"To live in Brazil is shit…

…but it’s great.”

Who said that? None other than Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, the godfather of bossa nova, composer of The Girl from Ipanema and one of the great Brazilians of the 20th Century. The full quote is:

“To live in other countries is great, but it’s shit. To live in Brazil is shit but it’s great.”

Tom Jobim – legend.

When I first heard that quote it really resonated – sure Brazil has big problems, but it has something great that makes me happy to be here. And it’s not really the beaches and the mountains (although they are amazing) – it’s the people. Living amongst people who chat to strangers on the bus, who applaud a beautiful sunset, who feel positiveabout the future – for me, it makes up for the problems and difficulties.

One of the things that I find particularly charming about Brazilians is their propensity for poetic expression. Perhaps this is partially linked to the language – I have heard many people say that Portuguese is a particularly beautiful language that allows for rich, poetic writing.

Whatever the reason, they have a way with words! Here are some quotes that tie in with yesterday’s theme of Brazilan national pride and optimism. Frustratingly things don’t sound as good when they’re translated into English and also please remember that these are my translations, which means they’re probably not perfect! Anyway, I hope you find them interesting:

“My land has palm trees
Where the song-thrush sings; 
The birds that sing here, 
Don’t sing as they do there”
Gonçalves Dias (1843) from Canção do Exílio (Song of Exile)

Gonçalves Dias (1823-1863) – national poet of Brazil.



“The Brazilian is a whole … The Portuguese helped mix indigenous and black people to make the rich broth that is Brazil, the sum of all experiences in the world.”
Joãosinho Trinta – famous artist and carnaval master

Joãosinho Trinta



“Brazil is a country that offers many opportunities. It is a country where a street-vendor, with luck and talent, can rise a long way”
Silvio Santos – started as a street vendor in Lapa, now media mogul worth $8.2  billion (USD)

Silvio Santos – creepy looking guy, but you can’t deny he’s done well for himself.
2 replies
  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    What a great post!

    And it's true! Portuguese itself is such a poetic language. Sometimes when I listen to people just speaking I think "Wow, this is freaking poetic!" not to mention very beautiful. Especially when it's a nice sotaque. We all know some sotaques are horrible but I'll just leave it at that.

    I really liked that you told us about the applauding the sunset. That is VERY Brazilian!!


  2. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Thanks Alex 🙂 When you come to Rio (even if you choose SP, I'm sure you'll be coming to Rio at some point right?) you should make sure you're on Ipanema beach as the sun goes behind the mountains. Both times I've seen the sunset applause it's been there and it's been an amazing moment.


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