Brazil’s Secret History of Southern Hospitality


“Well, yaw cum raht in,” he chirped excitedly. “I’ll git mah whife, and we’ll set us down and have us a rail nahce vis-i-ta-shun.”

Say what?

Six months earlier, I had moved to Brazil to work as a fledgling editor for an English-language newspaper in São Paulo, a sort of International Herald Tribune for Latin America. One Saturday morning with nothing much to do, more out of distraction than purpose, I bought a bus ticket to a city ninety miles away called Americana. I had heard somewhere about Americana being settled by disgruntled American Confederates after their side lost the Civil War, and somehow descendants of the original settlers still lived there and still spoke the English of the American South circa 1865.

Surely, that account was more science fiction than real. It had to be. But little did I realize at the time, I had stumbled onto a yarn so fantastic and bizarre it could have been spun out of The Twilight Zone.

Crazy bit of history.

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