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Five tips for living in Brazil

Hi all, Any time you go to another country (even if it’s just crossing the US/Canada border), you’ll encounter some cultural differences. If you plan to stay in another country for an extended period, your happiness will depend in large part on how you adjust to these differences. Your adopted country is not going to […]

Portuguese for Spanish speakers

Hi all, Many gringos incorrectly assume that the language of Brazil is Spanish. It’s not. It’s Portuguese. Yes, they are closely related. No, they aren’t always mutually intelligible. I’ve seen exchanges many times between a Brazilian and a Hispanic. Here’s what typically happens: The Hispanic asks a question in Spanish. The Brazilian understands most of […]

The thumbs up

Hi everyone and TGIF, Today I will provide you with a basic lesson in how to communicate in Brazil – even if you know not a word of Portuguese. Simply give the thumbs up. The thumbs up can be used virtually anywhere and for anything in Brazil. For example: A businessman has just given you […]

The Jeitinho Brasileiro

Hi all! I’m back! I’ve been away finishing up my guide, Live Well in Rio, soon to be available on Amazon Kindle. Today we have a post from a guest blogger, Lidi Albuquerque, a Brazilian who lives in New York City and works for BRIC Language Systems. (BRIC offers online classes in Portuguese, Mandarin, and […]

I’d like some hot pasties please

Hi all, Brazil receives a lot of tourists, especially here in Rio. Therefore, you encounter lots of signs and menus translated into English. You wonder sometimes, however, just who did the translating, as the errors are often glaring to native speakers. Sometimes the errors are pretty comical. There’s a restaurant (Restaurante Inhanga) down the street […]


Hi all, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. I returned home to Paraty last night. Aaah… Traveling the world, you’ll certainly encounter new other languages. I think that, in any language, there are a few essential words which you really must know if you are to survive and function in your host […]

Vamos combinar mais tarde (Let’s maybe get together later?)

Hi all, These days, there are situations in which I actually prefer Portuguese to English. Those of you who only speak English may struggle a bit to fully grasp this, as you are working without a reference point. Shouldn’t I always be more comfortable in my first language? Generally, sure. But the thing is, I […]

Assorted questions

Hi all, Reader Gary Duncan listened to the recent podcast in which I interviewed my friend Cristiano Nogueira, author of the guidebook Rio for Partiers. Gary had a few follow-up questions: Enjoyed the podcast with Cristiano. Are there any programs in Rio that would allow a visitor to have lunch, dinner, or even a cafezinho […]

Friday Postcard: The Serra Gaúcha, Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil

Hi all, The southernmost state of Brazil is Rio Grande do Sul, or “Big River of the South”. In its northeastern corner you’ll find the Serra Gaúcha, which could be translated as the “Cowboy Mountain Range”. Gaúcho is simply the Portuguese version of the Spanish “gaucho”, the cowboy of the Argentine pampas, and “gaúcha” is […]

Bloco Dois Pra La Dois Pra Ca

Hi all, I must admit that it is tough getting out posts here in the midst of Carnaval. I’d give anything for a Mountain Dew and a BC powder – the favorite hangover cure of us Southerners. However, a cold coconut on the beach also helps. I’ll be heading there as soon as I get […]