Brazil

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In 2014, the FIFA World Cup soccer championship will be held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13. With Brazil being a continent-sized country geographically larger than the “Lower 48,” FIFA agreed to let the country host matches in a dozen cities, exceeding the usual number by two, and ensuring spectators from Copacabana to the Amazon get a chance to witness the ultimate expression of The Beautiful Game on its most fervent home turf. Ladies and gentlemen, today I present to you the promotional posters for Brazil’s 12 World Cup host cities:

World Cup Poster Belo Horizonte

World Cup Poster Brasilia

World Cup Poster Cuiaba

World Cup Poster Curitiba

World Cup Poster Fortaleza

World Cup Poster Manaus

World Cup Poster Natal

World Cup Poster Porto Alegre

World Cup Poster Recife

World Cup Poster Rio de Janeiro

World Cup Poster Salvador

World Cup Poster Sao Paulo

Which ones do you folks like best?

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Starting today, Brazil celebrates Black Consciousness Month, honoring the contributions of African-descended peoples in Brazilian society and recognizing the challenges of those same peoples in the country today.

Well, that’s not entirely true…many people in Brazil are celebrating Black Consciousness Month. But many others see this particular exercise as unnecessarily divisive and alien to Brazil’s culture of “inclusiveness and miscegenation.” I see the latter as a negation and a silencing of an inextricable aspect of the culture that has long been undervalued and misrepresented, so…Happy Black Consciousness Month, todo mundo!

Stay tuned for related posts throughout the month…er, year, and in the meantime, take a look at the trailer for a documentary currently in the works about the black experience in Rio de Janeiro, called AfroCariocas. Can’t wait for the debut!

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like” me on Facebook! You can subscribe, too! ;-)

 

It's big, y'all. Real big.

Posting this from Hart-Jack (that’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the newbies), on my way home to the ‘ville for the weekend. Sorry for the delay, readers; I’ll have a couple of posts in the bag beforehand from now on. So…

São Paulo in numbers* (versus unofficial rival New York):

588 – area of São Paulo in square miles
469 – area of New York City in square miles

11,324,100 – population of the City of São Paulo
8,175,100 – population of the City of New York

20,309,700 – population of the Greater São Paulo Metropolitan Area
18,897,100 – population of the Greater New York City Metropolitan Area

41,638,800 – population of the State of São Paulo
19,378,100 – population of the State of New York

7,000,000 – number of vehicles in the Greater São Paulo Metropolitan Area
a crapload, but not as many as SP – number of vehicles in the Greater New York Metropolitan Area

17,000 – number of buses in São Paulo
5,900 – number of buses in New York City

44 – miles of subway lines in São Paulo
656 – miles of subway lines in New York City

62 – number of subway stations in São Paulo
468 – number of subway stations in New York City

3,600,000 – average daily subway riders (2010) in São Paulo
5,200,000 – average daily subway riders (2010) in New York City

1 – Fly Brother in São Paulo

0 – Fly Brothers in New York 😉

*Statistics from Wikipedia (yeh, yeh, yeh).

Please tweet your comments @FlyBrother, or email me (see About page). And don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook!

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge, but doubling-up, as I’m not a daily blog poster. Challenge!

Day 11 – Did you have any milestones or “firsts” while traveling or living abroad?
First doctor visit, unemployment insurance claim, and sexual encounter in a language that wasn’t English.

Day 12 – Someone who influenced you to travel abroad.

The preacher’s wife at my church, who got me on my way with a book called Free Stuff for Kids, full of ways to get free travel info. Innumerable teachers. My grandparents.

Day 13 – A favorite travel quote.
“Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.” -Walt Whitman

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Does this move you?

What about this?

Of any place on Earth, Brazil probably comes closest to delivering on the hype – for vacationers, at least – and I’ve lived moments here that were pretty damn similar to those evoked in these (absolutely amazing) commercials. If you come with the right attitude – and the proper documentation – you can too.

US citizens will need one of these:

And you’ll need patience. Lots of it.

Now, Brazil states that their tourist visa process reflects the process that the US requires Brazilian citizens to undergo in procuring a tourist visa. Both visas cost US$140 and are valid for ten years. The big difference, however, is that almost all Brazilian tourist visas are approved, while American visas for Brazilians can often be denied arbitrarily, after the person has spent months waiting for an appointment and paid the non-refundable fee. And whereas the US has ten Brazilian consulates distributed fairly evenly around the country, the US only has four consulates in Brazil – a country larger than the Lower 48. Brazilian bureaucracy may seem maddening to Americans accustomed to “efficiency,” and it is maddening, but remember that you have much less at stake than Brazilians (and many others) who spend much more time and money procuring a visa just to get to the Magic Kingdom and Sawgrass Mills.

That being said, check this list of Brazilian consulates to know in which jurisdiction you fall. It may be more convenient for you to get to Atlanta from Tallahassee, but as a Florida resident, Miami’s your consulate.

Pay attention to the information on your consulate’s website. Each office operates differently: some turn visas around in three days, others in ten days (NO same-day, so if you’re grown and buy your ticket to Brazil, then think you can swing by the consulate the day before your trip, you’ll be rudely awakened when you’re on the phone with the airline trying to rebook your $1500 plane ticket the week before Carnival). Some consulates require appointments, others don’t. Some accept mail-in applications, others don’t. Operating times vary. Folks, again, pay attention to this stuff so you know what’s required of you and the process can go as smoothly as possible.

Before you go, get three 2×2-inch headshots of yourself with a white background (Walgreens, Kinkos, wherever). You’ll only need two, but it’s always better to have a spare, just in case.

Your passport needs at least six months validity left on it and two blank pages left in it.

Get a US$140 money order from the post office (some consulates accept other forms of payment, but all accept postal money orders); there’s an extra US$20 handling fee if by mail or third-party.

Have the print-out of your flight itinerary (the last time I applied, the printed itinerary of the flights I had planned on purchasing was good enough; not sure if this still works). Airlines flying nonstop between the US and Brazil include TAM from New York, Orlando, and Miami; United Airlines from DC, Chicago, Newark, and Houston; Delta Air Lines from Atlanta, New York, and Detroit; US Airways from Charlotte; American Airlines from New York, Dallas, and Miami; and Korean Air from Los Angeles. Air Canada, Aeroméxico, Copa, Avianca/TACA, and LAN all offer connecting services through their national hubs.

And for special cases: “Any application that shows ‘self-employed’ or ‘unemployed’ must be complemented with a current ‘Balance Account Bank Statement’ with applicant’s name and address;” “if traveling by land, provide proof of financial capacity to pay for ones stay in Brazil;” and if you’ve previously visited certain countries, you may be required to show proof of vaccination against yellow fever.

AND DON’T FORGET THE ACTUAL APPLICATION FORM!

Once granted, your visa is valid for 90 days and renewable for another 90 days for a maximum of 180 days per year for the duration of the visa (these days, ten years, so I hear…I’m on a work visa, and you can read all about that circle of hell, here). And you’re not allowed to work.

But you are allowed to Get Fly in Brazil!

*Admitted hyperbole.

Please tweet your comments @FlyBrother, or email me (see About page).

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I’m participating in Vai Via’s 15 Day International Travel Challenge (though I might have to double-up on posts, as daily might be a bit unmanageable), and today’s challenge is to post about the favorite place(s) I’ve been to.

Berlin is fly as hell!

My favoritest city in the world is São Paulo, and since I’m now living here, that doesn’t count.

So I’ll go with my Number Two: Berlin. Gritty, soulful, and borderline schizo, Berlin mixes classically European culture (museums, architecture, urbanism) with a wild party scene, avant-garde music and art, and a cool friendliness that draws you in. And it’s cheap (for now). If it weren’t for those Central European winters (and falls and springs)…

Runners-up: Mumbai and Cairo – enthralling chaos on both counts!

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The third episode of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates’ four-part documentary, Black in Latin America, takes place in my current country of residence: Brazil. He uncovers part of the mystique of this exotic, exoticized country by visiting favelas in Salvador and Rio, beauty salons in Belo Horizonte, and historical sites in Recife and Diamantina, discussing race relations with professors, rappers, actresses, activists, beauticians, community leaders, and religious leaders in a place that has historically billed itself as a “racial democracy.”

Gates expertly outlined a lot of the history of Brazil – as a plantation-based colony of the already mixed-blood Portuguese that saw an incredible amount of carnal relations between the European colonizer and the indigenous people and Africans who were colonized – that I personally knew after having traveled to the country numerous times before settling here, combined with extensive reading (here’s a start). But elucidating this history to an audience that was unaware of it (including the fact that an estimated ten times the number of enslaved Africans brought over to the Americas went to Brazil than to the United States and that the government sponsored a whitening program from the 1880s well into the 20th century) was a very good thing. His butchering of Portuguese names, not so much. Call me pedantic (as someone did in the comments to a previous post), but you are a Harvard professor making a multi-million dollar production; ask a native speaker how to pronounce the shit and at least try! You don’t have to sound like José Carioca, but ‘maya day san-toe’ and ‘Bwah Gentay’? Gimme a break.

Loved the interviews with stunning actress Zezé Motta (you KNOW there’s a racial problem in a country where this woman was described as “ugly”), grounded and affable hip hop star MV Bill (“look at the economic disparity in this country and you see ‘racial democracy’ exposed as a lie”), and elderly firebrand Abdias do Nascimento (bruh is not playing…his bitterness is aged in wood). Loved the images of Salvador, Diamantina, and Rio – the beauty of the people and the natural wonders is virtually unmatched. Loved finding out that one of the identifying rhythms of capoeira developed to warn the slaves, who practiced the martial art clandestinely, of approaching cavalry. Loved the shot of the newsstand with absolutely zero women of color on the magazines (Beyoncé pops up every now and then, but she doesn’t count anyway because she’s Creole, right?). Did not love Gates’ spiel about the necessity of affirmative action in Brazil: while I agree that it has been and continues to be necessary in some form in the United States, we had a university system and a parallel class of qualified, professional blacks who were prepared to move into companies and institutions when affirmative action was first established in the States. And we had the one-drop rule, which – legally – established who was who. Brazil’s public primary education system is a damn disgrace and the same American binary system of race just doesn’t work in the same way; yes, parity programs do need to be put in place in Brazil, but it needs to be a bottom-up approach that is better-tailored to Brazilian realities. That’s just my two-centavos.

My grade: A-

Watch the full episode. See more Black in Latin America.

Vai-Vai was my first. In January of 2006, during my first trip to São Paulo, I became washed in the downpour of sound and energy that is the open-air rehearsal of the Vai-Vai Samba School.  I fell in love with Brazil that night.  With the cadences that were only two or three beats away from the black high school and college drumlines I grew up with.  With the beautiful people – women and men – who sang and danced and invited anyone and everyone into their tight-knit community with a wink and a smile.  With those same beautiful people who represented every age and color, trending heavily, of course, to the profound darker hues of the spectrum: black people from coal to cream, rehearsing for a Brazilian cultural institution as steeped in African ritual and interaction, maybe even more so, as any other in the Diaspora.  Vai-Vai was my first, which is why you’ll find me carousing with her every Sunday from now til Carnival.  She’s what brought me to Brazil.

“Meu Povo.  Minha Gente.  Minha Raça.  Minha Escola.”

Video from this Sunday’s practice:

Please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and “like”
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