Great expeditions to the Amazon

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“Grandes Expedições à Amazônia Brasileira”, written by environmentalist and educator João Meirelles Filho and recently published by Editora Metalivros, is a little gem for those interested in the history of the Amazon region and the very diverse agenda of men and women that explored the region during the last century. The author, that works for Instituto Peabiru, a non profit based in Belém, follows the steps of religious missionaries, Army officers in charge of surveilling the country’s borders, scientists looking for new species and artists in search of inspiration. Among his characters, Silvino Santos, the Amazon first filmmaker, Percy Fawcett, the British explorer that disappeared in the mid-twenties looking for a mythical city in the region, the Cousteau family, sculptor Frans Krajcberg and Botanical painter Margaret Mee.

This is, in fact, a sequel – two years ago Meirelles published a similar book covering 42 expeditions to the Amazon that happened between 1500 and 1930, including those led by writer Euclides da Cunha and naturalists Karl Friedrich von Martius and Johann Baptiste von Spix.

Check some of the amazing images included in the new publication:

Continue reading Great expeditions to the Amazon

Quick Minas Gerais guide

The New York Times published a couple of years ago The Other Brazil:  Minas Gerais. The daily calls the state, the second more populated in the country, “rural heartland”. The author, Seth Kugel, writes:

I think too many foreign travelers miss: the Brazil that lies beyond the Christ on the hill in Rio, the eco-lodges of the Amazon and the model-flecked beaches of Florianópolis. Instead of a cross on a hill, Minas has colonial towns loaded with Baroque-style churches. Instead of vast rain forests, Minas has gorgeous mountains and countless waterfalls. And instead of beaches, it’s the home of a country cooking style famed across this nation of more than 190 million.

Santa Rita de Jacutinga – Hidden eco-paradise in south Minas Gerais – Brazil

hiking at Ibitipoca State Park, famous for its quartzite caves, natural pools, waterfalls, special rock formations, great views and typical fauna and flora.

From Brazil Travel Blog – Historical cities and also Mariana, Belo Horizonte, Inhotim

Great animation of the Brazilian ultimate Christmas play: Morte e Vida Severina

“Retirantes” (Drought migrants) by Cândido Portinari
“Retirantes” (Drought migrants) by Cândido Portinari

“Morte e Vida Severina”, by João Cabral de Melo Neto, is the most Brazilian of all Nativity plays. Also known as “Auto de Natal Pernambucano” (Nativity play from the state of Pernambuco), it was published in 1955. It is a long dramatic poem depicting the hard life of migrants chased from their homes by the drought and the violence, common in the countryside in the Northeast region.

The book inspired this amazing short animation produced by Miguel Falcão, unfortunately without subtitles. But you can read part of a bilingual version of this poem on “Selected Poetry: 1937-1990”, on Google Books.


Free Brazilian literature online

Photo by Igor Giamoniano/ Flickr
Photo by Igor Giamoniano/ Flickr

Domínio Público is an e-library created by the Brazilian Ministry of education. It allows the download of philosophy and literary classics that are copyright free. It offers Portuguese translations from Shakespeare to Rimbaud and several good Brazilian authors, including the whole production of the great Machado de Assis and some less known children books.

Here is a little list of Brazilian authors you will find there with links to their books. Sorry, guys, I tried to find versions in English and other languages with no success. Personally, I would recommend a visit to dark, mortuary romantic Álvares de Azevedo, to satyrical Bocage, to Lima Barreto, to social observer João do Rio,  and, of course, Machado.


Casimiro de Abreu- Carolina /As Primaveras

Alcântara MachadoBrás, Bexiga e Barra Funda

Manuel Antônio de Almeida – Memórias de um Sargento de Milícias 

Augusto dos Anjos – Eu e Outras Poesias  / Eterna Mágoa 

Álvares de Azevedo – Lira dos Vinte Anos  / Noite na Taverna  /Poemas Irônicos, Venenosos e Sarcásticos 

Artur Azevedo – A Capital Federal

Rui Barbosa – Obras Seletas

Olavo Bilac – Via—Láctea  /As Viagens  / Contos para Velh

Bocage – Sonetos e Outros Poemas

Pero Vaz de Caminha – A Carta

Castro Alves  – Vozes d’África  /Os Escravos / O Navio Negreiro  /Espumas Flutuantes 

Cruz e Sousa – A Poesia Interminável

Coelho Neto – A Conquista

Euclides da Cunha – Os Sertões 

Gonçalves Dias – Canção do Exílio

Bernardo Guimarães – A Dança dos Ossos  /A Escrava Isaura  /A Orgia dos Duendes 

Lima Barreto – Contos de Lima Barreto / O Homem que Sabia Javanês e Outros Contos  / Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma / Diário Íntimo

Machado de Assis – Dom Casmurro  /Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas  / Esaú e Jacó  /Quincas Borba  / Contos Fluminenses  /O Alienista  /Memorial de Aires 

Gregório de Matos – Seleção de Obras Poéticas

Júlio Ribeiro – A Carne

João do Rio – A Alma Encantadora das Ruas


You might also like these posts:  Learn Portuguese for free online / 30 words that separate Brazil from Portugal / Brazilian Babel / So you think you understand Portuguese?


The best Brazilian beers


Green cow IPa
Green Cow IPA. Promotional photo/Seasons

Ever heard of Green Cow IPA, produced by Seasons Brewery, in Porto Alegre? Or Colorado Vixnu, from Ribeirão Preto, in the state of São Paulo? Or Ithaca Imperial Stout, also brewed by Colorado, in Ribeirão?

These three beers are among the best produced in the country, according to Gordon Strong, president of the Beer Judge Certification Program, a reference in beer contests around the world. He just visited several Brazilian brewing centers and summed up his impressions to Paladar blog, published by daily O Estado de S. Paulo.  Generally speaking, Strong said that the Brazilian (artisan) beer he drank were mostly correct and he praised both their “basic qualities and boldness”. But he complained that they were served excessively cold in a festival he attended in of the country’s beer meccas, Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina, which compromised their balance.

Read also 10 Brazilian drinks as cool as caipirinha, The best caipirinha ever and Cachaça labels: the funny, the ugly and the frankly x-rated


BBC documentary about Brazilian music

Brasil, Brasil“, the documentary the BBC made four years ago is a great sample of the main Brazilian musical rhythms. Yes, it has cliches, is pretty mainstream and pays tribute to the old same characters (João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Carmem Miranda) – but it is an accomplished and pleasant introduction to the topic, with great interviews and historic footage.

This is the first of four parts of Episode 1, that goes from samba to Bossa Nova.

And here are the other parts of Episode 1 – Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 – and Episode 2 (Tropicália Revolution) – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 –  and Episode 3 (the scene these days in several Brazilian cities).

Watch also: BBC documentary about Brazilian slavery and Nelson Cavaquinho at home at Mangueira and

Where is the money?

Self explanatory table indicating the GDP of the 10 biggest local economies of the country and their share of the national GDP

Together, the economy of the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Curitiba and Belo Horizonte represent almost 25% of the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product, even if their are home to only 12.6% of the Brazilian population. Despite the migration of the industries to smaller cities and to the Northeast, the money is still very concentrated.

Reproducing data from IBGE, the national statistics bureau, daily O Globo produced these cool infographics. The next one indicates the cities with higher GDP per capita: São Francisco do Conde, in Bahia (oil refinery), followed by Porto Real, in Rio (car industries), and Triunfo, in Rio Grande do Sul (petrochemical). Your next hometown, maybe?

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