Sunday, June 23, 2013


"Entre outras mil, és tu Brasil, ó Pátria amada"

Actually I wanted to start today's post showing more information about the Amazon State, following as usual, but I decided to talk about the great civic movement that is happening right now in Brazil.
Young people (yes, the movement was started by the fearless new generation) were to the streets protesting for a better country. Enough of so much corruption! 

The people want a country that respects its citizens, provides an excellent public education, as in  European countries and the United States, or at least close to that level. The people want public health as it should be: with well-equipped hospitals and doctors having decent wages and decent working conditions. The people want social equality, because today politicians approve their own salaries, let us say in passing, millionaire wages while many Brazilians have minimum wages lower than four hundreds dollars monthly and the annual cost of living adjustment of millions of retired people sets them below the index for the minimum wage. 

We want quality national highway systems to transport our products. We want a better standard of education for our country, and schools equipped, retain qualified teachers with reasonable compensation. We want a decent transportation system: subways that work well with peripheral bus lines to serve the population; why not a system of trains and trams as in European cities? IS there money for this? yes, of course we have it! Many billions of Reais that collected in taxes are not used to benefit the citizens.  Where does all this money go? Who pays the millionaire salaries of congressmen and politicians of the municipal, state and federal governments? Who finances the perks of these same politicians as housing allowances, travel allowances, assistance of this and that? It is easy to deduce.

The President was on national TV to say that the money spent on renovations of the soccer arenas was funded and was not made using public money but was borrowed. But who will pay for this funding? Surely, with so much corruption, money collected with ticket sales probably will not be enough to repay the debt ... and so, out of whose pocket will it come?
And what about of a big "package" that is coming around, that will be sent to the National Congress? This "package" is a proposed constitutional amendment (known as PEC 37), disempowers criminal investigation of State and Federal Prosecutors modifying the Brazilian Constitution. In practice, if passed, the amendment will preclude almost investigations against organized crime, embezzlement, corruption, abuses committed by state agents, as well as human rights violations.
The major scandals have always been investigated and reported by the prosecutor, who acts in defense of citizenship independently. The PEC 37 undermines the democratic regime, citizenship and the rule of law and can also prevent other agencies conduct investigations such as the IRS (Receita Federal), the COAF (Council for Financial Activities Control), TCU (Court of Audit) the CPIs (Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry), among others.
Worldwide, only three countries prohibit the investigation of MP: Kenya, Indonesia and Uganda.
The people going to the streets is also against this arbitrariness.
The movement is called: "the giant woke up"! We are a beautiful country with so many natural resources, why all this has to happen?

The press did distort facts and was showing a minority, who always takes advantage of these situations to practice vandalism, wanting to induce the viewer to see the move as an act of violence, which is not true! The protesters were on the streets for the purpose civic urged nonviolence, but unfortunately, there were small groups of rioters infiltrated and were the ones who vandalized the public assets.

Brazilians abroad manifesting in the streets (Colonia, Germany)

So even living outside my country, I am part of the millions of Brazilians who want a fairer Brazil, more honest and more developed. Since I can not be on the streets, I speak through this blog here ... maybe someone else will join me in this chain?... I am hopeful that after this "tsunami",  things will change... something needs to happen! Changes do not happen overnight, but small steps here and there, just need to start! It all began with a protest against increase in bus fares, but that was just an isolated act ... the tip of the iceberg!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Amazonas - Biodiversity

Over the past millennium  geological and climatic changes undergone by the Amazon were decisive for the evolution of plant and animal species that originally inhabited the region. Due to these transformations the rich biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest, which, next to what remains of the Atlantic Forest, placing Brazil among the countries most well endowed in this regard. Holds the largest tropical vegetation on the planet, the Amazon is exuberant manifestations in life, from microscopic to giant. Bathed in intense light, it practically heats evenly throughout the four seasons, and fed by a complex hydrological system, the Amazon daily promotes its own renewal, an endless cycle that alternates in life and death, day and night, rain and sun, ebb and flooding of rivers, beneficially influencing the climate on a global scale.

This happy conjunction millennial result the flavors, smells and colors of Amazonian fruits, odd, that the waves of globalization, become known worldwide. The traditional wine (juice) of the riparian Amazonian açai is gaining admirers and enthusiasts from all over the world because of its high nutritional properties. The Amazon rainforest, which has its core most representative in the State of Amazonas, has over the years increasingly revealing its potential for generating wealth, we can highlight the cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla (intensively exploited during the colonial period) , rubber tree, balata, guaraná; Mirantã; cassava, camu-camu, cupuaçu, rosewood, cumaru, andiroba; copaíba; sorva, and Brazil-nut, besides valuable woods, such as mahogany, cedar, cherry, itaúba and angelim. Without discrediting the beauty of orchids and Alanas (water lilies), the queen among Amazonian plant is portentous sumaumeira (kapok tree), giant that reaches 60 meters (the equivalent of a 20-story building), with a base circumference of more 20 yards and a umbrella that exceeds 100 meters in diameter.


Mirantã (aphrodisiac - it's said that it's a natural viagra)

Sumaumeira (kapok tree),the queen among Amazonian plants. Photo Clednews

Water Lily (Vitória-Régia) Photo by Marijan Murat/AFP

Contrary to what many people think, this beautiful flower Amazon does not float freely. It is attached to the bottom of rivers by thick roots, buried in the mud, give support to the stem. Leave it long and thorny stems. "The spines serve to ward off predators. Finally, the lilypad is a juicy food for fish and aquatic mammals," says the botanist João Semir, Unicamp. Underwater leaves remain closed. Then open shaped trays, which can reach 2 meters in diameter. Its underside has a network of veins and air-filled compartments that give special plant resistance. And there is strength: there are records of leaves that support up to 45 pounds of weight! The flowers, fragrant with many petals are white to emerge. Once pollinated by insects, are rosy. The water lily is native to the equatorial regions of northern Brazil, Bolivia and Guyana.

In the endless list of plant species adds to the animals, especially the jaguar, puma; 'airuvê' (Manatee), tapir (the largest land animal in South America), capybara (the largest rodent in the world); 'amana (red dolphin); ´'tucuxi' (gray dolphin); 'ariranha'; 'uacari' white and pied-toed, plus a kilometric list of fish, among which stand out for arapaima fish (largest fish freshwater in the world); 'pirarara' (catfish); 'tambaqui'; 'tucunaré', even the humble and tasty 'jaraqui' is responsible for feeding a good portion of the population. There are also giant reptiles (the adjective is recurrent) as the constrictor anaconda, which exceeds 10 meters, black caiman, and the boa constrictor; beyond   very poisonous surucucu-peak-of-jackfruit, alligator-tinga, turtles of -Amazons; 'tracajá'; turtle, and iguana. Wonderful birds populate the largest Brazilian state, as the cock-of-the-hills; 'uirapuru'; macaw; 'cigana' (gypsy); toucan, and the magnificent Uiraçu (eagle hawk), absolute master of the Amazon's skies, whose scale exceeds two meters, which makes it the largest bird of prey in the planet.



blue macaw. Photo by Marília Mag

'Cigana" (gypsy)


Parakeet. Photo Flickr by Dan's World of Pictures

Two beautiful macaws

Uirapuru. Photo Flickr by Coppede
Toucan. Photo Flickr by Dan's World of Pictures

Uiraçu (eagle hawk), absolute master of the Amazon's skies
                              Iguana. Photo Flickr by Rob Dyett


The Amazon contains a surprising cultural diversity even for its own inhabitants, arising mainly from their ethnic background, where the indigenous element was gradually absorbing the African and European influences, particularly Portuguese and Spanish, and other migratory currents that contributed to the crucible Amazon. Hence the  Amazon people reflect in their culture the manifestations as distinct from each other as the ritual of the 'Moça Nova' (New Girl), performed in the upper Solimões River, Amazonas Opera Festival, presented in sumptuous Amazonas Theater in Manaus, and street carnival, which takes place virtually in all municipal seats.
Ritual of the 'Moça Nova', performed by Wotchimaücü indians.
This type of culture is traditional among some indigenous peoples, including Tikuna, and takes up to a year to be prepared. The goal is to celebrate in the best way possible, the first period of a young Indian. Photo by  Isaac Júnior (Divulgação/Seind)
Amazonas Theater in Manaus. Foto Flickr by Barbara Nonato

Photo : governo do amazonas

Photo Flickr by SpecBR

With its symbolic reference rooted in three distinct ethnic matrices together, the Amazonian translates this symbolism exuberantly during Parintins Folklore Festival, with the dueling bumbás at a party of explosion of colors, sounds and rhythms in which the rich mythology Amazon turns into storylines and choreography that attracts and delights people from all parts of the world. This folkloric manifestation is increasingly committed to the ecological aspects involving the conservation of the Amazon as a whole, and particularly the Amazon, a State that has one of the most pristine forests of all who make up the region.

Parintins Folklore FestivalPhoto:  Antônio Salani

The cultural reference Amazon also manifested in crafts, in which raw materials harvested sustainably from the Amazon Rainforest are transformed into decorative and utilitarian objects, such as baskets fiber 'arumã' from the upper Rio Negro, and for personal use such as rings , bracelets and necklaces made ​​from 'jarina' seeds.

Crafts - personal use

Due to increasing contact with elements from other cultures,  Amazon people come realizing their own uniqueness and of the cultural richness that is their mythology, traditions and customs, so that these aspects are being harnessed as tourist attractionsRituals virtually unknown to the local urban population became part of the calendar of events Amazon. The 'Tucandeira', for example, was once only practiced as a rite of passage between childhood and adolescence, now takes on a welcome element that generates income for members of some Amazonian communities from ethnic 'Saterê-Maué'. Thus, as an essential element in the composition of identity, the Amazon culture  has been renovating itself and adapting to the times of globalization, without, however, losing its essence and dynamism.

Among the indigenous rituals, what stands out most is the ritual of the tribe 'sateré-mawé' named 'Tucandeira'. This event is held as a form of male initiation. All the guy wants to be "man" has to go through this stress test that consists of being stung by hundreds of angry big ants! The Indians sateré-mawé to prove their strength, courage and masculinity should be left stung at least 20 times, putting his hands inside the glove Tucandeira (saaripé). Some say it should be with the hands to be stung  for 10 minutes.



Friday, June 14, 2013

Welcome to Amazonas! Brazil

The State of Amazonas is the largest land area in the country, with 1,559,161.682 km square, equivalent to the area five countries combined: France, Spain, Sweden and Greece. It's bordered by Roraima, Pará, Mato Grosso, Rondônia, Acre, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. This state is situated in the northwest of this South American country. As its name implies, this state is almost entirely covered by the Amazon Rainforest and enjoys the splendour of the massive Amazon River, which winds its way through Brazil, bringing with it an array of species from the plant and animal kingdoms. In addition, this area is notable for being the home of Brazil’s highest mountain, Pico da Neblina, which is 2 994 metres, or 9 823 feet, above sea level.

During the 15th century, the entire area of the Amazon basin belonged to Spain. However, it was only in the following century that explorers began to traverse this intriguing countryside, investigating its natural abundance and its suitability for settling and for various trade opportunities. With the goal of introducing Christianity to the native people that were living in the jungles,several Spanish mission stations were established, bringing with them lay preachers and missionaries from Europe. These ones eventually settled, creating a new generation of children from mixed origin. Over the decades and centuries that followed, Amazonas was a topic of dispute, as different European entities vied for political control. Slavery and deforestation plagued this state, along with many others in Brazil. During the 1800’s, Amazonas experienced an influx of people from around the world, who held high hopes for their part in the rubber boom.

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) identified 65 indigenous groups in the state, which holds the largest population of Indians in the country, totaling 168,680, according to the 2010 Census. The Amazon has also 98% of its forest cover preserved, and one of the largest freshwater springs. Suffering influence of various factors with rainfall, vegetation and altitude, the water forms in the region's largest river system on the planet. Most Amazonian rivers is navigable throughout the year. The Amazon River is internationally known as the world's largest, having a course calculated in 6300 km. Its Atlantic arc has the extension of 400 km. Presumably born in the lagoon Santana (Western Andes), where their catchment area is a river of glacier.

Amazonas is subtropical, meaning that it is hot and humid. These conditions are experienced all year round, with no dry season. The vegetation is made up almost entirely of tropical rainforest comprises 1) submerged land, 2) land that is only submerged during very wet seasons and 3) low plateaus.

the great serpent, as it is called the Amazon River (Photo hosted on Flickr by Fernando de La Torre)
Economy: Combining its ecological potential of a business policy grounded in sustainability, the capital of Amazonas became the 6th richest city in the country.

Part of this success is due to the Industrial Pole of Manaus (PIM), a model of regional development that houses numerous national and international companies, generating over 100,000 direct jobs and a turnover of 35 billion dollars in 2010. PIM is the main mechanism in the model development irradiator Manaus Free Zone, which provides tax incentives for production. This policy incentives generates employment, income and increased collection of federal, state and local not only in the Amazon, where is situated the PIM, but in other states of the Western Amazon (Roraima, Acre, Rondônia), plus the cities of Macapa and Santana, in Amapá (the area of ​​operation of the model Zona Franca de Manaus).

Within the state is increasing the opening of new employment opportunities and income, by investing in areas such as farming, agribusiness and rural production. For this, the Government of Amazonas has a system to support the productive sector that combines technical assistance, promotion and marketing.

The Amazon surprised by the combination of modernity and nature conservation, featuring bold cultural venues, shopping malls, excellent hotels, world class restaurants, diverse school system, parks and green spaces for social integration, ensuring quality of life and well -being of the population. The State also has several tourism options that will visit the caves and waterfalls, the practice of tree climbing, fishing, folk festivals and heritage sites.

Searches: Amazonas Government web site and

Image of a regional tourism boat on the Amazon River, Amazonas.
A regional tourism boat on the Amazon River, Amazonas.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brazil tasty fruits

Jabuticaba, Cupuaçu, Carambola, Pitanga, Graviola, Seriguela, Açai... The fruit found in Brazil is fresh and particularly tasty! Which of these delicious natural treats would you like to try?

Photo by  Jack Two

Carambola, also known as starfruit. The fruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually five, but can sometimes vary); in cross-section, it resembles a star, hence its name. The entire fruit is edible and is usually eaten out of hand. They may also be used in cooking, and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks. Carambola is rich in antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin C and low in sugar, sodium, and acid.

Jaca also known as Jackfruit - When ripe, it has a yellowish color and rough surface with small bumps. Its interior is formed by several buds, each bud contains a large pulp core covered by a creamy, viscous and very aromatic.

The jack fruit is rich in carbohydrates, containing few vitamins and minerals. Can be consumed fresh or cooking sweets (in syrup mass crystallized) and jelly. Jackfruit is the fruit of the jackfruit tree, tropical tree brought from India to Brazil in the eighteenth century. It is a tree that reaches 20 feet tall and its trunk has more than 1 m in diameter. The fruit is born on the trunk and lower branches of the jackfruit. It is grown throughout the Amazon region and the whole tropical coast of Brazil, Pará to Rio de Janeiro.

Photo by Bioversity International

Known as Pitanga throughout Brazil or Ñangapirí in surrounding countries. In English it's called as Surinam Cherry, Brazil cherry or pumpkin cherry (in Hawaii).The plant is relatively pest resistant, easy to grow and high in antioxidants. The texture is somewhat similar to cherry’s. Sweet, juicy, tart.

The only problem with the pitanga is that in its mature state it's extremely delicate, and therefore cannot be commercialized internationally. Think of the raspberry and how it suffers from handling and transportation. The pitanga suffers exactly the same indignities. So while you in North America or Europe can revel in fresh raspberries, we here in Brazil will make due with delectable fresh pitangas, pitanga juice, pitanga jam, or pitanga liquor (to which some sources attribute aphrodisiac properties.)

Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), also spelled cupuassu, cupuazú, cupu assu, and copoasu, is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin, it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru and in the north of Brazil, with the largest production in Pará, followed by Amazonas, Rondônia and Acre.
The white pulp of the cupuaçu is uniquely fragrant and it is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. The juice tastes primarily like a pear, with a hint of banana. Commercial production of cupuaçu includes food supplements, pills, drinks, smoothies and sweets. The pulp is also used in cosmetics products such as body lotions, as it is highly hydrating, similarly to cocoa butter.

Guaraná [ɡwaɾɐˈna]) is a climbing plant in the maple family, Sapindaceae, native to the Amazon basin and especially common in Brazil. Guaraná features large leaves and clusters of flowers, and is best known for its fruit, which is about the size of a coffee bean. As a dietary supplement, guaraná is an effective stimulant: its seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine found in coffee beans (about 2–4.5% caffeine in guaraná seeds compared to 1–2% for coffee beans).

As with other plants producing caffeine, the high concentration of caffeine is a defensive toxin that repels herbivores from the berry and its seeds.
The guarana fruit's colour ranges from brown to red and contains black seeds which are partly covered by white arils. The colour contrast when the fruit has been split open has been likened to eyeballs; this has formed the basis of a myt. Search: wikipedia

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Brazil - State of Amapá

Fort São José de Macapá

Food court and Craftsman home next (Photo by Amapaense)

Macapá City Photo by Amapaense

Macapá City (Photo by Jorge Andrade)

Amapá is situated in the extreme north of Brazil, bordered by French Guiana, Suriname, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pará. This state has an area of 142.814.5 square kilometres or 55 141 square miles and is home to just under 700.000 people, whether natives of South America or having moved there from elsewhere in the world.

Its capital city, which is also its largest, is Macapá. This city is not accessible on foot or by road, and can only be reached by air or water. Its toponymy is Tupi's origin, as a variation of "macapaba" which means place of many bacabas, a palm tree native to the region, the bacabeira, scientific name 'Oenocarpus bacaba Mart'.

Because the equator runs through the middle of the city lead residents to refer to Macapá as "The capital of the middle of the world."

In terms of the economy, the service industry makes up almost 90% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), followed by the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. However, English and French are part of the official high school curriculum due to Macapá's proximity to French Guiana and Guyana.
Initially, Amapá was under the Portuguese captaincy of Costa do Cabo Norte. However, during the 17th century, it was invaded by both the English and the Dutch, who were taking an increasing interest in South America in terms of its land and its natural resources. However, the Portuguese, who had been the first European settlers in the area, soon ensured that the English and Dutch were ousted from the area. At the beginning of the 1700’s, an official border between Amapá and French Guiana were established, but generally ignored by the French. Disputes regarding territory continued until as late as the 20th century. When gold was discovered and the value of rubber increased in the 1800’s, Amapá became increasingly popular. This forced the nations to establish what area belonged to which nations in an official and permanent way, and Amapá was handed over to Brazil.

Oiapoque River (Photo by Amapaense)

The River Oiapoque continues to be a major attraction and identity in the Amapá geography as it was considered to be the northernmost part of the entire country of Brazil. The vast Amazon Jungle constitutes about 90% of the vegetation and landscape of this Brazilian state, giving it an eerie quality of tropical mystery, particularly since well over two-thirds of this jungle is yet to be explored. This state is also notable because it is divided by the equator, placing some of it in the Northern Hemisphere, while the remainder is situated in the Southern Hemisphere. It has an extremely hot, humid climate typical of tropical areas. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the world’s richest and most valuable habitats in terms of its abundance in plant- and animal species. In fact, more than 33% of all the species in the world can be found in the Amazon Jungle alone!

During a trip to Amapá, tourists should include the following places in their travel itineraries:

1Fortress São José de Macapá (Built between 1764 and 1782. The project is authored by engineer Henry Anthony Gallucio and was inspired by the model of French military engineer  Sebastien Le Pay, Marquis de Vauban. It was built by the hands of blacks and Indians, slaves of the Portuguese colonization. The Fortress of São José de Macapa is for Amapa, one of his main references for representing a mark cultural, architectural and historical of the State and Country. Is located at the mouth of the Amazon River, opposite the city of Macapa, and it has been built 18 meters above the water level)

2. Equator Marker (A large obelisk-cum-sundial, the Equator Mark stands on the equator, about 6km southwest of the city center. A hemisphere-straddling sports stadium and a sambadrome (a stadium built for the express purpose of holding huge samba concerts and dances) are part of the same complex.

3. Biological Reserve of Lake Piratuba

This unit was created to protect the flora and fauna of the Amazon ecosystem, transition and lagoon, mainly. It is located in the state of Amapá in the east of the city of Macapa.

3. Trapiche Eliezer Leyv (Originally built in the 40s, is where most of the moored boats arriving in Macapa. Has undergone many reforms to be fully rebuilt in concrete, forming a permanent structural pattern, which contributed to improving urban Macapa and the preservation of the history of the people of Amapá. With its 386 meters long, is served by an electric trolley to transport tourists, where is served ice cream. It has covered area, a railway loading and unloading of passengers, restaurant and a small square).

Photo by Erich Macias
Photo by Gabriela Santiago
Photo by Governo do Amapá
4. Museum of Sustainable Development - Museum Sacaca (Named in honor of one of the most popular citizens of Amapá recent history, that was deeply knowledgeable of medicinal plants and herbs, the museum conveys to the community, through lectures, exhibitions and workshops, the work undertaken by the State Government through the Office of Scientific Research  and Technology of Amapá.The area occupied by the project has 12 thousand square meters, housing a small river, which will serve for fish farming in the region and will be a reference on water resources and fisheries potential of the region. It has typical houses of the chestnut, the tapper and various indigenous ethnic groups present in Amapá, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the reality of traditional communities in the Amazon, their way of life and their experiences of sustainability).

Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar
Monument to Sacaca (Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar)
5. Craftsman House ( It is the largest center of crafts of Amapá. Its main objective is to promote craft activity in the state and promote the generation of employment and income for local artisans, thus enabling the exhibition and sale of their products. The Indian handicrafts is also present, represented by the works of people Waiãpi, Karipuna, Palikur, Galibi, Apari, Waina, Tirió e Kaxuiana.  In the manufacture of the parts are used wicker, wood, clay, fiber, vegetable, seeds, feathers, and other elements taken from nature without impacting the environment).

Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar


In northern Brazil, long before the discovery, the Indians have fed themselves of hunting,  fish, roots, seeds, leaves and fruits coming from the local rivers and forests. The gastronomy of the region, despite having suffered a strong Portuguese and Africa influence, over the centuries, still has its base inspired by the Indian culture. This miscegenation not only meant the origin of new dances, legends, superstitions, amusements and other cultural, racial mixing that gave rise to the use of new ingredients, spices, smells, tastes, secrets and techniques quite different from the usual, creating a cuisine very exotic.

Tucunaré (it's a species of fish present in the rivers of South America, especially Brazil, also known as 'tucunaré-açu, tucunaré-paca, tucunaré-pinima, tucunaré-pitanga, tucunaré-vermelho ou tucunaré-pretinho' (Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar)

Tucunaré (Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar)

Tacacá (It's a delicacy in the Amazon region, in particular, Acre, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia and Amapá. It's prepared with a thin broth and usually well seasoned with salt, onion, garlic, coriander north, coriander and chives, yellowish, called tucupi, on which arises tapioca gum, also known as 'polvilho', dried shrimp and jambu . Serves very hot, in gourds, seasoned with pepper. The tucupi and tapioca (which prepares the gum), are the result of mass grated cassava, that after pressing to make flour, results in a milky yellowish liquid. After left to stand, the tapioca is deposited in the bottom and at its upper tucupi )- Photo by Lilia Suane Bacelar