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October 22, 2008




I think you feel free to talk about Brazilians because you make an effort to be here now and to understand the world you're living in. Most people who are insecure avoid being critical about their environment. And Brazilians are just that. I really like it when people point out how insincere cariocas are! I really can't stand that. You'll find they're not the only ones here to be like that, but they bother me the most because I was born one. There are a lot of things that I don't agree with when I read your blog, but for the most part you really seem to like Brazil, there is no doubt about it.


Concordo plenamente contigo. O pais é livre, tanto aqui quanto lá e o blog ta ai como portador de "nossas ideias e opiniões". Quem nao gosta, nao leia, ora bolas.


Very well said, Rachel! I particularly thought the way you dealt with the whole situation quite remarkable. Thumbs up!


Olá Rachel,
Concordo em muita coisa com o que você escreve em seu blog. Infelizmente, grande parte dos brasileiros e, eu diria dos cariocas, não gosta que falem mal de seu país. Mas, creio que isso seja mais um aspecto cultural do que qualquer outra coisa. Sou carioca e concordo com a maioria das coisas que você disse de nossa cidadee de seu povo. Não gosto do jeito de pensar e agir do carioca, mas, confesso que não entendi muito bem o que você quis dizer sobre a falta de sinceridade. Não seria esse mais um problema individual do que coletivo? De qualquer forma, parabéns pelo seu trabalho!


Rachel, here I think is where your analysis of Brazilians fail. Some of the aspects of Brazilian culture and the carioca mentality are deeply rooted with history, and have been developing from colonization to the military dictatorship, from FHC's presidency to Lula's today. So when you say here that cariocas are insincere because they don't like to disappoint others, or Brazilians are insecure and sensitive about their image you make a shallow point. My instinct and many others' here, is to fire back at what seems like a rude and gross generalization. So like you said, I don't think any of your Brazilian readers would mind a more intelligent criticism of how our culture and the aspects you mention here were shaped.
Phoniness and insecurity are strong words to describe a population without further discussion.

Ray Adkins


You hit the nail in the head!
Right on...

Ray Adkins


Give me a brake, she explained in details why she thought Brazilians were insinsere, because they don't know how to say no!
I lived in Sao Paulo during the 90's and encoutered exactly the same thing and could immediatelly relate to what she was saying, Brazilians usually won't say NO right of the bat, they will either beat around the bush for a while or tell you YES and than won't show up.
Here you go again being sensitive about an honest critism, and what she said about the lack of confidence, that is huge, and it is so truth.
Brazilians have so much to be proud of but they are not confident about their image and keep seeking approval from foreigners...that is the truth!


The thing is that Brazilians are very "bairristas". Sorry, don't know how to translate that, but it is basically someone that overly defends their city/country and, consequently, doesn't accept criticism, even positive ones. I see it here all the time in the brazilian community. I can't stand it. The funny thing is that brazilians love to criticize others, but won't accept criticism.
The reason I keep coming here is because I love to see how you view our country. Because most people can't say anything other than "Brazil is great", and I'm not interested in that.

Rachel, on another note, do you know this blog: www.sindromedeestocolmo.com ? I think that Denise might want to help spread David's history. She is very engaged in making issues like these public. I think it's worth a try.


i have been coming to this site for a few months now, and i have read every blog entry and most of the comments, and i gotta say its crazy how the people who attack Rachel for her "rude and gross" generalizations are quick to call all Americans dumb and ignorant, or sensitive to critisism among other things. Whenever she makes a critisism of America many (not all, but many) of the Brazilians who post here jump right on the bandwagon. then soon as she says something that could be considered slightly negative about Brazil alot of you guys get up in arms and attack her, saying things like "go home". what's funny is i bet the people who say the dumb things about Americans havent spent nearly as much time or energy here as Rach has in Brazil, if at all. and you seem to be forgetting that this woman has totally immersed herself into your culture, spending countless hours trying to educate others about your unique and beautiful country. in fact some of your opinions are so out of wack i wonder if you have actually paid attention to her work at all. this girl has kicked some very legitimate knowledge here. I come on this site to enjoy her stories about her adventures in Rio and the surrounding areas, and learn things about Brazil that I have yet to find on other expat blogs. yet this week that has been completely overshadowed because of all the negativity goin on. anyone who doesnt appreciate what she is doing shouldnt be upsetting themselves by reading her blogs. There have been some generaliziations that she has made about all Americans that i thought were very unfair. but at the end of the day its her opinion, which is based on her experience, she and i are not one just because we come from the same country. so instead of getting in my feelings, i just agree to disagree. then again thats the adult thing to do.

Rachel, keep doing you! I, for one, deeply appreciate what you are trying to do here. hopefully all this negative enery will disperse so we can get back to our regularly scheduled program!


Sorry about the lack of capitalization, and grammer or spelling errors. I was on a roll =].



Think of it the other way. Let's assume then, that in America ppl do the opposite of what Rachel described here. Now me, as a carioca, used to my way of seeing things would for instance try to organize an event. When I walk up to people and ask for them to attend it, they simply say so no. Straight up like you said. No beating around the bush. "I am busy." "I am not interested." "I don't want to go." "I won't go if it rains." Now, if I tell you that I think Americans are extremely rude, always discorteous and lack tact, will you think that's an accurate description? Or would you think that it is because they value honesty and prefer to be sincere with each other?

There are different worldviews. Rachel is expressing hers in her blog. But if I respond negatively towards hers it's not an attack and it certainly doesn't mean that I hold the TRUTH and she doesn't. So when she says she that in her blog she has been teaching foreigners the truth about Brazil I will disagree. It doesn't mean I can't stand hearing something negative about my country. It means I disagree. I DON'T need to be validated as a Brazilian by positive reviews from foreigners. This is a debate where I don't expect there will be a winner, but a exchange where I hope we learn from each other.

However, Rachel is right to say she's in at an uncomfortable position to criticize a country where she is a foreigner. And that is absolutely not unique to Brazil. Living in the US for the past 5+ years I've experienced the same. I can also say what I mean and mean what I say but choose to do so carefully and thoughtfully.

Rachel, I am honestly challenged by your thoughts and I look forward to reading more about your experiences in Rio, agreeing and disagreeing with you.


Btw, I also realize I should start editing my comments to correct the mistakes in grammar and spelling. But I just wanted to reiterate that from my part there is no personal attack towards Rachel. I'm trying to offer a different perspective and surely hope that it doesn't add to the "negative energy" sent her way.


Hello Rachel,

Your post reminds me this TV ad... ;)


I`m just not sure if it's a Brazilian thing, or it could be also related to other countries. I've lived abroad for a couple of years, and people kept asking me "what do you think?", "How do you like it so far?","Is it here better than your home country?", and so on. Maybe it's just a common reaction; or maybe not...

But in general, I think you have a pretty good understanding of the Brazilian culture (or, at least, you're trying to). It's clear to me that you've been in contact with the locals, and immersed in the culture.

The thing about living in another country is that we get the whole package: things that we like, and things that we don't. The ones that we really like make deep changes in ourselves, and we start to question our own culture, and habits. On the other hand, dealing with the ones we don't like (or don't agree with, or don't understand,...) can just drive us crazy. It sometimes becomes a lot of pain, and frustation. Unfortunately, it's kind of impossible to put together the better of both worlds.

What an experience living abroad! The richness one I`ve ever had in my life.


why people get so mad with opinions?
You've noticed an aspect very brazilian in my people: we are afraid to say "no". I do that all the time because most of the time i don't want to hurt others feelings, and by doing this i hurt myself.
most of the things you say about brazil is true but when we talk about people or a country we should be aware of not making generalizations. I always think about that when i say "canadians are like this or like that", and then i realize that when i say canadians i'm talking about torontonians!
i've heard people talking about quebec city and montreal and people there seem to be slightly different from torontonians.
i could say the same for people from rio, sao paulo, bahia, pernambuco, manaus...
they are all brazilians but each "estado" has its own particularities.
Thank you for telling us abour rio.
i was not born in sao paulo but have spent most of my life there and the image i have from rio is probably the same as a foreigner has.
i have never been to rio because i was afraid of the violence, but you are showing me that rio is not only about crimes, it's about something else.
if you love rio you will probably hate sao paulo because there are so many buildings and so few trees and nature. We don,t have the "lagoa" or the "jardim botanico", but i really hope you find something good in sao paulo.:)

Ray Adkins


My point exactly! You are so Brazilian that you think being honest equals being rude!
By being honest, meaning yes or no, you are giving the other person a chance to react, plan accordingly, manage ones expectations...
When in Brazil and being aware of the Brazilian sensitivity you end up hurting people by misleading their expectations!
Considering that you are in the US for 5 years now, you should have noticed this by now, we are not rude to each other, we say what we have to say and THANK GOD! We Americans, don't get offended!


Well Ray, my point exactly! It's a matter of perspective. What is perceived to be rude, insincere, sensitive or misleading is a matter of perspective. As an American you perceive me as one thing and as a Brazilian, my perception of your culture will always be filtered by what I find normal. Brazilians act and do what they've been taught and it is expected of them to do. While that may be offensive to you or Rachel, it is not among ourselves. A matter of perspective. YES! I AM SO BRAZILIAN, but also aware of the differences between cultures. While I know that it is perfectly fine in America to say that you don't feel like doing something, I know not to perceive it as rude. If you read my comment you will see that I asked a question to show that there are opposite ways of looking at an issue. I never said that honesty = rude. Read my comment again, you'll see I didn't.
My point is that in this situation there is NOT a better or worse, which is what I criticize here. In your American perception certain things may not seem like the appropriate way to behave, but I wouldn't be quick to judge it as WRONG. It is YOUR worldview. I don't share it. I can live here in the US and not share it. And as I've learned while some things SOME Americans do may seem rude, weird, inappropriate and straight up bizarre to me, I don't attribute negative adjectives to them and will assume it to be the norm here.
Oh, and yes, trust me, Americans get offened pretty easily too. I learned it a few years back... And with it, I learned to appreciate different points of view. THANK GOD for differences!


Rachel, you're from New York and I'm from New Jersey, and I think that colors much of how we view certain aspects of the Brazilian way of life. Being direct and not trafficking in bullshit are the hallmarks of where we're from, and to outsiders, it definitely can come off as rude or arrogant. To us, it's just being honest and not wasting anyone's time or misrepresenting expectations, our own or other people's. But I know that many Brazilians are taken aback by my in-your-face nature, just as I'm equally taken aback by their rather wishy-washy, insecure, faux polite nature. It's a difficult balancing act, of respecting the local way of life even if, as humans are apt to do, you think your way probably is better.

So, I agree with your assessment of how frustrating it can be to interact with Brazilians, but I often felt the same way when interacting with fellow Americans from, say, Alabama. There's an old cartoon that shows the difference between people from Los Angeles and NYC, with the Angeleno saying, "Have a day!" to someone while the thought bubble reads, "Fuck you!" And the New Yorker is saying, "Fuck you!" while the thought bubble reads, "Have a day!" The cardinal sin for us is to be insincere, to be polite when you really just want to shout, "Fuck you!"

I love that about where we're from, but it's definitely atypical for much of the world, even here in Hong Kong. And, yes, it frustrates the hell out of me, and I'm looking forward to going home for a visit during the holidays, even just to be treated indifferently by the meth-addicted waitress at a diner (who has no problem telling you that the beef goulash special of the day probably is going to give you the shits because it's made by that "no-good Turk").

I do think the Brazilian way of doing things is largely keeping the country mired in the status-quo, of not speaking up when something is unjust, of not holding people accountable for their actions, and of preferring to save face rather than to admit to an uncomfortable truth. Brazilians accept a lot of shit, on personal and political levels, that would give me an aneurysm and a permanent eye twitch. I recognize that it comes off as kind of colonialist to go into a foreign country and talk smack about the people and their way of life because much of it IS steeped in the country's history and that needs to be respected, but I've never felt offended when someone offers up criticisms of the US. Either I'll agree with them or try to open up a sincere dialog if I disagree. Our differences are what make us interesting, and I don't see the problem in talking about them in an open forum.

Veronica Heringer

You know what? You are right, girl! We are a lazy nation that is always expecting the others approval. We believe in winning the lottery, we believe in miracles, we believe that everything that hurts our image will just vanish because we are able to convince few gringos to love our natural beauties.
I left Rio because I could not stand what my people are doing to my city. There is no sense of community, respect or justice. It seems that most of the time is easier for Brazilians to defend our thieves interest than help someone that actually needs. We are always supporting the national product, don't you think?
I hope you don't give up of your blog...
Tudo de bom!


Geez, that was supposed to be "Have a nice day!" See, being from NJ, I can't even bring myself to type the word "nice."


Gente, fala serio! (risos) Ficar se doendo porque alguns gringos acham que TODOS os cariocas/brasileiros sao isso ou aquilo!? Voces nunca ouviram aquela frase? "For you to insult me, first I must give your opinion a value" ...(or something like that! ;)

Acho triste quem generaliza um POVO somente por suas experiencias pessoais (negativas ou positivas), porque forma uma opiniao limitada. Imagina se eu fosse definir os canadenses pelas coisas negativas que ja aconteceram comigo em Montreal (onde eu moro)!?... Mas, enfim, cada um sabe a dor e a delicia de ser o que e.

Vim parar aqui lendo um outro blog, mas ja estou "sartando" fora! Bonne chance pra quem gosta de ficar lendo estas coisas! :P


Gustavo Fragoso

God, I don't agree with both the opinion about insecure brazilians and the analogy about someone's mom...

I am proud to be brazilian, but I recognize most of our problems to outsiders. YES, WE DO HAVE a lot of problems, WE ARE RACIST, the country is not perfect, none is. And about the analogy, if I said something about anyone's mom, his/her country of origin wouldn't matter, as he/she would probably want to smack me off. I love my country DESPITE its problems.

But I DO have a problem with people who criticize without being intelligent at it, or don't know anything about the respective theme. So, if someone came to me and told me "Brazil is one large, corrupt country!", I would answer something like "While lots of brazilian politicians are corrupt, it's not intelligent or fair to generalize conceptions or misconceptions, for that matter." It would be the equivalent to say "Every Brit is dead cold", "Every American is bizarre", "All Germans are Nazis"...

And that's something that you, Rio Gringa, don't do, and for that I am thankful...

Cheers from Brazil!


Right on! Love IT!! I am Brazilian moved out long ago while a teen. I even gave it a chance in my mid 20s but it was to no avail... As I cant stand the mediocrity, superficiality, 'programas da Globo' that by the way, move the country's opinion collectively, I feel and notice the insecurity and all the other aspects she speaks about.

For the ones who find it 'generalization' guess what... Democracy is the oppression of the majority. The majority of brazilians and what I would call 'o tipico brasileirinho nao politizado e esclarecido' behaves just like she descrived. As commented previously, she nailed it! I could not say better, as a matter of fact, I really never cared for Brazil all that much while living abroad because if I did, I would be there!

Brazil has a generalized negative repercussion abroad anyway, and truth be told: it is considered a Banana Republic, poor, disease stricken, under developed country. I never felt the need to justify it to any non-Brazilian because it is the truth.

Lately, an influx of alternative energy (methanol, ethanol) sources has placed Brazil in a more positive light, we have been utilizing hybrids for years (carro a alcool desde os anos 70), we have a pretty decent Stock market (Bovespa) for national and foreign investors and had had some pretty girls enter the modelling market and become popular for it. In an international perspective that is IT!!!

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