I was almost the closest I've ever been, in time, relation, notoriety, to someone famous. Yesterday, my housemate was sorting through a tableful of women's underwear. She told me that her sister lives in Fortaleza and makes the stuff, and she ocassionally helps sell it here to make some extra money.
Today, the New York Times has a glowing article on the growing economy of Brazil. It opens with the human interest story of a Ms. Souza, of Fortaleza, who built her business of making women's underwear from two sewing machines to a 25 person factory.
I asked. No relation.
I think people here think small in economic terms, and by virtue of that, more democratically. When I went with friends to play Karaoke, we picked up the karioke game from someone's garage. There was a little sign outside: R$7,50 to rent it for a day, and we loaded it in our trunk while the owner's baby girl banged against the bars of her door. Everywhere in the streets, people sit behind little tables of candy and goodies-- all they needed to buy was a table and some goodies. In the US, no one would rent from some random person's garage or buy from a table in the street.
I think it's a result of their different history with capitalism. They didn't have as long a period where capitalism was organized by wealthy monopolists. And the Brazilian Way is to do things yourself, in little ways (jeitinhos), because society at large, and particularly the government, is often more trouble than its worth.