July 23, 2009

Meet Jay Bauman who will soon be moving to Brazil after having visited the country numerous times. Read the following interview in which he 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 am living in Orlando, Florida, moving to Rio de Janeiro as of Sept 30. My wife is Brazilian and we met while I was consulting in Rio a couple of years ago. I used to be a business consultant, but now I am full-time in ministry. My wife is an attorney. I have a permanent visa in Brazil and recently applied for residency.

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

Back in 2003 a friend introduced me to Brazil through urban missions work in the favelas of São Paulo. Since then I’ve been to Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Sertao (the interior), Joao Pessoa, Salvador (Morro do São Paulo), Rio, Florianopolis, Campinas, etc. My favorite spots are the beaches south of Joao Pessoa, and everywhere in Florianopolis.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Wonderful people, wonderful community, great food.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Saving money. Rio, where we are moving in two months, is expensive.

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

My wife & I tried to send a package via FedEx to Brazil and it got caught up in customs (they said we were trying to resell it, which we weren’t) and we basically were forced to pay extra monies (well on top of a 100% duty, which we were prepared to pay) to get it out of the governments hand. We refused, bought another product, booked a flight from Orlando, paid duties at the airport in Rio, and took the package down ourselves and it was STILL cheaper. The other package is still in customs.

Also getting married in Brazil is not as simple as in the states. You have to go to like five cartorios and find Rodrigo, Leo Silva the IIIrd, etc. I once offered a guy my home in Orlando to visit to get around the bureaucracy and it worked, a little jeitinho brasilerio.” I’m not into bribes but I know my ethics will be tempted in the future! As a side note, If you are engaged to a Brazilian and living in two different countries you need some counsel to make it all happen right.

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

I don’t know where to start on this one. I’ve been to Brazil like 15 times. Probably the most memorable experience was recently visiting a men’s prison in Rio (I will be blogging on this). That was one of the most horrifying experiences. It was like a wall of flesh, 40 guys crammed into a space for six. Guys having to sleep standing up. Brazil’s human rights abuses are significant, not only for prisoners, but for society as a whole. We are working to change that through an NGO called Rio de Paz (My blog has a lot of pictures of this.

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

My wife. And Nannai Beach Resort near Porto de Galinhas.

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

In Rio, where I spend most of my time, I like Prainha beach outside Recreio. I also love Barra Brasa, a churrascaria, while I’m in Barra da Tijuca.

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

We were working in Cidade de Deus with a humanitarian missions team this summer and a guy who was obviously high came to hit me up for something. All I had was a kid’s jump rope in a plastic bag. He took the jump rope and was so excited, he started to go around showing everyone. It was all kind of strange. I was excited too, for him to leave me alone, but then I realized that a jump rope may not be the best tool for someone depressed enough to be a substance abuser.

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

People are nice in Brazil, even though I realize there is always a dark side. That’s always present in man’s sin nature, but I won’t theologize.

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?

Intermediate. I’m looking for a good Portuguese class/instructor for Estrangeiros in Rio, if anyone knows of one.

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

Be patient, be flexible, and always have a Brazilian with you (until you are familiar with your surroundings), unless you want to get mugged, at worst, or ripped off, at best.

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

In São Paulo, eat! The restaurants are the best. If I was visiting Brazil for the first time, and had limited time, I would do the traditional Rio tourist elements and then head to Buzios/Cabo Frio and do a private boat ride in Arraial do Cabo.

You can reach Jay via naardski@gmail.com or see his website at Alan Williams – USA
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