Brazil: World Cup, Waxing and Carnival?
The Prisoners Knit To Kill Time
At Arisvaldo de Campos Pires, the prisoners have a chance to earn money and time off their sentences in exchange for knitting and crocheting. The high fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes came to the prison in 2009 when she needed lots of help, fast, for her woolen knits. She began a program called Flor de Lotus which pays prisoners for their work (at 75% of minimum wage) and gives them one day off their sentence for every three days they spend knitting. The knitting helps the prisoners self esteem, gives them a skill they can use on their release, and helps the designer meet her orders. The knitted fashion is found in the United States, Japan and Brazil. The prison, a maximum security facility, is not the first place you’d expect to see a group of men sitting around a table knitting and drawing fashion sketches. But the 20 men recruited into the program love the chance to do high quality creative work.
They Have a Real Miracle Healer
Well, maybe. John of God has been around since the 1970s performing faith healing. ABC news Primetime, Oprah Winfrey and others have traveled to see him and film his healing. He doesn’t accept payment for his services and seems sincere. But…there are many people who feel he’s no more of a miracle worker than an old fashioned carney, taking advantage of people’s need to feel better. Though he doesn’t accept payment for his services, he does appear to be quite rich – he owns a large cattle ranch, for example. The town he performs his faith healing in has become quite prosperous, as people travel from all around the world to visit John of God and stay for weeks as they experience their healing. John performs a few surgeries, which is illegal in Brazil, and for which he has been fined and even arrested. He insists that, since it isn’t he who is doing the surgery (but doctors who are psychically doing the work through him) he shouldn’t be punished. An interesting defence. Also, he seems to only have a small repertoire of surgical tricks, all of which have been known to carneys for decades. However, the list of people who have been healed by John of God is a long one. Who knows? Perhaps there is something to his healing, perhaps it is the power of faith in action…or, perhaps, it’s all a sham.
Não Entendem Espanhol
Just to be clear: Brazilians don’t generally speak Spanish. They speak Portuguese, and learn English as the most common second language in school. Portuguese is related to Spanish, just as French, Italian, Rumanian and Swiss Romansh are a few of the others. There are 23 languages total that are within the “Romance” language umbrella, many of them quite obscure. Portuguese may have a few similarities to Spanish, but to assume that someone who speaks Portuguese also understands Spanish is to assume that (assuming you speak English) you understand Dutch or Danish (kind of). In any case, if you meet a Brazilian, say “Todo Bom?” instead of “Que tal?” and you’ll do just fine. Obrigado.
That Piranha Thing? HOAX
The story goes that back when Teddy Roosevelt visited Brazil on a hunting expedition in 1913, Brazilians, wanting to impress, dammed a section of the Amazon, filled it with starving piranhas, and threw in a cow. Generally speaking, piranhas are small fish who would rather take a small chunk out of a passing fish than devour a mammal whole. They have intense teeth, and each bite of flesh goes straight to their belly (no chewing) so they can eat fast when they have to. And reports of humans getting their toes bitten off have been increasing in the past ten years, perhaps due to an increase in damming of the Amazon. Still, piranhas would usually rather eat each other than eat you. So relax. That 1978 movie “Piranha”? It wasn’t real.
Your Budweiser (And Corona?) Beligan-Brazilian
That’s right. The world’s largest brewery (There are only 2 large breweries left in the world, pumping out most of the world’s beer.) So that story about FIFA demanding that Budweiser be served in the stadiums during World Cup? Sure, it’s true, and sure, Brazil has a law forbidding drinking alcohol in its stadiums, but doesn’t the story change a bit when you realize that Budweiser is a Brazilian beer?
AB Inbev with a quarter of the world’s share of beer, and 47% in the United States, is a Belgian-Brazilian company, which owns Budweiser, Corona, Stella, etc. What’s surprising about this fact is that Brazil has a shocking lot of strong economic things going for it as a country: Beer is good, of course, but did you know that Brazil is 100% energy independent? It is. Did you realize that Brazil is home to 77 billionaires, and that only 6% of the population live in the infamous favelas? Certainly, poverty and the divide between rich and poor are real in Brazil. But just as real, and more than a little bit interesting, are the stories of Brazil’s stability and success.