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IX. PHYSICAL ADJUSTMENT There are many varieties of climate in Brazil, and although there are few extremes of either temperature or moisture, the climate is not monotonous. The temperatures in the equatorial region of the Amazon are fairly high throughout the year, but they are never as high in those regions as they are in the summer in the lower middle latitudes. Tem- perature, however, is not the only problem. Along the coast and north- ern river regions, the humidity, combined with occasional lack of wind, causes one to feel the heat excessively, as well as creating a problem of mildew. For the most part, life is comfortable in the coastal cities throughout the year. The temperatures in Rio de Janeiro are some- thing like those of Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer time, and certainly no colder than Miami, Florida, in the winter months. In spite of the small change, one definitely feels that a different season has arrived, and notes that the general population changes its attire to a certain extent. South of Rio the temperature pattern changes to much cooler in the winter. The same is true of the highland areasâthat is, back of the narrow coastal plain. Sa*o Paulo, for example, has temperatures as low as 32Â°F. in July and August. For these areas, winter clothing is needed, and particularly clothing suitable for indoor wear since most houses do not have provisions for heating. However, the cold season is usually accompanied by clear sunny skies, so that the over-all ef- fect is invigorating. Farther west, out into Mato Grosso, the days are warm during June, July and August, but apt to be very cold at night. These are the best months for field work in this area from the point of view of personal comfort. During the rest of the year, the temperatures are higher in general, and there is much rain. The total effect is one of dampness and warm, sticky weather. In the far south, in Rio Grande do Sul, in Santa Catarina, and at times even up into Parana, there may be light snow storms in the winter time. Frosts spread up into the state of Sao Paulo. The summer months in the south have considerable rain and fairly high temperatures. Health conditions vary throughout Brazil. Malaria has been brought almost completely under control. However, Schistosomiasis Mansoni (a liver parasite spread by snails), which was formerly limited to the northern areas, now seems to be spreading southward because of the 44
large numbers of migrants. Swimming in fresh water streams and ponds in populated areas is best avoided. Doen9a de Chagas (tripanos- somiase americana), the South American form of sleeping sickness which is spread by a species of beetle which burrows into taipa (clay) walls, is now recognized and can be treated. Nevertheless, those going to rural areas and living in taipa houses do well to spray thor- oughly the little holes which appear from time to time in the taipa. Aside from these rather serious but fortunately rare diseases, few other things are apt to bother the research worker as much as intesti- nal upsets. For these it is best to have an appropriate remedy with one at all times . Medical supplies of all sorts are available in all the larger Bra- zilian cities, and the usual run of home remedies can be found in most of the small towns. Modern antibiotics and other drugs are manu- factured in Brazil by American and Brazilian firms. Medical treat- ment is adequate in Rio and Sao Paulo where there are excellent hos- pital facilities. In the other major cities treatment is good, but hos- pitals are fewer. Nurses are very few. In case of hospitalization, one's spouse, or in the case of children, one of the parents usually re- mains in the hospital with the patient. Many small towns in the interior lack doctors altogether. When in the far interior with the Indians, the research worker is on his own as far as medical aid is concerned. Housing is largely a matter of luck. In general, housing is short, whether in a large city, small city, or small rural town. The lone male research worker will not have much difficulty, nor will his housing be as costly as for a couple or family. In the large cities it is possible to find a furnished apartment or even a furnished house which is very com- fortable and also very expensive. In the smaller state capitals usually no furnished houses or apartments are available and it may be necessary to make arrangements at a hotel or pensao (boarding house) or else rent and furnish an apartment or house. Occasionally in a city where there is a foreign colony, one can rent a vacation houseâthat is, a house belonging to someone going on a three-month or six-month home leave. In this case, luxurious quarters may be rented fairly cheaply. Many times part of the agreement is that the renter will continue to employ the same household help so that the family of the research work- er or teacher will find itself being trained by the servants into someone else's living patterns. This can be satisfactory, or quite the opposite. In cases of research in the interior small towns, housing may be- come a problem. Frequently there is no pensao and the research worker is forced practically to beg for a house. He usually finds one that is less than adequate. Repairs, additions and modifications are not ex- pensive if done in the local style and these usually make a small house 45
satisfactory. Furnishings can be borrowed, bought, or improvised. In areas where there is no electricity and therefore no refrigeration, and also where there is practically no fresh food distribution system, it is best to hire a local person to do the shopping and prepare the food. In areas where fresh meat is available only once a week, it must all be cooked the same day so that it will keep. Other than in the largest cities it is best to avoid fresh milk and butter; powdered milk and canned butter are available almost everywhere. For pre- serving some items, it is sometimes possible to make a deal with the local bar which frequently has a kerosene refrigerator. In rural areas where there is no running water, it is necessary to follow the local practice of storing water in clay pots. In such in- stances there are usually individuals in the town who undertake to bring water to the houses from the nearest wells or springs. Under these circumstances it is best, of course, to boil the water, which can then be put in a ceramic filter pot for cooking. In all, when living in a small rural town, it is best to follow the local patterns by hiring a local cook or housekeeper, and at the same time to establish one's own supply lines with a good store in the nearest city. A portador can be of great help here. If disinclined to establish housekeeping, the research worker can frequently make arrangements to take his meals with some local family. Since Brazil is industrializing rapidly, household appliances which formerly were imported and very expensive are now available in various qualities and prices. Prices, in comparison with those of the U.S., are still relatively high for many items. Imported items have prestige value, and, while it is perfectly possible to equip a house with Brazilian products, visitors to the house will be definitely dis- appointed by a lack of U.S.-made goods. At the end of the field period these imported things can be sold for fairly good prices. In fact, in the major cities one of the favorite Sunday activities consists in taking the ads from the newspapers of returning Americans, and going from house to house, buying various items. Television is available in Rio, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Bahia, and their immediate rural areas. A TV set is an excellent linguistic aid, as well as an in- troduction to a great deal of the popular culture. The pictorial news as well as an introduction to a great deal of the popular culture. The pictorial news of the Reporter Esso helps one keep up to date. A record player is an asset in the rural areas where there is electricity. Ex- cellent Brazilian records are available. Electric blankets and bed pads are a great comfort in southern Brazil in the winter time, as is a good portable electric heater. Batteries of all types are available in the large cities for radios. The electric blender is almost a must 46
in a Brazilian household, as is the electric floor polisher. Both are available as are vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and washing machines. Frozen food is not yet available so a freezer is of little use. Modern Brazilian furniture is excellentâalthough expensive. Linens, beds, and tables run the whole price range; dishes, pots, and pans the same. In the major cities upper class Brazilians are high-style cons- cious, following the latest French and Italian creations. Some ex- cellent ready-made wear is available, but for the most part Brazilians have their clothing made for them. Although the prices are rising for this constantly, excellent dresses for women and suits for men are not too expensive. Sports clothes are available in all price ranges and are usually ready-made. Too-bright colors for men are not advisable, nor anything with a deer motif. (The deer is the symbol for male sexual inversion.) Wash-and-wear fabrics are not available; most Brazilians prefer their clothing starched. In southern Brazil, warm clothing is necessary for the winter months. Good woolen sweaters are available at fairly low prices, as are woolen socks, scarves, and underwear. Women frequently wear woolen slacks during the winter when in the house or going to the street markets, but not for town wear or when invited out. Overcoats are definitely necessary in the wintertime. Soaps, soap powders, lotions, and creams are available through- out Brazil. The better French and British toilet preparations find great favor, and most American products are manufactured in Brazil under the same trade names. Many brands of good cigarettes are manufactured and sold in Brazil. Recently a number of companies has started marketing a satis- factory pipe tobacco. American cigarettes and tobacco, however, are still sought by many. They are sold in most tobacco shops in the major cities, but at a very high price. Bahian cigars are highly esteemed by many North Americans. The traditional popular alcoholic beverage has been cachaca, a single-distillation rum. Recently whiskey (usually Scotch) has become the most popular drink in many circles. It is imported and very ex- pensive. A few Brazilian companies have started making and selling a passable product which is about half the price of the imported whiskey. Excellent gin, vermouths, and other wines are manufactured in Brazil. Coca-Cola and other soft drinks are found everywhere. The cost of living in Brazil is high. In general, services are low, but manufactured products high. Food costs about the same as in the 47
U.S. , at least in the Sao Paulo area which is the best served. In other areas it is somewhat higher. In the Sao Paulo and Rio areas good pasteurized milk, butter, graded eggs, high quality fresh vegetables, many kinds of fruit, and good meat are all available in excellent super- markets. In the north the situation is quite differentâpoor meat in general, few fresh vegetables, good tropical fruit, untrustworthy milk and milk products, eggs expensive and scarce. It is necessary to rely on canned goods and to switch to rice and beans as the major accompani- ments of meat. Problems of procuring satisfactory food in the interior have previously been mentioned. Tap water in most of the large cities is filtered, chlorinated or otherwise treated, and is generally safe. Those who prefer can buy bottled spring water almost everywhere at a fairly low price. Most Brazilian bread is excellent. In the southern part of Brazil (Rio south), there are excellent, reasonable-price restaurants, as well as expensive and high class restaurants. In other cities there are usually one or two good public eating places, but the best are usually in the tennis clubs, yacht clubs, and golf clubs. The food in upper class Brazilian homes is usually plentiful, wholesome, and well prepared. An excellent cook book in English and Portuguese, prepared by the Hospital dos Estrangeiros in Rio, can be purchased. This explains the weights, measures, and names of ingredients, and gives recipes. Field work in Brazil is frequently difficult for American women who are not accustomed to directing the work of a cook and household servant. It is also difficult for those who are not willing to try new foods or new ways of preparing food. Those who take infants or small children with them are well-advised to visit a Brazilian pediatrician or some other, long-time, resident physician whose name can be indicated by the consulate, in order to have the local diets explained, and to re- lieve themselves of the worry of trying to duplicate exactly what they have been accustomed to in the U.S. Most of the equipment a visiting anthropologist would need for his work is available in Brazil, but imported and expensive. It is best to take a recorder, camera, film, and so on if they are going to be needed. Some of the older electric installations are 50-cycle, but these are now few and far between, and for the most part the current is A.C. 60-cycle. Typewriters are also available, but again, imported and expensive. Many makes of automobiles are manufactured in Brazil, but all of them are costly. A U.S. auto commands a good resale price, if it can legally be sold. Fords, Chevrolets, and Jeeps can be serv- iced and repaired almost anywhere, as can the Volkswagen. Gasoline stations are situated in the small towns, but as one goes west beyond paved roads it is wise to inquire about distances and gas, as well as whether there have been extra heavy rains which would impede passage. 48
Overland travel is slow, although inexpensive. Most travel is done by air, and Brazil is extremely well served by airlines. The re- search worker frequently finds that he has large distances to cover in the course of his work. Once the initial experience of a long train, bus, or truck ride is over, it is more satisfactory to use the airlines when possible. Although the social scientist going to Brazil with dollars has a definite advantage, it must be remembered that inflation is rampant there. The cost of living goes up about 30 per cent per year. As the value of the cruzeiro falls and one receives more cruzeiors per dollar, the price in cruzeiros goes up. It is possible to maintain a living stan- dard equal to that in the U.S. in the larger cities, but this costs more all the time. The basic pay for an individual under the Fulbright Pro- gram equals about $400 per month, plus an allowance for each dependent. This for the uninitiated in Brazil is insufficient for rent, food, school- ing, automobile and the other normal expenses of a family. Even a field project in a rural area becomes costly. While the stay in the field is fairly inexpensive mainly because one does without the appurtenances of city life, the intermediate stopovers in the city will cut into any research budget, as will any sickness or accident which requires the research worker to go to the city for treatment. The budget planning for a trip should be carefully worked out in advance with information as to the latest exchange rate, its trend, and the actual prices of goods and services in Brazil at that time. 49