The Girl from Ipanema

Garota_de_ipanema - The Girl from Ipanema

Brazil enjoys the largest recording industry outside of the United States, so the number of brilliant artists and the wide variety of genres (most people have never heard of), is truly staggering.

The first time I’d ever hear this beautiful language was by vinyl record, as my father had a huge jazz collection, and even before I was born the Bossa Nova was played in my house often, so the first song I can remember, and first words in Portuguese are from the famous song: Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema).

The Girl from Ipanema is a well-known bossa nova song, a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.

In Revelação: a verdadeira Garota de Ipanema (Revealed: The Real Girl from Ipanema) Moraes wrote she was:

“o paradigma do broto carioca; a moça dourada, misto de flor e sereia, cheia de luz e de graça mas cuja a visão é também triste, pois carrega consigo, a caminho do mar, o sentimento da mocidade que passa, da beleza que não é só nossa—é um dom da vida em seu lindo e melancólico fluir e refluir constante.”


“the paradigm of the young Carioca: a golden teenage girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of light and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone—it is a gift of life in its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow.”

The song was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a nineteen-year-old girl living on Montenegro Street in the fashionable Ipanema district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café, not just to the beach (“each day when she walks to the sea”), but in the everyday course of her life. She would sometimes enter the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother and leave to the sound of wolf-whistles.

As the legend has it (which isn’t 100% accurate), in the winter of 1962, the composers watched the girl pass by the bar (now a restaurant, see footnote), and it is easy to imagine why they noticed her—Helô was a 173-cm (five-foot eight-inch) brunette, and she attracted the attention of many of the bar patrons. Since the song became popular, she has become a celebrity.

While Helô inspired the song, it was another Carioca who carried it beyond Rio. Astrud Gilberto was just the wife of singing star João Gilberto when she entered a NYC studio in March 1963. João and Jobim were making a record with tenor saxman Stan Getz. The idea of cutting a verse on “Ipanema” in English came up, and Astrud was the only one of the Brazilians who spoke more than phrasebook English.

The hit English language song; “The Girl from Ipanema” was the alchemy of Astrud’s child-like vocal, devoid of vibrato and singerly mannerisms, it was the perfect foil for her husband’s soft bumblebee voice. Jobim tinkled piano. Getz blew a creamy smooth tenor. Four minutes of magic went to tape.

Note: One of my favorite places to eat and drink in Rio is the Garota de Ipanema, sure it’s a bit of a tourist trap because of the song “Girl from Ipanema” but seriously the restaurant is really excellent and it’s super casual being just a couple of blocks from Ipanema beach. You can grab a good window seat near the corner if your timing is good and then watch all the Cariocas trudging home from the beach at the end of the day. The draft beer is cold and frothy however the caipirinhas might be as good as you’ll find anywhere but the main attraction is the great food, especially the Picanha, which is thinly sliced beef rump that you grill yourself, right at your table, on a super-hot brazier, similar to a hibachi bar-b-que. (See: Garota de Ipanema Restaurant)

Big Pineapple Chronicles

Big Pineapple Chronicles

The nickname “Big Pineapple” for Sao Paulo made perfect sense. In Brasil they have an expression for when people (one or more) have a tough problem to solve: “descascar abacaxi”, which translates to “peel the pineapple”. This always refers to something that is unpleasant and painstaking, with the possibility of making a sticky mess.

Interestingly, the Portuguese word abacaxi also translates to; “pain”. Maybe that’s the root of the expression “descascar abacaxi”, not sure, but I always liked it, for the visual of peeling pineapples, as they are the most prickly abrasive fruit, with by far the most abundant and sweetest juice, of any plant known to man.

Now the visuals I can give you, to substantiate “why” the nickname “Big Pineapple”. Think about the sharp outer skin of the pineapple, also the barbs on the leaves. Now imagine razor-wire and you begin to see just one of the odd parallels of a pineapple and a giant city that has a very prickly outer layer.

Descascar abacaxi - Big Pineapple chronicles Yes it’s sad to say, razor wire is a common sight in Sao Paulo and just like a pineapple, you’d have no idea how nice it was on the other side of that skin, unless you’d tasted it before, or someone told you how sweet it is. The surface seems to be designed to detract the would-be taster, from even getting started. It just looks too damn nasty from the outside.

There must be a method, you might ask. And if it were a normal problem to solve, Google would provide the answer, so on the search term “descascar abacaxi” (translates to “peel a pineapple”) you’d find 295,000 results but if you search how to get “inside” Sao Paulo, you’d be lucky to find a dozen sources in English, most of them blogs and all of them out of date. That’s where the “Big Pineapple Chronicles” comes-in, to assist the curious seeker, on how to “descascar abacaxi”.

Directly from the Big Pineapple, we share stories and cool videos to enlighten the topic. My objective is to get inside Sao Paulo and extract the juiciest content, mix it together with tales of the people we meet along the way, and serve it up fresh daily.

Definition of pineapple

A large juicy tropical fruit consisting of aromatic edible yellow flesh surrounded by a tough segmented skin and topped with a tuft of stiff leaves. It is low-growing, with a spiral of spiny sword-shaped leaves on a thick stem.

Photo credit: x-ray delta one via / CC BY-NC-SA

Bar do Juarez of Sao Paulo

Bar do Juarez

Bar do Juarez Picanha no RéchaudBar do Juarez has long been my second favourite restaurant in Sao Paulo, they serve a steak dish that they’ve become famous for called “Picanha no Réchaud”, which is a cut of beef that arrives at your table un-cooked but thinly sliced and in the accompaniment of an extremely hot brazier, upon which you grill your own dinner, just the way you want it.

The serving of “Picanha no Réchaud” is easily enough food for 3 people, or can be shared amongst 4 with a large salad or the best antipasto I know of in Brazil. However 2 hungry diners can also finish this meal, with some hard-work and patience. The side dishes are coleslaw, vinaigrette, and farofa, which is a popular toasted cassava flour mixture and this tasty ensemble is served with fresh Italian bread. In my opinion this is a really excellent way to eat, it’s a really fun meal to enjoy with a friend.

Bar do Juarez History

Juarez Alves is the owner of the trendy Bar do Juarez, which has four locations in São Paulo: Itaim, Moema, Brooklin and Pinheiros. Originally from Ibitira in the state of Bahia, Juarez came to the city of São Paulo in 1973, at age 12, and from an early age dreamed of setting up his own business. He achieved this goal with a lot of hard work to make the money, then discipline to save the capital: he worked as a cafeteria clerk, fry cook, then a waiter in various establishments. From the beginning Juarez discovered the pleasure of serving the people, contributing towards making it a nice time for family and friends.

In 1986 with his brother and a partner opened the “Restaurant Bier Bier”, serving German food. In 1997, the house was sold and the following year opened the Juarez Moema, the first location of Bar do Juarez. Inspired by the famous pubs of the old center of São Paulo, places where a “good conversation” going through the night and people ended up almost forgetting to return home, the “Juarez Bar” soon became a reference and point meeting to the public that goes to the region for happy hour or to stay in the neighborhood through the night. With the successful establishment, it was opened in the following years the bars in Itaim (2001), Brooklyn and Pinheiros (both in 2008). A success story that has lasted 15 years.

Of the 4 locations, Brooklin is my favourite, which naturally, is the reason I made a video about it. Here’s some photos of the Brooklin Bar do Juarez from their website.


Veteran Palm Trees of War

palm trees

São Paulo is the dynamic result of the demolition and reconstruction of successive cities in just over a century. In that short time, the citadel with 30 000 inhabitants has become a metropolis with 20 million inhabitants, and its nature has practically disappeared. Originally very rich in biodiversity, São Paulo showed extensive forests of the Atlantic Forest, Araucaria, savannas and wetlands, forming a unique landscape. During the process of urbanization, the ancestral vegetation was being cleared and replaced by species of foreign origin, cultural motivation that led to the mass extinction of native flora and fauna and the current situation of 80% of urban vegetation to be of foreign origin, ie , exotic.

To be a palm tree, or any kind of tree in a city like São Paulo is not easy. It complicates your life – contaminated and compacted soil, the narrow sidewalk and all cemented the overhead wires everywhere, harmful pruning and people who see it as an obstacle or producers of “dirt”. However, they are what make the city livable, breathable and beautiful.

The Organization; SOS Mata Atlântica of São Paulo decorates trees for resistance to uncontrolled urban development, mobilizing the population to create a map to the great trees in town, then tell their stories and to report any mistreatment.

Check out the Veterans of War campaign –

Veteranas de Guerra

Palmeiras do Jardim Botanico do Sao Paulo

[box type=”info”]Euterpe edulis, commonly known as juçara, jucara (misspell of the former name, of Luso-Tupian origin), jussara (an archaic alternative spelling), açaí-do-sul or palmiteiro, is a palm species in the genus Euterpe. It is now predominantly used for hearts of palm. It is closely related to the açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), a species cultivated for its fruit and superior hearts of palm. The larvae of Caligo brasiliensis are reported to feed on E. edulis.[/box]

Palmeiras do Jardim Botanico – Imperial Palms are a Palm of great beauty and elegance, the palm-juçara is the parent plant of the Atlantic Forest, providing their food with fruit for much of the fauna, the paca the toucan. In São Paulo it occurred in abundance prior to urbanization, but faded to near local extinction by searching for your palm for cooking (heart of palms) and as a construction material. Palmital in the Botanical Garden, around the source of one of the trainers of the famous Riacho Ipiranga, São Paulo is an ancestral landscape, true environmental relic.

Photo credit: BioDivLibrary via / CC BY

The Last Caipirinha

Cachaça Caipirinha

The last Caipirinha was the best one, exactly because it was the last one. The time had come and past, it was time for me to hit the wagon for good. My romance with the Cachaça had lasted long enough, the magic was gone from the relationship and all that was left was drudgery and boredom but that wasn’t the worst of it, watching my own destruction, as I drank those frozen concoctions, which “yes” I falsely thought they were helping me hang-in, as if I were living in Margaritaville but this is much worse because Cachaça, or “pinga” as it’s called in Brazil slang, is more powerful, more prevalent and can be ridiculously cheap.

[box]For example, imported cheap tequila is at least ten times more expensive here but it’s not just that it’s the formula for a Caipirinha and how they’re constructed, plus with which Cachaça.[/box]

Listen to my love of the Caipirinha (above), see it was totally out-of control. Plus I liked to drink ice cold Heineken of Stella Artois at the same time, which I was always warned against. Brazilian tradition has a huge reverence for Cachaça, a folklore’ish belief in how, where, when and how much is a safe and smart amount. It’s free from small kegs, with little shot glasses, in most decent Minas Geriais (type of cuisine) restaurants. On the beaches they have some of the best hand-made drinks. All that’s needed is lime, sugar, ice and pinga for the absolute perfect beach cocktail.

It was a crazy, impulsive decision to join One Year No Beer and take the 90 challenge. It’s a social network for people like me, who want to win our lives back from booze and in particular beer. I also had respect and reverence for the mighty Cachaça and the oh-so-sweet Caipirinha, so I had a weekend’s only rule but would often break that rule. The thing of it is, beer is the ultimate gateway drug. My Dad gave me my first beer, everyone in Canada drank beer, it’s a national pastime to accompany, for watching hockey during the long cold winters.

Brazil has the best beer culture in the world, just watch some of our programmed Television and you’ll see a ton of sex-appeal selling billions of dollars of beer. There is cold beer everywhere here in Brazil and although I drank mostly imported, partly because it’s $1 or $2 USD cost, whereas I paid up to $10 USD in Europe.

My drinking days are over and I’m glad to say “tchau  Cachaça”.

The Value of Ideas

Value of an idea

Every body has an idea. Every day, every single person breathing (that’s over seven billion individuals) has new ideas. Who decides what ideas have value? Why do some ideas manifest into reality and other ideas “die-on-the-vine“? When does a good idea become reality? Where do good ideas come from? What is it about ideas that makes them so valuable? How does a person sell an idea?

These are the two most important questions, you need to ask yourself.

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Assume you’re up to speed, in real-time, today. Let’s assume that your best epilator ain’t that sharp like a razor (IQ 160+) and let’s take it another degree and assume you’re surrounded with contemporaries ( in Oz {Australia}, we called “mates“) and also, for laughs and giggles, imagine that you’re also totally dialed-in too. I mean, you’re connected to Dudes who are bringing-down six-figures for how-smart they are, in the hi-tech-sector. This is a common scenario in today’s world. This is normal. You are asking the right questions….

So you wake-up one morning and you, for some un-known reason, probably because you were getting ripped with one of your inside “mates” and all of a sudden, low and behold, you concoct in your mind, the web-geek equivalent to the cure for cancer. So now what?

Ideas are a dime a dozen. It takes about 2 hours of research to know, that your new mouse-trap is a file for the permanently delete folder, or is it? Or does that stupid idea hold merit? Is that brain-fart worth money? Is it equal to other bad-ideas that flew in the face of reason?

I’m going to be brutally honest here. It’s not that ideas are over-rated, “au contraire”, it’s that so few people have the intention to make them happen. Understand that there’s a giant gap between thinking about something and doing it. The value of ideas get’s completely diluted at this exchange, so much so, that one million-to-one seems like a realistic likelihood. Now we know, ideas are cheap, everybody is selling them and it’s one million to one that your idea has value.

So what’s a poor-boy to do? Lot’s of ideas and no-way to make any of them turn-into money.

Come back soon and I will share some ideas about how but for now, at this point in my mining, there’s an opportunity happening about 15 floors beneath me, which I have access to because of my proximity,  so I must take action and put an idea into effect. See you again soon.

The Power of Love!

candles - the power of love

candles - the power of love

As the suns sets on Sampa, I reflect back on my beginning with this Big Pineapple, as it’s perhaps the sweetest and certainly the most poignant memories of all my dozen years living here. It was the power of love that brought me. The single most powerful force known to mankind.

Back-story: A girl from Sao Paulo was traveling with two girlfriends in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) of the Dutch West Indies and I happened to be on “C” island (Curacao) working on a project to design, develop, license and launch the first on-line casino, or at least in amongst the first 100 (Note: this was a new gold rush). She was staying with her friends in the same hotel on Curacao.

I first saw her from across the hotel lobby and fell in love at first sight, it hit me like a ton of bricks and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it….

In this abbreviated rendition I’ll fast forward the year to say that we “re-connected on Curacao, six months later”, followed by a three month lapse and a “bring the girl to meet the family” in Canada, where my love landed in Vancouver for a month of mid-summer madness, covered hundreds of miles of British Columbia and visited every single beach in Vancouver, from Wreck Beach all the way to Horseshoe Bay, then a magical tour of the Okanagan (interior BC) with an ecstatic welcoming committee from my tribe, as the whole world adores Brazil.

After the Canada tour, we both knew that we were destined to keep going towards each other. The power of love was intense and totally irrefutable, it wasn’t just lust, or imagination, it was real and it was way too powerful to explain in words. All that I knew, is that there was nothing in this world that could, or would, stop me from seeing her again. We needed to meet half-way, in Miami, which is exactly what my plan was, from the very beginning when I laid-eyes on her, I wanted her on the beach in Florida, living with me.

Six more agonizing months go by and finally it’s my turn to meet her family. Uh-oh, boy meets girl’s Mom and Dad, yikes! But I was un-daunted, the power of love had a grip on me like a fuckin GPS signal, I was tuned-to-it. So I arrived in, you guessed it, Sao Paulo, Brasil about mid-December of ’97 and it’s hotter than Haiti (Note: I’ve not been to Haiti yet, it’s just an expression) and I’ve come from the great white north, however since I had so many months to think about this trip and was laid-over in Miami (my second home, as I’ll explain another time) for a month on my way to South America, also because I knew enough about every family member in her tribe, I was able to arrive bearing meaningful gifts but nothing I was to give would ever come close to what I was about to receive.

The Big Pineapple

the Big Pineapple

the Big PineappleHave you ever wondered, what was the best of the best city in the world, for night life?

Wonder no-more, I’m going to tell you.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]There is no Bar-Culture on earth like Brazil. How do I know this? = Experience.[/box]

I will admit, that Barcelona, Perth in Western Australia rocks and Hong Kong is cool but after 12 years living in Miami I set the bar very high, and having lived in, and or partied at, practically the best night-life spots on the planet, speaking from 55 years of experience and weighing it against California, which for me is the Mecca, I can honestly say that Sampa (Sao Paulo) is so far above and beyond those other night-life experiences as to warrant it’s own category.

[box]Sampa, or as I prefer to call it, the “Big Pineapple” is in a league of it’s own, as the most fabulous city on earth – with no rivals.[/box]

The “Big Pineapple” was the name my Amigo and attorney, Gustavo – (note: smokin-hot poker player) gave to place, as far as I  know, unless someone else had named it “the Big Pineapple” but from my limited research, Gustavo named it – “the Big Pineapple” and to me and, if Hunter S. Thompson was still alive, just like; Elvis has left the building, then he, Hunter, and actually both, would concur, that Sampa (Sao Paulo, Brasil) is the “the Big Pineapple”, without a doubt.

Cidade da Garoa, is the moniker Sao Paulo wears – the city of drizzle, which is too true. This city is inside a rain-forest, the natives, or to be more politically correct, the indigenous people, called it a “forest of stone”  because of all the the concrete towers. Truly, it’s not like anything you’ve ever seen. Take for example the Los Angeles basin, of if you prefer; LA, it has a physical footprint, on mostly flat land, of 60km by 30km, pushed-up against the Pacific. This grid is 60km by 60km but realistically over twice the footprint of LA.

So what makes it so sweet, to earn the Pineapple distinction? That’s the best question you could ever ask because like a Pineapple, you must not be fooled what you see on the surface. In order to taste the sweetness of Sampa, you must bite into what you do not see on the surface and sink your teeth into something that is beyond your (due to previous programming) ability to comprehend. That is, the sweetness, of what twenty-one million people living together, in an un-harmonic harmony, sounds and feel like – love!

Big Rock Brazil

Aaron on Big Rock Brazil - Pedra Grande

Big Rock BrazilPedra Grande is actually the name of this magical place I discovered about 100km from Sao Paulo. Big Rock Brazil was a brand idea for creating a mountain bike resort on a private property in Pedra Grande. Btw: (by the way) Pedra translates to English as stone or rock and grande is large or big, well the name “Big Rock Brazil”, for marketing purposes, just seemed like a no-brainer.
Aaron on Big Rock Brazil

My friends that own the magical place called Pousada Pedra Grande Atibaia liked the Gringo brand idea, next we developed a website and started planning some ideas for helping them grow their business, as well as recruit a crew to build North American “style” downhill mountain bike trails. Check out the best mountain bike comparisons on to help you choose a great bike for these trails. This Pousada/resort has the best natural terrain of anywhere in Brazil for building a mountain bike park, with a 7km public road access all the way to the top of Pedra Grand (Big Rock).

A haven for those seeking challenging mountain bike terrain, for downhill, enduro and or free riding in a tropical mountain paradise, only 100 km from Sao Paulo. Located 15km from the city of Atibaia, occupies an area of 90 acres, with an average altitude of 1200 m.

Founded in the 1970s, Pousada Pedra Grande Atibaia, offers you a unique service, one of the most beautiful regions, located on the mountain, near the tourist city of Pedra Grande, a place full of history and culture. Ever since the beginning, this family-owned operation has been designing, developing, building and grooming a network of walking, hiking and mountain-bike riding trails, as well as extreme and ultra sport courses, to provide wide variety of recreation and rainforest action/adventure sports, from the valley bottom, all the way to the top of the famous Pedra Grande.

Being in touch with nature, with the fauna and the native flora of the Atlantic Forest, rest comfortably, have fun with family and friends, do business or attend events, training and sports.

Pousada Pedra Grande Atibaia is a tropical paradise of tranquility and satisfaction.

Santa Catarina, Brazil

Santa Catarina, Brazil

Santa Catarina, Brazil
Santa Catarina (Portuguese pronunciation for: Saint Catherine) is a state in southern Brazil with the perfect climate year round for mountain bike riding and action sports. The very best of the Floresta Atlantica, beside the largest natural preserves and huge state parks bursting with rivers and waterfalls. Aside from the natural beauty, according to the Index of Economic Well-Being, Santa Catarina was ranked as the Brazilian state with the highest economic well-being and standard of living.

My favourite place to stay in all of Brazil, is a little Pousada called the “Full Moon” on the southern tip of the magical island of Florianopolis.

Quality of life is very high by Brazilian and Latin American standards. It is the Brazilian state with the highest levels of income, education and public health, and one of the lowest rates of illiteracy. Santa Catarina boasts Brazil’s highest average life expectancy and lowest homicide rate in addition to lower levels of corruption. The cities of the state are also considered the most “livable” in Brazil, appearing as the most “clean, safe and organized” of the country. In recent decades, Santa Catarina has been dubbed “the Brazil that worked”.


Santa Catarina is in a very strategic position in Mercosul, the South American Common Market. Its position in the map is situated between the parallel 25º57’41” and 29º23’55” of the Southern latitude and between the meridians 48º19’37” and 53º50’00” of Western longitude. Florianópolis, its capital, is 1,673 km (1,040 mi) from Brasilia, 705 km (438 mi) from São Paulo, 1,144 km (711 mi) from Rio de Janeiro and 1,850 km (1,150 mi) from Buenos Aires.

The Serra Geral, a southern extension of the Serra do Mar, runs north and south through the state parallel to the Atlantic coast, dividing the state between a narrow coastal plain and a larger plateau region to the west.

The Atlantic coast of Santa Catarina has many beaches, islands, bays, inlets, and lagoons. The humid tropical Serra do Mar coastal forests cover the narrow coastal zone, which is crossed by numerous short streams from the wooded slopes of the serras.

The central part of the state is home to the Araucaria moist forests, dominated by emergent Brazilian pines (Araucaria angustifolia). The drainage of the plateau is westward to the Paraná River, the rivers being tributaries of the Iguaçu, which forms its northern boundary, and of the Uruguay River, which forms its southern boundary. The semi-deciduous Paraná-Paraíba interior forests occupy the westernmost valleys of the Iguaçu and Uruguay rivers.

The highest point of the state is the Morro da Boa Vista, with an altitude of 1,827 m, and the second highest point is the Morro da Igreja, in the town of Urubici, with an altitude of 1,822 m.


According to the IBGE of 2008, there were 6,091,000 people residing in the state. The population density was 61.53 inhabitants per square kilometre (159.4 /sq mi).

Urbanization: 83% (2006); Population growth: 2% (1991–2000); Houses: 1,836,000 (2006).
The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 5,297,000 White people (86.96%), 608,000 Brown (Multiracial) people (9.98%), 160,000 Black people (2.63%), 15,000 Asian people (0.25%), 5,000 Amerindian people (0.09%).

People of Portuguese ancestry, mostly Azoreans, predominate on the coast. People of German descent predominate in the northeast region (Itajaí Valley) and in the north (Joinville region). There are many German communities in the west. People of Italian descent predominate in the south, as well in many areas in the west. People of African, Amerindian or Japanese origins are small communities in a few towns.

According to a genetic study from 2013, Brazilians in Santa Catarina have 79.7% European, 11.4% African and 8.9% Amerindian ancestries, respectively. A genetic study found out an isolated Azorean-Brazilian community from Santa Catarina to have between 80,6% to 93,5% european input, along with 12,6% to 6,8% african and 4,1% to 2,4% native american ancestries.

Photo credit: Noel Portugal via Visual hunt / CC BY