A list that I composed just after arriving in Brazil, on realising that I had left some essential items back in England, and discovering that some items are teicky to track down in Brazil.

  1. Brazilian power comes in both 240V and 110V flavours. If your electrical device does not come with a transformer, then it may not work.
  2. Brazilian men wear jeans to work, even when it is hot. I expected to be in shorts most of the time, but because of air conditioning and perhaps social convention, shorts are not common among professionals.
  3. Don’t expect to be able to buy much in Rio. Imports are heavily taxed (60-100% import duty), so what little imports you find will be expensive. The average Brazilian ...


Located to the north of Niteroi, Itocoatiara is one of the best beaches around Rio. The surf is legendary, with a beach break that can produce some huge barrels, as well as point break which is popular with bodyboarders. The main beach is 1.5km of soft sand, and is flanked by two huge outcrops of rock. At one end of the beach is a small cove, known as Prainha, that offers sheltered access to the sea, and is frequented by visiting families. There are several permanent kiosks, as well as temporary beach bars during peak times, where you can buy cold beer and hire deck chairs and umbrellas. When the surf is big, the serious surfers and bodyboarders come out ...


I have made a compact ‘cheat sheet’ that I now carry around in my bag to help me remember some of the most common pronouns, verbs, conjunctions, contractions and pretty much any other word that I encounter on a daily basis. It’s a bit scrappy, and will be updated every so often, but for now, for anyone looking for a convenient reference print-out, you are welcome to print out the pdf, or edit the word version.

You can also download other versions here:


Tiradentes is the father of Brazilian independence and a martyr who was killed during the suppression of the Minas uprising. He was the only rebel to die as a result of the Imperial crack-down, and is honored with a large square in the centre of Rio.

Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes (August 16, 1746–-April 21, 1792), was one of the first Brazilian revolutionaries, and a leading member of the “Inconfidência Mineira”, a group aimed at full Brazilian independence. Although the plot failed, and the aims of the group were ill-defined, Tiradentes has become a symbol of Brazilian independence, resurrected by the nationalist movements that eventually caused the formation of the modern Brazilian republic.

Tiradentes was a born into relative ...


Dominio Vale do Mondego is an olive farm in rural Portugal, run by a Dutch couple. They offer places to volunteers through the WWOOFing scheme, and I spent a month there in 2009, helping to bring in the olive harvest.

Since 1971, the WWOOF (Willing workers on organic farms or Worldwide opportunities on organic farms) program has provided keen and interested paticipants with placements on a variety of organic establishments. The usual arrangment is relatively informal, with WWOOFers providing a free and willing workforce to assist on organic farms, which often have to cope with periods of labour-intensive activity, arising from the organic farming proccess. In exchange, WWOOFers can expect food, accommodation and an opportunity to learn about organic farming. ...


Tom Jobim was one of Brazil’s most beloved musicians, and is credited with some of the countries most famous songs, including the ubiquitous ‘Girl from Ipanema’. He kick started the Bossa Nova craze, and secured Brazil’s reputation as a musical nation. He is so well known that, in 1999, the main airport in Rio was renamed in his honour.

Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim (25/01/27 – 8/12/94), better known as Tom Jobim, was a Brazillian musician who played a major role in the development of the bossa nova style. His musical talents extended to composing, songwriting, arranging, singing and playing both the piano and the guitar, and many of his songs have become jazz standards. His most famous song is ...


Elis Regina, known as ‘Pimentinha’ (the little pepper), was a legendary singer whose amazing voice found its true home in the songs of some of Brazil’s most famous composers. She died tragically early, and, such was her popularity, her funeral was held in a stadium.

Elis Regina Carvalho Costa, better known as Elis Regina, was an immensely talented Brazilian singer, who rose to stardom at an early age, and remained at the forefront of Brazilian popular culture until her tragic death on January 19th, 1982, at the age of 36. Although she did not perform her own material, she collaborated with many of the most respected song-writers of the age, endowing her chosen songs with sincerity, lyrical clarity and, when timely, ...


Oscar Niemeyer is a world renowned architect, made famous by his collaboration with Le Corbusier on the United Nations Headquarters in New York and for his oversight of the architecture of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. His style is a Brazilian interpretation of modernism, inspired by the right angles of Le Corbusier, but which eventually incorporated the space and curves which have become his trademarks. It was his love of drawing that attracted him to buildings, and it was his idealism that led him to fund the correction of the misaligned brise-soleil on his first project, the Obra de Berco in Rio. As a young architect, he volunteered his services to the famous Lucio Costa, with whom ...