Saturday, June 23, 2012

Here's an Idea of Who We'll See...

A trio of Roseate Spoonbills...

In Portuguese it's called a duck,
but in English it's known as an Orinoco Goose...

I'll show you the close-ups later...
See how big the Jaburus are compared to the boat?
That's a Black Skimmer passing by.

Bathing beauties...
A group of Saffron Finches...

A Burrowing Owl...

The ever-elusive Hoatzin, or "Neymar" as I like to call them...
(Just google "Neymar hairstyles" and you'll see why.)

A rare glimpse of the Great Black Hawk...

This little fish is known as the "Peixe-agulha," or Needlefish,
though it doesn't appear to have teeth like others by that name.
The ones I've seen are about 5 inches long.

I see you lookin' at me, lookin' at you...

Freshwater stingrays are everywhere.

FYI: When entering the river, you must shuffle your feet to avoid stepping on a stingray & getting a spike through your calf or foot.

I wonder who we'll see this year? Hopefully, I will be able to get a little closer to some of the more standoffish storks & herons. I still haven't seen a puma, although I did get some shots of its tracks through our camp on the first night of our last camping trip. (What a rush!)

I also finally captured a few shots of a freshwater dolphin last year, but they were only of a flipper! It looked like the boto was waving at me. I realized that they don't only toy with fishermen, but the paparazzi, as well. I will try my best to get a better pic this year.

It looks like this will be the last post until the third week of July. Feel free to explore the archives to see if there is something you missed. Comments won't show up right away, since they will only be moderated when I return. For those of you in the U-S-of-A, I hope you have a great & safe 4th!

See you soon!

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

Friday, June 22, 2012

Here's a Glimpse of Where We'll Be...

Here are some shots of our trips from the past few years.


That structure is where they clean the fish that are caught.

All decked out:
complete with an antenna for cell phone,
and a dish for TV signals...

A place to beat the midday heat...

To avoid having everything melt inside a tent,
a thatched hut structure keeps things cool.
It was built according to the path of the sun...

The time to dive into your tent
to avoid the swarms of mosquitoes...

The bright green structure is a bathroom with two separate
entrances: one side is the shower, the other is the toilet.
A sink & mirror are on the outer wall behind the shower.

The thatched structure to the far right houses the generators.

The large thatched structure in the middle is a TV room, adjacent
to the kitchen which is complete with a fridge, freezer, and oven...

A scene from the area...

Everything's bigger near Araguaia!
Moon rising @ 5:30 in the afternoon...

Tomorrow: Who We'll See...

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Possible Yeti Sighting in Brazil

Crazy Cliff-Jumping Yetis, Batman!

What is that?

While I can neither confirm or deny that this is indeed a yeti, it must be noted that yetis need vacations, too. This one was spotted in 2007, in the trippy region of Chapada dos Veadeiros that, according to NASA, is the brightest place on earth [as seen from space] due to the tons of crystals in that area. That is the only explanation for the quality of this picture (unless the yeti had some sort of camera-deflecting force field).

On the other hand, this pic would seem to back up the Portuguese Chapadas wikipedia page that states that this is the best place in the state to see unidentified flying objects.

It could go both ways.

I guess we'll never know...

Batman Comic Generator found here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wacky Haiku Wednesday II

As we boldly go where no hack has gone before, we continue on with haiku that combine American English and Brazilian Portuguese.

Monkey Pirates in a Storm by Hayes Roberts
I have been a fan of his art for a long time!
Check out more of his wonderful works of art at

Moving right along
aprendendo português...
Legal (or cool), ?

"aprendendo português" = "learning Portuguese"
  • Aprendendo [pronounced: "Ah-prehn-dehn-doh"]

  • português [pronounced: "poor-*too-gaze"]
    (*the T is said with a dental stop)

"Legal, né?" = "Cool, huh?" or "Cool, isn't it?"
  • Legal [pronounced: "leh-gal"]

  • ** [pronounced: "neh"]

** is a slang contraction of não é [pronounced: (nasally) "now - eh"]
which means "isn't it."

Although we've only just begun, Wacky Haiku Wednesdays will be on hiatus until July 18th. While camping along the Araguaia River, I will use my downtime to compose a slew of haiku which I will unleash on you when I return.

I'd love to see any of yours, as well! Feel free to contribute to the July 18th installment of Wacky Haiku Wednesdays. (Please remember to keep it clean, folks!)

See you then!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pantanal, My Husband's Other Love

My man did some recon work for me on his recent fishing trip. He went to the state of Mato Grosso to fish in the area known as "Pantanal." Pantanal [pronounced: "pahn-tah-nahl"] is a tropical wetland — the largest of its kind. Think The Everglades ...only larger and more tropical.

Transpantaneira [pronounced: (nasally) "trahnz-pahn-tah-nay-rduh"] is a famous road that runs through this portion of Pantanal, from the town of Poconé to Porto Jofre, on the Cuiabá River. It is known for the 122 bridges made of wooden planks. My husband stopped to take a picture of the starting point. You'll notice that the signs are in English and Portuguese. This is because Pantanal is a popular fishing destination for Europeans.

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

Pantanal is teeming with wildlife. Capivaras [pronounced: "cah-pee-vah-rdahz"] (capybaras) and jacarés [pronounced: "jah-kah-rdayz"] (alligators) are everywhere. So are the rest of the 1,000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species, and over 9,000 different subspecies of invertebrates.

My guy said that there are so many capivaras that they lie in groups in the road, oblivious to vehicles trying to pass. They are apparently more stubborn than a herd of cows — or more carefree. Before you think that is because cows tend to have a certain fate, apparently so do the largest rodents in the world. People eat them, as well. A friend actually had some capivara meatballs when he first arrived in Brazil. He said that he ate the dish before he knew which meat it was.

I haven't had the "pleasure."

I think the capivaras are too cute to eat — especially in the pictures that my man snapped. This series of pictures had me grinning when I saw just how close the truck came to these lounging furballs ...but the final one of nothing but skin and shafts of hair, caught when he simply stuck his arm outside of the window, cracked me up. They really were that close.

My guy knows how much I love wildlife, so he promised to take me back with him on the next trip. I can't wait! I'll be able to get up close & personal with the many different creatures that call this region home.

Incidentally, we will be leaving in a week to camp along the Araguaia River, among the creatures from that region. This year's trip will be almost 3 weeks long, so I will not be posting or moderating comments from June 26th through July 14th.

When we return I will hopefully have tons of photos of creatures to show and tell. I am determined to get good footage of the freshwater dolphins this year — like every other year! We (meaning me & my partner in hijinx: my nephew) are also planning on filming the sequel to The Araguaia Monster (O Monstro do Araguaia) featuring my nephew in the title role.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wacky Haiku Wednesdays

Oh, and by wacky, I mean code-switching.

I know... I'm breaking all the rules.

I can't help it.

I'm coming into my own, or coming right along in Portuguese, I guess. One of the things that I missed most when I was learning to speak Portuguese, is that I couldn't joke around or play on words (you know by now that I love a good pun), and conversations felt so empty to me. I felt like my personality couldn't come through.

The more Portuguese I've learned, I feel that I've been able to reclaim a little fun in my day-to-day interactions with people. I love that I'm able to joke around more, and do my favorite thing of all: play around with the meanings and sounds of words.

It didn't work right off the bat, of course. At first, people thought that the crazy foreign chick was reeeally missing the mark in vocabulary. Heh-heh... Now they know that I'm just one of those dorky people who do that kinda thing.

At least, now that I'm pretty well understood, it's more obvious when I am making a joke ...or trying to. Then again, as I may have mentioned before, jokes don't always translate culture to culture. But hey, those closest to me have always said that I pun-ish myself too hard in this area.

A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself.

~ Doug Larson

A lurking pun is the worst pun, one the offender has been waiting to spring on you.
~ Harry Mahtar

Another result of being more fluent in Portuguese, is that now there is no rhyme nor reason as to how a conversation may play out at home with my husband. Sometimes we start a conversation in [pick a language: Portuguese or English], and finish in the other. Sometimes he responds in Portuguese while I reply in English. Then we do the every other sentence thing... or the most interesting: 95% of the sentence in one language, while emphasizing a few key words in the other. That is code-switching.

This is pretty normal for anyone who lives or grows up in a bilingual atmosphere, and is commonly seen in my home state of Texas, in varying degrees. It is most noticeable in "The Valley," or southernmost part of the state.

It is also something that is generally frowned upon by foreign language teachers. However, I want my family back home to learn a little Portuguese, as well as share in the newfound fun that I'm having with both languages. Hence, Wacky Haiku Wednesday was born.

Image via Microsoft Office Clip Art home page
I'll write a pretty bad haiku using a bit of English & Portuguese, and give you the definitions & pronunciations of the Portuguese words you didn't know before.

Here goes...

Ainda não sei...
I haven't tried this before.
New way to learn, hein?

"Ainda não sei." = "I still don't know."
  • Ainda [pronounced: "I-yeen-duh"] means still.

  • não [pronounced: (nasally) "now/oh"] means no, not, don't.

  • sei [pronounced: "say"] means I know.

"Hein" = "Huh" or "Eh"
  • hein [pronounced: "hey-n" or "ay-n"]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dia dos Namorados, The Day of Lovers

June 12th is "Dia dos Namorados" [pronounced: "Jee-uh dohz Nah-more-ah-dohz"] or "The Day of Lovers," and is the Brazilian cousin of Valentine's Day.

Pic via Google Imagens
There are a few marked differences in the way we celebrate Valentine's Day back in the States. Dia dos Namorados is mainly celebrated by people in relationships: married, engaged, or dating. There is no blanket celebration like that of the United States, where people of all ages (especially kids in school) give cards, candy, cupcakes, balloons or gifts to each other in celebration of Valentine's.

Not knowing this, the first year I was here and teaching at an English school, I had some leftover Valentine's cards from the arsenal that I kept for my many nieces and nephews, and wanted to pass them out at the school. Since they celebrate every other American holiday, I thought everyone would get a kick out of seeing how we do it back home.

Image by Frescura
Not so. People at the school thought it was kinda weird, and weren't as thrilled with the Scooby-Doo Valentine's cards that I passed out as I'd hoped they'd be. All my husband said was, "That's because we don't do that here."

Oh, well... I guess I'll have to remember to bring them back with me on my next trip home, since it looks like I won't ever use them here.

Back to the Brazilian Day of Lovers...

Let's start by getting some terms under our belts. Remember that if the noun ends in an "—o" (in the singular form) it is masculine, and if it ends in an "—a" it is feminine. In the plural form, the regular ending is "—os," (m+m, m+f) unless, of course, it is indicating two feminine nouns (f+f) in which case it would be "—as."

The Essentials:

amor [pronounced: "ah-more"] = love

coração [pronounced: "koh-rdah-sown"] = heart

beijo(s) [pronounced: "bay-zh-oo/oh" (—ohz)"] = kiss, kisses

abraço(s) [pronounced: "ah-brah-soh (—ohz)"] = hug, hugs

apaixonado [pronounced: "ah-pie-show-nah-doh"] = in love

Image via Microsoft Office Clip Art home page


namorado(a) [pronounced: "nah-more-ah-doh (—dah)"] = boyfriend, girlfriend

namorados [pronounced: "nah-more-ah-dohz"] = bf/gf, a couple, lovers, sweethearts

noivo(a) [pronounced: "noy-voh (—vuh)"] = fiancé, fiancée

noivos [pronounced: "noy-vohz"] = fiancés

casal [pronounced: "cah-zahl"] = a couple, a pair, twosome, a married couple

esposo(a) [pronounced: "eh-spoh-zoh (—zuh)"] = spouse: husband, wife

esposos [pronounced: "eh-spoh-zohz"] = spouses

marido [pronounced: "mah-rdee-doh"] = husband

mulher [pronounced: "mool-yehr"] = woman (Think Murray in Clueless: 'Most of the feminine [references] do have mocking but not necessarily misogynistic undertones.' Personally, I side with Dionne on this one.)

Senhor(a) [pronounced: "sehn-yore (—uh)"]= Mr., Mrs.

amante [pronounced: "ah-mahn-ch"] = illicit lover


meu amor [pronounced: "may-oo ah-more"] = my love

paixão [pronounced: "pie-shown"] = (my) passion

querido(a) [pronounced: "keh-rdee-doh (—dah)"] = dear, sweetie, darling


romântico [pronounced: "hoh-mahn-chee-koh"] = romantic

beijar [pronounced: "bay-zhar"] = to kiss

abraçando [pronounced: "ah-brah-sahn-doh"] = hugging

Dia dos Namorados is the day of lovers, so it is an exclusive thing. No love, no gift. If you have a significant other, then he or she will be delighted by any of the traditional pledges of your eternal love via gifts of chocolates, bouquets, cards, or gifts such as jewelry or perfume (at least, according to the commercials), plus one romantic dinner for two.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fan the flame of love. As always, should you be caught forgetting the date or blowing off your love of X number of months, cupid will disavow all knowledge of your actions, your relationship will self-destruct soon enough, and there will probably be a public scandal due to the internet and such. Good luck, Luv."

Twoo wuv is also being agreeable to my man following his bliss, which literally means sleeping with the fishes. Instead of a card, I think I'll give him a personalized Gone Fishin' sign when he gets back.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Much ADO - Corpo de Cristo

ADO = Another Day Off
UFO = Unofficial Four days Off

Unlike the Noid, you can't avoid ADO. Here in Brazil, there is much ADO about nothing. Sure, there was originally a meaning, but to the rest of us it's just another UFO weekend. As I mentioned before, most of the religious holidays are Catholic in origin, although only about 20% of the population use this time for religious practices.

Some Americans actually find it hard to adjust to all of the holidays, the first year here. Everything shuts down, business transactions are paused, and there is no opting out of a day off as many Americans often do back home. I remember the toll it took on my Brazilian friends living in the USA, in only having a precious few 4-day weekends per year. The psychological impact included stress, and added another dimension of depression for many. This issue of lifestyle was one of the deciding factors in my husband's decision to move back home.
For those of you who may not know, the United States is in dire need of some days off. The average full-time employee gets a week off their first year (in addition to the national holidays, and factoring in the generosity of their boss at the end of the year). People with exceptionally good jobs may earn up to two weeks a year, after being at their company for two years or more. However, the average American chooses to forgo the days off in lieu of a check for the dollar amount, while staying abreast of company dealings, and in good graces with the boss.

Americans strive to function at an indispensable level, as the job market isn't promising, and our coworkers are always looking to get ahead. We are overworked and stressed out. While we dream of having a vacation, we know that reality means we get the "mini-vacations" in our minds, glimpses in cut-outs taped to our monitors, and the reassurance that we will never have to walk into work one day, and find out that we are somehow irrelevant, and therefore replaceable.

For the desperate or brave few who do take their vacation time, there is a gnawing fear that drives them to call and check in periodically, to make sure that things are running smoothly – even if they aren't necessarily on the board or in management. The initial panic that sets in the first morning following a return to work, generally extinguishes any sense of calm or relaxation that was achieved on vacation. It's back to the grind, as usual.

Personally, I never took a vacation from a job that I wasn't ready to walk away from, if need be. Call it a defense mechanism, but in order to really unplug, I accepted the fact that I could soon be mobile. Don't get me wrong... I was a loyal, by the book employee, but I was never under the illusion that I couldn't be replaced.

There is a whole different mindset in Brazil, the land of vacation days & holidays. The average full-time worker in Brazil has a month (or more) of vacation days in addition to the unofficial 16+ holidays that are celebrated nationwide. Officially, there are only 8 holidays on the Brazilian calendar. However, should any of these holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, they are automatically recognized as a 4-day holiday weekend ("feriadão") by the majority of the population – including government offices.

On December 26th of last year, the Brazilian Ministry of Planning, Budget, and Management announced the national holidays for 2012. Apparently, 2012 gained two additional officially recognized holidays this year. While these are the proposed dates by the government, they have noted that some are optional ("ponto facultativo") and as such, are denoted with an asterisk. Recognized Brazilian national holidays for the 2012 calendar year are as follows...

January 1st ― Dia Mundial da Paz
(New Year's Day & International Day of Peace)

*February 20th & 21st ― Carnaval

*February 22nd, until 2 p.m. ― Quarta-feira de Cinzas
(Ash Wednesday)

*April 6th ― Paixão de Cristo
(Good Friday)

April 21st ― Tirandentes
(Celebration of the martyr, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, of the unsuccessful Brazilian revolutionary movement for independence in 1789... Tiradentes [pronounced: "Chee-rdah-dane-chez"] was a pejorative nickname meaning "tooth puller" (he unofficially dabbled in dentistry, among other things) used during his trial, in which the outcome would be a sentence to death by hanging, with the quartering of his body afterward. His body parts were then sent to be displayed around the country to demonstrate the punishment for people who promoted these kinds of ideas.)

May 1st ― Dia Mundial do Trabalho
(Labor Day)

*June 7th ― Corpo de Cristo
(Corpus Christi)

September 7th ― Dia da Pátria aka Dia da Independência do Brasil aka Sete de Setembro
(Independence Day)

October 12th ― Nossa Senhora Aparecida
(Celebration of "Our Lady Who Appeared" the patron saint of Brazil)

*October 28th ― Dia do Servidor Público
(Public Servant's Day)

November 2nd ― Finados
(All Souls' Day)

November 15th ― Proclamação da República
(Proclamation of the Brazilian Republic)

*December 24th ― Véspera de Natal & Dia do Órfão
(Christmas Eve & Orphan's Day)

December 25th ― Natal
(Christmas Day)

*December 31st ― Véspera de Ano-Novo aka Réveillon
(New Year's Eve)

These dates do not reflect all of the religious holidays, like the upcoming June 24th holiday of São João, nor state or municipal holidays. The holidays that are optional are more of an "option" for the employers of the working class, not government offices or business owners, who are guaranteed some R&R.

Feelings on the high numbers of days off per year are mixed. On the one hand, it is a part of the lifestyle here. Recently there has been a surge in the high numbers of reported cases of depression after the holidays are over, and people have to go back to work. Even suggesting that there could be an amendment to the existing work schedule could cause panic. No one wants to end up like their veritably vacationless friends to the North.
On the other hand, people who recognize the impediment to the growth and stabilization of the economy see it as a hindrance to Brazil's economic status in the world. When companies full of employees who are regular lunch customers for the local all-you-can-eat restaurant decide to honor a holiday, that means that the restaurant owner will also skip a day of deliveries from the local food and beverage vendors. The cost is then passed along, throughout the community - unless, of course, that community happens to be a tourist or vacation destination.

There is currently a bill being proposed in Congress to limit the unofficial 4-day weekends to a standard 3-day weekend which would be observed on the Monday prior to, or following a holiday that would fall on an otherwise viable (workable) weekday. The current practice is to "honor" the Monday or Friday that may fall between a holiday (Tuesday or Thursday) & the weekend.

It remains to be seen whether this society is ready to take that step. There are arguments on both sides who could debate endlessly on whether it would be a step forward or a step backward. Either way, there's no sidestepping the issue.

All images found @ the Microsoft Office Clip Art site.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brazilian Slang - Mooch

Folgada (fem. sing.) [pronounced: "foal-gah-dah"] is the slang word for Mooch, according to the informal Portuguese dictionary.

Not this cute & fuzzy kind of Mooch:

...but this kind of mooch:

aka slacker, bum, etc.

Regular Portuguese adjectives are usually shown ending in the masculine singular form (—o). To change it to the feminine singular, substitute the ending "o" for an "a" (—a). For the plural form, just add an "s" ( m. pl: —os) (fem. pl: —as). The gender of the noun that is being qualified determines which gender you should use for the adjective.

Pics found on Google Images.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Graffiti in Goiânia - Cultural Icons

Graffiti is a telling glimpse into the youth culture. Here in Goiânia, there has been a surge in wall murals that are tributes to actors and singers. As entertainment becomes ever more globalized, the art depicting Brazilian artists is becoming noticeably outnumbered by that of international artists.

I ran across what appears to be a rendition of Marcelo Falcão, the lead singer of the Brazilian reggae/rock band named O Rappa [pronounced: "Oh Rah-pah"]. (At least, that's who the fogies I asked believe it is...) This mural is found on a stretch of road in the southwest neighborhood of Parque Anhangüera II.

O Rappa's song, "A Minha Alma," ("My Soul") is my favorite!

Check it out for yourself...

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Little Piggy Went To The Market

Here's something we don't see every day back home: an open-air butcher shop.

I'm still trying to get a shot of the truck that makes the rounds of the closing butcher shops on Saturday afternoons. It is loaded with all of the discarded bones (including residual hunks of meat, still attached to the bone) that are sent to be ground into feed for...

...wait for it...


I've asked a few of the ranchers I know here if that's not how Mad Cow Disease started, but received no real answers. When I know, you'll know. Or, if you have any insight into this practice, please share in the comment section below.

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