There’s No Need to Fish For Compliments Here

Update: I expanded this article from 2011 to twice the size. Enjoy!


Midway up the coast of Pernambuco, less than 40 miles south of Recife, lies Porto de Galinhas (literally, Chicken Port), one of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches. Since 2001, the Brazilian magazine Viagem & Turismo has held an annual contest for its readers to elect the best Brazilian travel options and Porto de Galinhas dominated in the beach category for the first ten years straight, making it the paragon of paradise.

Aside from being located on the Northeast’s serene coastline, with its abundance of beaches, Porto de Galinhas isn’t just pretty to look at. When the high tide pulls out, natural tidal pools are created around the reefs that are both warm and transparent, making them perfect for catching an eyeful of tropical fish. Other activities include either sunbathing or riding dune buggies on the white sands of any of the 10 local beaches, and taking canoe rides through the mangroves.


The founding of the tourism hotspot is perhaps as interesting as the destination is beautiful. It starts with the fact that the largest Brazilian tract of massapê soil (which is very fertile and rich with a reddish-brown color) can be found in the Ipojuca municipality of Pernambuco, within Brazil’s tropical, coastal region. One of the neighborhoods that makes up Ipojuca happens to be Porto de Galinhas. It’s the unique soil, as well as the region’s port, that made Ipojuca the perfect place for the European colonizers to start cultivating and selling sugarcane. In fact, the previous name of Porto de Galinas was Porto Rico, not only due to the wealth it made the local sugarcane barons but also to the large amounts of brazilwood that left the country from its shores, en route to Europe.

So, how did such a pretty place receive such a strange name as “Chicken Port”? Well, there are two theories [1]. The most oft-repeated one says that with slavery in Brazil being abolished in the late 1800s, some slave traders saw a big part of their livelihood being taken away thus they continued importing slaves, albeit in secret. The port soon served as the main point of arrival for illegal slaves in the northeast of Brazil. It is said that the slaves were frequently hidden below the crates of chickens (more specifically, helmeted guinea-fowl, known as galinhas d’Angola, or Angolan chickens, in Portuguese), which were favored for consumption by the Pernambucan upper-class. Upon the arrival of new “merchandise”, one would hear the phrase “tem galinha nova no porto!” (“there’s new chicken at the port!”). This was code for announcing a new shipment of slaves and, with time, the name of the beach eventually changed. The second theory says many of the first African slaves brought to the region were of the Fula people, also known as Pheul, which in French sounds like Poule (chicken).


These Days

Today, the chickens are hand-painted, made of coconut shells and tree trunks, by local artisans to later be bought by the purchasing power and for the viewing pleasure of the many tourists to the region. This wasn’t always so, though, as it was only a few years ago that the local artists decided to find a marketable image that would serve as their golden egg, so to speak.

Chickens are definitely not the only thing being sold in Porto de Galinhas. Aside from the endless beauty of the barrier reefs and the natural pools, there are now resorts, nightclubs and refined restaurants that have moved in and exist side by side with the rustic charm that helped to make this old fishing village so popular in the 1990′s. With all the “development” and changes, I can’t help but wonder where the locals go to “get away from it all”.

Slave Nation – 100 years later

“It’s been over a century since Brazil officially abandoned slavery. But tens of thousands of impoverished workers are still being enslaved.
Every year, some 50,000 slaves turn an area of the Amazon the size of Switzerland into a wasteland. Brazil’s labour laws count for little in a country where the landowners are omnipotent “There’s a culture of impunity,” laments judge Leah Sarmento. “There are very rich and powerful people who expect to be able to buy anyone.” She’s received several death threats for prosecuting slave traders. “When the workers run up bills they can’t pay, the Gatos, or labour foreman, come in and pay the bills. From that point on, he owns them,” states anti slavery campaigner Henri des Rozier. But landowners deny that slavery exists and claim the allegations are invented by state subsidised European farmers.”

– Journeyman Pictures


Abadá – Colorful Shirts vs. Colorless Pants

Abadá is an African word, from Yorubá, brought to Bahia by Arabic-speaking Africans. It is a type of white bedtime dress used by the Muslims that came to Brazil as slaves.

Abadá is also the name of the pants worn by capoeiristas (players of capoeira). It is probable that this form of dress that served for prayers was also found suitable for capoeira circles. There is a legend that speaks of capoeiristas using white as a form of demonstrating their abilities: the best players would be those that maintained their abadás in impecible condition after the fight.

Yet another use is seen going back to the Carnival of 1993, when a Carnival designer launched a new type of dress to substitute the old costume sheets. In homage to a capoeira master and friend called Mestre Sena, the designer baptized the new ‘costume’ as abadá. This new name caught on and spread rapidly through Brazil aiding in the popularization of the term. Some dictionaries merely cite one of the terms while others cite both.

For Carnival


For Capoeira

Ciao Italia, Ciao Brasil – Also In PT

Here’s an article I wrote a few years back on Italian immigration to Brazil. (Traduzi lá abaixo) Enjoy!

As you probably know, the Italian word ciao is not only used for “hello” but also for “goodbye.” It is rooted in the Italian word schiavo, or slave, with the inferred meaning of being at the service of another person. Around 1875, droves of northern Italians came to the service of the Brazilian government by filling the gaps, which the abolition of the slave trade brought about in Brazil.

Although the Brazilian slave trade ended in 1850, slaves were in no way lacking due to Brazil’s more than three-hundred year history of legalized servitude. In 1888, the adoption of the Golden Law by the Imperial Princess Regent Isabel, officially ended slavery in Brazil.

During this period of decline, the government anticipated the effect this would have on the economy and thereby made public the need for foreign manpower. The need was soon met by poverty-stricken Italians from the north of Italy when Brazilian ships, offering free passage, docked at their ports.

Italy which became unified in 1871, was still very much a young country and the national identity wasn’t yet formed. The advent of social and economic changes made land ownership in northern Italy a difficult task.

When they began seeing government-sponsored posters showing off Brazil’s beauty, this ultimately made immigrating a pliable alternative. In the mind of the Italian, coffee soon became the “green gold.”

In one sense it was a win-win situation. The Italians were filled with hope of a better life while Brazil began preparing to receive them, albeit at a better price than the cost of importing slaves.

The First Settlement

More than one million Italians within a 20 year period became accustomed to calling Brazil their home. The first wave settled into small and isolated government funded colonies in the Serra Gaúcha region of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. A few years later, they forced the government to create bigger colonies, one of them being the modern day city of Caxias do Sul.

While growing accustomed to the local culture, they infused some of their own too. Most of the Italians spoke their own variety of Italian called Talian, which is similar to Venetian but with a great deal of loanwords. Eventually, they began doing what they knew best, which was grape-growing and wine making. Even today, the Serra Gaúcha region produces some of the best wines in Brazil.

For more than 80 years, the city of Caxias do Sul has reveled in their talent for grape growing with a biennial celebration called the Festa da Uva, or Grapefest. The Festa da Uva doubles as a chance to celebrate Italian heritage and sell unique locally made products. as well as offer wine and cheese tasting events.

The Second Settlement

The next wave of Italians to put down roots in Brazil settled themselves mainly in the southeastern state of São Paulo. The need for manpower was much stronger there, due to the vast hole left in big business by the emancipation of the local workforce. In and around São Paulo, the landowners might have been powerful but coffee was the real king.

Not only did the Italians come at an advantageous price but they were also renowned for their love of coffee. The production of coffee required greater care and maintenance than other cash crops and the Brazilians needed experienced growers. The match seemed made in heaven.

Soon after their arrival in São Paulo, the Italians found themselves taking on the role of the slaves they were replacing. Coffee barons turned greedier and were demanding the same amount of work for a cheaper cost.

As a result of poor working conditions, many rebellions occurred which caused the Italian government to halt the influx of immigrants to Brazil. Eventually the farm workers earned enough to purchase small pieces of land where they would build a house and operate a small farm of their own. Others moved to areas where the job offerings weren’t so scarce.

Italian Influences

The capital city of São Paulo, of the same name as the state, is known by many Brazilians today as the “City of Italians.” because over a quarter of its inhabitants were Italian. According to the Italian Embassy in Brazil, over 25 million Brazilians are of Italian descent, a great majority of them hailing from southern or southeastern Brazil.

A quick look through any Brazilian telephone book will give an idea of how widespread they have become. In the same respect, listening in on a random telephone conversation will expose the myriad of loanwords adopted into the Portuguese language.

Some examples are novela (soap-opera), favorito (favorite), caricatura (caricature), espaguete (spaghetti) and desenho (drawing). If in São Paulo, listen carefully to their accent to notice the Italian influence.

No matter where one travels within Brazil, one is confronted with a true melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. Although Italian-Brazilians only make up a small percentage of the population of Brazil they seem to be all over. People with African, German, Japanese or Portuguese blood also seem to be in every corner. But that is another story.

E agora em português!

Como vocês já sabem provavelmente, a palavra italiana ‘ciao’ não é usada somente para dizer ‘oi’, mas também para dizer ‘tchau’. Tem raízes na palavra italiana ‘schiavo’, ou escravo, com um sentido inferido de ser à vontade de alguém. Cerca do ano 1875, uma turba de italianos do norte vieram ao serviço do governo brasileiro por enchendo as brechas que a abolição da escravidão causou no Brasil.

Mesmo que o tráfico dos escravos terminasse em 1850, os escravos estavam faltando de jeito nenhum devido à história de mais de trezentos anos de servitude legalizado no Brasil. Embora no ano 1888, a adoção da Lei Áurea, pela Princesa Isabel, oficialmente terminou o tráfico dos escravos no Brasil.

Durante este período de declínio, o governo antecipou o efeito que a Lei Áurea teria no economia e desse modo deu publicidade à necessidade para trabalhadores estrangeiros. Essa necessidade foi atingida logo pelos italianos pobres do norte da Itália quando os navios brasileiros, oferecendo uma passagem grátis, acoplaram em seus portos.

O pais da Itália que foi unificado em 1871, era um pais novo e a identidade nacional ainda não foi dada forma. A chegada de mudanças sociais e economias fez a propriedade da terra na Itália do norte, uma tarefa difícil.

Quando eles começaram a ver anuncias patrocinadas pelo governo brasileiro que mostraram a beleza do Brasil, as imagens acabaram mudando as mentes dos imigrantes. Na mente do italiano, o café logo se tornou o “ouro verde”.

Em um sentido, foi uma situação ganha-ganha, ou seja uma que gera um resultado positivo para ambas partes em negociação. Os italianos foram enchidos com a esperança de uma vida melhor enquanto o Brasil começou a preparar-se para recebê-los, só de um preço melhor do que o custo de importar os escravos.

O Primeiro Estabelecimento

Mais do que um milhão dos italianos, dentro de um período de vinte anos, sentiram-se em casa no Brasil. A primeira onda estabeleceu-se nas colônias pequenas e isoladas na região da Serra Gaúcha do estado de Rio Grande do Sul. Poucos anos depois, forçaram o governo criar umas colônias mais grandes, uma delas sendo a cidade moderna de Caxias do Sul.

Enquanto achando-se acostumados com a cultura local, eles infundiram nela um pouco de sua própria cultura também. A maioria dos italianos falaram seu própria variedade de italiano chamado ‘talian’, que é parecido com o dialecto veneziano mas com muitos estrangeirismos. Eventualmente, começaram a fazer o que que eles souberam melhor, cultivando uvas e fazendo vinho delas. Mesmo hoje, a região da Serra Gaúcha produz os melhores vinhos no Brasil.

Por mais de oitenta anos, a cidade de Caxias do Sul tem festejado no seu talento para a cultivação de uvas com uma celebração que ocorre cada dois anos chamada a Festa da Uva. Esta celebração dobra como uma boa oportunidade para comemorar as suas raízes italianas, vender produtos feitos localmente e também oferecer eventos para provar os vinhos.

O Segundo Estabelecimento

A onda seguinte dos italianos para colocar raízes no Brasil estabeleceram-se principalmente no estado do sudeste de São Paulo. A necessidade para trabalhadores estrangeiros era muito mais forte lá, devido ao furo vasto deixou no comércio de café pela emancipação dos escravos. Dentro e ao redor de São Paulo, os proprietários de terras puderam ter sido poderosos, mas o café foi o rei de verdade.

Não somente os italianos vieram em um preço vantajoso mas eram também reconhecidos para seu amor do café. A produção do café requereu um cuidado e uma manutenção mais grandes do que outras colheitas e os brasileiros necessitaram cultivadores experientes. O encontro dos dois pareceu feito no céu.

Logo depois de sua chegada em São Paulo, os italianos encontraram-se no papel dos escravos que substituiam. Os barões do café se tornou mais voraz e eram exijindo a mesma quantidade de trabalho para um custo mais barato.

Em conseqüência das condições de funcionamento pobres, muitas rebeliões ocorreram que fizeram com que o governo italiano parasse o influxo dos immigrantes ao Brasil. Eventualmente os trabalhadores de fazenda ganharam bastantes para comprar partes pequenas de terra onde construiriam uma casa e operariam uma fazenda pequena do seus próprios. Outros se mudaram para as áreas onde as ofertas do trabalho não eram tão escasso.

Influências Italianas

A cidade capital de São Paulo, do mesmo nome como o estado, é conhecida por muitos brasileiros hoje em dia como a “cidade dos italianos” porque mais do que um quarto de seus habitantes era italiano. De acordo com a embaixada italiano no Brasil, cerca de vinte cinco milhão brasileiros vêm da descida italiana, uma grande maioria deles originam do sul ou sudeste do Brasil.

Um olhar rápido pelo qualquer livro telefónico brasileiro dará uma idéia de como popular se tornaram. No mesmo respeito, escutar uma telefonema aleatória exporá a miríade dos estrangeirismos adotados na língua portuguesa.

Alguns exemplos são as palavras ‘novela’, ‘favorito’, ‘caricatura’, ‘espaguete’ e ‘desenho’. Se vocês acham-se em São Paulo, escutar com cuidado seu sotaque para observar a influência italiana.

Não importa onde se viaja dentro do Brasil, se está confrontado com uma mestiçagem verdadeira de etnicidades e de culturas. Embora os italiano-brasileiros componham somente uma porcentagem pequena da população do Brasil, parecem ser em toda parte. O povo com sangue africano, indiano, alemão, japonês ou português parecem também estar em cada canto. Embora essa é uma outra história.

– por Adam Charles