trend "ZECA CHUTEIRAS", making a joke with the Globo TV host Zeca Camargo that has been dating the Brazilian sex symbol soccer player Rai.
So, if you catch yourself wondering what all this talk about Rai and Zeca Camargo is all about, you will now know, that this is what is all about.
Brazilians are very conservative and backwards when it comes to gay rights, and when any progress towards acceptance shocks with the good ol'MACHO, MACHISMO culture, you have the clash that we are seeing right now.
This is really hard for most IGNORANT Brazilians to understand when they were raised in a culture, not very different from Americans or Europeans by the way, where SEXUAL PREFERENCE, (notice that I will never use the word "choice", because to say choice is WRONG, we have no choice, we were born this way), is often confused with gender.
We are men who like men, some are effeminate, some are not, I know some straight men who are a little effeminate, but they like women, so there is a distinctive difference between gender identity and sexual preference.

Back to the clash in the minds of those raised in a MACHISMO culture.
Something that also drives me crazy in the Brazilian (and American) Machismo culture, is the fact that many women nourish such practice in society.
I heard from a very close friend today "RAI, nao acredito, JESUS, mas ele e tao masculino, nao acredito!!!!" UGH!!!! 
This is how it goes, and again, it's the exact same in the US, I am not sure about Europe, but I hope some of our dear readers might be able to contribute with their European perspective. Tom, any comments? ;)
If you drink BEER, you are a MAN, MACHO, macho man, if you drink wine, oh, oh, you might be gay. I remember when back in high school, girls drank wine coolers and guys drank beers, and yes, I went to high school in the US.
And in Brazil is no different, BEER is associated with masculinity, please people, let's move away from such "cliche" stereotypes.
If you play soccer, (Football in the US) you are a MACHO, MACHO man, if you join the chess club (Brazil) or the Band (US), not so much.
Not to mention, the idiots uninformed people who live in machismo cultures, think that masculine men CANNOT under any circumstance be gay, that would be the end of the world, their little pea brains would burst into flames and they would be confused, saying they understand but have a hard time accepting it, yes, I have heard someone saying that, to MY FACE, yes, they understand that GIL and I are gay, considering we are the BUTCH kind of guys, we LOVE beer, are you kidding me, our neighbors make beer in their cellar and we are their main tasters, drinking pals... :)
So, back to my mini gay hater rant, people (including people in my own family) have a real hard time understanding the fact that GIL and I are masculine guys who like beer and enjoy soccer, also are attracted by MEN.
Please forgive me, but I have grown less and less tolerant to people "Who are having a hard time understanding or accepting it"!!!
Another thing that disgusts me to no end is how backwards and ANTI GAY Rede Globo is in Brazil, to me they are the equivalent of FOX NEWS, with an evil twist, because they supported and protected the military dictatorship in Brazil between 1964 and 1986, and I won't forget or forgive them for that.
To add insult to injury, Globo is banning any news of the recent discovered love affair between one of their brightest stars and one of Brazil's most popular macho sex symbol of all times.

HERE is a news piece in Portuguese about TV Globo's cover up, and other reports HERE and HERE.

According to many different sources Zeca Camargo is livid with his network's decision to ban news about his romance with Rai.
I expected nothing different from a nasty TV network who supported the military in Brazil, with the support of the Catholic Church and the ubber conservative Brazilian elite.
Globo TV will block any attempt from any writer or novela director to show a gay kiss, which has been the subject of much controversy in the last few years.
So, again, to break the stupid mundane stereotype, a Brazilian stud MACHO sex symbol celebrity soccer player SUPER HOT if you ask me (which I am sure drive people mad) RAI loves MEN, left his wife two years ago, and has been dating equally MACHO HIP celebrity Zeca Camargo.
Having said all that, I have a HELL of a sense humor, which has been boosted 10 times fold after moving to New England and I did literally laughed out loud when I watched this video below making fun of the new term "ZECA CHUTEIRA", in other words, groupies male, after male soccer players.
Enjoy ;)

Please be nice to gay people every chance you get, principally the young ones.
It seems like we have made a lot of progress in recent years, but sadly enough we are still treated like crap very often, and the worse part, family members are usually the most cruel to gay people.