Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Brazilian Virus

Something has been spreading around Brazil, and over 3.5 million people have been affected. I thought I'd write about it before it's gone.

It's a virus...a video virus.

Viral videos aren't limited to the English-speaking world. Oh no. This one was made in one of the northeastern cities of Brazil. I think Recife.

I've official heard this song played in passing cars, blocos, and clubs. While the lyrics are hilariously innocent, the dance is what gets me.


Hey, do you wanna drink?
I don't wanna.
Why not?
I just don't.
Do you wanna smoke?
Why not?

I'm not going
I don't wanna
I can't
My wife won't let me
I'm not going
I don't wanna

Okay, so the English translation doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Brahma is a Brazilian beer. And this is a bar. Get it? God I love a good pun.

This banner, among many signs (including the ones flapping behind planes at the beach) are all over town. The Brazilian people have all eyes on the US president.

I have a obscure connection when it comes to Barack Obama and Brazil.

On November 4th, 2008 I was with my cousin Alex on a rainy night in Rio. Between the TV's static screen and the Internet going in and out of connection, our hearts were pounding waiting for the election results.

I remember creating hypothetical situations in my mind of a country run by John McCain. How the world would react. What the Globo headlines would say the next morning. It was a tense evening.

Finally our minds were at peace. Barack Obama was announced the winner of the 2008 popular vote of the United States of America.

I saved the newspaper the next day, simple titled: OBAMA!!!

Two and a half years later he is making his first visit to South America, starting in the very same city. He arrives today.

But things have been complicated.

He is to meet with the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today. Then tomorrow, he was scheduled to tour the City of God (one of the favelas enduring pacificifation) and eventually give a speech to the Rio public at the Cinelândia plaza downtown.

I was surprised to hear he would be making an appearance at Cinelândia--a very public square surrounded on each side by main roads and skyscrapers. Nonetheless, I was excited and I began planning how early I would arrive.

A few days ago, the Brazilian government announced the cancellation of this speech. They gave no explanation and reported how he would instead speak inside the Municipal Theater. Who will be in attendance is still unclear.

The disappointment traveled through Rio almost as fast as the news of his arrival.

Although many Brazilians have mixed sentiments about the US and Obama's politics, the hope and cultural equality that he symbolizes is at the core of Brazilian hearts.

The cancelled speech and unclear plans are not a good start to his first South American visit, but we all know what Obama's good at: talking. I'm anxious to see what he says and how it is received.

In the mean time, I'm gonna go get an Obrahma and enjoy the sun.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cabelo Horizonte

The minifro gets old--real old.

It was time for a cut.

Normally, the metro station escalator transports people onto the hot asphault like a Krispy Kreme conveyor belt. But after weeks of ceaseless rain, it's a careful, tedious transition. It's more like walking around Soviet Russia after the Cold War. Only instead of landmines, you have to tiptoe around muddy pee-puddles. Post-drizzle downtown is a repulsive realm.

I'm not more than 2 streets from my class when I get the text. "Luis would liked to cancel class." Ignoring the conjugation error, I go to my contingency plan--haircut!

Hopping over a blueish-grey pond and what looks like a rat's tail, I arrive at a salon.

In Portuguese, the word for hair is cabelo. Mysteriously, the word for hairdresser is cabeleireiro. That's 2 eiros! Why does it get 2 eiros?

I find the perfect cabeleireireireiro--an unassuming little spot run by two grey-haired men in their 60's.

After sitting in silence for the trim, I reach to sneak a picture of my stylist when he pulls out a straight razor. I've never had anyone put a blade against my skin, so I decide not to risk it and I slide the camera back in my teaching bag.

For some reason, I had always thought straight razors wouldn't work on me. Like my skin was somehow more fragile than everyone else's and the barber would pop it like a tomato sauce-filled balloon. I was wrong.

The man moved with enough precision and skill to sculpt a porcelain doll. By the end, my head felt like it had been in the hands of a hair God. Haircules. Okay, a hair demigod.

Okay, Rio. Enough rain. My scalp is ready for some sun.

Friday, March 11, 2011



Flower love. Well...just a kiss.

In Portuguese, the hummingbird is known as a Beija-Flor.

beija - kiss
flor - flower

Too bad we'll never know what hummingbirds are actually doing so close to flowers. One of science's mysteries. I like to think they're whispering little axioms.

"Fortune has a fickle heart and a slow memory." flapflapflapflapflap

Beija-Flor is also the name of a Samba school in Nilópolis--a neighborhood tucked far away in Rio's north zone. The Hummingbird school won this year's Carnaval at the Sambodromo.

The final decision was in on Wednesday. This is no doubt the most coveted award throughout all competitions in Rio, including the Carioca Cup of futebol (sorry Ronaldinho and Flamengo friends).

Guess which Samba school rehearsal I attended before Carnaval this year. That's right, Beija-Flor. My friends and I took the hour bus ride over to their quadra and spent all night partying and dancing to their samba.

Congratulations, Hummingbird.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Carnaval Dia Um

Carmelitas. The first of many blocos.

Gettin off the bus up the hill. Party's already in full swing.

Endless amounts of sweet views.

In Santa Teresa one side of the street is lined with a giant stone wall and the other's got a steep incline. Getting there early is the only way to get a spot along the railing--a must for the best view.

Ellen can't avoid these dudes, even up here.

That big doll-woman is Carmelitas. She's responsible for this madness.

And we walk back down.

Onto the next...