Monday, 3 March 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love Brazil

Some foreigners have opted to share their frustrations about living in Brazil online. There are many examples, and while some make valid points, I thought I’d write about the things I like most. This was first published in Portuguese on the Huffington Post Brasil –

1) Brazilian adventurism. Brazil is a place to explore boundless wild and beautiful landscapes unlike anywhere in the world. Furthermore, Brazilians have a thirst for exploring and doing new things. Here’s my example; I am terrified of heights, but one time in Rio I caught the bug to do something new, and was convinced to go hang gliding. It was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done, (There’s a video of the event on my YouTube channel. And here’s going to be my next Brazilian passion: SUP surfing.

2) Brazilian’s welcoming nature. When I first arrived in Brazil, I knew two people. A few weeks later, I had dozens of Brazilian friends – many of them who will be friends for life. I was invited into people’s homes, people’s parties and celebrations, and into people’s hearts. I have travelled the world but have never felt as welcome anywhere else as I am in Brazil.

3) The weather. Brazilians won’t understand this. You know that we British complain all the time about weather, right? That’s because our weather always sucks, but it gives us occasional glimmers of hope. Maybe just for a few hours of a day in summer, we’ll have a nice weather. Then it’s freezing again. But for me, I love Brazil’s weather. I can’t explain just how much I love it. And it’s never too hot for me.

4) Beach culture. The weather brings me on to another point. I love Brazilian beaches, but more than this I love Brazilian beach culture. I cannot thing of a better Sunday anywhere in the world than spent on a Brazilian beach with friends

5) The food. In the UK, as a child I was always considered a ‘fussy’ eater. I never ate much apart from junk food, and I hated staple food like rice and pasta. Then I came to Brazil and everything changed. I learned that rice is good when flavoured with garlic. Black beans, oh how I love them. Some of my favourites include feijoada, pasteis de camarao, and moqueca capixaba.

6) The drinks. Although I do love caipirinhas and even Brazilian drinks, I need to thank Brazil for Guarana – which I first thought was some kind of amazing apple juice when I first tried it. Oh, and fresh coconut water. My heaven.

7) Churrasco. Since we’re talking about food I need to give special mention about Brazilian churrasco. Since trying it for the first time, I am convinced that Brazil’s meat is the best in the world, and Brazilians are the best at cooking meat in the world. Thank you.

8) Live music on the streets. You might be tired of the samba stereotypes, but please, your live music, be it pagoda or whatever, is amazing. It is soulful, happy music and I love it.

9) The football culture. I grew up with football in Scotland, but I never knew about footballing passion until I sat at a boteco watching a Brazilian league game. The intensity, the rivalry, the passion of the fans is unlike any other place in the world.

10) Brasileiros. To be honest, this list could go to 100. Maybe I’ll do that one day, but this post is really about you, Brazilians. I have never met people who are happier, friendlier, and good to be with. This is what makes Brazil. From one gringo to you all, this is what I love most about Brazil you. I know there are a lot of tensions, and the foreign media will continue its biased and uninformed reporting about Brazil. There are also a lot of internal things Brazilians want to fix. But this year, during Brazil’s World Cup, I know for sure you will show the world why Brazil is such an addictive place.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Carnaval 2014: Day 1

The Best Of Brazil on Instagram - click on each photo to visit each photographer's page:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Great News For Europeans Flying To Brazil

Last week, KLM announced it was partnering with Gol. This is great news for people planning to travel to Brazil from Europe and across Asia. One of the biggest complaints from foreign travellers to Brazil is navigating Brazil’s internal connecting flights. I recently wrote about this – so KLM’s parntership should help to provide a more seamless end-to-end flight booking.

The following text shows how much of a vast network of routes Air France-KLM now has in Brazil: As of summer 2014, Air France and KLM will increase their offer by operating 41 weekly flights from their hubs at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol. Next to Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro, Air France will operate as of March 31, 2014, a new route to Brasilia with three weekly flights. Air France intends to operate a regular service between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Sao Paulo by Airbus A380 as soon as the airport receives the authorization from the authorities. All these flights will connect to the GOL network with over 50 destinations.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Rio Trafficker Says His Boss Is A Corrupt Official

Ross Kemp is a huge Brazil fan, saying Rio is one of his favourite places in the world. His documentary series, Gangs, covered the city seven years ago, and his latest series, Extreme World, has brought him back. I have a large amount of respect for his journalism and think his two documentaries on Brazil have been tremendous. I highly recommend checking them out.

Broadcast on Tuesday 25 February, the show explores Rio's vast numbers of crack addicts. I wont go into huge amount of details, other than say Brazil, and Rio, have an enormous problem. The country is dealing with what one Brazilian lawyer said is an army of crack zombies. The drug, and addicts, represent the single largest threat to public security. Here are a few takeaways from the documentary:

  • The government is sending crack addicts away from places where tourists might visit, including favelas close to Zona Sul. Pacification has shifted dealers and users off to crack dens in dark alleys in the centre, or in northern, unspecified favelas. This is aimed at keeping crack addicts away from World Cup and Olympic tourists.
  • The stats are scary, and also suggest a lot of money is being made by someone in the chain. The drug dealers once had a self-imposed ban on selling crack, but are back in business. The biggest victims appear to be children, with many homeless.
  • The dealers say they have a conscious, unhappy about what it does to customers, but can each earn R$30,000 per month.
  • But they aren't the only ones involved. They are being encouraged to sell the drug by a higher entity. As one says in the show, other people are making much more money than them. Someone is taking the drugs to them. Until this high-level corruption continues, the dealers say, the crack problem will never go away. This should be Brazil's focus.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Adidas Brazilian Bunda T-Shirt

Globo reports that Adidas is selling the below shirts in the US just in time for the World Cup, but I've no way of verifying if these are official or not. Click on the photo for the original story. I'll let you make your own conclusions...

About Belo Horizonte: World Cup 2014

For fans travelling from Europe and elsewhere to Belo Horizonte for the World Cup (BH), they'll find a city that is stunning, fun, and largely safe city to visit. The name Belo Horizonte translates directly to English as ‘beautiful horizon’, and it's easy to see why. 

The city is built in the backdrop of stunning mountain ranges, and some of the city is even built on top and around lush mountains. It has a tropical climate and has a unique culture among other Brazilian World Cup host venues.

Belo Horizonte’s stadium, the Mineirao, can be found in the city’s northern Pampulha district. It is one of Brazil’s most famous stadiums and has hosted many a famous game. Ominously for England supporters, BH is where the USA beat them in the 1950 World Cup 1-0 – a result that was absolutely shocking at the time.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Carnaval And Brazil's Sex Appeal

Carnaval 2014 is almost here. Curiously, a vast number of people who find The Brazil Blog through Google do so by searching the words ‘Carnaval’ and ‘sex’ together, so I thought I’d explore this a little more. 

Undoubtedly, sex and pleasure is a large part of the lengthy tradition of carnivals the world over, nowhere more so than Brazil. The way Brazilians dance (so-called ‘twerking’ was a common dance in Brazil for a long while before Miley Cyrus appeared), and the countries’ obsession with pay-per-minute sex motels are perhaps the most obvious signs. But there’s much more that you’ll see from Brazil from even after few short days in the country – just take a look at primetime TV!

I recently read a book – Peter Robb’s A Death In Brazil –, which puts Brazil's sexualisation into some historical context. The book is well worth a read for those planning a trip this year, and shows how many things in Brazil lead to sex.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Neymar Back In Action

It's interesting to see Neymar has wasted no time whatsoever in getting back to 'action', having recently split up with girlfriend Bruna Marquezine, the Brazilian actress, and also recovering from injury. Mail Online reports Neymar is shooting a new ad in Barcelona with an attractive model. The supremely talented footballer is having a tremendous season for the Catalan club, injury aside, and Brazil fans are praying he doesn't get injured  again between now and the World Cup in June. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Fifa Bully Boys Playing A Game With Brazil

- Brazil has a reputation for lateness, but being laid back is also part of its charm

- Fifa used this point to whip up a global media storm recently as it prepares for the World Cup

- But it was all a cruel Fifa bluff. Work goes on. Brazil moves on. The games will continue
Luz judges you, Brazil

In 1901, British engineers and architects built the Estação da Luz to be the São Paulo Railway (nicknamed by Brazilians: Ingleza). Legend has it that they built the main clock tower to resemble Big Ben in London. The specific reason for this was said to be so that the enormous clock would be a constant staring reminder to late Brazilian workers. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Why Is The News Hating On Brazil?

- Global news outlets have made sure that reports are always negative - using the words 'fears' and 'World Cup' together often
- This is despite the fact that many talented journalists are on the ground in Brazil who know what they are doing, but editors are proving ignorant

I wrote a guest post for Mauricio Savarese, who explores journalism in Brazil today on his blog, A Brazilian Operating In This Area. Actually, this points to the eventual future of this blog. I want to become much more collaborative with Brazilian bloggers and journalists. Hopefully, I can write posts for bloggers like Mauricio, and he and many others can write posts for The Brazil Blog. I invite all bloggers to get in touch.
This is a tangent from the main article; news outlets attacking Brazil. I’ve worked for a tabloid in the past, and what they are all about is sensationalism and pulling in readers in any way they can. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Brazil: World's Most Expensive iPhone

Apple has decided to launch its first ever retail shop in Latin America, which will be in Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. It's absurdly expensive to buy a phone in Brazil, but Apple’s iPhone (official outlet) prices really are staggering.
Wait for it. These are the prices you might associate with buying a car. Here we go. The price of a 16-gb contract free iPhone 5s in Brazil is R$2,799. That’s $1,169 in USD, or about £700.
Here’s the reason why I find it so ridiculous. In the UK, if you pay a contract with any of the main suppliers, you will pay between £35-50 a month, which gives you unlimited internet, and a FREE iPhone in most cases – or a token £100 at worst. Shopping around eliminates this charge. In Brazil, you will have to pay the absurd R$2,799, THEN you will have to pay one of the countries’ main service operators around £50 a month for the contract as well. But it gets worse – this allows you a very small data allowance mostly, and you have to pay more for data usage. This is madness Brazil. Madness. You are being robbed blind by someone in the chain.

From - the top 10 most expensive iPhones in the world. *GDP (PPP) per capita data from International Monetary Fund (2012). Price data for the iPhone 5S 16GB taken from Apple Store website where available*

Friday, 7 February 2014

Brazil's Sochi Winter Olympics Hope

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, begins today and I'm shocked. Even weirder, perhaps, than Jamaica having a bobsleigh team is Brazil having any competitors at all. But it does! It has something like 13 athletes competing across 7 different sports. 

One of those competitors is from tropical Rio de Janeiro. Isabel Clark Ribeiro, the snowboarder, was ninth in the snowboard cross event at the Games in Turin in 2006 and is poking for greater success in Sochi. I wish the team all the best of success.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Cuban Revolution: Will Dilma's 'Mais Medicos' Slave-Doctor Scheme Backfire?

- When protests kicked off last year, Dilma imported Cuban doctors in response

- The contracts give hardly any money to the doctors, but lots to Cuba's government

- The first of these doctors has defected, and has asked Brazil for asylum

All of Brazil's pissed-off doctors must be rolling around their clinic floods in laughter today. And quite right too. I never cease to be amazed by the short sightedness of Brazilian government.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

You Want Neymar And Carnaval Sex's statistics reveal quite a lot about what you want to read about Brazil, but also what search terms are coming in through Google. I perhaps shouldn't be too surprised by the top search terms. Top of which is Neymar; you just can't get enough of Brazil's prodigal son. Searches have included Neymar, Neymar's hairstyle, carnival, and sex. Sometimes these are used together or spelled badly. I am surprised, however, by the lack of searches involving the World Cup. I've posted the results below.

So what now? Do I pander to the audience, fill the   apparent gap in the internet market for Neymar and carnival sex? Let's see...