Meet Darryl Gibbs who has been in Brazil for over a year. Read the following interview in which Darryl tells us about some of his 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.?
My name is Darryl Gibbs, I‘m 28 years old, and I‘m from the awesome city of Durban, South Africa. Currently I am a Portuguese student here in Belo Horizonte, but previously in South Africa I worked for Sony as a Product Manager for the Marketing team.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I arrived on 26 December 2012 for this new…‘adventure‘ is a good word. I came here to be with my fiancée (then girlfriend) Maria. Before this we were dating long-distance, and that just wasn‘t going to work anymore. So I made the move. For the record, I highly suggest against long-distance relationships for anyone… ha ha.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
Honestly, very mixed. Mostly towards the negatives. My country of South Africa is hardly first world, but I see now that we enjoy many first world style `luxuries‘. These negatives revolved mostly around unnecessary bureaucratic pains and the pains of poor infrastructure. The culture is also hugely different here.
4. What do you miss most about home?
I miss the people mostly. Everybody thinks that their country has the friendliest people, and I honestly believe this is true for South Africa. The way we interact and socialize is unlike anything else I‘ve ever encountered. It‘s definitely an African thing.
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
It‘s really a tie for top spot here. Bureaucracy here is incredible, and to get anything done, even for locals, is unnecessarily complicated and ridiculously expensive. The other, although less expensive but equally frustrating is the traffic and the way people drive. In fairness that applies mostly to motorbikes and bus drivers. They clearly have no idea that other people also are on the road and like the idea of living into old age.
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
Cheesy as it is, getting engaged was pretty big for me. It was really cool to climb to the highest point in BH and ask the woman I love to marry me with an awesome cityscape as a backdrop!
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
The food. Man the Brazilians know how to cook meat, and produce amazing baked goods. There seems to be an endless supply of small treats that are really amazing. The only problem is being able to eat them all without your waistline growing at an alarming rate! There are also loads of places you can go out to, to enjoy good food that are not necessarily overpriced. Also, each little restaurant seems to have its own spin on traditional meals like hotdogs and burgers, so you always have an opportunity to try something new. Brazilians do have a rather large dependence on rice and beans though which is odd for me.
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
Oasis Pizzeria in Langoinha, BH. It has the most amazing Pizza, almost like a homemade feel to it. The pricing is unbelievably cheap, but the quality is that of the most highbrow restaurant. I really love it there!
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
On one occasion I went out for a burger with my fiancée and her friend. I had recently learnt that “gosto” means ‘like‘. So when I was asked in Portuguese by my fiancée if I was enjoying my burger, I replied with “estou gosto”. Within seconds our friend responded with “gostoso”. Thinking that they were correcting me, I replied again with “estou gostoso”… which actually means “I am TASTY!!” I‘m still hoping the table behind me didn‘t hear that one!
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
From my experience, I find Brazil to be extremely expensive and disorganized, This comes almost entirely from the government systems that seem completely illogical at times. For example, many Brazilians will travel to the USA almost exclusively to shop for goods of all kinds as the local import taxes are up to 60% on most goods. So in order to curb this, the government won‘t drop taxes to encourage local spending, but rather impose additional taxes to those spending money abroad. So this makes taking a holiday that much more expensive. Very counterintuitive.
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?
Portuguese is a very difficult language coming from English, but I have had some great teachers at UFMG where I am studying. The hardest words to remember are the verb conjugations, because there are a LOT!!! I regularly get the verb “to be” mixed up. It‘s difficult to be conscious of it all the time, but it is improving. Also the fact that most adjectives are said after the nouns and not before as in English is cause for regular self correction.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Be prepared for something really different and unique. There is so much to take in an understand that you will have a mental overload, but that’s what makes it fun! Learn a few key words and phrases, or get a good smartphone app, as many people in the non-tourist locations will not speak English, especially in restuarants and shops etc. Oh, and bring money… lots of it.
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
The pretty obvious ones are in Rio (Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain etc), but try go to the south of Brazil. There are some amazing natural beauties there. Go to a big football game between two major teams, but be careful not to get caught up in the middle of supporter altercations… those can be hectic. Lastly, try every bit of local food you can!!! The only problem is trying to learn to live without it!