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Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
June 23, 2014

Meet Dave Rooney who moved to Brazil around 6 months ago. Read the following interview in which Dave 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.?

I’m from Australia, sold up everything and left 3 years ago for South America after the end of a fairly serious relationship and deciding I simply wasn’t enjoying life there any more. Luckily I am a website designer & developer so can work online (zavadesign.com) and live anywhere, as I am now doing. I have also previously spent a fair number of years travelling & living overseas, 5 years backpacking in my 20s, and two years first in Sri Lanka volunteering after the 2004 tsunami, and then in Kenya with an NGO working with street children. Very rewarding and educational experiences as you might imagine.

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

When I headed to South America three years ago it was always my intention to spend some time in Brazil around the time of the World Cup, and with an open mind that it could suit me as a place to live longer term. I arrived here just before Carnival, was in Recife for the celebrations, and also Salvador for the last two days here, before heading down to Rio where I’ve been living for the few months. The jury is still out about calling Brazil home for the longer term…

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Hot, fun, lots of bum flesh on the beaches… but also dirty, at least in the northern cities. Since being here a little longer and understanding the lack of funds that get put towards local services I am beginning to understand why. I found the people were very friendly in the north, always wanting to help with directions and the like, though my friend and I used to joke about their willingness to offer directions even when they had no idea of the correct answer. We would ask three different people, get three different answers, and eventually find out they were all wrong. Funny!

4. What do you miss most about home?

Vegemite. Going out for drinks with friends in the period leading up to Christmas. Good, cheap sashimi. But all things I can survive without too many dramas.

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

The number of expats here who seem to do nothing but complain about Brazil constantly. I just have to wonder why on earth do they stay?

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

Carnival in Recife, words can’t adequately describe the fun it was! Much better than Salvador, though I have yet to experience Carnival in Rio.

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

Beach life, live music and dancing, and the beautiful women! And football. I play football, so being able to play on or near the beach two or three times a week with a bunch of locals is a slice of heaven for me!

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

I love the local botecos, hanging out with the locals over a beer and watching some football. I wish I spoke enough Portuguese to be able to join in with their conversations more but just watching and feeling their passion makes for a great way to pass an afternoon/evening.

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

Nothing I would want to share with strangers… 😉

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

Safety issues are the obvious one, though that could be said about a lot of places. Common sense will go a long way in avoiding any issues though.

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?

Nudda. I know a little Spanish, so have been getting by for the basics in what I know. I’m waiting until after the World Cup to decide how much longer I stay, if I decide to stay then I will start some classes.

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

Learn a little about Brazilian culture before you come, don’t overtly carry anything valuable, use common sense… and enjoy life like the Brazilians do.

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

Can’t say about São Paulo, but for Rio…
– Stay in the Copa or Ipa areas. Yes it’s a little more expensive, but to be able to walk along the beach as the sun goes down, sip a caipirinha, listen to live music backed by the sound of the ocean… this is the Brazil I want to experience. Other areas can be interesting, but it’s easy to head to Lapa or Santa Teresa for a night, but much better to be able to go for a morning swim.
– Go to botecos for drinks and not just to gringo/tourist bars, otherwise you’ll be missing out on another essential slice of Brazilian life.

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:

Bina Bina – USA
Mike Jewell – USA
Niki Wang – Singapore
Sheldon Feingold – USA
Vitor Salas – Portugal
Joseph Low – USA
João Ferreira – Portugal
Hunter Peak – USA
Priya Ferreira – UK
Ryan Griffin – USA
Rami Alhames – Syria
Maya Bell – New Zealand
Melanie Mitrano – USA
Rob McDonell – Australia
Jennifer Souza – USA
Scott Hudson – Australia
Bill Holloway – USA
Elaine Vieira – South Africa
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&rsquot;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

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