I started a new blog currently highlighting my adventures in São Paulo. Take a look
I started a new blog currently highlighting my adventures in São Paulo. Take a look
Today I have an interview with an American Expat, Juan aka 10kjuan. He is the creator of the expat blog 10kjuan.com, world traveler, and is currently living in São Paulo, SP, Brazil. He discusses his journey to becoming an expat and what life is like in São Paulo. Enjoy!
How old are you?
Where are you from?
Born in Queens, NY, but my parents are from Spain and Ecuador.
Where are you living now?
São Paulo, Brazil
When did you first visit?
I cleared customs on April 17th 2011 and have been abusing them ever since.
Living in Miami from 1992-2009, I got a taste of Brazilian culture through friends, sports, food and festivals. As a result, I had an idea of what life would be like here, and it sounded like my kind of place. I also liked the challenge of learning Portuguese, given that I'd never really had to learn a language. Everything is happening here now too - the World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016, UFC events, Lollapalooza, Rock in Rio... Even Miss Universe came here in 2011. It's the place to be, which in my mind meant there'd be plenty of opportunity to teach and write, which were my two goals coming in. Lastly, as a traveler, I've always wanted to explore South America, and I knew São Paulo would be a good hub to do just that. Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Bogota - I've visited them all since arriving here.
How did you prepare for your trip?
Poorly. But that was part of the adventure. I booked a one-way flight using frequent flyer miles - with a 2-month layover in Ecuador - packed my passports, a fabricated proof of yellow fever vaccination form, my iToys and a backpack. I figured I'd sort out the rest when I arrived.
What was the reaction you received when you told people that you were going to Brazil?
Yeah. I didn't really tell that many people. I'm not a big fan of interventions, so thought I'd do my best to avoid one. Thinking back though, most people I did tell were fairly supportive given the fact that I didn't really have a plan.
What was your first impression when you landed in Rio or Sao Paulo?
The biggest one early on was definitely Brazilians' tendency to be non-committal, avoiding yes or no answers at all costs. You can ask a hungry Brazilian if he wants something to eat, perhaps at your house after you've had lunch and with plenty of leftovers, but they won't say yes unless you ask them 2 or 3 times. Sometimes you really have to insist. On the other hand, if you try and make plans with them and they can't go, or don't want to go, they won't say no. They'll say 'pode ser', which is sort of like 'it's possible'. They could have a big-time commitment that they already know about that conflicts with the plans, but they still won't say no. They think it's rude.
Where else have you gone in Brazil?
I'd have to say my favorite thing about Brazil is Brazilians. Every stereotype has its exception, but Brazilians really are cheerful and festive most of the time, and Paulistanos are pretty hospitable with foreigners.
Are we talking cities? If so, I have to include the disclaimer that I haven't been to too many places just yet, but despite trips to Iguaçu, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Morro de São Paulo and several other beaches, I have to stick to the big two of São Paulo and Rio.
This spot was pretty cool. It is in the middle-class neighborhoods of Botago and Humaitá in Rio and basically across the street from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, which is a large lake in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro. Passing by the hostel you would just think it is a plain, regular house which is probably a good thing. No place wants to be labeled as a tourist haven. The owners, Juliana and Wesley are some of the coolest people that I have ever met. They create more of a family atmosphere instead of the typical hotel where you really have no interaction with anybody. My first night was pretty much drinking beers and chatting with Juliana, an Aussie, and two people from Finland.
I'm usually not the one to just be sitting and drinking all night and being that it was my first night in Rio, I wanted to go out. Being the awesome hosts that they are Juliana and Wes took the four of us ( 1 Aussie, 2 Finnish, and me) out to a bar in Leblon. Leblon is another neigborhood in the south zone of Rio and is known for being one of the wealthiest areas of the city . So about 12 or 1am (can't remember) we arrive at this bar. Typical carioca bar, well typical Rich carioca bar lol
We had four or five rounds of Chopp (extremely cold Brazilian draft beer) and some bar snack food like Pão de queijo (cheese bread), fried cheese, and linguiça. Wish I could remember the name of the bar but o well. My 1st night in Rio was a memorable one thanks to the owners of Lagoa Guesthouse. So if you are looking for a cool place stay thats cheap and meet people from around the globe, I would definitely recommend Lagoa Guesthouse.
Thanks to my Brazilian Brother, Ronaldo, I have a very interesting story to tell about walking around in Rio during Carnaval
|Ana Carolina, Raphael, Renata & Me|
We left the bar to continue walking, and waiting. So we walk…..and walk……and walk some more then all of a sudden Ronaldo is talking to some random girl. She was chocolate complexion, big smile, and wearing a police uniform with a wig on.
|She kinda looked like one of them.....I think|
Of course, they were speaking in Portuguese and I didn't understand most of what they were saying until Ronaldo said "Ele é Americano" (He is American). She gave him a weird look like…..who?!……..him?!…..no! and then starts to, what I perceive to be, a back and forth of him convincing her that I am truly American. This went on for 5 minutes until mid-sentence, all of a sudden, Ronaldo turns to me and says "Mike, kiss her" in heavily accented English. I immediately turn to him, say "what?!?"But since I'm in Brazil, I didn't hesitate for long and went in for the kiss and she was VERY cooperative . Tongue and all, very good kiss. Cool. Wasn't expecting that but hey, it's Brazil, in Rio, during Carnival. Everybody is supposed to kiss somebody right?
Somehow she put her number in my phone and I thought I had called it. Unfortunately 12 hours later, when I woke up, after spending all night at the sambadrome, I look at my call list and there is nothing. The last call was to Ronaldo from earlier that previous afternoon……..MERDE!!
|Dr. Gates - Carnaval - Bahia|
How old are you?
- I'm 25 years old.
Where did you grow up in Brazil?
- I grew up in Rio de Janeiro.
What is your profession?
- I'm a teacher. I teach Portuguese, English and Literature. Now I'm working at the coordination of an English Course.
What is your blog about?
- My blog is about Literature. All kinds of it. I also write and publish my own production there. I try to write some short essays about what I read as well.
What sparked your interest in Portuguese Lit.?
|Machado de Assis|
- My favorite authors in Portuguese Literature are: Guimarães Rosa and Fernando Pessoa. But I like to read all kinds of Literature. For me, the language it's not a big deal. I mean, I believe we have Literature as an Art path - the language doesn't really matter to me. Then, I love to read Marcel Proust, Goethe, Henry Miller, Elias Canetti's essays, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen's and Sylvia Plath's poetry and so many others!...
Which languages do you speak?
- Only Portuguese and English.
How did you learn English?
- I studied at a regular course. And as I'm a very curious person, I always try to keep learning by reading, watching movies, TV shows and listening to music. I like to keep in touch with native speakers as well.
What is your cultural/ethnic background?
- My ethnic background is a mix of African, Portuguese and Índios.
Favorite place in Brazil? Why?
What is your favorite time of year in Brazil?
- I like the Spring time. I love to feel the weather that is warm but not too hot like in the Summer. And I don't really enjoy the Winter. I like to feel the sun, to feel warm, to see the sun shining, the flowers...
How can you tell that a person is a gringo/gringa - minus language?
- By the clothes they are wearing, mostly; by the accent and by how they wish to speak Portuguese with us. And I can perceive it by how hard is the person tanned as well. Sometimes there are some tourists that get almost burned and it scares me because sunny days are definitely awesome but they can be very dangerous too if you don't walk around carrying your sunblock.
How has Brazil changed over the years?
- Brazil has been developing it's economics paths, I would say. People are able to buy more and it seems to be a good thing, for instance. However, I'm afraid that it's just a phase, and that the real problems have been discarded. Poor people stay poor, with terrible healthy conditions as well as educational opportunities. I don't see further changes in educational matters, you know. Nowadays - you may say - we have more people studying and applying to universities, but it doesn't really mean that we are developing in science and technical paths. And it doesn't really mean that everybody has the same opportunity to study and to improve. Of course we have better conditions nowadays, but I'm a bit concerned about it. I don't believe that we have a real "solving problems" culture here in Brazil. In my opinion, the government just works on pretending that everything is going as good as it can go.
Could you see yourself living anywhere else? (Outside your current city or abroad)
- Well, I have never traveled abroad, so it's kinda difficult to think about living in another country. But I must say that I have already considered living in another city - yes.
How do we know each other?
- We have a friend in common, Renata. She gave me your contact.
What is your biggest annoyance about visitors?
- The way they believe in stereotypes. Men that think that all the girls are skanks, for instance (pardon my vocabulary, but that's how I feel about it).
Favorite foreigners? (country)
- I don't have a favorite foreigner. I think I like them all, when they come here and respect us. :)
Advice to future visitors coming to Brazil?
- Try not to know the country by what people tell you before you come. Try to get used to our real routines and life. Don't get stuck at Zona Sul, in Rio (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, etc), try to visit the suburbs, for instance, try to get to know who we really are.
Brazil is known musically as one of the most culturally rich places on the planet. It is home to the musical genres of Samba, Bossa Nova, Axe, Forró and many more. I, being a Hip Hop head, wanted to find Brazilian rappers and Hip Hop artists to add my ipod rotation. Youtube, Itunes, and mainly my Brazilian friends have provided me with some interesting artists and I think everyone should take a listen to the few I have posted below. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
PS. Hip Hop is still alive.......just maybe not the States lol