Brazil through foreign eyes
Meet Michael Meehan, a New York City police detective who is married to a Brazilian, used to live in Brazil, and now travels to Brazil every year. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.
Hi, my name is Michael Meehan I am married to a Brasileira her name is Cris and we have two children, Briana and Aidan. (good Brasilian names huh!) We live on Long Island in New York. I am employed as a police detective in a suburb of NYC. We travel to Rio to see the outlaws/inlaws just about every year. I love traveling to Brasil.
I arrived in Brasil in 1986 and lived there for almost a year and a half. I was stationed at the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. I had previously been stationed in Nigeria and chose to go to Brasil following that assignment.
My first impression of Brasil was when the Pan Am 747 touched down in Rio and the plane broke out in applause. I was taken back by the warmth of the people all around me. I had flown considerably and this was the first time that I a had witnessed this, so I had no choice but to join in.
I dont live in Brasil, but when I am there I miss my work. I love the job that I do and if I could work in the same capacity in Brasil I would, but I know better than to wish for that.
Getting targeted on the street can be frustrating. Though after 19 years of putting up with it I have grown more accustomed to it. I am a gringo like it or not. Whether or not I have a great tan I am still a gringo and I stand out. I have no fear of venturing out on my own, in fact I enjoy it. I find the red tape and small scale corruption not too pleasant either. I generally spend about a month when I visit. I like to drive when I am in Brasil, but in order to get the proper documents, everyone has to be greased (paid). If I chose not to legally take care of my license, I then run the risk of getting stopped at a blitz and God only knows what can happen then. I just returned unscathed, whew...
I met my wife in Brasil, so that would have to be my most memorable experience. I met her at a house/flat party across the street from Lord Jim Pub, for those of you who know Rio, about a month after I got to Rio and that is the beginning. I could write a book about my wife and I. So for a simple memorable experience, I would have to say that seeing Brasil win the world cup while being in Brasil was awesome. (seeing them lose was a real bummer, especially to France. eewww) We went to Copa to see the plane carrying the "selecao" fly past the beach. We then waited for hours to see them pass along the beach on their bus, but it never made it having been attacked with stones along Flamengo beach and not being able to break through the crowd and go any further. Only in Brasil!! Oh yeah, while waiting at Copa I had to keep moving because of the ladroes who were circling like hawks.
Some of the things I like most about Brasil are the weather, the beaches, the sights at the beach....OUCH!! (that was my wife hitting me), the warmth of my family and most of the Brasilians that I meet. I like New Years on Copa. My "tia" lives close by so it makes it that much more enjoyable. Oh yeah, I loooove the chopp!!! I also love "pe sujos".
I do love the little restaurants that are all over the city. I like most churrascarias. I used to love Gaucha, but since going to "por kilo" I dont go anymore. I am now hooked on rodizios de pizza. In particular I love the Vienna Cafe and its banana pizza and a close second is the chocolate pizza. I am slowly turning my friends in New York on to both pizzas. I am also getting better at making them. Another fine little restaurant is "Bar Brasil" in Centro with excellent ice cold chopp and, Im told, the first place that beer was sold in Rio.
Not long after I had arrived in Brasil and was very much a virgin of the language, I was tasked with shopping for the seven other Marines that I lived with. I went to the store with my cook and repeatedly asked her where I could find the "piru". I couldnt understand why she wouldnt look me in the eye until my next language class and my portuguese teacher explained the difference between "piru" and "peru"! I didnt have the guts to ask her where the "coco" was!
The most striking difference between my home and Brasil are the mountains that are right next to the beach and the scale of the favelas.
I would encourage all newcomers to Brasil to LEARN THE LANGUAGE.
I would recommend to all visitors to Brasil to get out and see the sights. In addition, get out and experience the country as best as you can. Go where the tourists dont. Go where Brasilians go when they want to get away. I love Buzios, Angra dos Reis and Cabo Frio. Upon my retirement I would love to go to Recife, Bahia, Fortaleza and Natal. I would also like to go and see the beaches in Santos.
To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
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
Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org