Do you want to go on a free tour of the Theatro Municipal in São Paulo? The tour will be of the theater itself and theater museum and will last for a little less than 2 hours.

Note: The tour will be conducted in English and is limited to 32 places.

The tour will be at 1pm on Saturday 17th December 2011.

To reserve your place you must contact Bill Stewart via bill@wsaj.net

By Ana Corazza
December 7, 2011

When he told his family the great news he had just received from his boss it was a celebration. His wife had already started organizing a big dinner; his teenage kids were already planning vacations in the Swiss Alps next season. Everyone was happy until he had the chance to say that they would have to move to Brazil.

The whole idea of going to South America on vacation was great, but to leave the country and live abroad wasn’t in their plans. The worries began: what about the violence, what kind of cars do people drive there, who would support them with the real estate issue, where would they live, what school for their children, how would it be to live in Brazil not speaking a word of Portuguese and knowing almost nothing about the people’s way of life and culture?

But they were moving to Rio after all, what a dream! The wonderful and famous city of Rio de Janeiro, a place used to receiving foreigners from all over the world. It wouldn’t be so bad. So they moved. It was a great opportunity.

The first few weeks at the hotel were comfortable. It really felt like being on vacation. Finding an apartment wasn’t so hard after all, the real state agency contracted by the company took care of everything. They had a car available for the family – with a driver – in the first month. Time passed. They started to find out what would it be to finally have a routine as expats in Brazil. Until they started to feel at home” with the only difference they weren’t really at home, at least not just yet.

So one day dad parked the car in front of Santos Dumont Airport – the national airport of Rio de Janeiro – hours later he came back, got the keys from his pocket and… the company’s car wasn’t there anymore. He looked for it, managed to ask the cab drivers if they had seen his car. Nothing. He took a cab and told his secretary the car was stolen. After a while they found out he had parked in a forbidden area and the vehicle was towed by the Transit Department – Detran-RJ.

Days later, after a weekend in a nice hotel in Angra dos Reis, a town at 157km far from Rio, dad ate acaraj, a spicy delicacy from Bahia, and went back home feeling like his stomach had moved to his back. It was Sunday night, he couldn’t stand feeling so sick. So the couple decided to take a chance and go to the closest drugstore to buy a medicine for him.

They managed to speak Portuguese, the attendant managed to speak English. They tried to explain what he was feeling and what they needed but no one seemed to understand. So they pointed saying “He has a pro-blem, um pro-ble-ma” and pointed to his belly. Finally, the attendant answered: “Oh, I got it, you want Viagra. Right? Viagra”. “No, no Viagra. He’s got diarrhoea”, the wife replied.

That night they left the drugstore laughing. He had some tea at home and woke up feeling better the next day. The family thought it was better to have some Portuguese lessons and so they did. And it helped them get through many other situations they would have to face in the future. Some were worth laughing about, others not so much.

This story and many others were told to Ana Corazza and Maria Arruda by their students in the 11 years they’ve been helping foreigners of the many different nationalities to communicate in Portuguese and understand Brazilian culture and way of life.

Most recently they designed Projeto Brasileirinho, a project created to help unite foreigners – be they residents or tourists in Rio de Janeiro – and Brazilians around the linguistic and cultural aspects of Brazil in order to provide a better integration, assimilation and comprehension of the diversity of Brazilian people as a whole, thereby contributing to a more positive and productive intercultural exchange.

Projeto Brasileirinho starts its activities in 2012 at Instituto Cultural Casaro de Austregsilo de Athayde, in the charming neighborhood of Cosme Velho, in Rio de Janeiro. The cultural institute is surrounded by the largest urban forest in the world and only a few steps away from one of the most visited tourist spots of Rio de Janeiro and the world – the Christ Statue. For more information, visit: www.projetobrasileirinho.com.br

December 7, 2011

Meet Elaine Vieira who moved to Brazil at the start of the year. Read the following interview in which she tells us about some of her most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

We are a family with one child from South Africa currently on a 2 year assignment in Brazil, São Paulo with a South African based company newly established in Brazil, doing contract work with Unilever.

I am a qualified Food Service Manager with a Diploma from Hotel School. I specialise in food franchising New Product Development as well as Menu Design and Development.
My passion is teaching young children to cook and develop social and kitchen skills together in a group environment as well as fun social adult and couple cookery lessons.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

Jan 2011 with my husband and daughter. He is under contract with a South African company called Smollans, who is contracted to Unilever to implement merchandising and sales systems.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Busy and big. City of contrasts. Well developed in some areas yet so underdeveloped in others. A lot of similarities to South Africa but so many more people.

I expected more of a European feel to the city much like Buenos Aires and more English spoken.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Communication and last minute plans and weekend getaways with friends and family as well as the attitude of can do” without bureaucracy and language communication barriers.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Trying to load airtime onto my phone and not understanding the instructions. Telephone calls trying to make doctor bookings. Applying for the RNE and waiting for hours for no apparent reason other than slow systems. Finding black leather school shoes. Mostly getting different responses from different people on the same enquiry or process. No consistency – outcome depends on who you ask.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Taking our first drive to the beaches of Guaruja and ending up at the Sofitel hotel for two days on our first weekend in Brazil.

It was fabulous and so unexpected. A world class experience and such a treat.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

Variety of world class restaurants and the love and tolerance for children and animals.

Restaurant Week.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

Tea connection in Jardins

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Asking the security guard for a massage instead of a message and taking the ferry to Guaraja from Santos then in error driving back onto the ferry to Santos so having to take it straight back to Guaraja. Three trips in 45 minutes.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

For such a busy city with so many people and traffic, I find the drivers considerate and respectful. Driving in South Africa is an aggressive experience as well as the crime levels are quite high. As a family we feel safer here in Brazil than South Africa despite everyone’s views that Brazil is so dangerous. That all depends where you are coming from. Perspective.

Price of wine from South Africa is outrageous.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

Coming on slowly as I do not do lessons.

Language is the most frustrating barrier to living a life of semi normal semblance in Brazil and a must. I confuse verbs and male female words and in fact lots of words and days of the week. Oh dear. My daughter will end up teaching me.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Learn Portuguese before coming and get to the beach often to get out of the city. Explore the city and get behind the wheel as soon as possible. If you wait too long you will get the fear.

Also make sure you drive everywhere with your GPS on so you can save interesting locations or shops or restaurants you drive by cause you may never find them again.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Sofitel hotel for a night in Guaruja. Argentinian restaurant like 364 in Itaim. Local Lanchonette for lunch at peak hour lunch time. Good cup of coffee in well known coffee shop like Suplicy or Santa Grau. Walking Avenida Paulista. Experiencing lunch on a Saturday in Vila Madalena. Walking around the shops in Vila Madalena. Hot Chocolate in Tok n Stok. Frozen yoghurt. Walking shops on Alameda Lorena and Oscar Freire between Haviana and Emporium Santa Luiza.

You can contact Elaine via elaine.kitchen.essentials@gmail.com.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Pieter Kommerij – Netherlands
Rich Sallade – USA
Robyn and Willem Van Der Merwe – South Africa
Michael Smyth – UK
Danielle Carner – USA
Chris Caballero – USA
Jaya Green – USA
Wiliam Stewart – USA
Andrew Dreffen – Australia
Meredith Noll – USA
Marcus Lockwood – New Zealand
Mike Smith – UK
Jonathan Russell – USA
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Jeff Eddington – USA
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia