Meet James Weed, from the USA, who works in Brazil. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil 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 James Weed, I live in São Paulo. I’m from Philadelphia, PA, USA. I’m the Lead Mechanic on the Goodyear airship, frequently seen above São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

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

I first came to Brazil in November 2000 to work as an aircraft acceptance inspector for my then employer, Mesa Airlines, at the Embraer Factory in São Jose dos Campos. Basically I made sure that my company was not buying a defective aircraft, from chipped paint to leaking engines. I did this for two years, inspecting approximately 15 airplanes. I decided that I liked Brazil enough to move here and give English lessons in Vitoria, ES. I began working here in São Paulo in December 2005 with the Goodyear Airship.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

The first time I came to Brazil, I was most impressed by the heat and tropical climate. It was practically snowing in Philadelphia, and the first thing I did when I arrived in SP was go to the beach for beers with my boss.

4. What do you miss most about home?

My Family, friends and car. I don’t miss anything else.

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

These days it seems more and more people live off of credit. This is true in my country as well as other places, although I’m not sure there is a worse place than Brazil in this aspect. Appearance and material things seem to be more important to people here, even when it’s not within their means to buy these things. Status symbols seem to drive people here more. For example, a R$1000 cellular phone paid for in 12 installments with no credits to call anyone. A friend of mine buys R$800 tennis shoes on a payment plan and then complains when he doesn’t have R$7 to buy a decent lunch. I’d imagine that the wardrobe of most of these playboys” you see at clubs in São Paulo aren’t even paid for yet. So I guess my most frustrating experience here is lending people money that aren’t going to pay me back… because they can’t.

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

The PCC war in São Paulo in May of this year (2006) was pretty memorable. Seeing the streets of one of the largest cities in the world empty was pretty amazing.

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

The culture and openness of the people here is what I like most. I don’t have blood relatives here but I know some families that treat me as their own.

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

I most enjoy the restaurants/bars in Vila Olimpia, the Ibirapuera Park, Moema, Liberdade, São Paulo has so many places to see and enjoy. In all of Brazil I have to say that the Vila of Itaunas in Espirito Santo state is my all time favorite.

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

One of the very first times I came to Brazil I discovered a grilled chicken restaurant in a mall which I really enjoyed. I always had help in ordering when I went because I was with some colleagues from work. I like to order chicken breast with a side of fritas. Well, peito and pinto are two different things; although to the foreign ear they sound alike perhaps. Anyway the dish I ordered was understood to be chicken penis as opposed to chicken breast… HAHAHA!!!

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

The main difference I see that is striking between the USA and Brazil are the more relaxed laws here in Brazil. I like relaxed laws to a point. In Brazil I can buy a beer on the sidewalk, walk down the street with it in plain view for all to see, then get another one. The prison systems here are atrocious. Prisoners with cell phones coordinating attacks on the population is just unheard of to me. In the USA it’s impossible for an inmate to have a phone, and this practice of letting inmates out for mothers day! You’ve got to be kidding me!

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?

I’ve been in Brazil for almost 5 years now so I have to say that my Portuguese is quite good. I remember the most difficult things were the verb tenses and trying to speak grammatically correctly while most of the native population speaks wrong. for example: Se eu tivesse mais dinheiro eu compraria um carro vs. Se eu tivesse mais dinheiro eu comprava um carro. One is right and one is wrong, but which is it? YOU TELL ME! You hear them both on the street.

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

For a newcomer go to a big city. People tend to be more open and friendly and less false. I started in Vitoria, a small city, with small personalities and a lot of false friendships. So go to places like Rio and SP where people are used to foreigners and are more welcoming to them. Avoid the small town mentality! You’ll spend a lot of time alone unless someone wants to “borrow” money from you. Here in Vitoria borrow means GIVE! Este filho da puta esta me enrolando cara!

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

Anywhere in Brazil if you go to a place with a trusted friend you’ll have a good time. If you’re alone, don’t be afraid to go alone. I’ve had great times traveling and knowing new places by myself, it’s an adventure, just learn some Portuguese and you’ll be fine. Take a chance and go off the beaten path, maybe a small seaside villa in Espirito Santo, there are tons of options. How adventurous are you?

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 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:

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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