View Full Version : The World--- Starting with Brazil

Alan D. Hyde
04-20-2005, 09:29 AM
This Forum offers an excellent opportunity for us to learn about people and places we have yet to visit.

Many of us, in years to come, would like to travel more widely, possibly in our own vessel, so a foretaste of such places may be a pretty tempting aperitif.

George, on another thread, has made some interesting comments concerning Brazil, which appears to me to be a rising star in the South.

Can George and others who live there or who have visited there extensively, post some thoughts, comments, and photos relating to Brazil for a while here, after which we can switch to another locale and repeat the process???

This could take some time, and some bandwidth, but both, I suspect, might be well spent...



[ 04-20-2005, 10:31 AM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

Bruce Taylor
04-20-2005, 09:34 AM
Good idea!

Phillip Allen
04-20-2005, 09:39 AM
I worked in Brasil and Argentina both and I liked the people of Brasil a lot...good folks. The Argentines were only a little less friendly.

Dan McCosh
04-20-2005, 09:55 AM
I was in a nightclub in Rio about 20 years ago, with the head of Mercedes US operation at the table. He was staring at the stage, where a show you could only see in Brazil was underway.
He said, kind of quitely, "You know, you could get lost down here."

04-20-2005, 10:04 AM
My experience in Brazil is limited to a 12-hour stopover at a rickety wharf in some small town (Calcoene, maybe?) in the far north of the country to deliver a few tons of dynamite in 1973. I remember lush tropical jungle and coffee-brown water, but not much more.

I will, however, look forward to seeing and reading all posts from those more informed than I.

A fine idea for a thread - can't wait for the armchair travelogue to unfold.

04-20-2005, 10:05 AM
Seriously, I'd love to visit the rain forest.
I think, for some reason, I'd like to see the western, mountainous areas of Brazil - the headwaters of the Amazon area.

Although, I'm not sure how I'd handle the massive deforestation that I'd be likely to see.
But, considering that I live in an area that was itself completely deforested, I guess I have to give them the same right.

They are certainly on the brink of becoming the biggest agricultural producer in the world.

[ 04-20-2005, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: MJC ]

04-20-2005, 10:08 AM
That pic looks Freudian to me, Alan! ;)

Phillip Allen
04-20-2005, 10:15 AM
I was in Sao Paulo and surrounding area...not party town. I expect I got to meet the people of Brasil without the tourist trade bunch. After several months, I had seen no other North Americans or people from Europe.

Alan D. Hyde
04-20-2005, 11:26 AM
Has anyone here sailed to Brazil from North America?


04-20-2005, 12:28 PM
My folks spent 7 years in Brazil, doing community development work in the northeast. To my lasting regret, I couldn't scratch together the funds to go visit ... grad school, new baby, etc. etc.

My Dad's favourite memory is of a brick-making co-op, where folks with nothing each contributed the time/labour to make 1000 bricks each month, and slowly built a neighbourhood as they built each others houses. The only "paid" person in the enterprise was the guy who dug the clay out of the local river bank.


04-20-2005, 03:55 PM
All right! :cool: smile.gif

I'll have to post some pictures here...

mmd, you've been to Calçoene!! :eek: Even I haven't been there, and I have been to just about every part of Brazil! Northern Amapá is, in a manner of speaking, like the Outer Auleutians.

MJC, we don't quite get to the mountains in Western Brazil - the headwaters of the Amazon are all in Peru and Bolivia. Oour mountainous areas are in the far north, near the Venezuelan border, and right around here where I live in the S.E. coast - the slope right behind my house goes up to 1600 meters.

Phillip, you are right, Sao Paulo is not a party town - in fact it is a bit of an industrial hellhole. I should know, I was born there. Brazil's largest city, and almost 25% of our GNP...

Brazil is part Europe, part Africa, part jungle, part urban sprawl. Part poor, part rich. And it has been said to be the most similar country in the world to the U.S., in terms of psychology and aspirations. A real mess! But a happy mess, mostly... ;)

Alan D. Hyde
04-21-2005, 10:43 AM
Thanks, George.

I look forward to your photos.

Brazil strikes me as both a beautiful and a lively place.


04-21-2005, 11:12 AM
OK, how about some landscapes most people don't normally associate with Brazil? These are from one of our favorite national parks, in Minas Gerais, in the cerrado region. Cerrado is a type of scrub savannah, with rheas, giant anteaters, and maned wolves, and it covers most of central Brazil.


These are some Baroque churches, also in Minas Gerais. BTW, peb, these are literally lined with gold, from what were the world's richest gold mines in the 1700s, although I have no pictures because the inside was too dark for my camera!


This last one, built in a unique (for the period) circular shape, was for the slaves that worked the gold mines. Bet they loved Sundays... ;)

Alan D. Hyde
04-22-2005, 03:47 PM
George, this is so vague and vaporous a question that I don't blame you for not trying to answer it, but can you describe the spirit or ethos of Brazilians as a people?

How do they differ, generally, from people in other places you've lived?

Will you please kind of play De Toqueville with us for a minute or two, perhaps...


04-22-2005, 04:16 PM
Hmmm... I'll have to think about that one. De Toqueville... that's raising the bar pretty high.

Let me start with a joke, while I work out a more serious answer. I think I may have posted it before, but it illustrates Brazil very well:

A guy dies and goes to hell (he believed in evolution... :D )

He is given a choice: Brazilian hell or American hell?

He asks what is the difference, and is told: in the American hell, you have to eat one can full of sh!t every day. In the Brazilian hell, you have to eat five cans of sh!t.

"That's no choice!" he exclaims. "I choose the American hell, obviously." And off he goes...

One month later he gets his first cigarette break. As he is loitering in the hall, smoking, he hears some samba music coming out of a doorway. It's the door to the Brazilian hell. He peeks inside, and sees a bunch of people partying, laughing, making love, having fun.

He grabs the nearest one, shakes him, and says: "Hey, man, explain this to me. We at the American hell have to eat just one can of sh!t, and it ruins our whole day. You guys have to eat FIVE! How can you be so happy?"

"Well, this is the Brazilian hell. When there is a can, we are out of sh!t. When we have sh!t, there are no cans. And when there are cans and sh!t, the head devil doesn't show up to work, so we don't have to do anything..."

Phillip Allen
04-22-2005, 08:25 PM
I remember a happy and energetic and intelligent people. They were glad for me to butcher their language as long as I tried my best...which I did of course. They worked hard and were glad for the next sunrise. They liked dogs and cats because each work site had its own...I never got anything but good vibes from the bricklayers and others I was around.
I'd go back if I could.

04-25-2005, 03:14 PM
Like I said, old Alexis is a tall order... plus he got to write a whole book!

But I'll offer up another anecdote, just to keep my promise to Alan.

Genetic studies made possible by recent technology led to a study of the paternal and maternal descent of the Brazilian people - the former through the Y-chromosome, the latter through mitochondrial DNA.

On the maternal side, Brazilians turned out to be roughly 40% of European stock, 30% African, and 30% Indian.

On the paternal side, though, Brazilians are 99% European!

At first glance, this is unsurprising. Brazil is a mixed country, although if you had to pick one race that holds a plurality it would be European. While there are lots of people who seem to be mostly of pure European stock, there are few pure-bred Africans or Indians, judging from phenotype. Most are of mixed stock.

But if you think about it, this tells a more complex story. The European (mostly Portuguese) settlers of Brazil were known to be overwhelmingly male. While in the US you had families coming to settle, we in Brazil had adventurers, looking to get rich. Few women among them. The available women were native, or African slaves, and from early on there was mass miscigenation.

But apparently, while the descendants of Europeans men with African or native women survived and reproduced, and passed on their DNA to our days, the non-European men failed to pass on their genes - only 1%, in the long run.

That illustrates a few facts:

1) In the early days, mixed European-native Indian kids were far more likely to survive outbreaks of smallpox, etc., than pure natives. And of course, all mixed-race people were the offspring of European fathers and native mothers, as almost no European women came.

2) Slavery was very tough. African women often bred with European men, but the reverse almost never happened. And few people of African-African descent made it to our days. In other words, the mixed kids were far more likely to survive and reproduce that the pure African kids.

3) Still there was a lot of mixing. While in many colonized countries you'll find that centuries later, the races are still separate, in Brazil they have intermingled to the point that a racist policy would not only be immoral, but unimplementable - there is no dividing line between races today. Genetically speaking, even the Indians survived.

Now, the fact is that genetic makeup reflects cultural makeup. Our language, while predominantely European Portuguese, is full of African- and Indian- (mostly Tupi)origin words - and that is only because the Marquis of Pombal made it illegal to speak or write in Tupi in Brazil in the 18th century, otherwise our language would be much more miscigenated. Our culinary, musical, and artistic traditions are also a mix. And digging deeper, the values and cultural habits of the Brazilian people are a blend of European, African, and Indian, albeit with a clear European overcoat - after all, they were the dominant culture for five centuries.

Brazil may be the only nation in the world where the cultures of three continents have blended in such balanced proportions. That may in part explain why globalization has taken such deep root here, in spite of our having no lack of nationalistic xenophobes who strive to keep it out...

Alan D. Hyde
04-25-2005, 03:48 PM
Thank you, George.

This is all fascinating.

The National Geographic Society has a project, thru which you pay them about $100, and submit a gene sample (taken from the inside of your cheek with a swab). Their experts will then trace back your ancestors' migration patterns approximately 10,000 years, based on DNA research and records...


05-09-2005, 09:57 AM
George wrote:

Brazil is part Europe, part Africa.... George in subsequent posts also added Indian (Amerindian !) to this mix.

What I think he forgot to add, was that the descendents (in Brazil) of the following ethnic/racial groups make up the largest of their kind, outside their "mother country", anywhere in the world :

1. Syrian-Lebanese

2. Japanese

In fact, Brazil will be hosting a South America-Midle East Conference, to commence tomorrow, with Uncle Sam and Auntie Rice keeping a keen eye on the proceedings !

As for the city of São Paulo, it is indeed an industrial hub, but at the same time, it is light years ahead of other Brazilian cities, including Rio, in just about every aspect you can think of, to include a populace with far greater social sense, manners and basic education, to boot !

What is striking about Brazil - the country of my adoption - is the immense melting pot, although after the Portuguese monarchy were ousted in the late 19 th century, the Republicans were to initiate a campaign of systematic ostracization of the descendents of the African contingent.

So although there are a great deal of black soldiers, you will rarely find a black officer, let alone a black general - or a black minister for that matter, at federal or even state level. Exception: our President has recently appointed a black judge to the Supreme court

I believe they never encouraged immigration from South Asia, but one of my living uncles (he is 102 !) has it that in the 1930´s they approached the British Govt, with a view to letting them have some Parsees - and Goans, originally from Portuguese India - from British India.

In British India days, the Parsees and Goans were very evident to anyone who cast an eye on that setting, in the professions and Indian Civil Service, with the Parsees also excelling as business entrepreneurs.

05-10-2005, 06:34 AM
Here is an interesting article about the policies of the new Pope and Brazil:

Catholic Devotion, and Doubts (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/10/opinion/10kristof.html)

...many Catholics seem like Ms. da Silva - soured by some Vatican dogma but still identifying strongly with a local church and finding spiritual comfort there.

The result is that many local Catholic parishes have quietly seceded from the Vatican's control on sexual issues. The pope can thunder against birth control (other than a method based on timing a woman's cycles, derided by critics as "Vatican roulette"), but 70 percent of Brazilian women use artificial contraception. So the pope pontificates, and his flock here yawns.

"The Catholic Church's ban on condoms doesn't function here in Brazil," said José Roberto Prazeres, a psychologist at an AIDS center in São Paulo. "We partner with priests to give out condoms."

A prominent gynecologist, Albertina Duarte, said that she had never had a patient who was so Catholic that she objected to most forms of contraception. "Never," she said. "Never in my 35 years as a doctor."

"There is the hierarchy of the church, and then there's the church that really functions at the local level," said the Rev. Valeriano Paitoni, a priest widely admired in São Paulo for running first-rate shelters for AIDS orphans. He was disciplined in 2000 for encouraging people to use condoms to protect against AIDS.

Most Brazilian Catholics, he said, want to see changes in the church's stance on birth control, homosexuality, marriage of priests and the role of women in the church. "If the church doesn't have the courage to take these issues up, and listen to science and the world, then there'll be a disaster," he said, adding that he is still optimistic that reforms will come.
PS: The article mentions the growth of Pentecontalists, but that seems to be more of a political phenomenom than a spiritual one, with many of the so-called "churches" being little more than brainwashing institutions preying on the more ignorant layers of society, with their so-called "bishops" running for political office - and often winning. There is a fool born every minute, and there is a "church" ready to exploit him...

05-10-2005, 06:46 AM
George wrote:

The article mentions the growth of Pentecontalists, but that seems to be more of a political phenomenom than a spiritual one , with many of the so-called "churches" being little more than brainwashing institutions preying on the more ignorant layers of society Italics are mine.

But is it not true that as new religions were spawned in antiquity, they derived their footing from political/economic developments ? :rolleyes:

05-10-2005, 07:09 AM

And so it is with our special brand of Brazilian Roman Catholicism, as described in your C&P above. ;)