Archive for January, 2008

What time is it in Brazil?

What time is it in Brazil?

Finding out what’s the time difference on a given moment between, say, New York and Rio de Janeiro is not that difficult. But to be able to tell the time difference for each region of Brazil throughout the year is no easy job. Brazil has several time zones and, to make matters worse, some regions of the country do not have a summer time – others do.

Instead of trying to make sense out of the different time zones, I’m going to leave here a series of links to Worldtimeserver.com, pages that will show you the exact time at the time of opening the page in all the Brazilian states. You just have to click on “the current time in… is”. In brackets, the capital of the sate:

Acre (Rio Branco)
Alagoas (Maceió)
Amapá (Macapá)
Amazonas (Manaus)
Bahia (Salvador)
Ceará (Fortaleza)
Distrito Federal (Brasilia)
Espirito Santo (Vitoria)
Goias (Goiania)
Maranhão (São Luís)
Mato Grosso (Cuiabá)
Mato Grosso do Sul (Campo Grande)
Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte)
Paraiba (João Pessoa)
Parana (Curitiba)
Pernambuco (Recife)
Piaui (Teresina)
Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro)
Rio Grande do Norte (Natal)
Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre)
Rondônia (Porto Velho)
Roraima (Boa Vista)
Santa Catarina (Floriánopolis)
São Paulo (São Paulo)
Sergipe (Aracaju)
Tocantins (Palmas)

The state of Pará has two different time zones, for the eastern and western areas of the state:
Para (Belém)
Para (Santarém)

The island of Fernando de Noronha, in the state of Pernambuco, has its own time zone:
Fernando de Noronha

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January 31, 2008 | By More
<em>Rua dos biquinis</em>, Cabo Frío

Rua dos biquinis, Cabo Frío

rua dos Biquinis, Cabo Frio

No stay in Cabo Frio would be complete without a visit to the rua Gamboa, better known as Rua dos Biquínis (bikini street). It’s a street turned into an open-air shopping center (the Gamboa Shopping). Along the pedestrian street, more than 70 shops selling mainly bikinis, as well as other beach accesories. The street is covered with canvases to protect customers from the rain and the sun.

rua dos Biquinis, Cabo Frio

Shops open from 9 am and during the high season they stayed opened until midnight. You can walk to rua Gamboa, it’s just across the canal – everyone in Cabo Frio knows where it is. The Rua dos Biquinis has its own webpage, quite poor, it has to be said.

rua dos Biquinis, Cabo Frio

And yes, real bargains are to be found at the Rua dos Biquinis!

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January 28, 2008 | By More
The most beautiful beach in Brazil?

The most beautiful beach in Brazil?

[see our top 10 Brazilian beaches – 2009 edition]

On the entry I published recently with photographs of Arraial do Cabo (Brazil in pictures: Arraial do Cabo) I mentioned I was keeping the photographs of the Forno beach for a future opportunity. Well, here it is. We visited the beach on a cloudy Sunday morning – we liked it but didn’t fell in love with it. When we were back in Arraial, mother nature decided to send the clouds away. As we suspected the beach we had just seen might be something of a true marvel under the sun, we decided to go back once again. We made the right choice. Stunning colours! Crystal-clear waters! A moving view!

praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo

The beach is crescent-shaped and surrounded by vegetation everywhere. It can be reached on foot or by boat. The right-hand side of the beach (facing the sea) is where the most transparent waters are found; there is a good snorkelling point around the rocks there.

praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo

There are boats coming and going non-stop. Every now and then, a boat anchors at the beach.

praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo

There are several bars at the beach where you can sit and relax and enjoy life far away from civilization.

praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo

Abstent from my photographs are some of the reasons that allow Sancho beach, in Fernando de Noronha, to rest untroubled in the knowledge that she is the absolute number one. While Forno could rise to the challenge when it comes to comparing blue and crystal-clear waters, when the environment around the beach is taken into account it suffers a heavy defeat at the hands of Sancho. From the bar where we sat enjoying a finger-licking dish of fried squid rings we could see: a Brazilian navy submarine anchored in the middle of the bay, the top of an oil rig anchored at Arraial harbour for maintenance work; and the houses of the shanty town at the top of the hill, about to beging its unstoppable descent onto the beach.

praia do Forno, Arraial do Cabo

We hope we manage to preserve Noronha, as many of the other Brazilian paradises have entered the path of degradation from which there is no return.

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January 24, 2008 | By More
10 facts about yellow fever in Brazil

10 facts about yellow fever in Brazil

In the face of continuing misinformation on the current yellow fever situation in Brazil, I’ve dedicated some time to gather together a few facts about the crisis. The following text has been written by me and it is based on reliable Brazilian sources (listed at the end of the entry). Hope it clarifies all the doubts you might have.

  1. There hasn’t been a new outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil insofar as yellow fever is endemic in the country.
  2. There have been no cases of yellow fever in areas of Brazil where the disease wasn’t present before.
  3. Yellow fever is only present in rural areas. Since 1942 there are no cases of yellow fever in the towns and cities of Brazil.
  4. Only those visiting risk areas need to get vaccinated against yellow fever.
  5. Tourists visiting risk-free areas do not need to take the vaccine. The vaccine has a series of well-documented side effects.
  6. For the vaccine to be effective, it needs to be taken at least 10 days prior to travel.
  7. NEW: Brazilian authorities are not asking at the moment for an International Certificate of Vaccination Against Yellow Fever regardless of where the passenger comes from.
  8. Yellow fever is transmitted through a mosquito bite.
  9. The main symptoms of yellow fever are: fever, muscle pain, headache, shivers, nausea or vomiting. Symptoms appear between three and six days after becoming infected.
  10. Treatment of yellow fever is supportive only. There is no specific medication to treat yellow fever. Victims of yellow fever need to be treated in hospital.

1. There has not been a new outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil insofar as yellow fever is endemic in the country. Cases are recorded every single year.

– in 2000: 85 cases, resulting in 40 deaths;
– in 2001: 41 cases, resulting in 22 deaths;
– in 2002: 15 cases, resulting in 6 deaths;
– in 2003: 64 cases, resulting in 23 deaths;
– in 2004: 5 cases, resulting in 3 deaths;
– in 2005: 3 cases, resulting in 3 deaths;
– in 2006, 2 cases, resulting in 2 deaths;
– in 2007, 6 cases, resulting in 5 deaths.

In recent years the number of cases of yellow fever had decreased considerably. The number of cases recorded in the first three weeks of 2008 outnumbers the figures for the last four years together. Yellow fever seems to be back in force in 2008.

2. There have been no cases of yellow fever in areas of Brazil where the disease wasn’t present before. The cases registered in 2008 were of people who were not vaccinated and got infected in risk areas.

3. Yellow fever is only present in rural areas. Since 1942 there are no cases of yellow fever in the towns and cities of Brazil. The measures taken by Brazilian authorities aim at preventing the reappearence of urban yellow fever. For that to happen, someone would have to be bitten my a mosquito in a rural area. That person would then travel to an urban area, and would be bitten again by another mosquito that would, from then on, carry the yellow fever virus.

4. Only those visiting risk areas need to get vaccinated against yellow fever.
The Brazilian authorities have recently changed their advice. Previously, they divided the country in four different areas (risk areas, potential risk areas, transition areas and risk-free areas). Now the split is much more simple, just the two areas: risk areas and risk-free areas. ONLY those travelling to risk areas should be vaccinated.

  • risk areas. Those where yellow fever is endemic and the virus is at large in rural areas. The states included in this group are Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Distrito Federal (Brasilia), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. In December 2008 there were new additions to the list: the western part of the states of Paraná (including the area of the Iguassu Falls), Piaui, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. The western part of the state of Rio Grande do Sul as well as Porto Alegre and part of its metropolitan area are included too.
  • risk-free areas. Areas where there have been no cases recorded and the likelihood of them happening is null. This area includes the entire Brazilian coast from Rio Grande do Sul up to Piaui (both states included). The state of Espírito Santo and the south of the state of Bahia are now declared risk-free.

5. Tourists visiting risk-free areas do not need to take the vaccine. The vaccine has a series of well-documented side effects.
Suddenly, everyone wants to get vaccinated against yellow fever, regardless of whether they are planning to visit risk zones or not. All vaccines have side effects, and the vaccine against yellow fever is no exception. Getting vaccinated for the sake of it is being discouraged.

6. For the vaccine to be effective, it needs to be taken at least 10 days prior to travel.
In Brazil at least, people embarking on trips to risk areas are taking the vaccine as they are about to begin their journey. You need to take the vaccine at least 10 days before you begin your journey to risk areas. The vaccine is valid for ten years. You should *not* get a booster before the end of that 10-year period.

7. Brazilian authorities are NOT asking at the moment for an International Certificate of Vaccination Against Yellow Fever regardless of where the passenger comes from.
Not long ago the certificate was being asked to passengers coming from a series of countries. That is no longer the case, at least for the time being. The official document from the Brazilian authorities stating a certificate is not needed is here: Certificado Internacional de Vacinação (see paragraph 3, unfortunately in Portuguese only). Basically, the certificate was only asked to passengers coming from countries where there was yellow fever, countries that were a potential threat to other countries. Anvisa (the Brazilian state agency responsible for disease control) states in the document that right now there are no countries posing a threat of spreading yellow fever. Anvisa also states in the document that if the risk should reappear, an alert would be issued.

8. Yellow fever is transmitted through a mosquito bite.
You can’t catch yellow fever from a fellow human being. In the rural areas, the Haemagogus mosquito is the carrier of the yellow fever virus. In urban areas, it is the notorious Aedes aegypti mosquito, responsible as well for transmitting dengue fever to humans.

9. The main symptoms of yellow fever are: fever, muscle pain, headache, shivers, nausea or vomiting. Symptoms appear between three and six days after becoming infected.
In 15% of the cases symptoms can include also jaundice, bleeding and a series of complications. Yellow fever symptoms are very similar to those of dengue fever. For that reason, the diagnosis can only be confirmed after a series of lab tests.

10. Treatment of yellow fever is supportive only. There is no specific medication to treat yellow fever. Victims of yellow fever need to be treated in hospital.

VERY IMPORTANT: the medical information contained on this entry has been put together with responsible care. However, I am no health professional, and medical advice must be sought from doctors and other health professionals.

SOURCES:
On the Portal da Saúde from the Brazilian Ministry of Health up-to-date information on the yellow fever crisis can be found (in Portuguese only). There is a page in English, hidden under a subdomain at the same site, with basic information on yellow fever – but no specific mention to the current crisis (Febre amarela).

In Tourist Support Recommendations: Vaccines from the Brazilian Tourism portal there are general recommendations from the Brazilian authorities to tourists travelling to the country.

The US’s CDC is essential reading too: Yellow Fever in Brazil.

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January 21, 2008 | By More
TAM Airpass 2008

TAM Airpass 2008

Brazilian airline TAM has revealed the prices and conditions for its Airpass 2008. The information can be read here: TAM Brazil Airpass 2008.

The main change – leaving aside a price increase, is that the maximum period of time allowed between the first and final flight has gone from 20 days to 30 days. A sensible change.

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January 18, 2008 | By More