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Holidays in British Indian Ocean Territory

Understanding British Indian Ocean Territory

Established as a territory of the UK in 1965, a number of the British Indian Ocean Territory BIOT islands were transferred to the Seychelles when it attained independence in 1976, leaving only the six main island groups comprising the Chagos Archipelago of 2,300 islands The largest and most southerly of the islands, Diego Garcia, contains a joint UK-US naval support facility All of the remaining islands are uninhabited Approximately 3,000 former agricultural workers, earlier indigenous residents in the islands often referred to as Chagossians or Ilois were relocated primarily to Mauritius but also to the Seychelles, between 1967 and 1973 In 2000, a British High Court ruling invalidated the local immigration order which had excluded them from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia No timetable has been set for the Ilois return, but when they do they plan to reestablish copra production and fishing


Tropical marine; hot, humid, moderated by trade winds


Flat and low most areas do not exceed four meters in elevation

Talking in British Indian Ocean Territory

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, spoken by the entire population except for a few, very remotely located tribes Indeed, Brazil has had immigrants from all parts of the world for centuries, whose descendants now speak Portuguese as their mothertongue

Brazilian Portuguese has a number of pronunciation differences with that spoken in Portugal and within, between the regions there are some accent and slang differences, but speakers of either can understand each other However, European Portuguese Luso is more difficult for Brazilians to understand than the reverse, as many Brazilian television programs are shown in Portugal Note that a few words can have a totally different meaning in Brazil and Portugal, usually slang words An example of this is "Rapariga" which in Portugal means young girl, and in Brazil means prostitute

English is not widely spoken except in some touristy areas Don't expect bus or taxi drivers to understand English, so it may be a good idea to write down the address you are heading to before getting the cab In most big and luxurious hotels, it is very likely that the taxi fleet will speak some English If you are really in need of talking in English, you should look for the younger generation, because they, generally, have a higher knowledge on the language and will be eager to help you and exercise their English

Spanish speakers are usually able to get by in Brazil, especially towards the south While written Portuguese can be quite similar to Spanish, spoken Portuguese may be much harder to understand Compare the number 20 which is veinte BAYN-teh in Spanish to vinte VEEN-chee in Brazilian Portuguese Even more different is gente people, pronounced "HEN-teh" in Spanish and "ZHEN-chee" in Brazilian Portuguese Letters CH, D, G, J, R, RR, and T are particularly difficult for those who know some Spanish, and that's without even considering the vowels Spanish speakers European or Latin American usually find European Portuguese slighty easier to pronounce than the Brazilian one

Body language

Brazilians use a lot of body gestures in informal communication, and the meaning of certain words or expressions may be influenced by them

  • The thumbs up gesture is used everywhere and all the time in Brazil
  • The OK gesture thumb and finger in a circle, on the other hand, may have obscene connotations in Brazil Avoid it if you can, people may laugh at you, or be offended usually if they are drunk Use thumbs up instead
  • A circular movement of the forefinger about the ear means you are crazy!, the same as in English
  • Stroking your two biggest fingers with your thumb possibly ironically stating that something takes a long time is a way of saying that something is expensive same as French
  • Clicking your middle finger with your thumb multiple times means a long time
  • Joining your thumb and middle finger and snapping your index finger upon them means fast not in whole country
  • Stroking your lips with your index finger and snapping it means delicious, grabbing your earlobe with your index and thumb means the same not in all country
  • Making a fist with your thumb between the index and middle finger is the sign of good luck not in whole country
  • Touching the palm with the thumb and making a circular movement with the hand means I am being robbed! sometimes meaning that some price is too high not in whole country
  • The Hush gesture is considered extremely impolite, just about the same as shouting "shut up!" to someone
  • An informal way to get someone's attention similar to a whistle in other cultures is a hissing sound: "pssiu!" It is not perceived as unpolite, but gets really, really, REALLY annoying if repeated too often They also call cats with a similar sound, rather than the kiss noise others the French again produce

What to see in British Indian Ocean Territory

Morro de São Paulo 23

What to do in British Indian Ocean Territory

Carnival in Brazil

Buying stuff in British Indian Ocean Territory

Brazil's unit of currency is the Real pronounced 'hay-AHL', plural Reais 'hay-EYES', abbreviated BRL, or just R$ One real is divided into 100 centavos As an example of how prices are written, R$1,50 means one real and fifty centavos

Foreign currency such as US Dollars or Euros can be exchanged major airports and luxury hotels bad rates, exchange bureaux and major branches of Banco do Brasil no other banks, where you need your passport and your immigration form

Look for an ATM with your credit/debit card logo on it Large branches of Banco do Brasil charging R$ 6,50 per withdrawal usually has one, and most all Bradesco, Citibank, BankBoston and HSBC machines will work Banco 24 Horas is a network of ATMs which accept foreign cards charging R$ 10 per withdrawal Withdrawal limits are mostly R$ 600 Bradesco or R$ 1000 BB, HSBC, per transaction, and in any case R$ 1000 per day The latter can be circumvented by several consecutive withdrawals, choosing different "accounts", ie "credit card", "checking", "savings" Note that most ATMs will only give you R$ 100 after 10 PM

In smaller towns, it is possible that there is not a single ATM that accepts foreign cards You should therefore always carry sufficient cash

Wiring money to Brazil seems to be difficult without a Brazilian bank account you may receive Western Union transfers and pick it up at a Banco do Brasil branch in most cities Check the Western Union web page for details

Travellers' cheques can be hard to cash outside major airports

A majority of Brazilian shops now accepts major credit cards However, some places that sport the VISA or MasterCard logos, accept only Brazilian-issued credit cards A noteworthy example is the GOL airline's Brazilian site where payments with foreign cards are not accepted except American Express

Coins are R$005, R$010, R$025, R$050 and R$1 Some denominations have several different designs Images from the central bank of Brazil24 And more25 Bills come in the following denominations: R$1 being phased out, R$2 , R$5 , R$10 still a few plastic red and blue around, R$20 R$ 50 and $100 Images from the central bank of Brazil26

Starting in the first half of 2010 with the bills of 50 and 100 reais, all Brazilian bills will start circulating with a new design until 2012 You are likely to find both versions circulating together for the next few years

Exchange rates

The Real is a free-floating currency and has become stronger in the past few years Especially for Americans, prices based on exchange rates have increased quite a bit As of January 2010, R$1 was worth about:

  • US$060
  • €040
  • £035

There are many federal regulations for dealings with foreign currency and many exchange offices operate in a shady area In addition, exchange offices are almost impossible to find outside of big cities Currency other than USD and EUR is hard to exchange and the rates are ridiculous If you would like to exchange cash at a bank, be prepared to pay a hefty comission Eg, Banco do Brasil collects US$15 for each transaction regardless of amount


It's not a bad idea to pack light and acquire a Brazilian wardrobe within a couple of days of arrival It will make you less obvious as a tourist, and give you months of satisfied gloating back home about the great bargains you got whenever you are complimented on your clothing Brazilians have their own sense of style and that make tourists - especially those in Hawaiian shirts or sandals + socks - stand out in the crowd Have some fun shopping, and blend in Another good reason for buying clothes and shoes in Brazil is that the quality is usually good and the prices often cheap However, this does not apply to any foreign brand as imports are burdened by high import taxes - therefore, do not expect to find any good prices on brands like Diesel, Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger, etc To figure your Brazilian trousers size, measure your waist in centimeters, divide by 2, and round up to the next even number

Store windows will often display a price followed by "X 5" or "X 10", etc This is an installment-sale price The price displayed is the per-installment price, so that, "R$50 X 10", for example, means 10 payments typically monthly of R$50 each The actual price is almost always lower if you pay in cash

Make sure any appliances you buy are either dual voltage or the same as in your home country Brazil is 60Hz, so don't buy electric clocks or non-battery operated motorized items if you live in Europe or Australia The voltage, however, varies by state see Electricity below

Brazilian-made appliances and electronics are usually expensive or of poor quality All electronics are expensive compared to European or US prices

Brazil uses a hybrid video system called "PAL-M" It is NOT at all compatible with the PAL system of Europe and Australia Television began in black and white using the NTSC system of the USA and Canada, then years later, using PAL for its analogue colour -- making a totally unique system Nowadays, most new TV sets are NTSC compatible However, the newly-introduced digital TV standard is not compatible with that of most other countries Digital video appliances such as DVD players are also compatible with NTSC all digital colour is the same worldwide, but make sure the DVD region codes, if any, match your home country Brazil is part of Region 4 Prices for imported electronic goods can be quite expensive due to high import tax, and the range of domestic electronic gadgets is not very wide Also, be aware that the term "DVD" in Brazil is both an abbreviation for the disc itself and for its player, so be specific to avoid confusion

Food and eating in British Indian Ocean Territory


Brazil's cuisine is as varied as its geography and culture On the other hand, some may find it an unrefined melange, and everyday fare can be bland and monotonous While there are some quite unique dishes of regional origin, many dishes were brought by overseas immigrants and have been adapted to local tastes through the generations In Brazil, Italian and Chinese food can often be as baffling as Amazonian fare

Brazil's national dish is feijoada, a hearty stew made of black beans, pork ears, knuckles, chops, sausage and beef usually dried It's served with rice, garnished with collard greens and sliced oranges It's not served every restaurant; the ones that do typically offer it on Wednesdays and Saturdays A typical mistake made by tourists is to eat too much feijoada upon first encounter This is a heavy dish, -even Brazilians usually eat it parsimoniously

The standard Brazilian set lunch is called Prato Feito, with its siblings Comercial and Executivo Rice and brown beans in sauce, with a small steak Sometimes farofa, spaghetti and vegetables will come along Beef may be substituted for chicken, fish or others

Excellent seafood can be found in coastal towns, especially in the North East

Brazilian snacks, lanchessandwiches and salgadinhosmost anything else, include a wide variety of pastries Look for coxinha deep-fried, batter-coated, chicken, empada a tiny pie, somewhat similar to empanadas: try out the palmito - heart of palm variety, and pastel fried turnovers Another common snack is a misto quente, a pressed,toasted ham-and-cheese sandwich Pão-de-queijo, a roll made of manioc flour and cheese, is very popular - pão-de-queijo and a cup of fresh Brazilian coffee is a classic combination

Regional cuisines

  • Southern - Churrasco is Brazilian barbecue, and is usually served "Rodizio" ou "espeto corrido" all-you-can-eat Waiters carry huge cuts of meat on steel spits from table to table, and carve off slices onto your plate use the tongs to grab the meat slice and don't touch the knife edge with your silverware to avoid dulling the edge Traditionally, you are given a small wooden block colored green on one side and red on the other When you're ready to eat, put the green side up When you're too stuffed to even tell the waiter you've had enough, put the red side up Rodizio places have a buffet for non meaty items; beware that in some places, the desserts are not considered part of the main buffet and are charged as a supplement Most churrasco restaurants churrascarias also serve other types of food, so it is safe to go there with a friend that is not really fond of meat Whereas the churrascarias are usually fairly expensive places for Brazilian standards in the North and Central areas of the country, they tend to be much cheaper in the South, where they are frequented even by the less affluent
  • Mineiro is the "miner's" cuisine of Minas Gerais, based on pork and beans, with some vegetables Dishes from Goiás are similar, but use some different ingredients such as pequi and guariroba Minas Gerais cuisine if not seen as particularly tasty, has a "homely" feel that is much cherished
  • The food of Bahia, on the northeast coast has its roots across the Atlantic in West Africa Coconut, dende palm oil, hot peppers, and seafood are the prime ingredients Tip: hot "quente" means lots of pepper, cold "frio" means less or no pepper at all If you don't dare to eat it hot you should try acarajé prawn-filled roasties and vatapá drinkable black beans soup
  • Espírito Santo and Bahia have two different versions of moqueca, a delightful tomato-based seafood stew prepared in a special type of clay pot
  • Amazon cuisine draws from the food of the indigenous inhabitants, including various exotic fish and vegetables There is also a stupendous variety of tropical fruits
  • Ceará's food in the coastline has a great sort of seafood, is known to have the country's best crab It's so popular that literally every weekend thousands of people go to Praia do Futuro in Fortaleza to eat fried fish and crabs usually followed by cold beer

Brazilian cuisine also has a lot of imports:

  • Pizza is quite popular in Brazil In Sāo Paulo, travellers will find the highest rate of pizza parlours per inhabitant in the country The variety of flavours is extremely vast, with some restaurants offering more than 50 types of pizza It is worth noting the difference between the European "mozzarella" and the Brazilian "mussarela" They differ in flavor, appearance and origin but buffalo mozzarella "mussarela de búfala" is also often available The Brazilian "mussarela", which tops most pizzas, is yellow in color and has a stronger taste In some restaurants, particularly in the South, pizza has no tomato sauce Other dishes of Italian origin, such as macarrão macaroni, lasanha and others are also very popular
  • Middle-eastern and Arab actually Lebanese food is widely available Most options offer high quality and a big variety Some types of middle-eastern food, such as quibe and esfiha have been adapted and are available at snack stands and fast food joints nation-wide
  • São Paulo's Japanese restaurants serve up lots of tempura, sushi and sashimi The variety is good and mostly the prices are very attractive when compared to Europe, USA and Japan Most Japanese restaurants also offer the rodizio or buffet deal, with the same quality as if you ordered from the menu Sometimes, however, it can be quite a departure from the real thing The same can be said of Chinese food, again with some variations from the traditional Cheese-filled spring rolls, anyone?


  • Most restaurants will add a 10% service charge on the bill, and this is all the tip a Brazilian will ever pay It is also what most waiters survive on, however it is not mandatory and you may ignore it In some tourist areas you might be tried for extra tip Just remember that you will look like a complete sucker if you exagerate
  • There are two types of self-service restaurants sometimes both options are available in one place: all-you-can-eat buffets with barbecue served at the tables called "rodízio", or a price per weight "por quilo", very common during lunchtime throughout Brazil Load up at the buffet and get your plate on the scales before eating any In the South there's also the Italian "galeto", where you're served different types of pasta, salads, soups and meat mostly chicken at your table
  • Customers are allowed by law to visit the kitchen and see how the food is being handled
  • Some Brazilian restaurants serve only meals for two The size of the portions might not say in the menu, -ask the waiter Most restaurants of this category allow for a "half-serving" of such plates meia-porção, at 60-70% of the price
  • Fast food is also very popular, and the local takes on hamburgers and hot-dogs "cachorro-quente", translated literally are well worth trying Brazilian sandwiches come in many varieties, with ingredients like mayonnaise, bacon, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn, peas, raisins, french fries, ketchup, eggs, pickles, etc Brave eaters may want to try the traditional complete hot dog just ask for a completo, which, aside from the bun and the sausage, will include everything on display
  • Large chains: The fast-food chain Bob's is found nationwide and has been around in the country for almost as long as McDonald's There is also a national Arab fast-food chain called Habib's Recent additions, though not as widespread, are Burger King and Subway Pizza Hut is rare

Drinking in British Indian Ocean Territory


Brazil's national booze is cachaça cah-shah-sah, also known as aguardente "burning water" and pinga, a 40% sugar-cane liquor known to knock the unwary out quite quickly It can be tried in virtually every bar in the country Famous producing regions include Minas Gerais, where there are tours of distilleries, and the city of Paraty Pirassununga is home to Caninha 51, Brazil's best-selling brand Outside Fortaleza there is a cachaça museum Museu da Cachaça where you can learn about the history of the Ypioca brand

Drinking cachaça straight, or stirring in only a dollop of honey or a bit of lime juice, is a common habit on the Northeast region of the country Çafé Pingado' is coffee with some cachaça in it

The strength of cachaça can be hidden in cocktails like the famous caipirinha, where it is mixed with sugar, lime juice and ice Using vodka instead of cachaça is nicknamed caipiroska or caipivodka; with white rum, it's a caipiríssima; and with sake it's a sakerinha not in every region

Another interesting concoction is called capeta "devil", made with cachaça, condensed milk, cinnamon, guarana powder a mild stimulant, and other ingredients, varying by region

If you enjoy fine brandy or grappa, try an aged cachaça Deep and complex, this golden-coloured spirit is nothing like the ubiquitous clear liquor more commonly seen

While imported alcohol is very expensive, many international brands are produced under license in Brazil, making them widely available, and fairly cheap You can buy booze in the tax-free after landing at brazilian airports, but it is more expensive than buying it outside the airports


Beer in Brazil has a respectable history because of the German immigrants Most Brazilian beer brands tend to be less thick and bitter than actual German, Danish or English beer More than 90% of all beer consumed in Brazil is Pilsner, and it is usually drunk very cold at a temperature below 0ºC The most popular domestic brands are Brahma, Antarctica, Bavaria, and Skol Traditional brands include Bohemia, Caracu and Itaipava Other international brands available are Carlsberg, Stella Artois, Guinness, Miller, Budweiser and others There are two ways of drinking beer in bars: draft or bottled beer Draft lager beer is called chope or chopp 'SHOH-pee', and is commonly served with one inch of foam, but you can make a complaint to the bartender if the foam is consistently thicker than that In bars, the waiter will usually collect the empty glasses and bottles on a table and replace them with full ones, until you ask him to stop, in a "tap" charging system In the case of bottled beer, bottles 600ml are shared among everyone in the table and poured in small glasses, rather than drunk straight from the bottle Brazilians like their beer nearly ice-cold - hence, to keep the temperature down, bottles of beer are often kept in an insulated polystyrene container on the table


  • Rio Grande do Sul is the leading wine production region There are a number of wine-producing farms that are open to visitors and wine tasting, and wine cellars selling wine and fermented grape juice One of these farms open to visitors is Salton Winery 27, located in the city of Bento Gonçalves Rua Mário Salton, 300, Distrito de Tuiuty, CEP 95700-000 Bento Gonçalves, Rio Grande do Sul Tel: +5554 2105-1000

The Sao Francisco Valley, along the border of the states of Pernambuco and Bahia, is the country's newest wine-producing region Brazilian wines are usually fresher, fruitier and less alcoholic than, for instance, French wines Popular brands like Sangue de Boi, Canção and Santa Felicidade and others with prices below R$ 600 are usually seen as rubbish

  • In Minas Gerais, look for licor de jabuticaba jabuticaba liquor or vinho de jabuticaba jabuticaba wine, an exquisite purple-black beverage with a sweet taste Jabuticaba is the name of a small grape-like black fruit native to Brazil

Coffee and tea

Brazil is known world-wide for its high-quality strong coffee Café is so popular that it can name meals just like rice does in China, Japan and Korea: breakfast in Brazil is called café da manhã morning coffee, while café com pão coffee with bread or café da tarde afternoon coffee means a light afternoon meal Cafezinho small coffee is a small cup of strong, sweetened coffee usually served after meals in restaurants sometimes for free, just ask politely Bottled filtered coffee is being replaced by stronger espresso cups in more upscale restaurants

Chá, or tea in Portuguese, is most commonly found in its Assam version orange, light coloured Some more specialised tea shops and cafés will have Earl Gray and green tea available as well

Mate is an infusion similar to tea that is very high in caffeine content A toasted version, often served chilled, is consumed all around the country, while Chimarrão incidentally called mate in neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries is the hot, bitter equivalent that can be found in the south and is highly appreciated by the gaúchos Rio Grande do Sul dwellers Tererê is a cold version of Chimarrão, common in Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso state

Soft drinks

Nothing beats coconut water água de côco on a hot dayStress the first o, otherwise it will come out as "poo"! cocô It is mostly sold as côco gelado in the coconut itself, drunk with a straw Ask the machete-wielding vendors to cut the coconut in half so that you can eat the flesh after drinking the water

If you want a Coke in Brazil, ask for coca or coca-cola, as "cola" means "glue", in Portuguese

Guaraná; is a carbonated soft drink made from the guaraná berry, native to the Amazon area The major brands are Antarctica and Kuat, the latter owned by Coke Pureza is a lesser known guaraná soft drink specially popular in Santa Catarina Almost all regions in Brazil feature their own local variants on guaraná, some which can be quite different from the standard "Antartica" in both good and bad ways If traveling to Amazonas, be sure to try a cold "Baré," which due to it's huge popularity in Manaus was purchased by Antartica and is becoming more available throughout northern Brazil

Fruit juices

Fruit juices are very popular in Brazil Some cities, notably Rio de Janeiro has fruit juice bars at nearly every corner *Açai a fruit from the Amazon is delicious and nutritious rich in antioxidants Traditionally used blended in combination with guarana a stimulantpowder,and a raw quail egg and sometimes a banana to re-energize from late-night partying It is served cold and has a consistency of soft ice

  • Maracuja passion fruitcareful during an active day- this has a relaxant effect
  • Caju cashew fruit and
  • Manga mango are also great juice experiences

Brazilians have great taste when it comes to mixing juices

Accommodation in British Indian Ocean Territory

High season in Brazil follows the school holidays calendar, December and January summer being the busiest months New Year, Carnival moveable between February and March, see Understand above and Holy week are the peak periods, and prices can skyrocket, especially in coastal cities like Rio and Salvador Also, during those holidays, many hotels restrict bookings to a 3 or 4-day minimum and charge in advance

Hotels are plentiful in just about all areas of Brazil and can range from luxury beach resorts to very modest and inexpensive choices The Brazilian tourism regulation board imposes specific minimum attributes for each type of facility, but as the 1-5 star rating is no longer enforced, check in advance if your hotel provides the kind of services you expect

Pousada means guesthouse the local equivalent of a French auberge or a British boarding house, and are usually simpler than hotels, and will offer less services room service, laundry etc Pousadas are even more widespread than hotels

In wilderness areas like the Pantanal, travelers usually stay in fazendas, which are ranches with guest facilities In small towns of Minas Gerais people are fond of hotéis-fazenda farm hotels where you can swim, ride, walk, play football, and camp as well as sleep in picturesque barracks

Also there is great fun in going on a boat hotel which will take you to inaccessible places on the rivers and lakes for great fishing trips or for simply relaxing and watching and photographing the wildlife which is very abundant in the Pantanal The boats are large, safe, and comfortable with air-conditioned rooms very necessary Several small aluminum boats with outboard motor, carried by the boat hotel, driven by experienced fisher/guide will take 2 or 3 tourists to the best "points"

Motel is the local term for a "sex hotel" There's no social stigma per se in staying in one, but the room service and rates are geared to adults staying for a few hours with utmost discretion and privacy

Youth hostels albergues da juventude are becoming increasingly common

Working in British Indian Ocean Territory

If you are moving to Brazil to find work, or are thinking it will be easy to find a job, you may want to think again

If you are a native English speaker, you may be able to find an English-teaching part-time job; but don't expect that to save your holidays The pay will be under-the-table without contract There is also a growing demand for Spanish language classes, especially in the major cities In both cases, it's always much more lucrative to find work privately rather than through schools This can be done by advertising in newspapers or weeklies or by putting up signs on the notice boards at universities

Refer to the Ministery of Labour webiste 28 for more detailed information

Gringoescom 29 is the main online community of expat's living and working in Brazil

Cities in British Indian Ocean Territory

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