I’m a border-hopper, only the other way. I have fled my boring middle class life in the states for… middle class life in Brazil. Hey, at least it’s in a different language. That makes it slightly more exciting, or frustrating. Depends on how you look at things. And I have a tendency of looking at things in a sarcastically positive light.
I have a very traditional boy meets girl story, except on fast forward. I met my Brazilian husband while in Spain for a month. He was there finishing off a year at photography school. We met, went back to our respective countries, and then he came up to the US to get me. After a couple of years of hoping around between countries, we settled on Brazil. A big part of that was that I got pregnant with our first child and he was offered, coincidently, a job in Rio de Janeiro 2 weeks after we found out. No brainer, we missed Brazil, they have public healthcare (I had no healthcare at the time), and he had a job there. Not to mention we missed it, the beaches, and many other things.What challenges did you face during the move?
When we finally moved, my Portuguese was still quite questionable. We also had very little time to get there and get settled before the baby was born. We had to find an apartment, move in, remodel it, all while I tried to manage doctors in Portuguese and teaching English on the side.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We were lucky because my husband is Brazilian. He knows how to do these things in Brazil. We basically got some realtors and had them show us apartments. We were totally harassed by these professionals and still received calls, in our new place, a year after we bought it. They would call to ask if we found a place. Duh. Talk about giving out a person’s info
Are there many other expats in your area?
There weren’t when I got here and all my friends were Brazilian. That really helped my Portuguese. I finally ended up meeting some other expat Mommies at neighborhood parks and such. Now, years later, I have expat blogger friends that live somewhat near me. But my Mommy friends are my largest expat group.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
What, with the local natives? Just fine. I wave and smile at the people at the bakery or gas station near my place. I find the interactions with people on the street refreshing. It’s nice to say hi and have a chat with your neighbors or neighborhood vendors. Hell, I even have a neighborhood bum that I say good morning too and have the occasional chat. Brazilians are just friendly like that.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love how active my life can be. There’s always something to do! The weather is usually beautiful and my children and I have very physically active lives. There’s also a lot of culture. You can always find a show, dance performance, or art exhibit to go see. Not to mention, good places to have a cold beer with friends. I also like my neighborhood of Laranjeiras/Catete/Flamengo in particular because it’s not super touristy. It’s a very local neighborhood in Rio. If you need to find a Brazilian Grandma, you can always find one there.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
There are days when I just can’t communicate right and that is very frustrating. Sometimes I just want to be able to hop in my car and not worry about violence or the chaos of the city. Then again, you can always go out to the country to get away from it. Right now, I’m quite fond of expat life. Once you find your niche, you adapt pretty damn fast.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Get all your foreign documents stamped at the Brazilian consulate. You will save a lot of time and money that way. That includes your divers license if you plan on getting a Brazilian one. Also buy a kindle, saves you from hunting for overpriced English books. Buy some good Portuguese language books! And be ready for the adventure! It’s all how you look at it. If you are going to focus on what you miss, you’ll miss everything around you. Go in with an open mind, experience everything you can, and enjoy.
What are your plans for the future?
As I can see it, we’re staying in Brazil. I sometimes fantasize about going to another country, Spain maybe, for a couple of years. I love travelling and really getting to know places! But as it goes, we’ll be in Rio. You all should come down sometime.
Read more about Rachel and life in Rio at Rachel’s Rantings in Rio or follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelsrantings