A new book has been released set in Sao Paulo.
You may have noticed that the World Cup mascot has been absent not only from the opening ceremony but also from any of the world cup games. While Fuleco has been spotted at events by world cup sponsors Visa and Coca Cola he is nowhere to be seen at official FIFA events.
When Ronaldo unveiled the World Cup mascot in 2012 it was considered a good thing that an endangered species, the three banded armadillo had been chosen.
“The fact that the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting,” said Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke.
“One of the key objectives through the 2014 World Cup is to use the event as a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology.
“We are glad to be able to do so with the help of a mascot who I’m sure will be much-loved, not only in Brazil, but all over the world.”
His optimism proved short lived after the name Fuleco was chosen in a poll despite the fact that many Brazilians had asked FIFA for more alternatives.
But the controversy grew deeper when environmental groups suggested that, if FIFA were going to use the armadillo as their mascot then perhaps they should contribute some money towards its preservation.
According to Folha Sao Paulo, FIFA made $2.4billion profit in the four years leading up to the world but so far has offered $300,000 to an armadillo charity and even this was to be spread over 10 years.
Continental Tyres, another World Cup sponsor, have donated $45,000 but so far that is all.
As if this wasn’t enough there are also accusations that Fuleco is actually based on the Arlesey Town mascot, Arnie the Armadillo. There have been accusations that one of the Brazilian designers worked in London for a while, and perhaps lived in Bedfordshire. Or perhaps played part-time in a non-league side against Arlesey Town in the Southern League. But more likely is that this is a mystery that may never be solved.
amazon, beach, booze, boteco, brazil, britto, caipirinha, environment, feiras, football, fresh bread, fruit, graffiti, markets, mata atlantica, padaria, romero britto, sao paulo, spoletos, sunshine, weather
As promised I’ve devoted some time to coming up with a list of good things about living in Brazil. I set myself the challenge of ten which didn’t take as long as I thought. So here it is, in the order it emerged from my subconscience.
I’m not a big fruit eater but whenever I’m asked what I like about Brazil, fruit is always my immediate response. Brazil is heaven for fruit lovers with nearly all the fruit we get in the UK plus a vast array of what we consider exotic fruits at a fraction of the price. Mangoes are particularly good in both value and taste and bananas come in several varieties: ouro, prata, nanica etc. Oranges are so cheap they’re priced by the dozen and a large sack can be bought for less than £3.
These are street markets of the kind we used to have in the UK but have now been firmly replaced by supermarkets. Every area of Sao Paulo has a street market at least once a week and one wouldn’t have to travel very far to visit a street market every day. Each of the markets sells all the fruit and veg one can dream of plus meat, fish, chicken, eggs, spices, shoes, hardware and most importantly a fried snack called pastel and caldo de cana, sugar cane juice. These last two are reason alone to visit a feira.
Perhaps what runs through the mind of the person at the other end of the phone in UK as their voice lifts when I tell them I’m living in Brazil is the thought of sunshine and granted Sao Paulo certainly gets its fair share of that. There’s about a week in July (still to arrive) when it gets a bit chilly which can be uncomfortable given that the houses have no form of heating except hot water bottles if you’ve brought one. And the summer arguably gets a bit too hot but if you like thunder storms you’re likely to get a great one everyday at about 4pm. For me the best weather in Brazil is during the winter. It’s dry and the temperatures resemble that of a British summer. Nice.
Imagine a cafe, albeit without fried breakfast and cups of tea, serving alcohol and you’ve got the basic principle of the boteco. They’re the closest Brazil gets to a wetherspoons and though the beer is much worse and the snacks considerably
more Brazilian they’re still great if you need a quick snack or a cheapish Brazilian lager. I’ll skip the toilets.
Every nation has it’s fancy drink. Cuba the mohito, Mexico the Margarita, Britain the gin and tonic (and Pimms), Germany schnapps, Japan saki, Korea soju and Laos lao-lao. In Brazil the homemade spirit is cachaça, otherwise known as pinga a litre of the cheap stuff can be picked up in a supermarket for about two quid. Like most spirits, with the notable exception of a good single malt, it tastes a bit ropey by itself to the unaccustomed palate but add shed loads of sugar and some lime and you have a caipirinha – nice.
Everyone loves a decent bakery, no more than the Brazilians who love to buy fresh bread daily along with a variety of baked and confectionary goods. Because of this padarias seem to be outnumbered only by chemists and perhaps botecos consequently fresh bread is easy to get hold of and most padarias also double as cafes so a slice of pizza and a bottle of cheapish fizzy lager is always an option.
It almost goes without saying that even the worst beach in Brazil is almost as good as the best beach in England (arguably Bournemouth). If you can ignore the fact of how filthy they get at popular times such as new year and carnaval Brazilian beaches are without doubt excellent. Apart from the sun, sea and sand, there is a kiosk at approximately every 100 metres selling resfreshments, snacks, caipirinhas and cheapish fizzy lager.
8. Mata atlantica
As it turns out the amazon rainforest isn`t in Sao Paulo, I`ve selected the mata atlantica which, although looks pretty big from the bus is only a fraction of the forest which used to exist before the Europeans arrived. Efforts are being made to reforest part of the deforested area and there is still a small reserve on the edge of the city which makes a great change from the concrete.
Here’s a novel idea that I’m surprised hasn’t caught on in the UK. Imagine a pasta restaurant where you choose the pasta, the selection of ingredients, the sauce and watch it being cooked in front of you. OK so it’s a bit like the mongolian barbeque with pasta but it’s a relatively simple idea and a very easy way for a vegetarian to get fed in a country that thinks ham is a vegetable.
10. atmosphere at football games
Pacaembu, where you’re always guaranteed a great atmosphere even if the football’s a bit rubbish
Finally, it would seem odd to have a top ten list in Brazil with no mention of football but football only just sneaks in because the truth is that the standard of football is not as good as the standard of football in Europe in so small part because all the best Brazilian footballers play in Europe. However, one of the good things about Brazilian football is that, no matter how bad the football gets, the atmosphere is almost always guaranteed to be good even at the most uninspiring of fixtures partly due to the inevitable presence of a samba band keeping the atmosphere ticking along nicely.
I thought of an eleventh. Sao Paulo has some of the most incredible graffiti in the world which really helps to break up the concrete monotony. Sadly there is an enormous amount of tagging which makes many areas look really rubbish but there are also some great works of art and also many murals copying contemporary Brazilian artists such as Romero Britto who is a particular favourite at the moment.
This week I twisted my ankle while running for a bus. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, whether I lost my footing on the uneven surface of the pavement of whether I simply tottered over on my own accord. I certainly hadn’t been drinking so I’m blaming the terrain.
The pavements of Brazil would be enough to give a British health and safety inspector a cardiac arrest. The concept of English council employees walking around streets with a ten pence piece to check whether the council needs to repair a paving stone or fear being sued is laughable in Brazil.
Brazilian local government officials would need to fill their pockets with loose change to stand any chance of having enough to measure the gaps in the pavements here. Not that a local government official would be that bothered. It’s not the fact that they don’t fear litigation, or that they don’t care, it’s because the responsibility to maintain the pavement in front of a house or a shop belongs to the house or business owner. While this probably saves the council quite a bit of cash it does create a right hotch potch of different designs, styles and heights of pavements – a nightmare for someone rushing for a bus but an impossibility for a wheelchair user. Funnily enough you don’t see many wheelchair users on Brazilian streets.
It’s not just the state of the pavements which highlights the difference between England and Brazil when it comes to matters of health and safety. Not long after I arrived my daughter was invited to a children’s birthday party and I accompanied her. In the front garden was a ten foot trampoline and a swimming pool holding 7000 litres of water which had already turned an interesting colour filled as it was with children wreaking havoc.
Herein lies a basic difference between Brazilians and myself. A Brazilian sees 7,000 litres of dubiously coloured water as an opportunity for fun whereas all I see is a soup of bacteria an infection whose main benefit lies in stimulating my daughter’s immune system. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-fun. We had a trampoline in our own garden in England which I was happy for my daughter to enjoy providing she was securely fastened inside by a sufficiently zipped up safety net.
The trampoline in this particular party did have a net of sorts but it had a gaping opening on one side which, while permitting easy entry and exit, was never fully closed while the infants leapt about inside. I hovered around the opening while my own daughter had her turn, ready to catch her and flinching every time she made the slightest move in my direction. The Brazilian fathers relaxed on the other side of the garden.
Perhaps my nervousness could be attributed to the story of my friends daughter who managed, during the brief period the zip on her trampoline was open, to launch herself through the gap and land on her head. Was it just a freak accident about which I shouldn’t be overly concerned? Does the Brazilian child’s exposure to risk develop their ability to avoid freak accidents? Has my constant mantra of ‘be careful’ turned my daughter into a nervous wreck who is so risk averse that she is unlikely to attempt many of the possibilities that Brazilian children enjoy?
Eventually she too entered the pool of immunisation and played the games the other children played. Once she had her confidence she was difficult to remove. And no-one got hurt. Well that’s not exactly true. A girl did fall through the opening in the net and onto the concrete floor. Thankfully she was not badly hurt.
On April 25th, the Brazilian government passed sweeping reforms to the country’s forest protection law severely weakening protection for the Amazon rain forest. President Dilma now has 14 days to veto the reforms before they become law.
Sao Paulo social media sites have been buzzing with the ‘Veta Dilma’ campaign urging the president to halt the reforms only weeks before Brasil hosts the Rio +20 environment summit.
The new bill would allow landowners to cultivate riverbanks and hillsides that were previously exempt, and would provide an amnesty from fines for illegally clearing trees before July 2008.
Greenpeace have been highlighting a University of Brasilia study which estimates a 50 percent increase in deforestation in the Amazon up to 2020 under the new rules if they pass. Brazil could lose 22 million hectares of rainforest to deforestation, that’s an area nearly the size of the UK or the size of the state of Minnesota.
Further destruction of the Amazon would increase the risk of irreversible climate change and leave forest communities and Amazon wildlife even more at risk from the interests which have already destroyed 18 percent of the Amazon.
Farmers, whose industry represent more than five percent of Brazil’s GDP, argue that the existing legislation is confused, putting economic development at risk and costing valuable investment. They say the new code would promote sustainable food production and bring an end to severe environmental restrictions that have forced many smaller farmers off their land.
On the Mother Nature Network website, Paulo Moutinho of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) warned that if Rousseff did not use her veto, years of successful efforts to rein in the ruination of the Amazon would be jeopardized.
“Without a veto by President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil will lose the gains of the last few years which led the country to curb deforestation. We will lose leadership and credibility,” Moutinho said.
Over 200,000 have signed a petition for a zero deforestation law to protect the rainforest and celebrities such as Brazilian footballer Kaka have joined the campaign.
Greenpeace have also launched a Brazilian Friend Finder App on Facebook in an attempt to get 1.5m Brazilian’s to back the law. Unfortunately when I attempted to use it it told me I had no Brazilian friends – maybe it knows something I don’t. Trouble is, the twitter version didn’t work either so it looks like they’re going to struggle.
Fortunately, if you feel strongly about this issue, you can use the site to write to President Dilma directly