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Brazzil - People - January 2004

Bye Bye, Brazil

Brazilians have a great custom which is an instant ice breaker.
They kiss everybody hello and good-bye. They are not air kisses.
In the state of Minas Gerais, people normally give two kisses,
unless you are not married. In that case, you get three "para
" (to get married). Even men kiss each other sometimes.

Monica Trentini


Are you considering moving to Brazil? Have you thought about visiting Brazil? We are leaving after six years and I am heart broken. Yes, Brazil has a high crime rate. Yes, the pollution is terrible. Yes, there are children begging on the streets and people living in shanties. All this is true and terrible, but one thing you will find in Brazil and in very few other places is corny—love.

The people in Brazil are naturally loving. It is commonplace for a Brazilian to walk up to a child and smile and talk to them. They even ask to pick babies up. At restaurants, stores and beauty salons, Brazilians fawn over children. They are not concerned with social status. They are not afraid to approach people. You will find Brazilians to be overly positive and interested in helping.

Brazilians take their children everywhere. You will find children at restaurants late at night. Adults are invited to children's birthday parties. I highly recommend having children here if you can. Most people here have hired help, and the help becomes part of the family. They truly love the children, and you can, too, since you don't have to worry about getting dinner ready or making the beds. How much time is spent arguing with a spouse over these things? Having help makes everything run smoother, even your marriage.

Brazilians have a great custom which is an instant ice breaker. They kiss everybody hello and good-bye. Their kisses are not air kisses and they are not pretentious. In different regions, the number of kisses changes. In Minas Gerais, people normally give two kisses, unless you are not married. In that case, you get three "para casar" (to get married). In Rio de Janeiro, everyone gets two. In São Paulo, one is the norm, but since it is so mixed, people sometimes give two, but more often than not, if you expect two, you'll be left stranded with that last kiss. In the south, people kiss three times. Men even kiss each other sometimes, but generally a big hug is in order in most states.

Another great tradition is at the end of a phone call. Everyone gets a hug or a kiss at the end. Brazilians may seem rude at the beginning, calling to ask you who you are, but they always sign off with a hug or a kiss.

With so much love going around, there is one thing I do not personally recommend. Honeymooning here. I have seen too many American women perplexed by their surroundings at a beach in Ipanema, for example. Did you see those women in the ads for Brazil or for the Carnaval? They have perfect bodies and perfect tans and they really exist. Unless you feel up to being their competition, stay away.

Did you come here and fall in love with one of these ladies or gentlemen? Beware. Along with love comes jealousy. Brazilian men and women are very territorial. Once you are committed, you really are. They expect to be an integral part of your life. They have big loving families. They are not independent. They do not go out alone. They do not accept others getting too close to you, and they don't understand "space," so make sure you are sure this is what you want before moving into a relationship with a Brazilian.

This said, Brazilians are very happy. They smile a lot. They want others to be happy, too. If they work for you, they work hard and try their best. If you are coming to Brazil, get ready for a love affair—with the Brazilian people!

Monica O'Day Trentini was born in the US but raised in Brazil. She attended American Schools and eventually went to The University of Virginia, where she graduated with a Master's in Teaching. She married a Brazilian and moved to São Paulo. She currently has her articles published at www.gringoes.com and in The Flash, a printed newsletter for The International Newcomers' Club in São Paulo. Monica's e-mail is cookiedoughtogo@yahoo.com and she welcomes your responses to her articles.

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