segunda-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2009

Brazil with an "S"

Today’s subject is dedicated to those who speak English. I intend to write in English once in a while about themes that I believe are going to be interesting for everyone no matter where they live. So, I decided to talk about my country, Brazil, and my hometown, Rio de Janeiro. My intention is to clarify some doubts and questions people have about them. When you say you’re from Brazil, no one is indifferent. They either smile and/or talk about Carnival, soccer, women and all those other stereotypes. For those who don’t know me, I must say I was born in Rio but I’ve lived abroad a few times (France, Spain, USA). I have friends from all over the world and I also work, as a journalist, with foreigners. Having said that, I decided to list some questions people have asked me along the years. You may find some of them really stupid, but believe me, they were real. I’m not making up any of them. And some were made to me not once or twice, but several times. 1) Do Brazilians speak Spanish? NO. Brazil was discovered and colonized by Portugal in the year 1500 and for that reason, we speak Portuguese. It’s similar to Spanish, but a different language. 2) Do Brazilians speak any dialects besides Portuguese? Is it different from Portuguese from Portugal? NO. We only speak Portuguese. And yes, the pronunciation is quite different and some vocabulary as well. 3) Is Buenos Aires the capital of Brazil? NO. Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. Brasilia, a city created in 1960 is the capital of Brazil. Before that, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. 4)Do you see jaguars and snakes on the streets? NO. Brazil is a very big country. If you go to the Amazon, which is in the north of Brazil (you have to go through Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state) you’re going to see those animals. That is if you go into the jungle. In the cities, you don’t see these kind of animals, except in the zoo. (Although little monkeys can be seen in some neighborhoods full of trees). In Rio, we have the world’s largest urban forest, a National Park called Tijuca Forest (12.4mi²) where you can find hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, many threatened by extinction. It is also a great spot for biking, hiking, running, etc. 5) Can you get shot walking on the streets of Rio? I would say NO. I’m not saying Rio is not a violent city. But the criminals don’t go around shooting people. In some parts of the city and in some favelas it is in fact really violent. For instance, in the neighborhood of Leblon, you can go out at night and walk to restaurants, bar and movie theatres with no problem. 6) Can I pay with dollars while I’m in Brazil? NO. Our currency is called reais. 1U$ = R$1,74 reais and 1EUR = R$2,56 reais. 7) What’s a typical Brazilian meal? As I said before, Brazil is a big country - 180 millions inhabitants - so, the culinary varies a lot depending on the state you are in, but I’d say it is “feijoada” a meal with black beans where the meat in cooked with the beans for 24hs and you eat it with rice and “farofa” (fried manioc flower). OBS: all big cities have international restaurants such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc. 8) What’s the difference between “capirinha” and mojito? “Caipirinha” is our traditional drink, made with “cachaça”, that comes from sugar cane. The original one is made with lime but you can also make it with other fruits such as pineapple, grape, strawberry, etc. Mojito is made with rum and mint leave. 9) Is it true that Carnival lasts four days and nobody works? Yes and NO. Carnival goes from Saturday to Tuesday. But the official day for Carnival holiday is Wednesday (40 days after Eastern - sometimes is in February, sometimes in March). Most people don’t work on Monday and work half day on Wednesday. (Just like Thanksgiving is a four day holiday in the US). However, there are a lot of people who do work during Carnival. In Rio, for instance, there is a huge parade called “Desfile das Escolas de Samba”, where thousands of people are working backstage (not only on Carnival but during the whole year to prepare it). It is a very profitable business. 10) If I don’t speak Portuguese am I going to have some difficulty in communicating? It depends on where you’re going. I mean, in Rio, SP, Manaus and other cities that receive tourists, people are used to English speakers talking to them. They’re not going to be fluent, but Brazilians are patient and very nice, so, at the end of the day, you’re going to be able to shop, eat and drink! If you knew all the answers, congratulations! I bet you have been to Brazil or you have a good general knowledge and a great understanding about history and geography. If you didn’t, now you know it! And if you have some other questions, don’t hesitate on asking them.

4 comentários:

  1. Oi Rê! Amei!
    mas, quanto a pergunta 4, eu moro em botafogo numa rua super arborizada e sempre recebo visitas de miquinhos foférrimos na janela. sério! sei que os gringos fazem esta pergunta porque acham que o Brasil é uma mega selva e que somos todos primitivos. Mas, sinceramente, o que é ser desenvolvido? quando todos os líderes mundiais estão reunidos para discutir o aquecimento global, acho um privilegio morar numa cidade tão integrada a natureza como o Rio. acho mesmo, é chiquérrimo! e adoro macaquinhos:) super beijo, parabéns pelo blog.

  2. Vc tem toda razão!!
    Tinha pensado nisso e esqueci!
    Vou acrescentar.



  3. I have been asked the fourth question many times in countries like Sweden, France, US and now in Canada. I live in Quebec. Here people say squirrels are like rats and some hate them. I actually think they are wonderful animals. In big cities, we can also see chip monkeys and raccoons. Nobody thinks it's because of a wildlife. However, when I say we can see monkeys in Rio de Janeiro, they immediately think it's consistent to a jungle life. I totally agree with Helena Klang. It's a big privilege to live in a city like Rio de Janeiro. I really miss how carioca people are able to work hard and still have lots of fun in my hometown. When i say here I have never been to the Amazon Forest, they think I'm kidding.

  4. I'm happy you agree with me!
    Thanks for the comment!