Alco and “bebidas” in Brazil

There are Pubs in Sao Paulo, or so they tell me, because I have never been inside one since coming to live here seven years ago.
Here we have bars, and every little “Mercado”, no matter how tatty or remote seems to have at least one white plastic table and chairs where you can squeeze in between the racks of crisps and snacks on sale and sit and drink while the world goes by. These places are a far cry from the social watering holes of my miss-spent youth. They are not laid out with conviviality in mind or littered with imbiber’s souvenirs of 101 lagers that can be brought back from the far flung corners of the globe. They do not possess a row of ancient tankards hung from polished brass hooks, or a mahogany bar to lean on. They are simply a place where you can down a quick “cachaca” to set you up for a day’s hard labour or where an ice cold can of beer is available. Nothing even remotely tempting or attractive to beckon you inside, except for the poster of the young girl with a cleavage the size of the Grand Canyon, but they appear to be successful for all that, and they mark the clear division between social drinking and regular drinking that sets men apart in Brazil.
I say men, because women seldom appear to drink alcohol, or when they do it tends to be either a discreet glass of beer, or a tooth dissolving concoction of condensed milk and some sort of sweet liquor, called a “batida”. Not that you would expect to find a lady drinking “batidas” in a bar, she might either be offered one at someone’s “festa” or go with her “namorado” to a “clube” for a night on the tiles, and then sneak back to mum and dad’s house in the breaking dawn to be a nice girl again for the rest of the week. This is because the social classes also mark the division between those who ‘bebe socialmente’ and those who “bebe regularmente”. To be one of the first group marks you as one whose attitude towards alcohol is somewhat of the dilettante who prefers to drink Chivas Regal rather than Old Eight. Who would rather have their “caiperinha” made with Socatoba and who certainly wouldn’t be seen dead tossing back a 51 on the way to the office in the morning. To be one of the second group is to fall into the abyss, where hardened fellows will grab a can of beer while inside the bus waiting for a queue of people to board and gulp down the ice-cold foam before you can say Brahma.
Like so many aspects of Brazilian life, polarisation is clearly evident when it comes to alcohol and nowhere is it more clearly marked than in the prices charged. A few kilometeres from where I am writing can be found a little factory where the proud owner will happily fill up your empty 1 litre bottle of “cachaca artenesal” for the princely sum of $R1.50. That is 50p in real money. Now we are not talking about hooch that is watered down just to fill the bottle. This is 40% alcohol distilled in a pot still as long ago as yesterday. Enjoying this potent liquid is perhaps the wrong word to choose. To the aspiring “pinga” addict, it is the effect that is the attraction rather than the taste, and to those who suffer from insomnia, this is a sure fire certain cure, albeit with a sting in the tail similar to a kick from an entire football team.
On the other side of the tracks, I know a “botega” in a nearby town, where the proprietor will lovingly cradle a bottle of Vive Cliquot vintage champagne in one arm and an authentic Napoleon Cognac in the other and enquire if “patron” would like to part with 2000 reais for the pair. Not the kind of stuff to be found on one of those little white plastic tables.

© 2014 Alastair Kinghorn

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Praia Brasileira

I `m lucky enough to have spent time on beaches all over the world, and of course each culture has it`s own twist on beach etiqette and beach dos and don`ts.

Here in Brazil we are pretty relaxed about almost everything, but if you, like me, enjoy admiring the ladies, just be a bit careful about upsetting their other half, because Brazilians have firy tempers and are notoriously jealous about guarding their woman!

I spent a beautiful day yesterday on Peruible beach where Spring weather had already arived. I hope that you enjoy the photos I took….all of which were with the subject`s permission I must add!

Welcome to Brazilian Beach Lifestyle!

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Almoco no kiosk

Lunch at the beach is such a treat on such a beautiful Spring day in Peruibe. There are many beach front kiosks to choose from and many new friendships to be made! 20140824_133314

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Festival De Senhor Bom Jesus Iguape

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This festival is held each year in honour of Senhor Bom Jesus Iguape and celebrates the miracle that was said to occur when fishermen found his statue on the beach at Iguape in 1647.

During the festival, which is held from 27th July to 7th August this year,many thousands of pilgrims visit Iguape and many attend mass in the basilica there.

The old road to Iguape which passes over the Jureia mountains passes by my front gate. Hundreds of pilgrims choose to re-enact the original journey on horse back or using horse drawn vehicles, and this year fine weather ensured a fine turn out.

I was able to take photos as riders passed by and chatted with a local family who paused at my gate to have lunch. It is a very convivial occasion when old and new friends enjoy being kindred spirits.

1st Anniversary:- alastairsbrazilianblog

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If you wonder what has motivated me to write this piece, or indeed to blog at all, it is because of you. It is all your fault.

Fault, because there is something inherently wrong about writing down one’s own thoughts. It is a form of self gratification, and maybe even narcissistic.

Your fault, because I see myself through you, my readers.
You act as a mirror. You reflect my thoughts by reading them, or by ignoring them.

Sometimes you comment on what I have written or photographed. Occasionally you do not like what you see, but most of you are encouraging and some of you are plainly delightful.

So it is because of you that I blog, or should I say, continue to blog.

On 29th July 2013 I decided to publicise what life here in the Jureia was like, in an attempt to initiate more interest in the area.

A year later my posts have been visited around 5000 times by people from a multitude of countries around the world.

Most of my stuff is about places that I have photographed, or that I have written about, or about people that live here.

I write short essays about our lifestyles, which are also published in the Gringoes website newsletter, and I also post them in Facebook groups that I participate in.

I have attempted to write some short tourist guides for those of you who may wish to visit this beautiful part of Brazil, and I intend to expand on this as time and resources allow.

When the subject or the occasion is too complicated, or too personal for ordinary prose, I turn to poetry in an attempt to describe my subjects.

Initially I included posts copied from the web that I thought were relevant.
On reflection, I decided to desist from this practice, since I became aware that it was my more personal posts that attracted interest from you.

Some of my posts have been “tried out” on Facebook first, and I spend a great deal of time using social media in order to harvest new ideas, opinions and feed-back, in order to improve the quality of my blogging.

For those of you who have commented or “liked” my posts, goes a special thank you, but to all of you who have visited my blog, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation.

If alastairsbrazilianblog is still here this time next year, it will be down to you.
If not……que sera sera!

© 2014 Alastair Kinghorn

Copo Das Vagabundas

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Long before it started proper, it added to our perception of a country in crisis.

First there were the riots in Sao Paulo about hikes in bus fares way above the inflation rate but then this mushroomed into protests about a much greater malaise in Brazil; the disease of corruption mingled with that of federal and estadual ineptness, the waste of government money on prestige projects like the FiFa Fest 2014, instead of the much needed improvements to virtually every sector of the state funded public sector. Highlighted were hospitals and schools, but they were just the front runners in a long list of infrastructure that serves the majority of the population in an extremely ad hoc way, where winners and losers compete for an already insufficient government pot, and that is before it has been robbed by just about everyone on the way to delivery.

No wonder then that many projects like the High speed train from Rio to Sao Paulo and Campinas, or the new metros in Sao Paulo and Manaus are still-born.

No wonder that many millions are disaffected by this callous disregard for social and fiscal propriety.

Then amidst all of this and feverish concerns from FiFa and foreign press about incomplete facilities, the football began and the land fell under a spell woven by almost 24 hour coverage from all major television channels with nether a mention of anything but Brazilian Joy!

Despite cat calls and unmitigated abuse thrown at Dilma during the inaugural game, the PR fanfare only played a victory tune.

How can such blatant public manipulation go on unnoticed among a country of more than 200 million people?

  • First round to Brazil against Croatia.
  • Second round draw but won on points against Mexico.
  • Third round victory against Cameroon.
  • Then Brazil almost met it’s match against Chile, but won , albeit on penalties!
  • Quarter final victory against Colombia!

 

Then the costs began to tell…. Neymar stretchered off with what was later diagnosed as a fractured spine. Team captain suspended due to foul play. Germany loomed onto the horizon.

The party began to take on a different note. Maybe it was not all good news after all?

The political imperatives are clear; Dilma needs a victory to secure her popularity for re-election in just three months time.

Her opposition would love to see her suffer a public relations disaster.

The bookies had her and Brazil at odds to win.

Neymar is in hospital.

What miracle of benign intervention could save us from ignominy? Or could a disaster on the pitch save us from another term of weak government?

Brazilians put up with a great deal and always come out smiling, but if there is one thing that is detested here, it is bad news.

Tuesday night revealed a much deeper degree of bad news than even the most cynical could have predicted.

In what could only have been a premonition of what was in store, I watched it unfold in an almost deserted bar. I had been there only days ago for the Colombia match, when it had been throbbing with activity, filled with a cheering crowd and awash with beer.

But on this night it was me, the owner, and one on-looker, who was not even drinking.

We watched in amazement, disbelief and growing discomfort as embarrassment turned into a sorrowful pain. Ball after ball hit the back of the Brazilian net until we began to lose count and all sense of entertainment.

A few other men arrived, driven from their home TV sets by the agony of it, downed a few beers and fled into the night, unable to take in more.

I stayed to the bitter end. It was raining lightly, darkness had fallen and even the owner had gone, leaving only his wife and infant son on guard.

The Brazilian team are all millionaires, she said. They play for European clubs.

They can go there now and forget this night, but we must stay and live with the shame of it.

The poignancy of the scene, matched the social reality perfectly.

Again and again I am reminded of the awesome gap between the haves and have nots in this beautiful country

We Gringos are often criticised by our Brazilian hosts, for being critical of their country.

Earlier in the day a friend of mine had commented via the internet that she had visited Blumenau recently, “where everything worked!” , and that if this was an example of how the Germans could succeed, even in Brazil, she was going to be cheering for them later that night, even if she is a Brit! I remarked that she is always controversial!

Little was I to know, how controversial that was to become.

Is there really no other way for Brazil to find the destiny that it deserves, other than through social conflict?

Can there not be a middle path? Is there no ‘jeito’?

Must we always be on the attack against unassailable odds, only to be beaten back, again and again?

Can we only quench our grief in beer until the jokes restore our humour and alcohol allows us to forget….until the next time?

Or is it only a game?

 

 

Alastair Kinghorn Copyright 2014