Hiding Out

Trip Start Jan 15, 2006
Trip End Sep 05, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Uruguay has long been a safe haven for people who are looking to get away from something. Jews ran from the Nazis to Uruguay. Ten years later, the Nazis followed them. Both times Uruguay was one of the few countries with open arms and no questions asked.

We spent an evening with one of Kia's high school classmates, Preston, on his newly purchased farm about 40km north of Punta del Este. Preston was escaping from nothing more dramatic than the routine of city life. In just three months, he has amassed a collection of pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, dogs and a single cat.

Like a happy child with a new toy, Preston seems quite amused with the fertility of the various members of his menagerie. It seems that each animal is pregnant, nursing a new litter or just a few months from beginning to breed. (Preston and his girlfriend have even gotten into the act and are expecting next fall.) Kia and I left early in the morning in case this was contagious.

Seriously, Preston has developed a very nice little operation, but he asked us to mention that visitors are most welcome. If you are in the area, he is a great host and would appreciate the company.

Yesterday, we crossed the border into Brazil and stepped into a different world. The first problem we encountered is that Portuguese sounds nothing like Spanish. We can generally parse out the meaning of written words, but when we are listening, it might as well be Mandarin. Not that many Brazilians speak English. (I am not sure if they study Spanish or just are just reveling in their secret little language that nobody else can speak.) We are back to a combination of charades and pointing to what we want while emitting a grunt. As those of you with a two-year old are aware, the latter method is a surprisingly effective way to get what you need.

The traffic is a little heavier, the towns a bit more urban, the outfits a bit skimpier, the skin tones more varied and the vibe is a lot more developing nation. The temperature is also much hotter. We hit triple digits in the jeep today and are both a bit wiped this afternoon. Tomorrow, we get a dawn start to beat the heat.

This afternoon we are holed up in the mountain (maybe 3000 feet, but, hey, Brazil is not known for mountains) town of Gramado. The place was settled by Swiss and southern Germans who have decided to create a faux Tyrolean town complete with 25 different places to get fondue.

Tomorrow we head for the beach. Watch this space for pictures of Kia in her new Brazilian thong bikini.
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midlifecrisis on

Saved by the rain!
Gee, thanks for the compliment Tanya. But, for the majority of you who feared I might actually don a teeny brazillin bikini (called fio dentals here, or dental floss), there is NO CAUSE FOR ALARM. We just arrived at the small beach town, and IT IS RAINING. So we are hiding ourselves, from the rain, in an internet cafe. Darn though, I was hoping to try windsurfing here. Oh well.
Cheers, Kia

midlifecrisis on

Re: About Portuguese
Will -

I apologize if you found my comments on Portuguese to be offensive. I had two observations. First, in Brazil at least, pronunciation is quite different than that of Spanish. We had a very hard time understanding spoken Portuguese but our limited Spanish gave us a head start for written Portuguese. Second, it seemed that far fewer Brazilians spoke English than citizens of most other latin american countries.

Let me know if you disagree with either of these observations. (I am well aware that both Spanish and Portuguese have similar origins and I understand the geography of the Iberian peninsula.)

My opinion is that English has become the de facto standard second language of the planet. When a Chinese businessman meets with his Brazilian counterpart, what language do you think they are likely speaking? How about a Japanese native meeting with a Argentine? A Dutchman and a Frenchman? If you were a Brazilian, what second language would you want your child to learn? What would provide the best head start for business, diplomacy, the arts or even tourism?

I believe Brazil is making a mistake by not including more emphasis on learning English in their schools.

I stand by my comment that Portuguese is not spoken much outside of Brazil nor is it a major langueage of international commerce, the arts or diplomacy.

Your thoughts?


FabianSwinger on


I am uruguayan, I speak spanish and I find the brazilian portuguese very difficult to understand.

It is not exactly portuguese, but a brazilian dialect of the portuguese

However, most brazilians easily understand spoken spanish

I mostly understand the written portuguese,and sometimes the true portuguese spoken in Portugal, But the brazilian dialect is difficult,they speak very fast and with regional modisms

there is also a frontier dialect called PORTUÑOL that is like a mix of portugues and esapañol , something like the SPANGLISH

greetings from MOntevideo

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