The Experience in Brazil, Part 1 

 April 14, 2021

By  Wilson

Before the Experience in Brazil, Part 1 ever happened, I was once Mr. Guadalajara for two years.

And so… Wait, Brazil?

And before we actually dive right in, this travel blog post deserves a strong, this-was-during-the-thick-of-covid asterisk. Because it was.

But despite the circumstances, I couldn’t be more thankful for the 6-month experience.

Why Did You Choose Brazil?

People genuinely are curious as to my decisions on how I choose to travel where. I usually don’t know how to answer without giving a cliched, half-bs half-sarcastic answer. Because normally I don’t think too much about my destinations other than maybe the potential crowd-pleasing Instagram pictures.

Balneario Camboriú, Santa Catarina, Brazil

And in fact – a lot of foreigners I met in Brazil these last few months told me they chose Brazil as their destination specifically to avoid COVID lockdowns in other countries. Cough. Cue the avoids-eye-contact look.

But the decision for me to choose Brazil back in October of 2020 was deliberate. I had been originally planning on moving to China in February 2020 before the move got called off due to COVID. I already had about two years in Mexico, and I knew I wanted something similar yet very different on this side of the world.

In short – it was the next “different” adventure, and the only place in the world that I wanted to go was Brazil.

First Interactions

I arrived alone to the beautiful island of Florianópolis AKA Floripa. The original idea was to stay in one place near the beach, surf and work, and practice social distancing during the pandemic as much as I could.

Lagoinha do Leste – Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

I stayed at the Selina Hostel for my first weekend just to make friends. And when I make friends in a new country, I always remember the first people. As I mentioned in my YouTube video on How I Make Friends While Solo Traveling, as soon as you make one friend abroad, you have effectively built a network. That was the case when I met Will, Scott, and Camila.

The Beach Bar at Selina in front of Praia Mole in Florianópolis, Brazil.

Turning Point #1 – Establishing Friendships

My birthday in December 2020 included an organized boat party that was… disorganized. Hashtag, oops.

I needed to recruit 8 other people, and I had already been friends with Thaisy, Jasper, Scott, Raquel, and Matheus – so they were invited. Some also initially accepted then declined.

On that Thursday night, a day and a half before the boat party, I met a random Swedish guy named Sam at a random bar in Florianópolis. Sam ended up inviting two strangers (Anna and Ana).

Left to right: Thaisy, Raquel, Scott, me, Anna, Sam, Ana, Jasper, Matheus. On my birthday. Lagoa da Conceição in Floripa.

The afternoon ended up being an absolute blast, and it was perfect because this is the type of random gathering and perfect mix of locals and foreigners that I absolutely love. There’s no greater birthday gift than being able to travel the world, and if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have changed it.

Turning Point #2 – Venturing Out

I was once like you.

“Oh, I should learn Spanish first so I’m not going to even consider Brazil” or “It’s too far” or “I heard it’s really dangerous”.

But I soon realized – and this was after I started exploring other cities – that Brazil is truly a remarkable country.

And I promise you – it is more than just Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

We just don’t understand it… yet…

And (un)fortunately, I started getting a skin infection on the back of my knee that prevented me from entering the water and surfing all the time. So I decided to take that “opportunity” to venture out of Floripa after three, somewhat nomad-less months.

What Was Your Favorite Place In Brazil?

I initially hated this question. It was like having to choose between vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Like, dude. Idk.

After my Floripa stint, and in the month of February, I had the opportunity to visit Porto Alegre, Salvador, Morro de São Paulo, Goiânia, and Chapada dos Veadeiros.

I met Ciro in Floripa back in January. We started traveling around together in the Northeast of Brazil for the entire month of March. We started in Recife, then ventured up to João Pessoa, then we hitch-hiked from a bordering town to Pipa and threw down on a sick Airbnb penthouse.

View from the Airbnb. Location: Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

Ciro and I flew back down south and ended the trip in Paraty. Afterwards, I made a quick solo trip to Uberlândia before officially ending The Experience in Brazil, Part 1.

Mirante da Janela in Chapada dos Veadeiros, Goiás

Of the places I visited above, my favorite was no doubt Chapada dos Veadeiros in the state of Goiás. My second favorite was Pipa.

Oh, ROI, I Love You

Pipa was one of my favorite places because it was not only a fantastic beach town (Praia do Amor is a Top 5 beach I’ve seen in this world), it was also extremely cheap.

Ciro and I posing before a surf session! Location: Praia do Amor – Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

I remembered one time in Pipa I had lunch for $10R, which at the time, equaled $1.80 USD. Yes – you read that right – less than two dollars. And it was good quality food too – it was a great mix of rice, beans, meat, and vegetables.

While Pipa was more cheap than what I normally experienced in Brazil, in general, this was the type of return I consistently received through the 6 months that I was in Brazil.

The dollar got significantly stronger against the Brazilian Real after the commencement of the pandemic. When I went to Brazil in 2018, a meal that was $39R would actually cost me $10USD. A $39R meal during Brazil, Part 1 only costed me $6.84USD.

It’s ironic because traveling is thought to be expensive, but in a way, traveling to Brazil was a Return on Investment for me over a 6 month period. I describe a little more about this on my YouTube channel about the WFH Nomad lifestyle benefits.

Location: Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

This isn’t to be arrogant and I hope it doesn’t come across that way. This is just to explain how this impacted my lifestyle in Brazil – because it did. I not only did not have to count the pennies the way I had to when I lived in San Francisco, I didn’t even need to look at the prices on menus during The Experience in Brazil, Part 1. Nothing would ever cost me more than $150R (~$25USD) at dinner, even at the most expensive restaurants. On the contrary, every single dinner was guaranteed to be at least $25USD when I lived in San Francisco back in 2017.

COVID-19 in Brazil

When we read the news, we know Brazil struggled mightily to control the spread of COVID.

I contracted COVID New Years in Rio de Janeiro and I subsequently quarantined for 14 days in January 2021. I was lucky. My symptoms were extremely mild – I had no cough, a fever for two days, and lost of taste and smell for 4 days.

Only supermarkets and pharmacies were opened, and they started banning the sale of alcoholic drinks on weekends. The lockdowns started getting very strict country-wide in March. Location: Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Carnaval was cancelled. Lockdown was reinstated multiple times. The variant from Manaus started spreading towards the end of 2020. It was a very sad time for the country. I ended up leaving a week early to escape COVID and to take the vaccine that became available to US citizens in the US.

However, upon reflecting on this and despite the circumstances, I couldn’t be more thankful for the experiences and the friendship that I made.

And the Oscar goes to…

…the Gringo with the Thick Accent and the Baby Asian Face! Surprise.

I am ethnically Asian. Yes, that’s 100% Asian. When I was in Mexico, people would look at me and correctly jump to the conclusion that I was not Mexican.

However, in Brazil, people would look at me, and the first assumption was that I was Brazilian…

…until I started opening my mouth. Then they’re like… ohhh. Yea, nvm got it.

There are millions of Asians – particularly of the Japanese descent – in São Paulo, and that’s not really a secret in this world.

Left to Right: Me, Ciro, Isis, Luana. Btw – the 3 of them are all Asian-Brazilians. Asian Pride!!! Location: Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

But the second I start speaking in Portuguese in my thick Gringo accent, they know. They know that I’m not Brazilian.

How did me being ethnically Asian impact me during The Experience in Brazil, Part 1? It still made a huge impact. I was that freakishly tall (ok, regular tall – 6″3′ / 191cm) Asian Gringo traveling around Brazil during COVID times, so I stood out.

Location: Hotel Portaló – Morro de São Paulo, Bahia, Brazil

But I think this also shows that Brazil is truly a melting pot of mixed races. (Which probably explains why everybody is so exotic and attractive…. cough, sorry.)

Public Service Announcement…

Portuguese Does Not Equal Spanish.


Yeah, shocking. However, knowing Spanish prior to learning Portuguese is definitely an advantage. See the following example below:

Can you see the similarities?

The advanced conjugations are very similar. Can I get another shoutout to The Viking Teacher for those incredible online Spanish lessons that I took for a year back in 2019? Because those Spanish classes in 2019 indirectly helped me learn Portuguese.

Although I was lazy with learning Portuguese, I feel like I picked it up at a way faster rate without classes than I did with Spanish in the beginning.

But of course, see this example below:

There are certain phrases and words that you will just have to learn from scratch. Which I tried doing for these last 6 months. My Portuguese dramatically improved in the final 2 months and started getting around perfectly fine.

Museum of Tomorrow. Location: Rio de Janeiro.

And oh, btw, yes – in case you were jw-slash-being-slightly-nosy – I had no problems going on dates that were exclusively in Portuguese.

After Final Review, It Has Been Determined That…

Brazil is Truly One of a Kind.

6 months is a long time away from home. It’s a long time to be in one country.

I was sitting in my hotel room in Uberlândia, Minas Gerais on my last night in Brazil and reflecting on my remarkable journey in this country. Não Deixe o Samba Morrer (Sambô’s version) suddenly started playing on TV and it really hit me.

Holy shit. Brazil is so. Fking. Unique.

That song playing on TV was that of Samba – a type of Brazilian music genre. Perfect example. You just can’t find that anywhere else in this world.

Because Brazil once respectfully approached the rest of the world and started saying things like “bros, none of this shared-reggaeton-among-multiple-latin-american-countries bullshit. We do our own thing”.

In addition to their own landmarks, they have their own food. They have their own music. They have their own culture. And I genuinely think it’s a very beautiful thing.

Pedra do Telégrafo. Rio de Janeiro

Brazil is the leader in Latin America in many categories, including GDP and population. And maybe because the national language has a LOT to do with it, but Brazil is truly unique.

And if you break it down even further – there are 27 states in Brazil. That’s 27 different cultures. I visited 9 of those states.

In front of the Carnaval Museum. Location: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

Lastly, I also want to comment about the extremely welcoming behavior of Brazilians. Of the ~45 countries in this world that I’ve traveled to, I have never seen anything quite like the Brazilian amicability towards foreigners.

When I was in Goiânia, I had a drink with my friend Elder and his friends, and one of Elder’s friends actually invited me to his wedding in 2022. Because Brazilians are that genuinely welcoming, and I will never take that for granted.

But One Ultimate Question Remains…

Can I Call Myself Brazilian Now?

The short answer is… not yet.

But I’m optimistic that I will be a true, honorary Brazilian one day.


Overlooking Pão de Açúcar. Location: Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The next time I’m in Brazil, you can find me searching for fresh pão de queijo for breakfast; watching the next episode of BBB; trekking to get açaí on the beach in my Havaianas; dancing unapologetically to Samba, Sertanejo, and Brega Funk; eating everybody’s leftover picanhas at churrascos; pretending to care about the Gremio vs. Internacional game just to fit in; getting drunk off $5R caipirinhas with cachaça; throwing in the word “tipo” every other sentence to make my Portuguese a little less Gringo; singing along to every word at a live Barões da Pisadinha concert; partying wildly with millions at Carnaval in Salvador.

Because one thing is for sure.

There will be a Brazil Part 2.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Hi, my name is Wilson, founder of WFH Nomad. I was born and raised in the US, and I boast engineering and business degrees from top programs in the US. I work a normal, WFH job for a great company in America. I am extremely passionate about traveling and my job in the Tech industry, and the best part of the WFH Nomad concept is that I can do both at the same time.

I have traveled to over 47 different countries in my lifetime and I look forward to continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future. Thanks for visiting the website!

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