Brazil is the home of Havaianas, samba, the Amazon, Gisele Bündchen, caipirinhas, Carnival, Copacabana, and now, me. That’s right, I’m moving to Brazil.
This is not just a whim, or a decision made out of the blue. In fact, it’s been nearly a year in the making. My husband, who works in the oil and gas industry, was offered an incredible opportunity to lead a new project in Brazil. We thought, “What the hell? When else will we get this chance?”
While Texas is still home, for the next six months or so, you can call me “The Girl from Ipanema.” When not traveling or in Houston, I’ll be living in Rio de Janeiro, a block from the world-famous Ipanema Beach. I’ve visited Rio during Carnival, and the city was electric. I can’t wait to see what it’s like when the world’s attention is set squarely on the city in June. You may not be aware, but a certain soccer tournament is coming to town; perhaps you’ve heard of the FIFA World Cup?
I’m SUPER excited!
Ultimately, I’ll move to Porto de Galinhas (pictured above). Located in the state of Pernambuco near Recife, Porto is in the northeastern part of Brazil. Near the equator, it’s arguably the best beach in the country. Meaning “port of chickens,” Porto de Galinhas used to be a fishing village, but has transformed to the vacation spot for Brazilians. It’s hard to believe that this small-town girl from the dry plains of West Texas is going to live on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I best start stocking up on big hats and sunscreen.
Moving to Brazil isn’t all soccer balls and sungas. Actually, becoming an expat is an incredible pain in the ass. I’m sure moving to a foreign country is never easy, but Brazil seems inherently difficult. As a general rule, things in Latin America move at a glacial pace, and I’m pretty sure that Brazil rivals Spain for the most public holidays in the entire world. That’s awesome when you’re living in the country, but not so great when you’re trying to get into the country.
Don’t get me started on customs. With the proper paperwork, I can bring my dogs into the country with no quarantine, which is wonderful. However, once my furniture hits the Brazilian shores, it’s sequestered for three to six months! Given that my stuff will be held hostage for half of a year, the majority of my household goods are remaining in Houston. As for my clothes, shoes, purses, and jewelry, I’m bringing them to Brazil in shifts. United gives me two bags at 70 pounds each, and you can bet they’ll be full of my wardrobe (and Nespresso pods) for the foreseeable future.
My travel will not stop, though I do plan on exploring more of South America over the next three years. It’s uncharted territory, as the only place on the continent I’ve visited is Rio. I’m excited to discover the wine regions of Chile and Argentina. Crossing Machu Picchu, Yungas Road, and Iguazú Falls off of my To-Do List will happen sooner rather than later. I look forward to exploring Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats, Patagonia and maybe even getting to Antarctica. And these are just the places I know about right now!
I won’t be deprived of my beloved Texas or Europe. Houston is a ten hour direct flight from Rio. It takes about seven hours to fly from Recife to Lisbon. In ten hours, I can be in Johannesburg, South Africa. Believe me, I’ve extensively researched airlines, routes, and times. Through this relocation, I’ve been given the gift of South America at my fingertips.
I look forward to this new chapter. I vow to learn some Portuguese and polish my Spanish skills while outside of Brazil. I can’t wait to try new foods and experience different cultures. With the FIFA World Cup and Olympics coming, I can’t think of a more exciting time to live in Brazil.
I’m optimistic that I’ll find my place in a country where I know exactly four people. I look forward to assimilating a bit to the Brazilian culture, though there are two things you won’t catch me doing: using the Portuguese spelling of Brazil and wearing a thong. Both just feel incredibly uncomfortable. Other than that, I’m open to the entire Brazilian expat experience.
Tonight, I board a ten-hour flight bound for Rio de Janeiro and begin an adventure unlike any I’ve had before.