Usain Bolt Attempts to Break Record in Rio

Usain Bolt in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

(image courtesy of riotimes.com)

Olympic sprinter from Jamaica, Usain Bolt, will attempt to break his own record on Sunday, March 31st in the 150 meter race during the Male Olympian race at the Mano a Mano event on Copacabana Beach.

Bolt is renowned as potentially the fastest man in the world and currently holds world records in the Olympic 100 meter and 200 meter dashes. He also set a world record in 20019 for the 150 meter race in the UK at 14.35 seconds.

Bolt will be competing against Daniel Bailey from Antigua and Barbuda, Alex Quinonez from Brazil on a special track designed on the beach. The material used for the blue lane track is the same used in the Olympics.

After arriving in Brazil, Bolt also participated in a 150 meter race with 8 local children as part of an initiative of the Social Service Industry, who uses sports in order to provide social inclusion and opportunities for children.

Bolt told reporters that he plans to return to Rio in 2016 for the Olympics, stating “I am definitely going to be here,” he told the Associated Press, “The record is going to be a little bit harder to break because then I will be kind of old. I’ll be 33 but I’ll definitely come and give a good performance, definitely.”

 

History of Capoeira Dance Fighting

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that has deep roots in the history of the country. It powerfully combines the art of dance and fighting in one and involves very quick and complex moves, speed, and leverage for high leg sweeps.

Capoeira was first developed in the 15th century by African slaves in the country. It all began with slaves who were forced to live and work in inhumane and humiliating living conditions on sugar cane farms in the 16th. Slaves actually outnumbered the Portuguese colonists, however due to the slaves having no weapons, disagreements between slaves of different countries and backgrounds, and a lack of understanding of their surroundings, the idea of rebellion was a notion that was generally discouraged. Capoeira was developed more as a means to survival for the enslaved than a means of fighting. The importance of this fighting style was that it could be deadly, but easily disguised as a dance if seen by the slave owners. Capoeira became a vital tool if a slave wished to escape because he needed a way to survive the hostile and unknown land and fight back against colonial agents whose sole job it was to find escapees and kill them or bring them back to the plantations.

The Portuguese court escaped from Brazil fleeing the invasion of Napoleons troops in 1808, which effectively left a much freer Brazil. With this, Capoeira became more urbanized and spread throughout the country. The colonial government in Rio attempted to suppress it as they considered it “subversive to their control”, and during this time many individuals were imprisoned for practicing the martial art. One police record from the 1800′s states:

“From 288 slaves that entered the Calabouço jail during the years 1857 and 1858, 80 (31%) were arrested for capoeira, and only 28 (10.7%) for running away. Out of 4,303 arrests in Rio police jail in 1862, 404 detainees—nearly 10%—had been arrested for capoeira.”

In the 19th century, slavery was abolished, and many slaves found themselves without work or any place to live. To make things worse during this time, many Europeans began immigrating to Brazil, thus making it harder for ex-slaves to find jobs. Those skilled in Capoeira, however, were able to find unconventional jobs as body guards, mercenaries, hitmen, and henchmen. Due to chaotic social conditions in Brazil and the police feeling that Capoeira was an unfair advantage in fighting, Capoeira was abolished. Those caught practicing the martial art were arrested and often tortured and mutilated by the police.

After the Capoeira repression began declining, an experienced fighter from Salvador named Mestre Bimba opened up the first ever Capoeira school. He developed the first systematic training method for the martial art, and even began teaching the social elite. Eventually in 1940 Capoeira was removed from the penal code in Brazil.

Today, Capoeira is a source of Pride for Brazilians and attracts thousands of students to study the martial art every year. The dance fighting still resembles that of the original – focused, subtle, disguised, and full of tricks.

Cultural Traditions and Festivals Unique to Brazil

Brazil is a country that  is well known and loved for its rich cultural traditions and fun festivals. Traditions and festivals center around sports, religion, and even a martial art practice unique to only Brazil.

Carnival

The festival of Carnival celebrates a season of decadence before the Catholic time of Lent begins. Carnival is Brazil’s biggest and most well known festival. In the preceding weeks to the beginning of the colorful festival, local bands play throughout community neighborhoods, fancy balls are held, and smaller forms of street parades march through cities. The most famous cities that host these celebrations are Rio and Salvador. During Carnival, Samba schools that have been rehearsing and preparing for months parade through the streets in colorful costume and on decorative floats while dancing to traditional Brazilian Samba.

Bumba-meu-boi and Other Religious Festivals

Religious festivals quite commonly take place throughout Brazil all year long. One of the most famous is the Bumba-meu-boi festival that takes place in Sao Luis. In the festival, the townsfolk act out a folk story that surrounds the killing and resurrection of a bull. In Nova Jerusalem, the citizens act out the largest passion play in Latin America in the time leading up to Easter. And, in Saolvador the annual washing of the steps of the Bonfim Church is an event that draws over 800,000 people.

New Years

In Rio each year around the time of New Years, Reveillon begins. Restaurants serve buffet lunches early in the day before thousands of people begin gathering on the beaches of Rio for elaborate firework displays. During this time, members of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble, will wear all white and set small boats with candles and trinkets to sail in the ocean as an offering to the sea goddess Yemenja.

Capoeira

Capoeira is a martial art unique to Brazil that stems from self defense practices of African slaves. The slaves had to practice secretly, thus disguised it as a dance. Today, the art resembles both dance and fighting equally.

 

Rio’s Engenhao Stadium Closes

The Engenhão has been closed, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

(photo courtesy of riotimes.com)

Mayor Eduardo Paes has closed the Engenhao Stadium indefinitely. This has thrown the Carioca football schedule into a state of chaos, as there is the remainder of a state tournament to play, and the Copa Libertadores tournament to play later this year.

The stadium was closed due to problems with the structure which raised safety concerns. The match between Fluminense and Macae last night was moved to another stadium – the Sao Januario stadium in Vasco.

The mayor has stated the following on the situation “The problem has been identified, but I have not yet been presented with a solution. The stadium will only be reopened when the risk is definitively solved. It could be anything from a month to a year,”

The stadium is still relatively new, with it opening in 2007 for the Pan America games. The closing has caused embarrassment as the city gears up for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The new Maracana stadium in Rio is still being completed, leaving Rio’s four large teams with only one major stadium.

The Sao Januario, Moca Bonita, Taca Rio, Copa do Brasil, Libertadores, and the Bangu stadiums will be used alternately for the games, however the Copa do Brasil and Libertadores stadiums do not have proper lighting for evening, making night games impossible. Instead, night games will be played in the meantime at the Moacryzao and Raulino de Oliveira stadiums.

Brazilian Dining Etiquette

As with any country, Brazil has its own customs and rules of etiquette when dining. While some of the etiquette is similar or the same to what we are used to in the US, there are important differences you should know before your trip. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Never with a full mouth. This is an important one, as it’s considered extremely rude.
  • Never place your elbows on the table, and always make sure to keep your hands above the table and within sight. It’s considered rude to have your hands out of sight.
  • A common and polite phrase to use at the beginning of the meal is “bom apetite”.
  • The knife is always held in the right hand, and the fork in the left hand.
  • Food is rarely, if ever, eaten with the hands as it is considered unsanitary. Even if you are eating a pizza, sandwich, French fries, or other typical finger foods, always use your utensils. If you must eat with your hands, wrap your food in a napkin and do not allow it to touch your hands.
  • Never cut food with a fork.
  • Always rest utensils on the plate when they are not in use.
  • Wipe your mouth with a napkin after every sip of your drink.
  • Never drink from a bottle or can directly. It is always customary to pour into a glass first.
  • If using a toothpick at the table, hide it behind your hand or a napkin.
  • Of course, standard rules also apply to sneezing and coughing – cover your mouth. Blowing your nose is to be done away from the table.

Bom apetite!

Easter 2013 in Rio

The long Easter weekend in Rio is a special holiday. Known as “Semana Santa” is a time of long-held Easter traditions and religious celebration. Around this time you’ll also find many non-religious events being held. Good Friday, or “Sexta Paixao”, is a national holiday in Brazil, with most businesses and schools closing on Thursday, Friday, and Monday.

If you happen to be in Rio around this joyous time, you can find many events and celebrations to attend. Here are a few that might interest you for the 2013 celebration:

Gringo Cafe

The cafe will be hosting an Easter edition of their new “Gringo Lounge”. A DJ will be featured, as well as a host of new menu items like red velvet cake, chocolate peanut butter cups, a flourless chocolate cake, and special Easter eggs benedict.

Religious Services

Christ Church of Rio will be holding a Holy Communion and a shared meal on Thursday at 7:30 pm. They will also have a bilingual English and Portuguese service at 3pm on Friday. On Sunday, communion will begin at the Christ Church at 8am, and be followed by another one at 10:30am. The Union Church will also be hosting a pancake breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30 am and have a Celebration Service at 10am. An egg hunt will follow these events.

Favela em Danca Festival

A dance festival is being held at the NGO Solar Meninos de Luz in the hills above Ipaneme and Copacabana. Dance styles, work shops, exhibitions, and competitions will be held.

(Outside of Rio)

Holy Week in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais

During this special week, every year this town transforms into a town full of colorful religious imagery. Beautiful carpets stretch between all the churches forming  a religious path of sorts. Actors also portray scenes from the bible on the streets.

Lollapalooza in Sao Paulo

This 3 day music festival will have some of the biggest names in music in attendance, including Pearl Jam, Deadmau5, the Killers, Criolo, and Graforreia Xilarmonica.

Pope Francis to Visit Rio for World Youth Day

It has been confirmed that Pope Francis will be visiting Rio to attend World Youth Day in July. He announced this on Sunday at an address to mark the beginning of Holy Week.

The Pope spoke during his Palm Sunday homily in St.Peter’s Square, and stated  “I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro. I will see you in that great city in Brazil,”

On the trip the Pope will say Mass on Copacabana beach and visit the Christ Redeemer Statue in order to pray. This event is to be a “sign of faith for the whole world.”

Around four million people are expected to attend World Youth Day, which is the first of a string of mega events that are to be held in Rio within the next few years. This event is expected to test Rio’s capacity for hosting millions of visitors at one time.

Pope John Paul II began World Youth Day in 1985, and the only other time it was held in Latin America was in Buenos Aires in 1987 where 1 million people attended.

The Pope met with President Dilma Rousseff in the private library at the Apolistic Palace at the Vatican last week. This was the second meeting with a head of state for the Pope – President of Argentina Cristina Kirchner was the first meeting.

Before the meeting, President Rousseff told reporters “This is a Pope that speaks to the weakest, to the youth, to the elderly and to those who need help. I think he is a pontiff who has the capacity to be moved, that will dedicate himself to the poor and he has said that that is his main goal. It is a reason for us Brazilians and for all Latin America to be proud of, but above all it is good for the whole world.”

 

Violence Concerns in Rio Drop

Complexo do Caju UPP Installation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

(courtesty of the Rio Times)

A recent survey by O Globo newspaper revealed that violence is a lesser concern among Rio residence, currently. The government’s established Police Pacification Units is contributed to this lowering concern, as well as to a reduction in the number of times the police have been forced to discharge fire arms.

The same survey displayed data as well that the number of stray bullets fired by police has also dropped by 81%. This further cements the standing that the Police Pacification Units are effectively lowering crime rates in the city.

Residents are saying that now that crime rates have dropped, the issues that need to be addressed are noisy bars and clubs, expanding favelas, refuse, sanitation, and waste water facilities. The Botafogo Resident’s Association President, Regina Chiaradia, states “The reduction in violence in the greatest prize that events such as the Olympics have brought us. Now we need to get our sewers fixed,”

There are also other associations that state that efforts should be prioritized in the education and health services areas of the community.

Since the effective crime drop in Rio, experts are now saying the police need to refocus operations in the Zona Oeste, which is Rio’s west zone, in order to decrease mortality rates.

State and federal security forces occupied the communities of Complexo do Caju and Barreira do Vasco in the city’s port zone earlier this month as the first preliminary step to installing Rio’s first Police Pacification Unit.

The number of homicides has been dropping in Rio, according to recent figures, however crimes and homicides elsewhere in the state have been on the rise.

5 Landmarks You Must See While in Brazil

Brazil is full of natural wonder and impressive architecture. It can be a little overwhelming deciding what to see or do next, simply because there is so much worth experiencing! We have narrowed it down to 5 landmarks, that if you don’t make it to anything else, at least make it to these!

Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, and covers about half of the world’s entire space dedicated to rainforests. Full of wonder, mystery, and some of the most exotic creatures and stunning views you’ll ever see – this is an absolute MUST.

Christ the Redeemer

This is probably Brazil’s most famous and iconic landmark. Standing at 120 feet tall and weighing 635 tons, this statue is now part of the Seven Wonders of the World. The statue was built in 1921, and appears to be embracing the entire city of Rio where it sits with its arms wide open atop Corcovado Mountain.

Iguazu Falls

Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina is Iguazu Falls. Over 275 falls make up Iguazu, with some of the falls going as high as 269 feet. Some say that at least 10 days need to be dedicate to this area to truly appreciate the falls, but even if you make it for just a day the absolute beauty of this natural wonder will always stay with you. Plus, they make for great photo ops!

Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art

Asides from its unusual architecture, the museum houses one of the finest and largest collections of European art – actually considered the largest in Latin America. There are also massive amounts of Brazilian art, prints, and drawings. This is a great place to gather more Brazilian culture and gain a deeper perspective into the country.

Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas

Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the entire world, and with this being said, it’s important to journey to a place of worship during your stay in order to gain the full Brazilian experience. The reason we have picked this sanctuary as our favorite is because of its simple yet beautiful construction, and its full attainment of the union of nature, man, and Brazilian culture.

16 People Have Been Indicted Over Night Club Fire

The Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, RS, Brazil News

(Courtesy of Rio Times)

Yesterday, the Rio Grande do Sul police announced their 55 day investigative results into the night club fire in Santa Maria that killed 241 people and left 632 people injured. The investigation will now call for the conviction of sixteen people. 35 charges are being pressed between them.

The night club owners and their manager will be facing indictment on the charges of negligent homicide. Also, two of the band members from that evening are facing the same charge, as it is believed that they ignited the blaze by putting one of the fireworks too close to the ceiling.

In the investigation, it was found that the incident was due to a “grotesque safety failure”. The night club was also licensed to have 600 occupants, however during the time of the fire it had 864.

Two of the city’s fire safety officials are also being indicted due to the club being allowed to operate without any emergency exits, poor lighting, and too few escape routes. The mayor of Santa Maria and the local fire fighters commander are also facing charges of administrative misconduct, as well as nine firefighters being held accountable because “evidence of manslaughter for the actions.”

Local police are also calling for an indictment for manslaughter for the town environmental and urban mobility secretaries, the head of supervision of urban mobility, and the official who issued the license to the club.

The investigation has almost lasted 2 months and covered 810 interviews and produced 1300 pages of evidence and testimonies. Police chief, Ranolfo Vieria Junior, stated “We want to give maximum publicity to the contents of this work. By the number of victims, the circumstances and complexity, I can say that this is the largest investigation ever undertaken by the police of Rio Grande Do Sul,”