Azulejos, the very typical Portuguese white and blue tilework, can still be found in several Brazilian cities, generally remnant from the colonial years. They began to arrive in the country around 1630 and were used to adorn churches, monasteries, palaces and other mansions. Check this series of images of azulejos seen in the states of Bahia, Rio, São Paulo and Maranhão.
Brazil had its own share of royal weddings – with all the pomp and drama. The country’s two emperors had three weddings between them during the 19th century.
Dom Pedro I (that should have been renamed Don Juan, thanks to his extensive love life) first married archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, daughter of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. It was an extremely wise move, politically speaking. Her father was one of the most powerful men in the world at the time. This was 1817, just a few years after the expulsion of the royal family from Lisbon by Napoleon troops and only 5 years before Pedro, then preparing to become the future king of Portugal, decided to convert the colony of Brazil into (his own) autonomous empire. Leopoldina was said to have loved both the country and the emperor – a handsome sportsman with a certain playboy allure. She was cult, intelligent and a great strategist that helped to consolidate Brazil’s independence. She was responsible for the immigration, to the country, of several artists and scientists, such as botanists Karl Friedrich Phillip von Martius e Johann Baptiste von Spix. But Leopoldina was also modest, overweight, far from being the voluptuous type of woman the emperor seemed to favor. Pedro wasn’t discreet and kept several paramours, especially Domitila de Castro, that he made marquise of Santos. Continue reading The royal wedding (Brazilian version)→
You spend a few years in Portugal and then disembark in Brazil – just to learn you cannot communicate with the locals.
England and America are two countries separated by a common language – said the oft quoted George Bernard Shaw. The same is true for Brazil and its colonizer, Portugal. Only, the gap gets worse in the Portuguese speaking world. Several European Portuguese versions of common words have sexual connotations in Brazil. In fact, as my American husband noted, most words have, in a way or another, a sexual connotation in Brazil. Go figure.
Anyway, here is a little commented dictionary of concepts that are named in different ways in both sides of the Atlantic. The first column refers to the meaning in English; the second offers a version in so-called “Português de Portugal”, while the third column is its “translation” into “Português do Brasil”. It begins, of course, with the spiciest ones, more prone to foment jokes and misunderstandings.
1 – little box / boceta / caixinha
OK, I never heard any Portuguese using this one – so it might be an urban legend. In Brazil, boceta is, as you may know, the street name for the feminine genitals.
2 – line, queue / bicha / fila
This is not a myth – I heard uncountable Portuguese friends say something like “peguei uma bicha“, which means “I stayed in line”, while in Brazil it indicates that you had sex with a gay man. Even the most mature among us, Brazilians, burst into laughter when they hear this one.
3 – panties / cueca / calcinha
This is another wonderful difference. Cueca is female underwear in Portugal and male underwear in Brazil. Think of the many vaudevillian situations that can result.
4 – injection / pica / injeção
Once again, a perfectly innocent Portuguese word is corrupted by Brazilians. Pica, as you may know, is a pretty ugly name for the playground of the masculine body.
5 – boy / puto / menino
One more example of bizarre linguistic divergence. Puto in Brazil might refer to a male prostitute (although normally you would hear another word, michê). Or you might bump into the expression “estou puto da vida” (I am pissed).
The Portuguese colonial style is very consistent – you find its characteristics in houses and churches constructed between the 16th and the 18th centuries wherever Lisbon established its governors. Naturally, early colonial houses are very different from more recent ones. It is almost impossible to compare a baroque church of Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais) and a house in Paraty (Rio). In some cities you can see buildings built with hand painted tiles, soap stone and gold. Others adopted only modest materials. Yet, they have a few common characteristics, such as the doors and guillotine windows – generally framed and rounder on the top -, the contrast of white and bright colors, the iron balconies.These same features can be seen in other former Portuguese colonies, such as Goa, in India, and Macau, in China. By the way, Goa reminds me a lot of Salvador – beautiful coast of white sand, lined with coconuts; a few dishes vaguely similar; some wonderful baroque churches; and, of course, poverty. Not your average Indian poverty, but still. Continue reading Brazilian colonial beauties→