Romance in Brazil


A loving bunch

In general, Brazilians are a very affectionate and loving group of people. Personally, I love how Brazilians will always end a text or phone call by saying “beijo” (“kiss”). Even if I have only met somebody once, they will often end the conversation with “beijo.” Between men, and to remain more distant, an alternative “abraço” (“hug”) is used. On the other hand, anglophones tend to use “xxoo” in e-mails and text messages to express their affection – the only people who have told me “kiss” is foreigners (and for the record, I find it absolutely adorable and so refreshing)!

Brazilian men also tend to be very forward when it comes to approaching women; I asked one carioca guy how long he generally waits to kiss a girl after meeting her and he said “10 minutes is too long.” I have heard this before; one Brazilian girl in Paris was complaining that French guys were not forward enough for her; she had gone out with a French guy and he didn’t even try to kiss her at the end of a date.  A Brazilian friend told me that Brazilians always kiss on the first date because if a girl goes out with a guy, that means that she likes him, so the guy will definitely try to kiss her.  And likely very soon into the date, as well! Also, Brazilian women tend to act disinterested in a guy even when she likes him, so the guy will continue to pursue her until she is downright rude; so if you are a female heading to Brazil, be prepared for some aggressive men!

Another example of Brazilians affectionate ways: Brazilians will often add “inho/inha” to the end of words to attach greater attachment or affection to that word. For instance, one could say “Esse é meu livro” (this is my book) or “Esse é meu livrinho,” (this is a book that I love more than anything). Read more about it here.

Affection is simply ingrained in Brazilians.

Dia dos Namorados

Dia dos Namorados (day of lovers), celebrated on June 12th each year, is the Brazilian Valentine’s Day. While in the US, Valentine’s Day is celebrated among friends, family and lovers alike, in Brazil, this holiday, like the name of the day suggests, is reserved exclusively for couples. When I wished my Brazilian friend a happy Dia dos Namorados, he told me it was a bit bizarre to say that since we were not dating!

Even though Dia dos Namorados was nine days ago, it’s never too late to celebrate! So let’s review some dating vocabulary and palavras de carinho (terms of endearment) to use with your special someone. As you will see, Portuguese is a romance language for a reason…

Levels of love

ficar – to hook up with

  • O Tiago ficou com um russa ontém a noite (Tiago hooked up with a Russian girl last night).

ficante –  a casual hookup

  • Não é serio, ele é só meu ficante (it’s not serious, he’s only my hookup).

paquerar – to flirt

  • O Rodrigo está gostoso hoje à noite, eu vou paquerar com ele (Rodrigo is looking hot tonight, I’m going to flirt with him).

paquera – someone that one is flirting with (there is really no English translation for this word…it is someone that one is maybe going out with but not with any serious intention)

  • A Maria é a minha paquera (Maria is someone that I’m flirting with).

sair – to go out with someone

  • Estou saindo com um cara gostoso (I’m going out with a hot guy)

namorar – to date (to be exclusive)

  • A Alessandra e o Fabio estão namorando faz 1 ano (Alessandra and Fabio have been dating for a year).

namorar firme – to date seriously

  • Eles se gostam muito, acho que vão namorar firme! (They like each other a lot, I think that they are going to start dating seriously!)

namorado – boyfriend/namorada – girlfriend

  • Gabriela é minha namorada agora (Gabriela is my girlfriend now).

namoro – relationship period

  • O namoro deles durou 4 anos (Their relationship lasted 4 years).

And of course, if you want to sweet talk someone, you can use…

Apelidos Carinhosos (pet names):

meu bem – pumpkin

coração – sweetheart (literal translation: heart)

fofo – cutie (Brazilians will also often say “fofinho”)

docinho (carioca) – honey

meu filho/filha – sweetie (Here, the literal translation is “my son/daughter,” but interestingly enough, it is often used between close friends and lovers, as well)

Other romantic vocabulary

se dar/se entender bem  – to get along well

  • O namoro deles parece ser muito bom…se dão/ se entendem muito bem mesmo! (Their relationship seems to be going well…they get along very well!)

dar carinho – to show affection

  • Ele prometeu que sempre ia dar carinho a ela (He promised that he would always show affection to her).

casal – couple (can also mean “pair”)

  • Tem dois casais legais na festa (There are two cool couples at the party)

se apaixonar – to fall in love

amor à primeira vista – love at first sight

  • Eles se apaixonaram no primeiro encontro. Foi amor à primeira vista (They fell in love on their first date. It was love at first sight).

alma gêmeasoulmate

  • Acho que eu não posso viver sem ele. Ele é a minha alma gêmea (I don’t think that I can live without him. He’s my soulmate).

But of course, things don’t always run so smoothly in relationships…

Break-up vocabulary

dar um tempo – take a break

  • Acharam melhor dar um tempo, porque não sabem se querem continuar namorando (They think it’s better to take a break, because they don’t know if they want to keep dating).

terminar – to break up

  • Estão brigando muito ultimamente… acho que vão terminar (They have been fighting recently…I think that they are going to break up).

fazer as pazes e voltar – to make up

  • Eles terminaram, mas vão fazer as pazes e voltar no futuro (They broke up but they are going to make up sometime soon).

superaram o fim do relacionamento/esquecer: to get over someone/a relationship

  • Já faz muito tempo que eles terminaram. Com certeza já superaram o fim do relacionamento (It’s already been so long since they broke up. Of course they are already over each other).

For more words and phrases on this topic, click here.

And of course…Feliz Dia dos Namorados (Happy Valentine’s Day) to everyone!



Brazil wakes up from a deep sleep


Protestors in Sao Paulo

It all started when the bus ticket fare in Sao Paulo was raised 20 centavos (or 9 cents).  Tension that had been building for years finally reached its breaking point, as citizens came together and raided the streets in fury and frustration.

A demonstration that started out about the high price of a bus ticket in Brazil’s largest city, turned into a mass riot in all of Brazil and the largest protest in 20 years, covering a much larger issue (or rather, issues that the 9 cent price rise is representative of): a corrupt government, which shamelessly spends tax money on luxuries like the World Cup and the Olympics (with politicians oftentimes even pocketing the money themselves), instead of putting the money where it really matters: public services, education, health and helping the poor rise to the middle class.


The worst part of all? Peaceful demonstrations were made violent, thanks to the corrupt and brutal police, who injured protestors with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades, amongst other weapons.  Demonstrators who were found with vinegar (which is used to lessen the effects of tear gas) were arrested.  Consequently, these demonstrations have been called the “Vinegar revolt.” Appalling, right?


A policeman sprays a protestor with pepper spray.

Thankfully, not all of the police are this disgusting. Some of them are even participating in the protests themselves.  Now how’s that for a protest?

And it is not only in Brazil that these protests are taking place: Brazilians all around the globe are protesting as well to show their support.


Protestors in London

The root of the problem

To say that health and education in Brazil are underfunded is probably the understatement of the century. Here’s the bottom line: billions of dollars are being spent on the World Cup and the Olympics, while next to nothing is put into public services, education and health. While stadiums are being constructed so that Brazil can enhance its reputation for the rest of the world, many Brazilians are suffering and even dying because of lack of health care, while others remain stuck in lower classes because of an education that is practically nonexistent.  

Adriane in De Paula, Brazil states that,

[The lines in public hospitals are] ridiculous, people are dying before they get a chance to see a doctor. And let me tell you about public schools, here nobody in a public [school] repeat[s] grades. Thats right, it doesn’t matter if you know or not, or even if you know how to read!

We’re talking about a country where the gap between the rich and poor is one of the greatest in the world.  Get this: Brazilians pay the highest public taxes of any country outside the developed world (36% of GDP) and get practically nothing in return.  As The Economist states, “…it is poor Brazilians who pay the biggest share of their income in tax and get the least back from government spending.”

So the protests are well justified, to say the least.  One Brazilian, Tainara Freitas, says,

Tonight this is about all of Brazil, we are moving against corruption. We have been suffering for too many years. And this year we rise. We have woken up. We are on the streets like in Turkey and Greece. They have made us wake up about this.  The World Cup in Brazil is about too much money. There are too many poor people suffering. The World Cup isn’t good for Brazil. It will bring tourists and money but this is not good for poor people.

And this is a common belief among Brazilians – most Brazilians agree that this is not a good time for Brazil to be hosting these events.  Sure, they will make Brazil better known to the rest of the world. But in the end, they are doing more harm than good –  because money that should be spent on bettering Brazil and its people is instead going towards satisfying the rich and outsiders.  Taxes and bus fares are rising, but people are reaping none of the benefits of these augmentations. Instead, poor people are being treated like animals: many people of Rio’s lower class have been thrown out of their homes with nowhere to go, just to make way for Olympic infrastructure.


Poster reads, “Is the World Cup a priority, Brazil?”

For so long, the government has tried to hide Brazil’s problems and rampant corruption from the rest of the world, in the hopes of portraying a certain image of Brazil.  As the NY Times finds, the government has manipulated its people into remaining loyal, “…using diversions like sports and street parties to distract the public from endemic corruption and economic inequality…”  But Brazilians are starting to realize that events like sports carnivals are only serving to make the rich richer and help corrupt politicians.

Such corruption dwindles right down to the media, which has mainly shown a biased negative perspective of the protests. Many protestors throughout Brazil are hoping that their actions will gain international attention and support that may incite change.  Gabriel of Salvador Brazil claims that, “This is what we wanted: to achieve international media to embarrass our politicians and thus seek an improvement in Brazil.” Some protestors even carried around signs in English, instead of Portuguese – smart move.

Activists demonstrate in front of riot police outside the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia

Protestors in Brasilia carrying signs in English

A new beginning 

At the very least, the protests have already resulted in a reduced bus fare! Success. But more importantly, these protests mark the start of a new and improved Brazil: Brazilians are finally standing up for what they believe in in order to enact the change that they have long deserved.

I remember a Brazilian friend once telling me that Europeans will protest until they get what they want – but Brazilians just sit there and do nothing, which can help explain why the country is in the situation that it’s in.  Fortunately, that is no longer true; as one Brazilian, Deli Borsari, claims, “Brazilians tend to be too nice sometimes, they enjoy partying rather than protesting, but something is changing.”  Here’s what’s changing: Brazilians have finally awaken.

To understand more about the actions of the corrupt government and its effects on the repressed people, check out this extremely informative video – if this doesn’t motivate you to boycott the World Cup and Olympics, then I don’t know what will…

How to say “yes” in Brazilian Portuguese

One of the things that I love about learning a new language are the little idiosyncrasies that make that language unique. Brazilian Portuguese has a lot of these!

In particular, Brazilians have a very cool way of saying “yes” to yes or no questions, that I have not heard in any other language : they tend to give an affirmative response by using  the conjugated verb, instead of saying “yes.”

For instance, if you were to ask someone “voce fala portugues?” (“Do you speak Portuguese?”), more likely than not, instead of saying “sim” (“yes”), they would respond “Falo” (“I speak”). 

Another example: if someone asks, “Voce mora na franca?” (“Do you live in France?”), the other person would likely respond “Moro” (“I live”).

This works the same way, even when 2 verbs are used to form the future tense. For example, if someone asks, “Voce vai trabalhar hoje à noite?” the person would respond “Vou.”

Or when directed to more than one person: “Voces querem ir na festa hoje à noite?” (“Do you all want to go to the party tonight?”) and the affirmative response would be “Queremos.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that Brazilians don’t say “sim” in response to a question; I have heard both. But the use of the conjugated verb is certainly the most common way to mark one’s affirmation. So if you really want to sound Brazilian…this is one step in the right direction!

Love motels: The secret behind Brazil’s booming hotel business

While in the US, a “motel” signifies a cheap place to stay for the night when on the road somewhere, in Brazil, the word “motel” means only one thing: a place to have sex.


What is a “love motel” like? 

Everything is extremely discreet.  Before entering the facilities, the couple must book their room at a kiosk. Here, customers are given a “menu” with photos of the available room choices.  From there, they drive into a private garage, where the car will remain hidden for the remainder of the stay (thus eliminating the possibility of somebody finding them there). They will be given direct access to the room, and will therefore not have to make contact with anyone else.

In addition to a large bed, many motel rooms (often windowless so as to ensure complete privacy) offer a jacuzzi (some even have a waterfall!), a swimming pool, a dance floor with a stripper’s pole, bondage equipment, a light show, mirrors, and a minibar with a multitude of sex toys and condoms- basically, the whole nine yards.  The largest suites have two king-size beds that are generally used for “group parties,” as puts it. Many motels are themed, such as ancient Egypt or the jungle.

Generally, stays are booked in three-hour blocks; however, all-night or all-weekend stays are also available.

Motel Playboy, in Sao Paulo, claims to be the first motel ever made.  For those in Rio who have a bit of money to spend, the VIP Suites is (supposedly) quite popular.

Who is the clientele? 

Yup, you guessed it. Sadly, a large portion of the clientele are people who are having affairs (hence the discretion offered by the motels).

In addition, many motel guests are younger people still living at home with their parents, who are craving a bit more privacy with their significant other.  Many Brazilian families are large and young adults often stay at home until they get married; this makes any sort of privacy a luxury.

So if you hear the word “motel” used in Brazil, just remember: you’re not in Kansas anymore…

A little taste of Rio

Botafogo Bay

Botafogo Bay, Rio de Janeiro 

If you are looking for an inside look into the vibrantly diverse bairros of Rio, look no further. provides a wide array of photos and tips of many of the neighborhoods (and no, I am not doing any sort of promotional activity for them!). Trust me: it’s a million times better than anything you could find on Google image…

Lists like “loved by cariocas,” “peace and quiet” and “nature,” allow you to filter your search to find the  neighborhood that best suits your desire.  From there, the highlights of that neighborhood are covered (and from a local’s perspective, not a tourist’s!) through the use of helpful dicas (tips) that accompany a myriad of stunning photographs.  Just take a look at the wealth of photos and information on just the Saint Theresa bairro.

I’ve never been to Rio, but already, the photos make me feel like I know the city. Personally, I’m already excited to explore the local-like wine bars of Jardim Botanico, the (more) secluded white-sand beaches of Barra da Tijuca, the lively and hip Ipanema, the jogging-friendly zone of Lagoathe art, music and throbbing nightlife of Lapa…just to name a few.  What about you?

Watch out world, it’s CARNIVAL time…

Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival

When many people think of Brazil, they think of a few things: soccer, beaches, beautiful women, and Carnival. The last one is a celebration that is mimicked worldwide.  Just look at what I spotted in Amsterdam this weekend!


Carnival is just coming to a close in Brazil at the moment. Like Saint Patrick’s Day, Carnival is actually a religious celebration – but the Brazilians have of course turned it into the most massive party of the year.

In a nutshell, Carnival is an annual festival that marks the beginning of Lent; it occurs from the Friday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  And these five days are perhaps the craziest days in the Brazilian calendar.  To start with, there are exorbitant competitions between samba schools; schools practice for the entire year just for this one event.  The sets and costumes have got to be, by a landslide, some of the most extravagant in the world. Read more about it here.

One samba school performing in Rio

One samba school performing in Rio

But the best part of all? The streets become packed with people of all ages and nationalities and each person gets to participate in this enormous party.

In Rio, there are blocos (blocks), each of which is generally associated with a certain neighborhood and made up of a group of people who dress up in costumes or themed t-shirts.

Such fantasias (costumes) include men dressing up as women. Entertaining, huh? One of my carioca friends did it this year with his friends. And this is the result….

some crazy "fantasias"...

some crazy “fantasias”…

Bloco parties are also where people meet to sing Carnival songs.  Like the songs sung in the samba competitions, the songs that people sing on the streets, called marchas de carnival, always have a double meaning.  Some blocos have cars driving through the street and playing music (such as in the photo below).

One of the largest and best "blocos" of Rio, called "cordão do bola preta," drawing more than 2 million people

One of the largest and best “blocos” of Rio, called “cordão do bola preta,” drawing more than 2 million people

To make things even more interesting, kissing strangers is a common occurance at bloco parties. Brazilians like to use Carnival as an excuse to ficar (hook up) with random strangers or people they are interested in.  My carioca friend told me that he kissed a total of 15 girls during this 5-day Carnival period. As he said,

uma garota ficou comigo só porque eu cantei pra ela ‘Is this love?” do Bob Marley haha, aì todo mundo que ta perto canta ‘beija, beija!! (one girl kissed me just because I sung ‘Is this love’ by Bob Marley to her haha, everyone close to us was chanting ‘kiss, kiss!’)

This kind of thing happens all the time at Carnival…So don’t be surprised if you hear this line: “Fala serio, é carnival!!” (“Come on! It’s carnival!”).  I even heard this line in Paris from several Brazilians!

Crazy fun "bloco" party in Rio

Another crazy fun “bloco” party in Rio

Want to go? Block parades start in January and often go on until just after Carnival ends. Take a look at how many bloco parties there were this year.

And to get a taste of just how fun it is, check out this video:

As for me…I’ll see you next year, Carnival!

The best marketing campaign ever

In August of 2012, Coca Cola in Brazil adapted an extremely clever marketing campaign from Australia, whereby the 150 most popular names of that country were chosen to customize the outside of bottles and cans.  Some of the Brazilian names include: Bruno, Pedro, Maria, Gisele and Leonardo.  And for those whose names were too rare to make the first cut? The next top 50 names will be elected by consumers themselves, by voting on the Facebook fan page.


While the main idea across the campaigns is essentially the same, Coca Cola Brazil has made sure to adapt it to the Brazilian consumers.  For instance, while Australia’s campaign uses regular Coke products, Brazil’s campaign relies on exclusively Coke Zero products.  Secondly, Australia’s campaign is more about connecting with old friends – their slogan is “Share a coke with [somebody’s name].”  They play around with this a lot, as well, plastering not only ordinary names on the products but also family members (such as “sis” and “dad”) and even Steve Jobs! Meanwhile, Brazil’s campaign is more about marking individuality; their slogan reads “Quanto mais _____[somebody’s name] melhor” or “the more ______, the better.” Check out the difference below:

the Brazilian can (ok busted, I chose this photo because it's the Brazilian version of my name...)

the Brazilian can (OK busted…of course I chose this photo. It is, after all, the Brazilian version of my name…)

the Australian can

the Australian can

This is a surefire way to amp up publicity and Facebook “likes.” Think of all of the people that will check out the Coca Cola Facebook page just so they can vote for their name! Not to mention all of the people that will buy a Coke just because it has their name on it…well done, Coca Cola.

Check out this hilarious video about the campaign: