Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Sunday, December 16, 2012

AND THE CAPITAL OF BRAZIL IS...

Brasilia Cathedral
Brasília (Portuguese pronunciation: [bɾɐˈzilɪɐ] is the federal capital of Brazil and the seat of government of the Federal District. The name is commonly spelled Brasilia in English. Administratively the city is located in the Federal District, which is in the Central-West Region. Physically it is located in the Brazilian Highlands.
Brasília has the 5th largest GDP among Latin American cities, and the 3rd in Brazil. Its GDP per capita is by far the highest among the larger Latin American cities, at a high—for Latin American standards—average of around US $30,000.
Brazilian Congress and Senate
As the national capital, Brasília is the seat of all three branches of the federal government of Brazil. The city also hosts the headquarters of many Brazilian companies. 
Palácio do Planalto - seat of the federal government
The city was planned and developed in 1956 with Lúcio Costa as the principal urban planner and Oscar Niemeyer as the principal architect. On April 22 of 1960, it formally became Brazil's national capital. Viewed from above, the main portion of the city resembles an airplane or a butterfly. The city is commonly referred to as Capital Federal, or simply BSB. Residents of Brasília are known as brasilienses or candangos (the latter referring to those not born in the city, but migrated there when the city was established). 
Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge

In local usage, the word "Brasília" usually refers only to the First Administrative Region within the Federal District (Distrito Federal), where the most important government buildings are located. Brasília has a unique status in Brazil, as it is an administrative division rather than a legal municipality like nearly all cities in Brazil. Nationally, the term is almost always used synonymously with the Federal District, which constitutes an indivisible Federative Unit, analogous to a state. There are several "satellite cities," which are also part of the Federal District. Brasília International Airport is the main airport in Brasília, connecting the capital to all major Brazilian cities and many international destinations. It is the third most important airport in Brazil, in terms of passengers and aircraft movements. 
Satelite view of the Monumental Axis
The Monumental Axis ("Eixo Monumental" in Portuguese) is a central avenue in Brasília's city design.
The avenue begins on the National Congress of Brazil building and is considered part of the DF-002 road. Its first section is known as "Ministries Esplanade" ("Esplanada dos Ministérios"), as it is surrounded by ministries buildings. Many important government buildings, monuments and memorials are located on the Monumental Axis.
A common urban legend persists that the Monumental Axis is the widest road in the world, where "[100 to 160] cars can drive side by side". This is untrue, as the road consists of two avenues with six lanes on either side; a total of twelve lanes. However, it was in the Guinness Book of Records as having the widest median (central reservation) of a divided highway (dual carriageway) in the world.
Brasilia is also one of the host cities to the 2014 World Cup:

Sources: Wikipedia 

PLANO PILOTO
video


Thursday, December 6, 2012

MEET OUR BRAZILIAN LEPRECHAUN

Saci (pronounced: [saˈsi] or [sɐˈsi]) is a character commonly regarded to be the best known character in Brazilian folklore. He is a one-legged black or mulatto youngster with holes in the palms of his hands, who smokes a pipe and wears a magical red cap that enables him to disappear and reappear wherever he wishes (usually in the middle of a dust devil). Considered an annoying prankster in most parts of Brazil, and a potentially dangerous and malicious creature in others, he will nevertheless grant wishes to anyone who manages to trap him or steal his magic cap. However his cap is often depicted as having a bad smell, most people who claimed to have stolen this cap often say they can never wash the smell away.

An incorrigible prankster, the Saci will not cause major harm, but there is no little harm that he won't do. He will hide children's toys, set farm animals loose, tease dogs, and curse chicken eggs preventing them from hatching. In the kitchen, the Saci would spill all salt, sour the milk, burn the bean stew, and drop flies into the soup. If a popcorn kernel fails to pop, it is because the Saci cursed it. Given half a chance, he will dull the seamstress's needles, hide her thimbles, and tangle her sewing threads. If he sees a nail lying on the ground, he will turn it with the point up. In short, anything that goes wrong — in the house, or outside it — may be blamed on the Saci.
Besides disappearing or becoming invisible (often with only his red cap and the red glow of his pipe still showing), the Saci can transform himself into a Matitaperê or Matita Pereira, an elusive bird whose melancholic song seems to come from nowhere. One can escape a pursuing Saci by crossing a waterstream: the Saci will not dare to cross, for then he will lose all his powers. Another way is to drop ropes full of knots; the Saci will then be compelled to stop and undo the knots. One can also try to appease him by leaving behind some cachaça, or some tobacco for his pipe. 
Every dust devil, says the legend, is caused by the spin-dance of an invisible Saci. One can capture him by throwing into the dust devil a rosary made of separately blessed prayer beads, or by pouncing on it with a sieve. With care, the captured Saci can be coaxed to enter a dark glass bottle, where he can be imprisoned by a cork with a cross marked on it. He can also be enslaved by stealing his cap, which is the source of his power. However, depending on the treatment he gets from his master, an enslaved Saci who regains his freedom may become either a trustworthy guardian and friend, or a devious and terrible enemy.
In order not to let this folklore die, the city of Botucatu, in the state of São Paulo, holds a Festival  in the month of October to pay hommage to this prankster. Some city dwellers claim to raise some of them, and sacis are allegedly seen in the woods close to the city. 
Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, November 24, 2012

WHERE´S THE OYSTER CAPITAL OF BRAZIL?

Santa Catarina provides almost 80 percent of all oysters produced in Brazil: more than one million dozen per year, approximately two thousand metric tons. It all began in 1987, when aquaculture experts from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) recommended an alternative income for technically adept fishermen that would avoid fishing the marine species protected at that time. However, according to Nino Souza, managing director of Cavalo Marinho, the fishermen couldn't deal with the management requirements and the people who cultivate oysters today are doctors, engineers and other experts: They recognized the potential of this segment and invest in the markets around Santa Catarina. "Most fishermen ended up selling the cultivation areas that they received as a donation to grow oysters in the 1980's," explains Nino. From a technical point of view. the UFSC's project was an overwhelming success. The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) adapted so well, that they dubbed Santa Catarina's capital, Florianópolis, as Brazil's oyster capital.
Oysters have to arrive at the restaurant table alive, which makes their transportation exceptionally problematic. Especially when the 720 km  journey from Brazil´s main production area in the state of Santa Catarina to the main buyer in Sao Paulo is made through a hot country under difficult road conditions.


OYSTER FARMING IN SOUTHERN BRAZIL  

Oysters are cultivated in cages called lantern nets. They get their name from typical Japanese lanterns because they look just like them – long and divided into sections. Each lantern has five sections and contains a total of 25 dozen mature oysters. The boat harvests about 300 dozen oysters. "Production begins with a spat that looks like a grain of sand," explains Nino. "The Federal University of Santa Catarina cultivates the spat. They select oysters directly from the sea, mate them and grow spat from the larvae. The oyster is born with a foot and swims like a small fish until it develops its shell and attaches itself to something. Once the spat develops, it takes about eight months until the oyster reaches the perfect eating size. If it remains in the sea, it continues to grow. The size of a baby is about six centimeters. Average size is reached when it is about eight centimeters. This is the maximum size that restaurants accept. If oysters are left in the sea for longer, they can reach a size of over ten centimeters.






Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RATTLESNAKE POISON TO CURE CANCER

Researchers from  the Butantan Institute  in São Paulo  have taken  a leap forward in skin cancer research.

They are celebrating test results obtained by means of  a toxin which kills  cancerigenous cells. The substance found in the poison of the rattlesnake helped  control the illness in laboratory rats.
Rattlesnakes  are famous for their powerful poison. However,  researchers from the Butantan Institute in São Paulo have discovered that one of the components of the poison can also help cure skin cancer.
The toxin, called crotamin,  is responsible for paralyzing animals bitten by the snake, because
it enters into in cells quickly. Furthermore, in tests performed  with lab rats  researchers have noticed  the crotamin prefers fast-dividing cells, as of the melanoma type, known as skin cancer.
“The melanoma is a fast growing cancer; also,  a very aggressive type – the one which causes quick methastasis.", declares Irina Kerkis, director of the Laboratory of Genetics of the Butantan Institute.
The images on  microscope (see video) show  spots of stronger color  which are the cancerigenous cells where the crotamin diffused into.
In addition, the toxin in the poison of the rattlesnake kills the cancerigenous cells. For the time being, the research is only in its tests phase. The lab rats with skin cancer which underwent  treatment with the toxin for 21 days survived. The ones without treatment  died after some 40 days. Moreover,  the rats under treatment had either a drastic reduction in the size of the tumour or were cured.  
“The crotamin virtually bypasses all issues that appear in the development of a anti-cancerigenous drug ", states Ms. Kerkis.
Results have been so overwhelming  that  researchers have already head-started investigations towards treatment   toxin-based treatments to other more aggressive types of cancer, such as breast and  lung cancers. The crotamin hardly ever causes allergy and does not affect healthy cells of the body.
Such toxin may shortly be synthetically produced, according to researchers, cutting out the need  of rattlesnake poison use.
Another venomous animal also targeted by the researchers from the Butantan Institute is carrapato (tick). From the gland that produces the saliva of the carrapato they have lab-developed  the Amblyomin-x, a protein that kills cancerigenous cells. Research is likewise at test phase  in animals.
video
Source: Globo Videos

Saturday, November 17, 2012

YES, WE HAVE A FOOT IN ANTARCTICA


The Comandante Ferraz Brazilian Antarctic Base (Portuguese: Estação Antártica Comandante Ferraz) is a permanent Antarctic research station named after the Brazilian Navy Commander Luís Antônio de Carvalho Ferraz, who visited Antarctica many times with the British exploration team and managed to convince his government to create a self-guided Brazilian Antarctic Program.
Located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, 130 km from the South American continent, the station began operating on 6 February 1984, brought to Antarctica in modules by the oceanographic ship Barão de Teffé (H-42) and several other Brazilian naval ships. It now houses about 60 people, including researchers, technicians and staff, military and civilians.
The main objective of the base lies on climate change like global warming, the greenhouse effect, ozone depletion and on the raising level of the oceans. The personnel working at the base collect samples of pollutants which often come from overseas. They also carry out research in meteorology, continental and marine geology, oceanography, astrophysics, geomagnetism, and nuclear geophysics.
Work on the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Base (EACF) will be resumed by the Brazilian government over the next four months – the summer period in the region. And the 31st Antarctica Operation (Operantar) is already at sea, mobilizing 200 researchers and five ships in an initiative from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), the Ministry of Environment (MMA) and the Ministry of Defense. 
According to Rear Admiral Marcos Silva Rodrigues, this is the largest Antarctica Operation yet in terms of logistics and has become even larger due to the accident in February, when the Brazilian base was destroyed. "After the fire, we removed toxic and perishable materials so as to avoid polluting the environment, and we sealed off the Comandante Ferraz Base. Now, after defining this operation, we are boarding all the equipment needed for the three actions of this Operantar, and we will clean the area and reestablish communications," he explained.

Sources: Brazilian Government and Wikipedia

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ST. NICK´S SUMMER HOME IS HERE

During Year End holidays one way to beat the heat (remember: northern hemisphere´s  winter is summer in Brazil) is to go to the mountain town of Penedo, about three hours northwest of Rio. Penedo was settled by Finns led by naturalist Toivo Uuskallio, and locals refer to it as “a cidade do Papai Noel,” or “Santa Claus City.” You’ll find chalet-style architecture, chocolate shops and one attraction billed as St. Nick’s summer home. The town can also be a base for exploring the Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, which contains a Brazilian rain forest.


WHERE TO EAT


BELLA CITTÁ 
Av. das Mangueiras, 1763 – Centro – Penedo – RJ
Telefone: (24) 3351-1926
Site: http://www.bellacitta.visitepenedo.com/

CASA DO FRITZ 
German Cuisine
Avenida das Mangueiras, 518 – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1751
Site: www.casadofritz.com.br
 PEQUENA SUÉCIA
Rua Toivo Suni, 33 – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1275
Site: www.pequenasuecia.com.br
SKANDINAVIA
Avenida das Mangueiras, 2631 – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1529
WEIN STÜBLE – Cozinha alemã
Rua das Velas, 100 – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3381-7107
Site: www.weinstuble.com
CASA DO CHOCOLATE – DOCERIA
Avenida Casa das Pedras, 10 (fica na entrada de Penedo) – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1127
FÁBRICA DO CHOCOLATE
Praça Finlândia, s/n – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
WHERE TO STAY
POUSADA DAS ACEROLAS
Rua dos Operários, s/n – Centro (Próximo ao hotel Vilar Formoso) – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1265
Site: www.pousadadasacerolas.com.br
ARBORETUM 
Estrada da Cachoeira, s/n – Penedo (o ponto de referência é o hotel da Cachoeira) – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1728
Site: www.arboretum.com.br
POUSADA FINLÂNDIA 
Avenida das Mangueiras, 2000 – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-1709
Site: www.pousadafinlandia.com.br
VALE DOS DUENDES
Rua Toivo Suni, 130 – Centro (atrás do Shopping Vale dos Duendes) – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351-3002
Site: www.aparthotelvaledosduendes.com.br
VILAR FORMOSO 
Rua dos Operários, 270 – Centro – Penedo – Itatiaia – RJ.
Telefone: (24) 3351 – 1071
Site: www.vilarformoso.com.br

Saturday, November 3, 2012

DISTANCES IN BRAZIL ARE JAW-DROPPING, DID YOU KNOW THAT?



Brazil is the fifth country in territorial extension and has an enormous capacity of benefiting from its natural resources. However, when it comes to competing globally with other countries, expectations run against a logistic structure full of serious operational problems.
In the 2012 World Bank survey, that analyzes logistic systems worldwide, Brazil ranked the 45º position. The country was specifically bad in the aspect “customs”, one of the research’s indicators.
The main problem regarding logistics in Brazil is infrastructure. The poor maintenance of roads and lack of railways represent the major issues. Due to the internal market growth, there were a lot of investments since 2008, but they are still insufficient to the country’s demand.
The Brazilian transport network lacks a greater variety of options to the companies. The country counts with 214.000 km of roads (1.600 km of them, unpaved) against 30.000 km of railways and 14.000 km of waterways.
Considering these numbers, it’s understandable that around 60% of the loads transported inside the Brazilian territory are carried in roads, revealing one of the greatest weaknesses of the system. Loads here are transported by roads even along extreme distances involving thousands of kilometers. The cost of road transport is very high in Brazil, especially over long distances, for which we should use other means of transport.
DISTANCES FROM SÃO PAULO CITY TO OTHER LOCATIONS:
São Paulo (SP) – Paranaguá (SP): 442 km (274.64 miles) – 4h54m
São Paulo (SP) – Santos (SP): 72 km (44 miles) - 48m
São Paulo (SP) – Rio de Janeiro (RJ): 429 km (266 miles) – 4h46m
São Paulo (SP) – Natal (RN) – 2.947 km (1831 miles) – 32h44m
São Paulo (SP) – Salvador (BA): 1.962 km (1219 miles) – 21h48m
São Paulo (SP) – Itajai (SC): 617 km (383.3 miles) – 6h51m
São Paulo (SP) – Porto Alegre (RS): 1.109 km (689 miles) – 12h19m
São Paulo (SP) – Recife (PE): 2.660 km (1652 miles) – 29h33m
São Paulo (SP) – Rio Branco (AC): 3.604 km (2239 miles) – 40h02m
São Paulo (SP) – Vitória (ES): 882 km (548 miles) – 9h48m
São Paulo (SP) – Belo Horizonte (MG): 586 km (364 miles) – 6h30m
São Paulo (SP) – Boa Vista (RR): 4.756 km (2955 miles - 52h56m)
São Paulo (SP) – Florianópolis (SC): 705 km (469 miles) - 7h50m
São Paulo (SP) – Ponta Porã (MS): 1.117 km (694 miles) - 12h24m
In this link, you can download a table containing the distances between the main Brazilian cities. You can also check which stretches are unpaved.

Friday, October 26, 2012

BRAZILIAN BIRDS OF PREY AND OUR SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISSI


Brazil has around 40 species of eagle, hawk, falcon, kite, caracara and kestrel, some quite common, and they’re not very easy to tell apart.

The crested caracara is common in many areas – it’s 50cm to 60cm long with a 1.2m or 1.3m wingspan. Its broad diet includes fish dying from a lack of oxygen as Pantanal ponds dry up, and animals that have been run over on roads or burnt in forest fires. Also common in Amazonia and the Pantanal are the yellow-headed caracara, about 40cm long, and the black-collared hawk, a reddish-brown fish-catcher, with a white head and chest, that reaches lengths of 45cm. The osprey, or fishing eagle, is bigger (55cm to 60cm; wingspan 1.45m to 1.7m), with a darker brown body.

Brazil’s most emblematic bird of prey (and the largest in the Americas) is the ferocious, rare and enormously powerful harpy eagle, weighing up to 10kg, with a wingspan of up to 2.5m, and claws bigger than human hands. It enjoys a diet of monkeys, sloths, armadillos and other large animals, and nests at least 25m above the ground in big jungle trees. Though a few harpies still inhabit Mata Atlântica, the bird is found chiefly in Amazonia. It’s not yet endangered but will become so if destruction of its rain-forest habitat continues.






WATCH HIS AMAZING CONSERVATIONIST VIDEO:


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PLEASE MEET TULIPA RUIZ´S LATEST HIT

"It is a contagiously funky, and kooky, Brazilian rock number about a modern love affair between two independent adults, something of an antidote to the over-sweetened stardust of so much modern pop." (by Vincent Bevins - Folha de São Paulo)

Tulipa´s official website





Friday, October 19, 2012

YES, WE HAVE OKTOBERFEST


Oktoberfest in Brazil is a great introduction to the country's German heritage. Inspired in the Oktoberfest in Munich, the Oktoberfest in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, is now one of the world's largest outside Germany.
Because Oktoberfest in Brazil is held in the spring, one of the best things about it is the fact that you can time the top festivals with more southern Brazil attractions - in warm weather. A bit of traveling will take you from oom-pa to the beach, to Iguassu Falls or to some of Brazil's most beautiful mountain destinations, such as São Joaquim National Park in Urubici , SC.

Draft beer by the meter drinking contest
The festival of Blumenau was created in 1984, after a big flooding of the Itajaí-Açu river, as a means of recovering the city's economy and raising the morale of its inhabitants. Since its first edition it has been a success, and today it has an attendance of about 700,000 visitors over a fortnight and a consumption of 626,000 liters of draft beer. It features parades, parties, national and international bands playing traditional and pop German music in the Biergarten and in the street, as well as typical food and locally brewed and imported beer. Also, there are folk dances (Tanzgruppen), shooting matches (Schützenvereine), Germanic singing, folk costume and german cuisine. "Fritz" and "Frida" are the typical German characters. The "Vovó e Vovô Chopão" (Grandma and Grandpa Chopão, "Big Beer") are the oficial symbolic characters of the event.




Saturday, October 13, 2012

THE BEST WHALE WATCHING IN SOUTH AMERICA

Southern Right Whales are one of the most endangered whale species in the world. From July to November they come to shallow coastal waters in lower latitudes to breed, calve and nurse their young. There are just two places in South America where this gathering can be seen –Argentina and southern Brazil. Brazil’s first dedicated whale sanctuary at Praia da Rosa was declared along 81 miles of the Santa Catarina coast in 2000 to protect the whales. A favourite spot for the whales to gather is in the bay off Praia da Rosa and it is here whale watching boat trips, accompanied by a biologist from the Right Whale Institute, can be arranged.

where to stay

Praia do Rosa is a member of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World Club, a non-governmental network which aims to contribute to the preservation of unique bays.

Praia do Rosa is located within the range of the Southern Right Whale Environment Protection Area (APA Baleia Franca), created in 2000 and Praia do Rosa is part of a string of beaches on the southern coast of Santa Catarina with great conditions for surfing - Imbituba is on the ASP World Tour.
Ecotourism is on the rise in Praia do Forte. Hiking is big in the hills around the beach, especially on a trail known as Caminho do Rei, or the King's Way, named after the visit of a Brazilian king to the trail. Horseback riding on the beach and bird watching are some other fun possibilities.
Praia do Rosa nightlife is fun, especially in the summer. Beautiful people crowd Pico da Tribo, one of the best places around for dancing. by ICMBio (ICMBIO), the Brazilian Ministry of Environment's Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation of Biodiversity).  
Source: http://gobrazil.about.com/od/brazilianbeachesislands/p/praiadorosa.htm
Official Website
Family Wildlife Adventures



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

OUR BRAZILIAN WATERGATE

Joaquim Barbosa, the justice overseeing the corruption trial

"In what has been billed as Brazil's "trial of the century", the supreme court on Thursday started to hear the case of 38 prominent defendants – including former ministers, politicians, bankers and businessmen – who are implicated in a vote-buying case that first hit the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2005.
The Mensalão (big monthly payment) scandal, as it is commonly known, saw millions of dollars siphoned from public funds to pay off politicians and buy support for the coalition. Among the accused is Jose Dirceu, Lula's chief of staff." (The Guardian).
“This trial shows that Brazil’s institutions are functioning with vigor,” said Thiago Bottino, a law professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, an elite Brazilian university. “The justices could have easily washed their hands of this case and walked away; instead, they entered the fight for an ethical democracy.” (The New York Times)
The attorney general, Roberto Gurgel, has said it was "the most daring and outrageous corruption scheme and embezzlement of public funds ever seen in Brazil".
 "For weeks now, Brazilians have been riveted by the televised spectacle at the nation’s high court, in which justices are sparring over what is arguably Brazil’s largest corruption scandal. When the dust settles and sentences are announced, prominent politicians and bankers may actually go to jail.
The fact the trial is even advancing to such a phase — taking aim at congressmen, members of the governing party and senior officials who worked directly under one of the most popular presidents — points to a rare breakthrough in political accountability and a crucial streak of independence in the legal system.
So far, the court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, or Supreme Court, has already found more than 20 of the 38 defendants in the case guilty of crimes including money laundering, misuse of public funds and accepting cash for votes." (The New York Times).
There´s more to unfold...
See complete articles at The New York Times and The Guardian


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A COLONIAL GEM BY THE MOUTH OF THE MIGHTY SAO FRANCISCO RIVER





Penedo is a municipality in the state of Alagoas in Brazil.


 Founded in 1614, Penedo lies 173 km from the state capital, Maceió. Penedo has many important examples of Portuguese and Dutch colonial architectures, as well as beautiful landscapes. Among its historically significant buildings are its well preserved churches, which were built through the 18th century. Some of these include:
  • Convento de São Francisco e Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Anjos
    (Convent of Saint Francis and Church of Our Lady of the Angels)
  • Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Corrente
    (
    Church of Our Lady of the Chains - it was named after the "chains" of slavery. The owners, a family of abolitionists, would hide running slaves in a secret compartment until they could escape. This church is lavishly decorated with rare polychrome tiles and gold leaf.)
  • Catedral de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Penedo.
    (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Black People's Rosary)
The Casa do Penedo, established in 1992, has as its objective the preservation of the city's artistic and cultural patrimony. In the Casa do Penedo one can find a rich quantity of five centuries of creativity by residents of the São Francisco River Valley.
If you can, stay more than one day to take advantage of the river tours; the boat will take you all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Wear comfortable walking shoes; Penedo was named after the rock it was built on and it's very hilly. The river is very wide near its mouth, but before it gets here it has formed one of the longest canyons in the world. Affectionately called "Velho Chico" (Old Chico), the river is 2,700 kilometers long, flowing through five states: Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Sergipe, and Alagoas, the sertão of so many books, stories, legends, and songs... In Bahia it has a flood plain like the Nile; planting manioc crops and pottery-making (with the clay obtained by digging holes for the plants) are all done according to the cycles of flood and receding waters.
The river is navigable for a 1,700-kilometer stretch and you can actually do this on a "hotel boat."  The "Velho Chico" is also famous for the "carrancas" or figureheads on its boats. The real ones are becoming more and more difficult to find and were the subject of an exhibit in Rio in 2002; you can pick up a reproduction in Penedo to help ward off evil spirits around your home...
Sources: Maria-Brazil


Sunday, October 7, 2012

DEMOCRACY IS BEING UPHELD AGAIN TODAY


By VINCENT BEVINS - he writes for and edits “From Brazil”, an experimental English-language blog aimed at highlighting news, analysis, culture and commentary for the global community for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper.


Brazilians go to the polls today to elect their municipal representatives. These posts are quite important, as mayors have a great deal of power here. For those of us that live in Brazil, these campaigns can often drag on forever, but have turned out to be quite interesting this year. For those living abroad, here’s a quick guide to what’s at stake and who’s in the running in Rio and São Paulo.
Sunday is the first round of voting. In cases where there is no majority, the top two candidates go to a second round of voting a month later.
São Paulo – the rise of Evangelical Christian politics
The mayorship of South America’s largest city is extremely important, likened credibly to running a mid-sized country. And as anyone who has visited SP knows, this place is in dire need of good leadership.
We’ve had a big surprise here. The country’s two major parties, the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores, or Worker’s Party, of Dilma and Lula fame), and the PSDB (the center-right party of the also much-revered Fernando Henrique Cardoso), have been shocked to find themselves trailing far behind Celso Russomano, the TV personality and candidate from the relatively new PRD, a party backed by  Brazil’s increasingly powerful evangelical Christian churches.
This has terrified the traditional power structures and you have seen everyone coming together (other than the actual supporters of the man) to try to stop him. This includes the right-wing media, left-wing unions and parties as well as bien pensant middle-class liberal urban types. Most of Russomano’s supporters are the conservative poor, and some call his campaign a genuinely populist movement representing those who have long been neglected, and others call it the dangerous mixing of religion and politics.
But he is almost certainly going to the second round, so the question now is who is going with him. On the right we have José Serra, who was already mayor of São Paulo, but quit to run for president, against Dilma, and lost badly. That has not helped his image with the common man, and pollsters routinely find a large number of voters reject him.
Nevertheless, he’s ahead of Fernando Haddad, a relative newcomer for the PT, who has been pulling out all the stops (these stops are named Lula and Dilma) to get into the second round and give the city a left-of-center option. It could be close.
Rio – Riding a wave of success vs. the gadfly critic
Incumbent Eduardo Paes (from catch-all centrist party PMDB) is overseeing a city which is booming, regaining much of its importance for the country, and which will host the Olympics in 2016. He should win easily and probably will. But the one person who may stop him from getting 50% of the vote today is Marcelo Freixo, the human rights advocate who famously inspired a character in blockbuster movie Tropa de Elite 2 (If you haven’t seen these two movies, but you are somehow reading this blog, you must).
Freixo is an extremely exciting figure for Rio’s middle-class lefties as well as many people in the favelas. This is an impressive spread, to say the least, and he’s a powerful critic of the way Rio is developing.
Source: Blogfolha


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