It is now exactly two years since I first accompanied guests to the Xingu Indian lands – an oasis of natural and cultural preservation of the Amazon – fulfilling a personal objective and dream. See some of the pictures in the gallery to try to get a glimpse of what I was privileged to see!
The Xingu National Park, created 50 years ago by the pioneering efforts of the Villas Boas Brothers, is the home of around six thousand Indians of over thirty different tribes, who in varyingdegrees, still lead a culturally preserved way of life. Matueté has formed a relationship with one of the most interesting of these tribes – the Kamayurá – and are now experimentally taking guests for a night or two with the Indians.
When I first visited, I was incredibly lucky to be there for one of the most beautiful of all their Ceremonies – the Jawari – or War Games. In this incredible twelve hour party – two tribes ‘play-fight’ each other in various different games. At the end of the Ceremony the men of one tribe dance with the women of the other tribe and then switch around, to make sure there are no hard feelings between them. I can safely say that it was one of the most beautiful and moving rituals I have ever seen.
Taking people to visit culturally preserved tribes is a controversial topic in tourism. Many argue that they should be left intact. And we believe that those that still have not been contacted (and there are around 50 or so tribes like this in Brazil) should remain like this – and thankfully this the official government policy too. But the Xingu peoples, have had regular contact with the white man for over 50 years. And the temptations to abandon tribal life and move to the cities are almost irresistible, especially for the younger people. How to prevent this is a foremost thought on any Xinguan Chief’s mind. There are many demands from the members of the tribe for the Chief to provide them with some measure of modern comforts such as diesel for their motor-boats, radios, etc.
Our partnership with the Kamayurá tribe, aims to provide an important source of income (their other sources are selling jewellery or relying on donations) to the Indians to buy whatever cannot beproduced locally and they see as important for the tribe. We are especially hopeful that this partnership will be successful and provide an interesting model for others, since the Chief of the Kamayurás understands well that Cultural preservation is possibly their most valuable asset. Providing a revenue stream to reward this seems a good idea from everyone’s perspective.
Visitation fees are kept high, and go straight to the Indians, so as to bring a reasonable income from a very limited number of visitors.
If you would like to know more about the Xingu, don’t hesitate to contact me.
So Rio +20 is over and most of the media says it was a failure. And if we look closely at the document named “The future we want” that came out of it, we can understand why they say so. But it was not a complete waste of time and money – the civil society movements showed that not everything is lost. What did fail was Rio´s capacity to hold a big event such as Rio +20.
About the general disappointment with the document produced by the conference – no big news. Everyone was already expecting that. To start, we knew that Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Obama weren´t coming. And we know that economic interests are much bigger than the environmental ones, no matter if the world is about to explode. No consistent goals were defined and the “The future we want” according to those people is to maintain the status quo.
On the other hand, we can´t ignore that outside of the conference roomscivil society was doing its part. Scientists discussed sustainable practices, activists protested on the streets… Of course they won´t change the world now, but at least it gives us a glimmer of hope – as more people are engaged with the cause, harder it will be to postpone effective measures.
What both governors and civil society would agree is that Rio was not exactly prepared to hold such a large international event. To begin with, prices were exorbitant and many delegations threatened not to come because of this. Of course there were no hotels and due to the heavy air traffic (private and commercial) many flights had to be cancelled and even us here at Matueté were affected by this chaos. There was also lots of traffic, internet issues… It all shows that we weren’t totally ready for it.
Now everyone is back home and apparently everything will remain the same. The “Future we want” will end up being a document full of good intentions and small actions, and as for our concerns around here about our capacity to host major events, let´s hope that Rio and all Brazilian cities can learn with the chaos that was the Rio +20 conference.
The Fifa World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 are coming fast. For us the RIO +20 taught us invaluable lessons as to how we can help our travelers have amazing experiences in these major events.
The São José Mountain, around the historical site of Tiradentes, in Minas Gerais is a great place for those who love escaping the big city and immerse on nature. Pedro Treacher, one of our team members recently discovered this paradise full of history on his last travel around Minas Gerais. He walked up hill on stone paths from the 18th century, when the region was one of the most important of the country due to the gold rush. Take a look at some of the great pictures he took from the beautiful preserved nature around him!
We just love the month of June… It’s quite chilly in the southern cities of the country, but we just don´t care, since there is a lot of party going on! June is the month of three of the most important catholic saints: Sain João, Sain Pedro and Saint Antonio, and as we are a mostly catholic country, we love throwing them great birthday parties!
We call this parties Festa Junina, or Festa de São João. They came as a Portugal tradition and has adapted to the Brazilian culture and according to each region of the country along the years. Although they are a catholic tradition, you won’t feel like in a religious event in the case you have the chance to go to one.
They take place all long the month of June and are celebrated nationwide, but the semi-arid hinterlands of Northeast Region is known as the best places to celebrate it– in some places, it is as big as carnival. This festivity celebrates the rural lifestyle, and people dresses like the caipiras, how we call farm people. Men dress up with large straw hats and women wear pigtails, freckles, painted gap teeth and red-checkered dresses, all in a loving tribute to the origins of Brazilian country music.
The traditional dance is the quadrilha that features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction. There are also many regional dishes and sweets, many of them made of corn.
Think of if next time you are travelling to Brazil – no matter where you chose to visit, if you came in the month of June, you will for sure have the opportunity to have a little taste of it!
For some, our tracks around the rainforest or horseback riding in Pantanal isn´t adventurous enough. For these travelers who need a very high level of adrenaline we have great news! Rally dos Sertões has opened registrations for its 20th anniversary commemorative edition that will happen from August 18th to 29th.
The Rally dos Sertões is not just a famous competition – it’s the biggest single country Rally and gives the competitors not only the emotion of the race, but the opportunity to discover an unknown reality and new landscapes around small villages of the dry Northeast hinterlands, places unrevealed for tourism.
This year edition will go throw through 11 cities, two of which are unprecedented in the history of the Rally, across five states. The cities are: São Luís (Maranhão), Barrerinhas (MA), Bacabal (MA), Barra do Corda (MA), Carolina (MA), Palmas (Tocantins), Alto Paranaíba (MA), the unprecedented Bom Jesus (Piauí) , Petrolina (Pernambuco), also unprecedented Iguatu (Cearpa) and Fortaleza (CE).
Interested? You still have a month to register at the the rally’s website. But if you can´t join the competition, you can take a look at the Sertões Series, smaller races that happen all year long. In both cases we will be happy to help you plan your trip!
Imagine yourself travelling throw the origins of Brazil… or participating of a Carnival parade in Bahia on the twenties. If you like reading, prepare yourself to discover all of this and more of Brazilian history and culture with these great authors of our classic literature.
We have chosen 5 between the best writers we had along our history – all of them a must, especially if coming to the country anytime soon!
JOSÉ DE ALENCAR – one of the greatest of our nineteenth century, Alencar wrote Iracema, a short romance that metaphorically tells the origins of Brazil with the story of love of a colonist with a beautiful Indian, whose death is an emblem of the extermination of the indigenous population by the Portuguese when they first colonized our lands.
MACHADO DE ASSIS – Considered by many the best Brazilian writer ever, his romances have very strong characters and tell how life was at nineteenth century Rio. He has many novels and short stories translated to English and other languages, but definitely one of the best is Don Casmurro, a sad and darkly comic novel about love and the corrosive power of jealous of Bentinho for his wife Capitú.
JORGE AMADO – he is a Bahian modern writer, author many novels about his contemporary Bahian lifestyle. If you like well written comic stories, you will fall in love for his characters – he has many books translated to English, but Dona Flor and her two husbands deserves a highlight. It’s impossible not to laugh while reading Vadinho’s adventures with his beautiful wife Dona Flor. If you like cooking you can even try some of Dona Flor’s regional delicious recipes!
GRACILIANO RAMOS – another Northeast writer, Graciliano Ramos is mostly known by his novels about the dry northeast hinterlands. His book Barren Life tells the story of a peasant family that driven by the drought, walks to exhaustion through all that arid land. It is a very dense story that is a contemporary portrait of the population that still suffers with the constant droughts.
MARIO DE ANDRADE – not less important than the others, Mario de Andrade was one of the founders of Brazilian modernism, and a landmark precursor of Latin American magical realism. He wrote many poems, but one of his masterpieces is definitely Macunaíma, a comic folkloric rhapsody about the adventures of a popular “hero without a character” whose fate is intended to define the national character of Brazil.
We do know some indigenous tribes that can do the rain dance to help our travelers have the perfect trip, but unfortunately that doesn´t seems to be working on the last couple of months… This year the abundant rain – or the lack of it – is getting on the way of those whiling to travel to some of the most incredible destinations in Brazil.
At the Amazon, Saint Pedro (for Catholics, the god that controls weather) has been too generous – maybe even too much. It has been raining much more than what it used to, and the Rio Negro River’s level is much higher than usual. The river is still perfectly navigable, in the case you are planning to travel in one of your yachts in the next few months – but what gets on the way is that most of its beaches are submersed, and as you can imagine, lots of riverside communities have been seriously damaged.
On the other hand, if you are planning to visit the pristine dunes and lagoons of the Lençóis Maranhenses on the next couple of months, we would advise you to take a look at other great places to go in Brazil, since there hasn’t been raining around the region. And if there is no rain, there are only a few of the biggest lagoons remaining. What is still a great view, but definitely not as impressive as it can be. But don´t lose hope! We were told that it rained yesterday, so we will keep you posted in case the situation changes!
But if you like to wait or take this weather risks, why don´t you head to the Southwest region of Brazil and check out the wetlands of the Pantanal and Bonito? Weather is perfect by now and there is a lot adventure and wildlife to be discovered. Liked the idea? Check for more info at http://matuete.com/wpmatuete/places-to-visit/pantanall
Brazil is full of tropical and exotic flavors what can be very inspirational – and Alex Atala, one of the greatest Brazilian chefs of all times knows exactly how to deal with it. His restaurant D.O.M. was voted this year as the 4th best restaurant of the world by the Restaurant Magazine, climbing 3 positions since last edition.
Atala´s mission is to promote and develop Brazilian cuisine – at D.O.M. he plays around with traditional and exotic regional ingredients creating the most creative and delicious dishes. At his second restaurant, Dalva e Dito he focuses on traditional day-to-day Brazilian cuisine.
Both are in São Paulo, home of some of the best restaurants of the country and definitely a must destination for those who have a little gourmet twist inside.
The Rio +20 is about to start, but here in Matueté we have already started doing our part to build a greener and more sustainable world. For many years we have been supporting different social projects that we truly believe in. One of them is the Morrinho Project in Rio de Janeiro. Located at favela Pereira da Silva, Morrinho is a cultural and social project that consists in a 400m2 model of a favela cityscape built with old bricks, remains and other recycled materials. It is a cultural oasis for children of the community that can interact with art, play and express themselves and their reality in a creative manner. It started in 1997 and in 2007 was one of the sensations of the 2007 Venice Art Bienalle.
If you wish to learn more about the project, take a look at their website or contact us to take a tour around the project on your next visit to Rio – It is a one-of-a-kind visit, you won’t see nothing like this in any other favela visit or art gallery.
Rio +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is about to start and much is being said about it. But what it is all about and what influence can it possibly have for the tourism industry can still be a mystery for many of us.
This conference takes place 20 years after Rio 92 Earth Summit, an important international conference to rethink economic growth. 20 years later, the planet has gained almost 2bi habitants and many environmental problems, and that is why the Rio +20 Conference, starting tomorrow is of utmost importance. It will gather governments, international institutions and major groups to discuss a greener economy, capable of achieving sustainable development and lifting people out of poverty and how to improve international coordination on these affairs.
This conference affects the tourism industry in many ways – not only with the shortage of accommodation in Rio during the next few days – but also creating awareness on the potential tourism has to deliver a sustainable future with the choices made by visitors to a country having positive or negative impacts on the environment and society.
A few days before the conference, the Ministry of Tourism in Brazil has already started doing its part – it launched the Green Passport campaign, that is part of an international initiative to provide information, tips and advice on how to make a holiday more sustainable. Check for more information at http://www.unep.fr/greenpassport/