Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Check out this beautiful song by Bebel Gilberto, a Brazilian American singer. Music runs in her family. Bebel is the daughter of two famous Brazilian singers, João Gilberto and Miúcha, and is the niece of famous Brazilian singer, guitarist, composer, writer, and poet, Chico Buarque.

Lonely is one of many great songs from her 2000 electronic bossa nova album, Tanto Tempo. Although she has been singing since she was 11 years old (performing with her mother at Carnegie Hall when she was only 13) she was 20 at her professional solo debut in 1986.

If you like this song, you will enjoy the other gorgeous melodies on the rest of her Tanto Tempo cd, such as August Day Song and Mais Feliz, as well as her 2004 self-titled album which features songs like Simplesmente and Cada Beijo.


Foi você quem me ensinou
A ouvir
Foi você que soube achar isso em mim

Sem te ver
Não sei mais o que sentir
Só ouvindo aquele espaço ali

Lonely, Lonely

Todo dia te sinto
E fico pensando que você pode até me ouvir (2)

Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely.


It was you who taught me
To listen
It was you who knew how to find this in me

Without seeing you
I don't know what to feel anymore
Just listening to that space out there

Lonely, Lonely

Everyday I feel you
And keep thinking that you can even hear me, too (2)

Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fastest Way to Learn Brazilian Portuguese

Image found here.

Here are 5 steps to put you on the fast track to speaking Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Step 1: Learn the alphabet and sounds of the language.
  • Step 2: Learn vocabulary and basic phrases.
  • Step 3: Learn one past, two present, and one future form of the 17 different forms of verbs.
    Hint: Go for the simple forms. They aren't called simple for nothing.
  • Step 4: Get a Brazilian Portuguese dictionary that shows the stressed syllable in the pronunciation of a word.
  • Step 5: Get a handle on the false cognates and false friends. The misuse of a word can make for a really bizarre conversation, and the mistaken assumption that you are not only a foreigner, but a total weirdo.

What are the best resources to accomplish this quickly and easily?

For those whose native language is American English, I recommend Portuguese in 10 minutes a day by Kristine Kershul. You can learn the sounds of the language, some basic phrases, and vocabulary. It is written in a Carioca accent, so just change the "sh" to "s" for other regions. Using this book, I caught up to a local Portuguese class for estrangeiros that had been in session for two and a half months ...in a mere 2 weeks! Everyone was amazed (and a wee bit jealous).

The most comprehensive vocabulary resource I have found is the Word by Word Illustrated Dictionary English/Brazilian Portuguese - Second Edition by Steven J. Molinsky & Bill Bliss. It is important to get the 2nd edition because they added common phrases and additional vocabulary words. Although there is no pocket edition, I carried this thing around everywhere during the first year that I was here. Don't be shy! Embrace your inner nerd.

As for the verbs, I recommend that you scour the internet for conjugation tables in English and Portuguese. You can also find conjugation tables in the dictionaries listed below. Verbs end in —ar, —er, or —ir, in the base and infinitive forms. Compare them, and focus on the following four forms of the verbs until you are more fluent. If, at that point, you feel that you can tackle the other 13 forms of the verbs, then more power to you! :)

The Present Continuous tense:

I am writing. = Eu estou escrevendo.

(English —ing =ando, —endo or —indo in Portuguese.)

The Simple Present tense:

Do you like vegetables? = Você gosta de verduras?

The Simple Past tense:

She wrote an informative book. = Ela escreveu um livro informativo.

The Simple Future or Futuro do Presente tense:

We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Or the medium way. Or the semi-medium-easy-hard way. Or the sort of hard, with a touch of awkward, easy-difficult-challenging way.

So that's how you want to play it, huh?

Me, too.

The easy way is a form of the future (futuro composto), which is closest to how we speak in English.

He is going to work tomorrow. = Ele vai trabalhar amanhã.

The harder version of the same thing means changing the end of the verb. That involves more memorization, which you could focus elsewhere... Here's an example of the same sentence in a more difficult version of the simple future form (Futuro do Presente do Indicativo):

Ele trabalhará amanha.

Just remember that everything begins and ends with a KISS ("um beijo") in Brazil, so...

Keep It Simple, Superstar!

Image found here.

It's your lucky day. The Dicionário Didático Básico by Edições SM is perfect for beginners. The best feature is the way the (7,000+) words are broken down phonetically in Brazilian Portuguese, with emphasis on the stressed syllable. The definitions are as simplified as they can get in the Portuguese language. (It's for kids.) As you progress to a more thorough understanding of basic Portuguese, graduate to the Dicionário Didático that has fewer pics, but over 43,000 additional definitions to add to your vocabulary.

False cognates and false friends (linguistically and personally speaking) are the bane of my existence. Yours, too. You'll be trying to tell people that you intend to do something, while you're really saying that you understand (entender) something... that makes absolutely no sense. Someone will tell you that they intend (pretender) to do something, and you'll wonder why they are planning on pretending to do something.

For this reason, it is so very worth it to pick up a copy of Inglês Urgente! Para Brasileiros by Cristina Schumacher. It has the most complete list of false cognates (in English and Portuguese) that I've seen, yet, and is a great addition to your arsenal of books to help you conquer Brazilian Portuguese as a second language.

Again, I'll reiterate that Portuguese in 10 minutes a day is the best solution for those that speak American English. If you speak British English, then the book Brazilian Portuguese by Sue Tyson-Ward, from the Teach Yourself series is a great resource. The phonetic base of any foreign language is key, and like Kristine Kershul, Ms. Tyson-Ward does it up right.

Just so you know, I am not being paid by any of these book publishers to promote their products. I simply hate to see anyone waste their time, money, and efforts in methods that do not work.

Boa sorte in your studies!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Facts for Foreigners - Vol. XI

Pizza. Everybody seems to love it.

Preference is definitely a regional, as well as a very personal thing. Most people have a craving for a certain place when they hear the word. Folks in the U.S. are familiar with terms like New York-style pizza, Chicago-style 'deep-dish' pizza, or in Austin: Mangia Pizza and Conan's. (...and apparently East Side Pies. I'll have to try them when I go home to visit.)

Image found here.

Within the pizza-loving community there are die-hard deep dish devotees, staunch thin crust connoisseurs, and avid hand-tossed aficionados. There are the extra sauce enthusiasts, and those who lean toward light sauce. Deciding on extra cheese or light cheese can make or break personal pizza nirvana. Then there are the toppings... on the top, light, or on the side?

Finding the perfect pie is as much a challenge today as finding a faster trade route to the East Indies was when Columbus sailed the high seas. Pizza lovers are all seeking a rewarding find, and are sometimes even willing to go to great lengths to achieve their personal treasured trifecta: perfect crust, balanced flavor, & some kind of decent price. And once in a while... when we think that we've almost nailed it, we might just let price fly out the window. That's usually a regrettable mistake. Desperation rarely yields anything worth savoring.

After searching high and low, I can tell you that the pizza you seek in Brazil is found in precious few places. I say this as a THESLC (thin crust, extra sauce, light cheese) kind of girl. On a recent vacation, we happened across one of the most divine pizza places ever. After regular disappointment over the past 6 years, I honestly didn't get my hopes up.

We were blown away. The pizza was so amazing, that we each ate a medium—at least three nights that week. It was that good. I must note, that as an extra sauce chick, I didn't even miss it. Would it be possible to improve on perfection? I only entertained the thought for a second.

We seriously considered taking one to go... (on the plane home) but the trip would be too long, and it would get soggy (it's that thin!) so we went home brokenhearted, with bittersweet memories of the best pizza we have tasted in Brazil.

If you are ever in Fortaleza, Teresina, São Luís, or Salvador then you must make it a point to visit Vignoli's. If you live there, we are jealous: BEST. Pizza. Ever.

The topic of toppings could take a year or more to pick through, so I'll focus on the top 5 major differences in pizza toppings here versus national U.S. pizza chains. That should be easy enough.

I'll call this list Top 5 Surprising Finds Listed Under Toppings in Brazil Pizzarias...
  1. Corn – Corn! Apparently this is also available on veggie pizzas in local joints around the U.S.

  2. Image found here.

  3. Peas – The distant cousins of spinach heard that there was an opening in the pizza biz, and decided to try it out. They are bona fide rock stars in pizza places across Brazil.

  4. Image found here.

  5. Prunes (or Peaches) – What is probably the most surprising pizza on the menu is the "Californian," which is comprised of canadian bacon (or smoked turkey), prunes, peaches, pineapple, figs, and/or raisins. I have been waiting for a Californian to weigh in on this. Is this pizza really representative of Cali? (I'm guessing "no" on the prunes part.)

  6. Images found on Google.

  7. Sliced, Hard-Boiled Eggs – {insert exclamation of surprise here} I'm sticking to my guns, and still maintain that this is just weird... and stinky... and weird.

  8. Image found here.

  9. Tuna – Don't knock it 'til you try it. I'd recommend that you make it at home with lots of minced garlic & za'atar on top, for good measure.
  10. Image found here
The top 5 pizzas that you will find at pizzarias around Brazil are...
  • The Portuguesa – ham, hard-boiled eggs, tomato, black or green olives, and oregano

  • The Margherita – fresh basil, oregano, tomato, and black olives

  • The Mussarela – Although dictionaries don't recognize this spelling, 95% of pizzerias use it. Variations are mozarela, muçarela, muzarela, or the traditional Italian spelling: mozzarella.

  • The Napolitana – palm hearts, tomato, black or green olives, and oregano

  • The Calabresa – salami, onions, and black olives

Below is a sample menu from a local pizzaria.

To enlarge, right-click and open in a new window.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Rain?

This region really only has two seasons, although each of these seasons has a hot and a cool side to it.

Clear Skies in July Along the Araguaia River

The dry season typically runs from April through October, though it can come early and/or stay late. Without the buffer of rain clouds, temperatures usually soar to about 100°F, with a short respite in May and/or June. These cooler months bring welcomed temperatures that can get as low as 50°F at night, with highs in the 70s during the day.

Within a month or two of the rainy season coming to an end, the region is a veritable dust bowl. Even if there is a cool breeze at some point during the day, people think twice about opening their windows (in a place where few homes have air conditioning). The fertile earth here is a fine red clay that travels easily on the wind, and coats everything in a powdery film. During these months, a very definite red haze hangs over the skyline.

The rainy season is sweet relief for housekeepers who have battled against the seemingly never-ending layer of red dust, as well as for those suffering from cracked and bleeding sinuses. Of course, the next few months of steady rain produce another irritant: mold. Aside from the mold, the rain is welcomed with open umbrellas.

October Rains in the Goiás Countryside

The rainy season can start as early as October, or as late as December, and normally continues through mid March. In the first month or so, temperatures dip slightly and last only for the duration of the showers, climbing back up to Sweltering in the humid aftermath. Depending on how heavy the rains are, and how much rainfall there is during the next few months, the rains start to have a cooling effect. The more rain received, the cooler it gets.

For personal optimum cooling effect, I have renounced umbrellas. I stay cool and... damp. While that is generally considered uncivilized for a woman [around these parts, especially, since most women get a weekly blowout that would be ruined if exposed to water], I'm willing to go to great lengths (such as "window shopping" inside high-end shops where I won't actually buy anything since I'm really only there for the AC) and resort to "lazy" practices (like "ignoring" — not hiding from the rain) to lower my body temperature. It's an ongoing battle in a place where air conditioning is a privilege. I've even considered buying a cooling vest, but that would probably make me stand out even more than walking in the rain.

"Hiding" from rain seems to be a cultural thing. I've received countless strange looks, been the subject of mumbling observations, and even audibly chided when I walk and don't run for cover, as it starts to rain. I usually laugh and tell people that while I may be sweet, I'm not made of sugar, so I won't melt. No one ever thinks this is funny. This is serious! There are various old wives' tales that allude to Death by Damp Hair — and this doesn't only apply to the women. Sometimes, we Americans are really surprised at how things can grind to a halt if it starts to sprinkle.

A fellow Texan and friend of mine was working on a construction project near the end of the dry season. It was hotter than Hades. While on a delivery of supplies to the site one day, it started sprinkling. The workers couldn't be coaxed out to finish unloading the truck until it stopped. We thought this would have been a relished opportunity for the hot and dusty workers to cool off, but they claimed that they would risk their health (in the warm drops of rain) if their heads were to get wet. My friend ended up unloading the rest of the supplies by himself. To us, this seemed quite bizarre. To the workers, my friend was a reckless risk taker.
Image found here.

I suspect this fear of rain stems from the heavy dew or sereno [pronounced: "seh-rdeh-no"] that falls at night in the countryside, where it tends to be cooler. I thought that this was all hype, like the rain superstitions, but the amount of dew that falls in this tropical region is impressive by any standard. Any uncovered surface will have small pools of standing water, within a matter of hours. If you are breathing it in, or if you get a wet head and it is cool outside, then it can cause a cold. Here, stargazing requires a hat... and some sleeves.

What about your region of the world? Are there any old wives' tales about rain? Do tell.

To enlarge pics, right-click and open in a new window.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meu Destino - My Destiny

One of my favorite songs in Portuguese is actually by a group from Washington, D.C. You may have heard of them. Two DJs... Awesome sounds... They collaborate with artists from all over the world, resulting in songs with lyrics in varying languages...

Did I mention their mega awesomeness?

Thievery Corporation is the name. An ethereal beat (or 99) is the game. In this case, the vocals are provided by one Patrick dos Santos. Meu Destino [pronounced: "May-yo Des-chee-no"] is from their third album, The Richest Man in Babylon, which features several other personal favorites: Omid (Hope), Facing East, From Creation, and Exilio (Exile) - though I prefer the version from Babylon Rewound.

This video provides the lyrics in both Portuguese and English. Enjoy...

Saturday, October 27, 2012


When learning Portuguese, you may be surprised to hear a few English words peppering conversations here and there. A handful of English words have entered Brazilian Portuguese. Most are Brazilianized forms of an English term, and are spelled according to Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation, such as "blogue" for "blog." However, there are other seemingly random English words that appear in everyday conversation that don't actually hold true to the original English meaning.

Depending on just how well you speak Portuguese and which English word it is, this could make for some major confusion. You see, there are some English terms or phrases that only halfway entered Brazilian Portuguese. These English words might be connected somehow through a word map, but then again, it could just be something that someone heard somewhere and brought back here, with a misunderstood or slightly different meaning.

Though some of these words may have started out as slang here, they are now full-fledged proper terms. As a foreigner trying to make the transition, you will need to learn the Brazilian Portuguese meaning of some originally English words.

Here are the top 5 English words that mostly made it into Brazilian Portuguese. They are pronounced the same as in English, unless otherwise noted.
  1. Shopping = We know this as a shopping mall or mall.

  2. Smoking = We know this as a tuxedo.

    I have four theories on that one. It is either derived from...
    • from the phrase "smoking hot"
    • someone heard someone else say, "You're smokin'!" and misunderstood it as, "Your Smoking[, Sir]."
    • or someone heard the phrase, "a smoking gun," and got a mental image of James Bond. Hence, um smoking turned into a tuxedo.

  3. Personal [pronounced: "pear-sown-all"] = We know this as a personal trainer or trainer.

  4. Outdoor [pronounced: "ouch-door"] = We know this as a billboard or a large panel for outdoor advertising.

  5. Face = This is what all the kids in Brazil are calling facebook, these days.

Not knowing the Brazilian Portuguese definition of these English terms can cause major confusion. Here is a conversation that took place between my husband and me when we first arrived.
Him: "I'm thinking of working with my brother in the outdoors."
Me: "Oh, really? What does he do?"
Him: "Outdoors."
Me: "...but what does he do outdoors?"
Him: (frustrated) "He works with the outdoors."
Me: (wondering where the miscommunication is) "Okay, but out... in the great outdoors... what does he do?"
Him: @#$%^&*!

...and now you know. Be sure to jot down these English words (and new meanings) inside the back cover of your English to Portuguese dictionary.

I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the Dicionário Didático (Guided Dictionary) by Edições SM. It has over 50,000 definitions that include the latest generation's slang terms, newly coined words, acronyms, and abbreviations. It truly gives you the best glimpse into modern Brazilian Portuguese.

They also have the Dicionário Didático Básico, which is a kids' edition. It has 7,000 words, more illustrations and pictures, and the definitions are explained simply & clearly. If you are just starting to learn Portuguese, it will be a great addition to your study materials.

Contact info for this book dealer is on the last page of the pdf for the Dicionário Didático & Dicionário Didático Básico. I was fortunate to find a location nearby, here in Goiânia. I only wish that I had run across these resources during the first few years! It would have made life so much easier. Then again, I'd have fewer ridiculous stories to tell...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Somewhere Along the Grain

Something that literally threw me for a loop when I got here, was how the city is built in an ever-expanding circle. More than half of the main streets are one-way, which can really trip someone up if they aren't from around here. Due to the ever-winding one-way roads and very rare lights where you can make a left, it's not as simple as going "around the block" to get you where you need to go (say, if you just accidentally passed it up). It could take you at least four rights to get you back to Point A.

Although this was the direct cause of my tardiness for most of my appointments the first year, it also helped me to become familiar with my new city in record time. Several people that have lived here all their lives, tell me that I now know Goiânia better than they do!

Image found here.

To compound the issue of trying to find a place for the first time, the way directions given here are quite different than what I'm accustomed to back home. I am used to hearing things like,
"Go north on I-35, until you reach the 290 East exit. Take a right, and go down two lights. Take a left at the light. We are located in the shopping center on the northwest corner of the intersection."
If someone tells me to go "up the street," then I follow the ascending street numbers. I can find new places in a heartbeat. Even if there is someone on the line who may not be good with directions, they typically know which side of the road they are on (N,S,E,W) or in which corner you will find them (NW, SW, SE, NE) — or someone in the office will. That's just how we do things in Austin.

Here, there are a few different challenges to getting directions. One major factor is that not everyone drives, and a good portion of the population buses it to work so they don't really pay attention to the streets, or may only be familiar with the roundabout route that their particular bus takes.

Another issue is that some directions tend to work only if you are [already] somewhat familiar with the area in question. For example, when you hear someone tell you to go up or down the street, they are saying this literally. Physically. Topographically-speaking. If there's a hill, then you apply directions accordingly. Here, Jack & Jill went up the street.

Image found here.

I'll be honest. This confuses the heck out of me. Where I'm from hills have two (or more) easily distinguishable sides, not to mention that to me (with my obviously untrained eye), most streets in Goiania appear to be flat ...and even if there is an incline, it's never just one. Of the roads that are alleged hills here, they seem more wavy than hilly... no definite beginning or end ...or top ...or bottom.

But there was something else about the [disproportionate — as in verging on conspiracy theories] degree of difficulty in getting directions that I wasn't quite able to put my finger on, until it hit me the other night, while watching I, Robot. Dr. Lanning's hologram said perfectly in English, what various secretaries are relaying in Portuguese (more or less).

I'm not asking the right question. Their responses are limited.

I recently played 20 questions with a secretary at a major medical clinic downtown (that's where the really curved & looping one-way roads are found). I tried asking for directions using various landmarks until I found one that she was familiar with. She still didn't answer my question, but I was able to narrow it down to the correct part of town.

{insert maniacal laughter}

Silly tourist! You think a simple street name helps with that?

Due to being built in an ever-expanding circle, the city has several different groups of streets that are split by the main circle ...and pick up on the other side of town. It's funny how no one seems to mention that fact until you've made this discovery all on your own. You're welcome.

My best advice is to buy a map to carry with you, study Google maps at home, and leave about 45 minutes early, until you feel comfortable enough within the maze known as Goiânia. On the upside, it's a good lookin' city, so the view isn't bad no matter where you end up.

Alice in Wonderland Maze by Srulink | source

Happy trails!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wacky Haiku Wednesday IV

Today is a special occasion!
'Tis a holiday in Goiânia, and all over the city...
 ...everyone is resting. No one is busy.
Now you see why I stick to haiku.
I guess I'm giving you a twofer today: one really bad line of poetry and one pretty bad wacky haiku.
The city hasn't been this quiet in quite awhile. For those who live in Goiânia, and work in nearby towns, their only comfort is that each town will soon have its own birthday, er, holiday. That's right. Cities have birthdays here, and Goiânia is officially 79 years old.
I got to thinking that they should really implement city birthdays back home. Americans could certainly use an additional day off. Austin's birthday would be December 27th. It would guarantee an extra long Christmas holiday weekend for us Austinites. Of course, places like New York that don't have a definitive date, but more of a general year (or period of years), might have to just vote on a day that seems good to New Yorkers.
To honor this day appropriately, I composed a birthday haiku for the pretty city. Hold on to your party hats.

Image found here.

Here in Goiânia
é um feriado, viu?
Happy Birthday, G!

Goiânia is pronounced "Goy-ahn-nyuh."
É um feriado, viu? = It's a holiday, see?
  • é [pronounced: "eh"] means it's.

  • um [pronounced: "oom" as in zoom] means a.

  • feriado [pronounced: "feh-rdee-ah-doh"] means holiday.

  • viu [pronounced: similar to view (one syllable), but "vee-oo"] means see (got it / understand, etc.).

É is a form of the verb "ser" which means "to be," and is used for permanent conditions or characteristics. "Estar" also means "to be," but is used for transitory or passing states of things (nonpermanent characteristics).

See a quick explanation & chart here.

For example:

Eu sou uma mulher. Ele é um homem. Nós somos pessoas.
I am a woman. He is a man. We are people.

Those are permanent facts. Right?

Eu estou com fome. Ela está com sede. Nós estamos felizes.
I am hungry. She is thirsty. We are happy.

These things can change from moment to moment.

More on the pronunciations for these sentences later... Right now, I need to congratulate someone on looking so good for "her" age.

Parabéns, Goiânia!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Some Things Don't Translate

...in this case I'm referring to good prices, and a certain slogan that assures me I can have things my way. Perhaps that is old school. Have things changed that much in six years? Then again, it could just be good ol' fashioned highway robbery. You be the judge.

Living in a place where you are hard-pressed to find home flavors can drive people to certain lengths (as I alluded to in my previous post). In my case, it drives me to occasionally eating fast food — fast food that is considered chic in a place where it isn't all that common. This can come with a hefty price tag, depending on where you go. On those days where I'd give a portion of my left pinky to taste something reminiscent of home, I think it's worth it.

On those days where I see a blatant disregard for the fact that the minimum monthly wage here is R$600, and someone is trying to charge people R$8.50 for less than (when you factor in ice — I measured it) a 10 oz cup of watered down soda [when you can by a 2.5 liter of coke for R$5-6 at any convenience store] ...I get peeved.

At first, I attributed it to some foreign company that doesn't have a clue about the cost of living here. ...but that can't be right, can it? Of course, how could anyone living here also live with their conscience, if they know that this is grossly overcharging people for a drink [thereby excluding a large portion of the population]? I know I couldn't do it.

All I know is that THIS is not right:

What's wrong with this picture? (Other than the gum that I wadded into this receipt out of disgust before deciding to rant online about it. Sorry about that!)

Please right-click and open in a new window to enlarge.

So if it was that expensive... why did I pay for it, and not stop by a convenience store?

Three reasons:
  1. I mistakenly heard a different total (trusty drive-thru intercoms), otherwise I would have amended it before I rounded the building, where my drink was already sticking out of the window. You see, they weren't finished making my burger, and I didn't want any extra "secret" ingredient.

  2. Unlike my hometown, convenience stores aren't all that easy to find, and with all of the one way streets in this town, it is actually anything but convenient. I thought about calling them not-quite-convenience stores, but that has a somewhat negative ring to it.

  3. I was starving, thirsty, and exhausted enough to not want to walk any extra step that I absosmurfly did not have to.
Although flagrant price gouging could be the norm for the other international fast food chains that are starting to pop up here, the prices are typically much, much less. I'm assuming that's because they want to achieve some measure of succe$$ with the population as a whole.

This is by far the worst case I've seen, yet. Other competitors such as McDonald's and Subway charge less than half of what was charged here (for the same size drink) making it a more affordable option for the masses.

I hope that the powers that be somewhere see this, and reign in their overcharging minions. I suspect they will see an increase in revenue, as more of the everyday people will be able to afford it.

I also suspect that they will need to invest in marketing that informs people that the idea of having a meal here is now more realistic for the average João.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Desperately Seeking...

Living in a place (far from home) where you don't get much of the food you were raised on can be trying, at times. It can be an added stressor, if you are going through a "missing home" phase.

There are three main challenges to finding particular foods or spices. Some can be overcome with time, and some you may just have to work around. (Get creative: think bribery, extreme lengths, etc. Okay. I'm kidding! Kinda...)

The main challenge is availability. Depending on just how far you are from an international hub or port, you might be delightfully surprised with a treasured find, or begin to feel a bit like Coronado in his fruitless search for the Seven Cities of Gold.

I don't remember exactly when I stopped counting how many stores I'd perused in search of chili powder, but I did... It just became a habit of checking the spice aisle, no matter why I was there, or how quick a shopping trip it was supposed to be. I was on chili-powder-seeking-autopilot.

About a year later, it paid off.

Image found here.

The second challenge is the language barrier. This is key, since some spices or foods may sound deceptively similar in two different languages, when they aren't at all. Manjericão [pronounced: "mahn-zheh-rdee-cone"] sounds like a shoo–in for marjoram, not to mention I never even saw manjerona [pronounced: "mahn-zheh-rdoh-nuh"] as it is much harder to find.

...but manjericão is actually basil! I went months without having any basil at home, because I had used it up and "couldn't find any." It was only later that I found out that I had passed on it a hundred times (not knowing it was basil) because I still had marjoram at home. Doh!

Then again, orégano is a direct translation. I love it when that happens!

Image found here.

The remaining challenge in finding flavors from home depends not only on where you are, but the scruples of the people from whom you are buying. Some opportunistic people see an accent as a sort of added tax on your purchase. It may or may not happen to you, but be aware that you run the risk of being ripped off until you get your sea legs and figure out how to barter (or inform them that you aren't a tourist, but a neighbor).

"Eu não sou uma turista, viu?! Eu moro aqui."
I'm not a tourist, got it [see]?! I live here.

...and sometimes, in our search for fabled golden whatevers, we encounter things that are way more cool than things we've previously known.

...and although it may take years or maybe never even happen that we reach our original goal, the unexpected pleasant surprises along the way take the sting out what is "missing," and we learn to not only "live with it," but revel in the bountiful blessings of our new reality.

Yes. I'm still talking food, but apply it as you see fit.

I'm specifically referring to the amazing, out of this world (but not really, since they are the norm in Brazil), delicious giant avocados that regularly rock my world these days.

The typical avocado that is available at any grocery store or farmers' market here in Brazil is about 3-5 times bigger than the Hass avocados that I was accustomed to eating back home. Some local farmers' markets have access to even bigger breeds, and being an avocado lover, I'm on cloud nine.

Sure, I miss Dr Pepper, Big Red gum, jicama, fresh jalapeños, and coffee creamer... but if I left now, I would go crazy missing the humongous avocados that are now a [huge] part of my cuisine.

Here are a few photos of some avocados that my husband brought home from work one day. They were from a tree on a nearby lot. These are the biggest I've seen, yet. I staged them with a few common items for comparison. Sorry for the quality! I still haven't had access to my backed up photos. I grabbed these from my [presently retired] personal blog.

Different angles with a standard measuring tape...

To enlarge pics, right-click and open in a new window.

I know, right!?

I'd wager that these things are so big, that I can list eating them as a legitimate hobby. One thing I haven't seen is an avocado eating contest, but I would love to represent. I'll have to look into that.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Olha Pamonha

This is one of my favorite commercials here. Cracks me up every time. It's for a headache medicine called Neosaldina [pronounced: "nay-yo-sahl-jeen-yuh"], and showcases a colorful pamonha [pronounced: "puh-moin-yuh"] vendor.

The lady buying "Neosa" doesn't quite appreciate Paulo Pamonha's flair (hence the headache medicine), but I love it. I wish our local neighborhood vendors with massive speakers on their vehicles had this much rhythm. I also wish they didn't come by at 8 a.m. on Saturdays.

The most common phrase heard booming from a pamonha vendor's speakers is, "Olha pamonha!" on a loop, as they slo-o-o-owly make their way up & down the streets. Olha [pronounced: "ol'-yuh"] means look.

Look! Pamonha!

Pamonha is a bigger, fatter, more moist version of Texas tamalesPamonha is either salty, spicy, or sweet,  and can be filled with cheese, sausage, or both. I personally like the sweet version sans filling.

Just so ya know, saying "olha pamonha" around these parts can be rude [when there's no pamonha in sight]. Pamonha is also a derogatory slang term for a person that has cinched their belt a bit too tight, and implies that it is because they are overweight. See the instructional video below at 0:48 for a glimpse of some bulging pamonha.

There's also a variation on pamonha called pamonha assado that something akin to cornbread. The flavor can vary, depending on the chef & recipe. Assado [pronounced: "ah-sah-doh"] means "baked." Here is a how-to video with a homemade recipe for pamonha assado.

Still can't get Paulo's catchy tune out of your head? Here's a clip of the song. You're welcome.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Brazilian Slang - Show

Based on the title, you might be wondering what the Brazilian Portuguese slang term for "show" is... or which of the many definitions of the English word "show" I am referring to.

The closest would probably be "show" as listed in the Free Dictionary's Thesaurus by Farlex:
show - the act of publicly exhibiting or entertaining;
"a remarkable show of skill"
...which is what, exactly?


Therein lies the slang. The English word "show" made its way into Brazilian Portuguese slang via the sports arena. The term started out as "show de bola" [pronounced: "show jee boh-luh"] which meant "excellent showmanship in soccer."

The word bola means ball. It is understood that in this phrase bola is referring to soccer. Similarly, the old school American English slang term "ballin" originally meant "playing basketball [well]" (and eventually turned into "living the high life").

"Show de bola" means "a display of mad skills that takes the game to a whole new level" — the player not only has skills, but turns a play or move into an art form. To sum it up in another American English slang term: the player has game.

Like this guy:

Personally, I automatically associate a remarkable show of skill in a sport with Michael Jordan. He is, in my opinion, the most beautiful athlete ever. Watching him play was a breathtaking experience. I'm serious. I sometimes forgot to breathe when I was watching a game. He always brought it. So, if it helps, when you hear "show" or "show de bola" in Brazilian Portuguese, just think Jordan.

...who was?

Image found here.
Of course, "show de bola" is a term that originated in soccer — Brazilian soccer. When I hear "show de bola" I think of some of the most skilled players & beautiful moves that I've seen over the years. Naturally, there have been others (the most famous is Pelé) but my personal favorites in the past decade are Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho (I call him "fancy feet"), Júlio César, Neymar, Luís Fabiano, and Marcelo.

...who are all?



Like any slang worth its salt, "show de bola" was shortened to the core word: "show." "Show" now means cool, awesome, sensational, da bomb, etc. in Brazilian Portuguese.

Other Brazilian Portuguese slang synonyms for "show" are:
  • legal [pronounced: "leh-gahl"]
    This is the most commonly translated term for "cool."

  • fera [pronounced: "feh-rduh"]
    I would say this is the equivalent of "neat."

  • massa [pronounced: "mah-suh"]
    ...or in American English slang: "awesome."

  • maneiro(a) [pronounced: "mah-nay-rdoh (rduh)"]
    To my sister's chagrin, I will have to go with "rad" (though unlike "rad" it is the opposite of outdated).

  • sinistro [pronounced: "seen-ee-s-throw"]
    This is the Brazilian Portuguese twin of "wicked" (2nd Def.) or the current young American generation's version of "sick."

  • bacana [pronounced: "bah-cah-nuh"]
    The American English counterpart is "sweet."

But let's be clear on one thing: it isn't cool to say cool in Brazil. Why? Because there is a profane term that sounds just like cool, without the "l," and you might not even get that far without somebody taking offense. So cool it with the American English slang while you're here. This will ensure your trip to Brazil is all the more bacana, or as I like to say, "suh-weet."

Image found here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wacky Haiku Wednesday III

Let's keep going with our adventures in code-switching!
Any idea what a cross between Portuguese & English is called?  Portuglish?  Engliguese?

Either way, we are sailing right along.
Destination: Port Eng
Image found here.
 By the way, for those of you who are averse to puns, feel free to penalize me with a noogie per pun, in case we meet in person one day. ;) There. Now I'm guilt free.

Weigh anchor, shipmates. We're off!

Que divertido!
(...a fun, but renegade path,
eu concordo.)


"Que divertido!"  =  "What fun!" ... or   "How fun!"
  • Que [pronounced: "key"] means what.
  • divertido [pronounced: "jee-vehr-chee-doh"] means fun.

"Eu concordo." = "I agree."
  • Eu [pronounced: "ay-yo"] means I.
  • concordo [pronounced: "cone/cohn-core-doh"] means agree.
I hope ye enjoyed this trip on th' high seas o' fun, tho we did come a wee close t' crackin' up on th' shores o' insanity. `Tis all in good fun, tho, an' I wager that we be sailin' straight enough t' eliminate any learnin' curve.
Can you tell I missed out on International Talk Like a Pirate Day this year? Ye nay be sure ye signed up fer this, arrrr ye? Don`t ye worry. Me inner searfarin' hearty only surfaces but a few times a voyage. [That'd be a year for you landlubbers.]
 Until the next one, mateys...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Five Facts for Foreigners - Vol. X

In this installment of 5 Facts for Foreigners I'm taking aim at Americans. Why? Because I am one! I'm going to spill it on the major differences in daily drinks. Of course, what might be the norm for me in Central Texas may not be all that similar to the status quo in Maine, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, or California.

...or the Panhandle. (You get the idea.)

Still, these are the main differences that not only I have noticed, but other U.S. expats, as well.

Bottoms up!
  1. Milk, as we know it in the states, is a hard thing to find. What is available at the supermarket is equivalent to a version of powdered milk that has already been liquefied. It is sold in cartons (available by the boxed dozen) that do not need to be refrigerated until opened. Boxed milk was developed to accommodate the lack of refrigeration in places that do not have electricity, and for the typically much smaller refrigerators, where a 1 liter box of milk will fit more easily than that of, say, a gallon (4 liters). We'd be naïve to assume this doesn't involve preservatives and/or artificial additives of some kind.

    For the record, the year I arrived there were a number of cases involving several companies, where consumers were sickened due to the ingredients. Apparently, someone got creative in trying to cut costs... and thought they'd spike the milk with bleach and peroxide, among other toxic ingredients. People were prosecuted, and boxed milk went back to being only mostly unnatural.

    Image found here.

    If the idea or taste of boxed milk isn't appealing, then you might try to find fresh milk (actual cow's milk)... at your own risk. You can find it at some of the local farmers' markets, or you might hear a vehicle roll past, booming, "o leite" (pronounced: "oh lay-ch") or "the milk." Depending on the source and scruples of the vendor, it might seem heavenly... or a few hours later, you could find yourself in the ER. I've seen it both ways—about once a year.

  2. You will find most noncarbonated 1 liter drinks (such as juice or coconut water) in these easily storable cartons, with the exception of water. While these boxed drinks are great for saving space in the fridge, they are the go-to snag at social functions, as they tend to spill all over the place (no matter how many years you've been at it). It's not just me!

    Image found here.

    Avoid obvious pitfalls like offering to pour some grape juice for your friend's great aunt, who is dressed in her Sunday best. Trust me on that one. I've developed an almost fool-proof pouring method, but it's taken lots of practice in the comfort of my own kitchen. Remind me to make a How To vid to help the newbies.

  3. There's a popular and innovative way to drink OJ that is like a natural version of the little juice boxes that the kids drink back home. Every time I've peeled an orange, and eaten it slice by slice, I've noticed that people were watching me intently. It's because here, they stick it in a peeler (or use a knife as shown in this video), peel it down to the white part of the rind (called the albedo), and then cut off the top. It is then used as a cross between a stress ball, and a juice box: squeeze & slurp, squeeze & slurp. The remaining hollow of the orange is usually tossed.

    To enlarge, right-click & open in a new window.

  4. Coffee is served black, syrupy sweet, and is so strong that it is served as a shot. If you were used to drinking large cups of Starbucks coffee (4 sugars, 5 creamers) back home, like I was, this amounts to nothing short of cruel & unusual punishment. I usually just pass on the coffee, since it is not customary to add milk; but if I'm at the home of a close friend then I might ask to add a bit to make it drinkable.
    Image found here.

    However... the business, doctors', and government offices that you may find yourself in will be bereft of milk or cream. Almost everywhere you go, the complimentary stuff will be there... mocking you. Freshly brewed coffee smells great even to those who don't partake, but for those of us used to coffee creamer, this can be torture. With nothing creamy to cut it with, you will need to learn how to steel yourself against the constant assault on your senses. (You should be good to go in about 6 months.)  When all is said & done, run back to your place, put on a pot, and pass the milk. Stat!

  5. Drinking directly out of a can or bottle is a no-no. (You heathen!) If you are at a snack bar, you will be offered a small plastic *cup or a **straw, or two, with your purchase of a canned or bottled beverage. This custom originated because cans are typically dirty, direct from the factory, and it isn't a good idea to willingly ingest germs. Of course, these days bottles have screw-on tops, and some beer companies now come with additional litter a nifty removable foil seal,  so... feel free to break protocol, but know that people might think you're a little different.

Awesome, right? Find them here.

  • Most cups are a standard 5oz (150ml) size. The bigger 250ml (8oz) is known as the "Americano" size, although in Central Texas we are actually used to [at least] 32oz (946ml) drinks.* They do say everything's bigger in Texas...
  • Please note that straws are generally 1/4 — 1/5 the size of our straws back home.**

Hope that wasn't too hard to swallow. Welcome to the deep end...