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Five Interesting Facts About Brazilian Elections

Today, Brazilian elections are being held. If you are sitting outside of Brazil, you may not be aware of some interesting elements of the election process in the country.

1. Television stations must give electoral candidates free air time. 

All candidates running for a politician position have a legal right to gain access to air time. Here is the catch. The length of time you get is in proportion to how many electoral alliances a candidate has. Better explained by The Economist here. This policy does result in some pretty silly seconds of television (like political clowns… literally).

2. Brazilians are legally required to vote. 

All Brazilians are required to vote. What happens if they don’t? Stuff like not being able to open a bank account or hooking up electricity. You must show your voting card to acquire the basic services. Now, you can elect to vote “blank,” which in essence is not voting. Except that all the blanks go to the candidate in the lead. So, your vote will always count for somebody.

3. It is illegal to sell alcohol on election day.

Yep, no boozing it up and pressing voting buttons. The country is counting on sober decisions to be made.

4. Every vote counts.

Americans often complain that their votes don’t count because the States uses a electoral college system on a state-by-state basis. But in Brazil, every single vote is added up.

5. The majority doesn’t always win. 

Just because a presidential candidate has the most votes, it doesn’t mean that he or she won the election. The candidate must have more than 50% of the votes, or the process goes into a “run-off” which takes place a few weeks after the officially election day.

So if you think all democracies are equal, it’s just not the case. Stay tuned to see which way the fate of Brazil will swing.


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The Creepy Side of Campos do Jordão



So, I’m not sure what the big whoop is about Campos do Jordão. We went this past weekend and it seemed to me that it was just like any of the other over commercialized small mountain towns, only even more full of shops with cheap crap from China. I understand that it was once very quaint and rural. My husband was sent there as a kid to go to summer camp and experienced something that sounds similar to Survivor or The Amazing Race. But now, the downtown area just seemed over crowded and over priced.

Sure, we got to go on some swan boats.



And we got to pay a lot of money for a mediocre dinner at one of the “charm” pousadas. (The pousada itself was really beautiful.)

However, it was not all a loss. We had a lot of fun at our pousada. But best of all, there were two points of interest that made it all worthwhile.

First, this was next to a playground near the lot where we parked our car.



Thinking it was a playhouse, my daughter ran up to go inside, only to find it was locked. I went to investigate. Imagine my delight when I discovered… through the window…


… the weekend house where all the creepy Brazilian baby dolls go to holiday!

(For more on creepy Brazilian baby dolls click here, here, here here, here and here.)

The next day, we decided to go somewhere focused on kid fun. So we did a search and discovered that the area had a park called Parque da Floresta Encantada. Seemed harmless enough.

But this particular attraction can only be described as the LSD-driven fantasy/nightmare of some overprivileged/underutilized  architect/mud-hut designer in the 70’s whose parents ignored him as a child and left him alone every Christmas with a nanny who stole all his toys and pets. (This will all become clear as the story unfolds…)


First stop was a foreshadowing for the rest of the park. An “Easter” house that had an interior strung with stuffed bunnies.



The second house on the path of madness was the first haunted house. (And the first of oh so many wtf’s and “why’s.”)



Outside, practically hiding behind a tree and furiously texting (probably for help), was a poor teen dressed as a witch, complete with plastic strap on nose. So with this, plus the Freddy Kruger-like creature on the balcony, we kind of knew what we were in for…


… or not.

Next was, of course, a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs themed home.

(For more on Snow White sightings in Brazil, click here, here, here, here and here.)






Inside was another park employee dressed as Snow White, who scared the hell out of me as I went around the corner, because who would have thought these structures would be inhabited?



What’s a Snow White story without a couple creepy doll co-stars…




… and a stained glass dog window. All makes sense.


No rendition of the story is complete without dwarf sleeping quarters.


I’m not sure why, but this feels like the creepiest thing about this stop on the exhibition of insanity.

Next was the “Angel House.”




It was sparsely furnished with child-sized lounge furniture and many of these types of figurines.

Then there was what appeared to be some ramshackle hillbilly mansion.



But what was actually the second haunted house.






I don’t know what these are supposed to be. Maybe a street drug induced interpretation of horror movie grave stones? Can’t be sure.



To my delight, we then encountered a house full of bizarre dolls (for my collection).







What is a Netherlands inspired Brazilian town without a holiday house for Santa Claus?




Happily, I discovered this was an excellent source for creepy Santa dolls.


Drunk Uncle Santa.



Earlier drunk Uncle Santa now completely passed out.


Life-sized ones even…



The grand finale was a house-o-cats.

IMG_6933 IMG_6932 I tell myself that they let the cats out at night for air and that’s why every house has a peculiar system of wired fencing around it. So they don’t set up camp (or toilettes) in the attractions.

My daughter loved this park for the adventure and mystery. I loved it, obviously, for the bizarrity. My husband was happy that we were happy.

A good day was had by all.

Campos was OK. But if you want to get a little of the Netherlands in Brazil, I would recommend Penedo instead. It’s smaller, but has everything Campos seems to have (except for the above) – and is less expensive. It’s an hour further from São Paulo, but worth the extra drive.

Unless, of course, you must experience Parque da Floresta Encantada for yourself…




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Me Hace Bien

My new favorite song and video! Not Brazilian… but still Latin.

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Yesterday, we watched the game with friends and celebrated when Brazil won the opening. My six-year-old daughter, with her playmates, also watched the game and happily cheered the Brazil team on within the safe and comfortable confines of our sports … Continue reading

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Journalists bring Brazilian football to a worldwide audience in new eBook


Now is the time to study up on soccer/futebol/football history to make interesting conversation during all those World Cup game parties!

Originally posted on A Brazilian Operating in This Area:

Just in time for the 2014 World Cup, journalists Mauricio Savarese and Euan Marshall have released A to Zico: An alphabet of Brazilian football, an independent eBook on the history and culture of football in Brazil. For now it is available only on Kindle.

Using an A to Z format, the authors selected 26 topics that provide an introduction to Brazil in a football context. There are chapters on important players and coaches, as well as the game’s struggles with racism and violence and the unique relationship between football and music in Brazil. A to Zico… combines the perspectives of a Brazilian journalist who grew up surrounded by the culture and a Scottish journalist who has immersed himself in it later in life. The book also includes hand-drawn illustrations from talented artist Harry Marshall.

In M… is for Maracanazo, the book details the 1950 World Cup final, which Brazil…

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Five More Great Gifts to Bring from Brazil (Sao Paulo Specifically)

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For more lists and insights into Sao Paulo, see American Exbrat in São Paulo. You’re coming all this way to experience the Brazilian culture and São Paulo scene, naturally you’ll want to return with something special in your suitcase. There are … Continue reading

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Six Assumptions You Shouldn’t Make About Sao Paulo

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Ensuring good experiences is all about managing expectations. If you are soon on your way to São Paulo for World Cup activities, or for any other events, it is important that you don’t make assumptions about what might be here … Continue reading

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