Meet Peter Kefalas, from the USA, who has travelled around Brazil and married a Brazilian. 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.?

I am from New York city and I work for a marketing company there.

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

I first came to Brazil in January of 2004 around carnival time to visit my many friends in Rio. I returned to Rio, visited Fortaleza and other parts of Ceara in January 2005. I also got engaged to my wife who is from Ceara during my second trip to Brazil. I returned again in December of 2005 and visited Rio, Fortaleza and many other places throughout Ceara and stayed until the end of March, as well as returning to New York city with my wife.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impression of Brazil was that it was a very beautiful place, with a lot of really good people and that I would return soon.

4. What do you miss most about home?

While I was living in Brazil I missed the food back home the most. But the food is very good there and very cheap as well.

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

I have had a few frustrating experiences in Brazil but the most frustrating would have to be getting my wife her green card at the American Consular in Rio.

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

I have had many memorable experiences in Brazil, but I would have to say traveling throughout the state of Ceara would be the most memorable, seeing the many beautiful beaches, cities and people there was very special.

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

I love the beer, the beaches, the people, honestly there are way to many to name, I just love Brazil!

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

In Rio I enjoy many of the restaurants by the beach and in or around Copacabana, I miss sitting outside eating, drinking and passing time with all of my friends there. The Christ statue is my favorite place to visit in Rio , it is so large, beautiful and has great views of the city as well. Maracana stadium is also one of my favorite places to go, you cannot beat watching a live soccer game there, go Flu!! Also the bottanical gardens in Rio are one of my favorites, it is so beautiful there and I enjoy spending the entire day walking around and relaxing. In Ceara I enjoy all the exotic beaches and fishing villages, very relaxing and beautiful. In Fortaleza, Aldeota is a really cool neighborhood to live, shop and eat it is very close to Praia Futuro, the cleanist urban beach in the world. The night market at Praia Futuro is a great place to shop at night, you can find really nice things priced cheaply. The English point has great views and is the best place in Fortaleza to watch the sun set.

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

As far as funny incidents, I would have to say taking a 3 day bus ride from Fortaleza to Rio, the Brazilian people are not shy and enjoy joking around a lot. The entire trip was a laugh, but Id say taking a shower in a remote truck stop with frogs every where was one of the funnier things I had happen to me.

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

I would have to say the poverty, the relaxed attitude and the poor interstates between cities and states.

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?

My Portuguese is very good, since my wife is Brazilian and I have many Brazilian friends in New York city and throughout Brazil, I have the chance to speak the language everyday and learn more everyday. I also study often so that helps as well. I will say though that it is not an easy language to learn and if you try to use Spanish to get by in Brazil you will not have much or any luck.

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

My advice would be learn at least a little Portuguese before visiting Brazil and to be careful when visiting. Brazil is a great and beautiful place to visit, but can be very dangerous as well due to the large scale of poverty you will see in just about any city you visit there, Do not walk around looking like you’re a movie star or with expensive things, also leave your tough guy attitude at home (if you have one) no matter how tough your neighborhood is back home, I can promise you that many people living there live in slums that make our ghettos here in New York city a nice place. Blend in as much as you can and stay away from the slums! Other than that just be nice and everything should be fine.

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

The one place in Brazil I do not like is São Paulo, maybe because it reminds me of home (the concrete jungle I live in). I would say visit the beaches, try to visit carnival in Rio once, visit the shopping centers, visit the Christ statue in Rio, and if you are a single guy visit the disco Help in Copacabana. Throughout the country, air passes are very cheap and the bus is even cheaper. Explore and enjoy this great country, you will return a new person, I did anyway and for the better.

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:

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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