My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.” Erica Bauermeister

When the mood for dessert strikes, I am there. I consider it a necessity not a choice to try desserts when I am traveling.  There isn’t a problem in the world that a good dessert can’t make feel a little better. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Pastel de Nata – Portugal

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Baklava – Greece

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Red Velvet Cupcakes – USA

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 Semolina Halva –  Turkey (nice with fresh fruit)

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Black Sesame Ice Cream – Japan

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 Malva Pudding  (poeding) – South Africa

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Sweet Sticky Rice With Coconut Cream and Mango – Thailand

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Dulce de Leche –  Argentina ( on ice cream, cookies, cake, bread)

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 Fresh Acai  and Tapioca Ice Cream – Belem, Brazil

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Mango Pudding – Hong Kong

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Fly safe, JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Lisbon, Portugal

Things I Have Learned In Lisbon, Portugal

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Lisbon is known to be built on seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela. It makes the capital of Portugal similar to such cities as Rome, Istanbul and Moscow.

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The views are crazy good from different parts of the city. My hotel was at the top of one of the hills because I was always walking up the wrong street to get there and having to walk down and up again. Walking the streets of Lisbon is a definite workout.

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Lisbon’s superb natural setting, spread across seven hills facing the Tagus River, offers a network of terraces from which to contemplate the beauty of the city. They are called “miradouros” or viewpoints, they’re usually located at the highest points of each hill, and all have spaces to sit and rest. Some even have cafes serving snacks and light refreshments.

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I’m usually not a fan of getting lost but I didn’t mind in Lisbon. There are interesting streets that I would have missed.

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The Barcelos Rooster is considered to be the unofficial symbol of Portugal. The story varies but it has to do with a roasted rooster getting up from the table and declaring a falsely accused religious pilgrim innocent. It is carried for good luck. I buy every country’s good luck charms.

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In Lisbon, there  exists one of the oldest bakeries that makes Pastel de Nata.  It’s located in the neighborhood of Belem. The Antiga Confeitaria de Belém is a favorite of locals and tourists alike.

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The tarts here are called Pastéis de Belem and served plain with cinnamon and sugar toppings.

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Lisbon has its own Cristo Rei (Christ the King statue) – a Catholic monument overlooking the city, standing on the left bank of the river. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The statue commemorates Portugal’s survival of WWII.

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The Jerónimos Monastery was constructed in the Portuguese Manueline style. The Monastery was commissioned by King Manuel in 1501 and took 100 years to finish. The monks role was to pray for the King’s eternal soul and give spiritual help to navigators and sailors leaving to explore the world.

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Vasco de Gama who is buried here left from this site in 1497. There are no advance tickets so come early or be prepared to wait up to an hour. The cloisters and architecture are magnificent and worth the admission. The Church of Belem is free.

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Tower of Belem is Lisbon’s iconic landmark.  The Tower is located on the Tagus River a twenty-minute walk from the Monastery. It was built in the Manueline style the sixteenth century as part of a defense wall which was never finished.

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Manueline style is a very specific interpretation of Gothic architectural structure and decoration only found in Portugal.The style emerged during the reign of King Manuel I (1495-1521) but the name was not adopted until the 19th century.

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Buying gloves at the tiny Ulisses glove shop in Lisbon is a serious experience. They have made unique and high quality gloves in the same way since 1928. Place your elbow on a  cushion and have the special opportunity of getting gloves fit to your hand. They are guaranteed for life and you don’t need a receipt as they know which are their gloves.

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The Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River is the longest bridge in Europe – 17, 2 km (10.7 miles) long.

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Fiera de la Ladra (thieves market) is a flea market in the Alfama district every Tuesday and Thursday. A market has been in this place since the twelfth century. It is one of the oldest areas in Lisbon and so beautiful to walk around in.

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Lisbon was the first city in the world to import Guinness from the UK.

Sardines are a typical Portuguese meal . I can live without them but they weren’t that bad served fresh and much larger than the canned variety.

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Canned fish seems to be a common staple in Portugal and there is a lot to choose from.

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Right up there with sardines, octopus is the most fished species in Portugal.  It is one of my favorite dishes and I had it a lot.

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Eating grilled fish in Portugal (Peixe Grelhado) is an amazing experience.

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Museu Berardo is a wonderful space for modern and contemporary art in Belem.The collection owes its existence to the Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo who, in his lifetime, amassed a great number of works of contemporary art. The space houses the permanent collection and changing contemporary exhibitions.

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The Gulbenkian Museum is located in a modern complex with beautiful gardens and ducks, an extensive library and a Modern Art Center.The Gulbenkian collection was mostly collected by Calouste Gulbenkian during his lifetime.

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The Modern Art Center(CAM) has an extensive collection of twentieth and twenty-first century modern Portuguese art. Temporary exhibits are scheduled throughout the year of Portuguese and international artists.

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Lisbon was a love at first sight city for me. It is beautiful, colorful, full of layers and character. People are so friendly and helpful and many speak English or Spanish. The city is relatively inexpensive. Portuguese seafood is a reason alone to come here. It is very easy to get around by walking, taxi, boat or public transportation. I want to return soon.

Bom Viagem
JAZ

 

The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

The Amazon Rainforest

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”Mahatma Gandhi

As humans we tend to blame other people for our environmental problems. Most of the Amazon region is located in Brazil and having spent time there I have to talk about deforestation. Though each of us are responsible for creating the problem in the environment, caring for the Amazon is most critical for our survival.

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The Amazon Rainforest is the largest remaining tropical forest on our planet. It is home to one-third of the world’s species; one-fourth of the world’s fresh water; one fifth  of the world’s forests; forty-eight billion tons of carbon dioxide in its trees and two hundred indigenous and traditional communities.

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The Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change.

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The current deforestation is  driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching.Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators.

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The  Emilio Goeldi  Museum is a research institute related to the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).  It was founded in 1866 in the city of Belém, in the state of Para.

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Since its creation, the museum activities have been divided up between the scientific study of natural and socio-cultural systems in the Amazon area, scientific communication, the diffusion of knowledge and collections from the region and formation. All the results obtained in these fields make the Emilio Goeldi  Museum one of the most important research centers in Brazil.

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The museum is composed of three different places: a zoological and botanical park in the city of Belém, a research campus on the outskirts of the city and a scientific station in the Caxiuanã National Forest.

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The Park has more than two thousand species of plants and around six hundred animals that are native to the Amazon region and seems to be a popular school trip.

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Brazil is taking steps to save the Amazon rainforest.

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Since 2004 there was a seventy per cent decline in deforestation. In 2012 Brazil’s forest code was updated for landowners to protect eighty per cent of the rainforest. Some countries followed but not many. Different Brazilian states had different outcomes. It is not a downward trend. In 2013 Para’s deforestation had doubled and in 2014 it was the lowest of the Brazilian states.

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Greed, economy, state and government regulations seem to play a part in the reversal of the trend. The most obvious explanation was the change in national policy – first to sharply restrict deforestation, then to loosen the restrictions a bit.

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Saving the environment requires all of us. We can’t expect the Brazilians to take care of it for us while we drive our cars or put chemicals in the air. It requires us all to be well informed citizens of the world. What is happening in the Amazon affects all of us  and we should be aware of what is going there. We have one quest and we need to do it with compassion and not blame for each other. I believe that what we do makes a difference. I can only hope the rest of the world feels the same way.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Belem Part 2 – More Food In The Amazon

Belem Part 2 – More Food In The Amazon

“I am not a glutton. I am an explorer of food.” Erma Bombeck

We arrive in Belem on a small plane from the island of Marajo at the mouth of the Amazon.

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I thought I was afraid of small planes.

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But the flights were smooth and the scenery was spectacular.

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We started our visit  with lunch at La Em Casa. http://www.laemcasa.com/ It is located in Estacao Das Docas mall a remodeled train station with a beautiful river view.. There is a buffet lunch serving all the traditional dishes.

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The restaurant was started by Anna Marie Martins and it was her son Paulo who brought attention to Brazil, South America and the world about the quality and flavors of regional Amazon cooking. His daughters Joanna and Daniella continued the tradition. Daniella works as a chef in the restaurant and Joanna runs the Paulo Martins Institute and Ver o Peso of Para Food, a festival (Feria Queso)l promoting the flavors and cooking techniques of the Amazon. Joanna is interested in having chefs come from all over the world so any who are reading this should contact her. You won’t be disappointed and you will learn a lot. Its a great time for all foodies to start their visit to the Amazon. contato@institutopaulomartins.org.br  I was lucky to meet both of them and saw how passionate they are about the world getting to know their delicious food. At the rate they are going, we will all soon be eating tucupi and jambu and loving it.

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After that huge lunch we had to try the ice cream at the most famous ice cream parlor in the country,Cairu because there is also a branch in the Estacao Das Docas mall. sorveteriacairu.com.br/ There are Amazonian flavors made from local fruits such as bacuri, muruci, sapoti, graviola, and açai, and“mestiços” (mixed breeds) such as carimbó (cupuaçu and Brazil nut) and maria isabel (bacuri, shortbread, and coconut). The ice creams are so good that five-star restaurants in Rio and São Paulo proudly feature them on their dessert menus.

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Among the many fish we ate in the Amazon region, are filhote and pirarucu. Filhote is the main ingredient in peixada, a stew that includes potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro.  (from La Em Casa)

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Pirarucu is Brazil’s largest fish, measuring up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) and weighing up to 80 kilograms (176 pounds). It is usually dried and salted before being grilled on a hot tile or cooked in coconut milk, and then served with farinha and light, buttery feijão manteguinha,  (from Romanso do Bosque)

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We saw Pirarucu at Ver o Peso market.

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It is an outdoor market selling Amazonian products with about 2000 stalls on the Amazon River.

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The unusual name of the Ver-o-Peso Market dates back to colonial times, when the market housed the offices of the Portuguese colonial tax collector.

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Ver-o-Peso is a shortened form of the Portuguese phrase “Haver-o-Peso” meaning “possess or obtain the weight.” The tax collector was charged with collecting a tariff on all goods coming down the river  based not on monetary value of goods but on their weight. It is now a Unesco World Heritage site. (cleaning off the fish smell as vultures fly overhead)

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There are things you know like acai berries and brazil nuts and wealth of produce from the Amazon that is sold nowhere else in the world. (acerola berries)

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if you’re a fan of large, oily, and irresistibly rich Brazil nuts, you’ll find them all over in Pará, where they’re known as castanhas-do-Pará, and are sold — plain, salted, or caramelized — by vendors on the streets of Belém.

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There are fruits with names like cupuaçu, bacuri, muruci, uxi, taperabá, tucumã, bacaba, and pupunha.

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Wait until you smell and taste them, which you can do in forms that include juices, compotes, jellies, cremes, puddings, liqueurs, and sorvetes.

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There are herbs that cure everything and many types of natural viagra, different cachacas (Brazil’s liquor used in caipirinhas) and all kinds of stuff used for religious and spiritual ceremonies that look fascinating.

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I could have spent a lot of time with the herb ladies and in those questionable spiritual ceremony stores.

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Who knows what I would have brought home if I spoke Portuguese?

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We take a ride through the jungle up the Guama River.

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We are headed to the island of Combu where Dona Nena harvests cacao from trees on the island and makes chocolate wrapped in banana leaves and chocolate drinks with carnation milk (my fav).

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Everything is laboriously and lovingly done by hand – a far cry from the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania I visited as a kid. (cacao)

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While most of the families living on the jungle river make their living harvesting acai and brazil nuts, Dona Nena is bringing back the ancient way of making chocolate and the chefs in Brazil can’t get enough.

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It’s delicious and not too sweet – just the way I like it. Brazilian designer chocolate from the Amazon – why not?

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One of our dinners was at Romanso do Bosque which is an inviting beautifully designed restaurant. http://www.restauranteremanso.com.br   Indigenous ingredients and traditional Brazilian cooking combined with new ideas was the basis for an interesting tasting menu. Chef Thiago Castanho’s modern take on ancient flavors was creative and delicious. By then, I was starting to recognize the flavors of the Amazon. I tasted the jambu in the tucupi and honey sauced pork sausage (not normally being a meat eater, I loved that one)

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There were shrimp covered in tapioca, balls of fresh fish, smoked Pirarucu and filhote.

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There were two desserts. The first was tapioca, tapioca ice cream and brazil nut sauce.

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When I couldn’t eat another bite, they brought this. I didn’t even ask what it was but I finished it.

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The flavors of the Amazon are the flavors of the forest and the river. They are in the mystical ceremonies, potions and celebrations. They are in the lives of the fishermen, farmers, ranchers, healers, cooks, musicians and artists. The flavors of the Amazon are the flavors of the myths and stories of the Amazonian natives who came before. I bite off a piece of my modern chocolate from Combu and read about the origin of cassava, fire and the story of the woman who gathered the brazil nuts.

Bom apetite,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Brazil

Things I Have Learned In Brazil

“The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams – each according to his or her own talent.” Paul Coelho

The name Brazil comes from the brazilwood tree (which I’m sure I took pictures of but have so many tree photos in the Amazon). In Portuguese it is called pau brazil. The tree produces a deep red dye, highly valued in the European clothing industry and was the first commercially exploited product in Brazil.

The Brazil nut tree is a different tree only found in the Amazon. (Belem)

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Brazil is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese and the largest Portuguese speaking country. It is very hard to understand Portuguese but easy to read if you speak Spanish. The pronunciation is very different from the spelling that we are used to. Very few people speak Spanish which is interesting considering all their neighboring countries do. They teach English in the schools instead. (Paraty, pronounced para-chee.  We have cold beer and cake?)

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Brazil does not like conflict or war. They don’t even like to say the word war.  When a civil war breaks out they call it a revolution.

Brazil sent three thousand soldiers to World War II reluctantly on the side of Italy and Germany but quickly changed sides when the opportunity presented itself to do so.

There are more species of monkeys in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. This is a very hungry marmoset. I was being nice and offered to share my banana because I was hungry also. He  came very close to me and started screaming and showing his teeth for the rest of it. They may look cute but they are predators. Everyone else got the good pictures. I was dealing with the banana. Guess who won?  (Rio pronounced Rio)

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Brazilian food is super good. (Belem street food -Tacaca with shrimp and jambu)

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Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. it is made with cachaca. (pronounced ca-chasa) (Paraty)

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Brazil’s homicide rate is 25 per 100,000 people. This is the closest photo I had. I was getting a tour of the opera house in Belem when I turned my head and saw a cop with a gun in someone’s back. If it was the US, they probably would have shot him.

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The longest traffic jam in the world took place in Brazil.

There are at least 15 girls in every favela more beautiful than Beyoncé.

Street art is all over Brazil ,from professional or crude to tagging. (São Paulo – Cobra)

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54% of the population has European ancestry.
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The Acai berry is grown in Brazil, which is believed to prevent cancer, help with weight loss, detoxification and general health issues. There is a lot of acai in the Amazon. It is not a superfood – it is just food usually eaten with dried cassava balls on top or as a juice served in a plastic bag. (Marajo)

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Almost everything from the Amazon can be like Viagra. ( Marajo, turu – grey tree worms -there are many in that tree. usually eaten raw – luckily they ran out of clean water and wanted to wash mine in the river, I declined)

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The highest point in Brazil is Pico da Neblina, which is 2,994 m high.

Brazil is presently one of the fastest growing economies, with an annual GDP growth rate of 5%.

The Brazilian bikini wax was invented in New York in 1987 by 7 Brazilian born sisters .

Brazil produces the most oranges in the world.

The world’s widest road is the Monumental Axis in Brazil. Here, 160 cars can drive side by side!

Brazil has won the World Cup 5 times (more than any other country!) They feel shame from the last World Cup and don’t really want to talk about it.

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Every city in Brazil has at least one soccer stadium. In 1967, a 48-hour ceasefire was declared in Nigeria so that Federal and Rebel troops could watch the Brazilian soccer legend Pele play on a visit to the war-torn nation. (Soare, indoor soccer)

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Coca-Cola in Brazil sponsors a Pele museum on wheels that travels across the country.

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Brazil has never lost a game when Pele and Garrincha played together. Kaka paid for his brother’s education at the best college in São Paulo before Rodrigo himself became a football player.

Kaka was twice voted as Brazil’s sexiest footballer. In 2005, a Nike ad starring Ronaldinho was the first video on YouTube to break 1 million views.

Brazil has the largest stadium in the continent – the Maracana Stadium.

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It is another one of those countries that knows how to blow dry curly hair straight very well. (Sao Paulo)

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It has the second highest number of airports in the world.

Brazil has a drink named after Jesus.

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In Brazil there is a new futbol beach volleyball where they don’t use their hands. (players in Rio at Copacabana Beach posing)

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It is one of the world’s leading producers of hydroelectric power.

Brazil has the fifth highest number of visits from the pope in the world.

Brazilian women attained the right to vote in 1931.

Brazil is the 5th country to make seat belts compulsory.

Brazil literacy rate is 86.4%- the lowest in the continent.

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Brazil shares a border with every country in the continent except Chile and Ecuador.

The motto of Brazil is “Order and Progress”.

Brazil has the longest beach at 7500km.( Marajo – not the longest but long and beautiful)

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Brazil has the most number of species on the continent. (Marajo – vulture flying over not the longest beach)

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Brazil has the highest number of AIDS victims in the world.

Brazil has the ninth highest number of billionaires in the world.

A Brazilian model is considered one of the most gorgeous women in the world.

There is no official religion any more in Brazil. There are a lot of these statues around Rio.

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The Portuguese were very different colonizers than the Spanish. They immediately intermarried with the Indians and the first Brazilians are born. Brazil really is a melting pot of races, foods, religions and cultures.

The currency of Brazil has both horizontal and vertical pictures.

Brazil is the longest country in the world, spanning about 2,800 miles from north to south via land.

I loved Brazil and I’m already planning to go back next year. I can say good morning, good evening, thank you, you’re welcome, goodbye and soy milk in Portuguese so I think I’m good. (Paraty)

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Obrigada and Ciao,

JAZ