Rio Grande do Sul and its unique culture

Maiara, please tell us more about
Rio Grande do Sul.

Sure, would be glad to.

So, Rio Grande do Sul is
the southernmost state in Brazil, right?

Yes, that’s right.
Porto Alegre is the capital
and the largest city.

Do people in Rio Grande do Sul have a nickname?

Yes, they do.
People in Rio Grande do Sul are called “Gauchos”.
At first it was not a very cool name.
But then we got used to.

What makes people from Rio Grande do Sul
different from other people in Brazil?

We are known, to the rest of the country, at least,
for being very tall…
compared to people from other Brazilian states.
The women are famous for being very beautiful.

Gaucho dance. Image by Fabricio Marcon at Flickr, CC-BY

I see. Are there any historical influences
on the character of the local people?

Yes, of course.
We are also known
for our strong traditions in cattle production.
We are known as ‘’the people of the field’’
In this context it means… people from the countryside.
We also call ourselves “gaudério”,
which might be similar to a true “gaucho” person.

This is very interesting.

Yes, but to tell you the truth,
people who live in big cities
around Rio Grande do Sul…
they probably don’t have
most of this “”field guy thing’’ anymore.
Another interesting fact is that
people in other Brazilian states
tend to think that we are sometimes rude.
But this is because we think fast
and we like to be direct.

Vale dos Vinhedos. Image by Lidyanne Aquino at Flickr, CC-BY

Can you still see the traditional “gaucho” culture in the city?

Well, the best place would be the Gaucho parade.
You can see people wearing traditional costumes.
They are riding a horse…
the animal that has a very special role in the local culture.
And sometimes you can also see dogs…
wearing traditional cloths too,
See… we love dogs…
and the ‘’gauchos’’ have a unique name for it: “cusco”.

I heard that Porto Alegre…
has one of the highest literacy rates
in the country.

Yes, that’s right.

Porto Alegre. Image by Andrei at Flickr, CC-BY

Why is Porto Alegre called
the book capital of Brazil?

Well… I think that is because we have many events
related to reading and book selling
such as “Feira do Livro’’… or Book Fair.
It usually takes place in November.
This year it will be from October 31 to November 16.
This event happens for 60 years now… every year.
It’s a big book fair with many activities…
for instance… workshops for reading and writing.
There are many events for kids as well.
Each book store has their own space
as well as radio shows and TV programs.
The fair also has a very nice food court.

I see…
How popular is mate tea in Rio Grando Do Sul?

Oh… mate tea is very popular here.
It is a ‘’gaucho’’ symbol…
and we inherited it from indigenous people…
as well as from neighboring countries.
It’s served very hot…
but we drink it any time of the year…
and it is passed from one person to another in a circle…
so all people can drink in the same ‘’cuia’’
it is a kind of cup made of ‘’porongo’’.

What is “porongo”?

Oh… it’s a plant… it’s very hard on the outside
so we take out the inside parts
and we put the mate herbs inside.
When we drink this… it’s a moment for us to talk
and make new friends.
The mate herb has the same effect as coffee
so many people here drink it to stay awake.

I understand.
What is the best way for foreigners
to experience the traditions and customs of the gaucho?

The best way would be to stay for a while…
visiting the countryside
in the Serra Gaucha region.

Gramado. Image by Felipe Valduga at Flickr, CC-BY

The state is actually pretty big and diverse.
What is the best time to visit Rio Grande do Sul?

Well I love spring here…
you can go to parks and beaches…
or parting all night in Porto Alegre.
We have very elegant inns here.
If you like winter you could go to Gramado,
in the region of Serra Gaucha,
and eat chocolate fondue
and buy many cute coats and boots…
and other winter things!
Gramado also has some beautiful inns!

Thanks, Maiara.
Rio Grande do Sul
is truly an exciting place to visit.

Yes, that’s really true.

Head image: Porto Alegre. By Felipe Valduga at Flickr, CC-BY