Brazil Part 2 – The Last Hurrah 

 April 15, 2022

By  Wilson

This blog post is Part 2 to the sequel The Experience in Brazil, Part 1, where I “accidentally” embarked on this incredible journey. Brazil ended up being Plan B to Moving to China when the move to China in February 2020 got canceled due to COVID.

And let’s not forget that once upon a time I was Mr. Guadalajara (aka EL Tapatío) for 2 years.

I gave a big “I love you” hug to Brazil the day I deliberately made the decision to learn an extremely difficult language that I was 99% sure I would never use outside of Brazil.

I Wasn’t Wasting Time during Brazil Part 2. I Went Straight to Cool Places.

As soon as I arrived to São Paulo on my international flight, I spent the night in the hotel right by the airport and took the next available flight to Fernando de Noronha, which ended up being my favorite place in Brazil.

After a week, I had to work, so I needed to leave the island to receive more reliable internet, so I migrated down to Itacaré, another “beach party town”.

After 3 weeks in Itacaré, I went to Jericoacoara for 3 weeks, which ended up being my third favorite place in Brazil.

Then I spent 3 more weeks in Rio. (See a trend? I enjoy staying in places for 3 weeks to give myself ample time to work full-time while exploring on the weekends.)

My last month focused on visiting friends. I spent 1 week in Goiânia, 1 week in São Paulo, a few days in Curitiba, and a few days in Ilhabela before I went back home.

My Top 10 Favorite Places in Brazil

When I was in Rio de Janeiro for my final month in Brazil Part 2, my gringo friends asked me the question, “Why do you like Brazil so much?”

I wasn’t prepared for that question. I had already been in Brazil for 8 total months in my lifetime, so it was well-known that I already had a strong interest in the country. To this day, I still a lot of trouble answering that question in a concise way.

Here are my favorite places in Brazil (from both Parts 1 & 2):

  1. Fernando de Noronha
  2. Pipa
  3. Jericoacoara
  4. Florianópolis
  5. Chapada dos Veadeiros
  6. Rio de Janeiro
  7. Foz do Iguaçu
  8. Itacaré
  9. Morro de São Paulo
  10. Balneário Camboriú

I can’t name a single place in the United States that has a similar party beach town vibe year-round to places like Pipa, Itacaré, and Jericoacoara. (If you do know – please reach out, because I would like to go there ASAP. Lol)

On the wishlist: Bonito, Alter do Chão, Lençois Maranhenses, Caraíva, Trancoso, Praia do Rosa (repeat), Amazonias, Chapada Diamantina.

Fernando de Noronha – How in the World Did We Mess up on this?

In my opinion, it’s arguably a top 15 destination in the world and nobody has even heard of the name. 

This was my first destination for Brazil Part 2, simply because that I had the week off work. I was determined to be in Fernando de Noronha that week.

I don’t understand how Noronha isn’t in the same conversation as the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, or Patagonia Chile/Argentina. Or Roy’s Peak in New Zealand. Or Machu Picchu in Peru. The list goes on and on. And I’m stating this because I had never even heard of the place until I had been in Brazil for 5 months.

In the same way that many other places in Brazil surprised me, Noronha was one of the most beautiful places in the world that I have ever visited.

Brazil Made me Realize that It’s Better to Prioritize Cultural Deep Dives Over Increasing Country Count

I’ve been to 47 countries in the world.

When I was in my early 20’s, I focused on increasing that country count. That changed when I spent considerable time in Mexico and that metric no longer became an importance to me when I took another cultural deep dive in Brazil. I found it a lot more rewarding to know one country for a long time than it was to know many countries at a surface level within a short period of time.

Rio de Janeiro is regarded as one of the greatest cities in the world, and I ranked it as my sixth favorite place in Brazil.

For example, I’ve been to Prague for 3 days, Vienna for 3 days, Cairo for 3 days, Bangkok for 2 days, and Sydney for 3 days. That’s technically 5 countries, but that’s 5 countries (1 city each) in 14 days, which isn’t enough time to appreciate the respective cultures. 

I’ve been to Brazil, and that’s 1 country. But I can tell you specific stories about 14 different states, 14 different cultures within the same country. 

The craziest part of all of this is that I can now tell those stories in Brazil’s national language.

Am I the Most Brazilian Gringo or the Most Gringo Brazilian?

I firmly believe that Brazil is the most obvious country in Latin America yet the one that everybody chooses to forget about. 

Probably because it’s far from anywhere else in the world. And probably because of the language barrier. For me, once COVID hit, stepping outside my comfort zone in that regard was what made the adventure in Brazil exciting, and it paid off immensely. The experience was more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

One time, I was at a hostel, and the hostel worker was extremely confused because I sang along to the live Samba band, but he knew I was American. I took the time to learn Portuguese and immersed myself in the culture.

I’m already following 10 of my favorite Brazilian artists on Instagram. It’s not a secret that I quickly fell in love with the Brazilian culture. My Spotify playlists have recently been nearly exclusive of Brazilian music: Samba/Pagode, Piseiro, Forró, Sertanejo, Funk.

It’s almost as embarrassing as when everybody in 3rd grade knows you have a crush on the girl next to you in class, but whatever. I love Brazil.

What I Want the Rest of the World to Understand about Brazil, Told by an American

…that spent 10 total months in Brazil.

Rule #1 – Spanish is not the same as Portuguese. If you know Spanish (and English) only, you will barely get by. However, if you know Spanish, you will have a huge advantage in learning Portuguese. I analyzed it in a recent blog post: Spanish to Portuguese – What Transfers Well, What Does Not.

Rule #2 – I disagree with the general perception of safety in Brazil. Parts of Brazil are indeed dangerous, but it’s just as dangerous as anywhere else, including in the US and Europe. I breathed the air in Brazil for 10 months and I got robbed zero times because I was careful, just like I would be anywhere else. Of the top 10 of my favorite places in Brazil I listed above, the only one that was listed that’s dangerous is Rio.

Rule #3 – Brazil is extremely diverse. Brazil has had centuries of Europeans, Africans, and Asians (particular of Japanese descent) immigrate to Brazil, plus you have the indigenous Brazilians. Yes, that means people mistake me, an Asian-American, for being Brazilian. Hats off to the LGBT community all over Brazil as well – it’s one of the most spirited communities I’ve seen in the world.

Rule #4 – Brazil is more than just Rio and Sao Paulo. It’s the 5th largest country in the world by land and 6th in the world by population. In the same way that South Carolina is a lot different from California which is a lot different from Texas, Rio de Janeiro is a lot different from Rio Grande do Norte which is a lot different from Goías. 

Rule #5 – Brazilians know how to party hard. Live music is everywhere in the country, the beach culture is huge, and Brazilians refuse to drink their beer that’s anything more than 1 degree celsius.

But I Still Haven’t Answered the Question: Why Do I Like Brazil So Much?

It’s really hard to answer that question.

But I will say this.

As I continue to work and travel the world and as I close this incredible chapter on Brazil, I will forever have fond memories of swimming with dolphins in Fernando de Noronha. Dancing Forró under the stars of Jericoacoara. Singing songs in Pipa at the Praia do Amor midnight bonfire. Wearing my Luigi costume alongside Mario for Carnaval in Rio like I’m 19 at a Halloween college rager.

The country that quietly and indirectly says IYKYK to the rest of the world where people are genuinely confused when I, an American, blend in and start singing along to popular Pagode songs. 

Let me try to answer the question “Why do I like Brazil so much?” now.

Unique culture, fun atmosphere, solid nature, brings the best out of you.

“So I Guess This is It.”

It doesn’t mean that I won’t be back, because I certainly will.

But all I can say is thank you, Brazil, for everything that you have taught me. You were the perfect reminder of why I love traveling the world and why I enjoy familiarizing myself with different and beautiful cultures.

Brazil will inevitably be a part of me forever. I’m so Brazilian to the point that even I, the most Brazilian gringo (or the most gringo Brazilian?🤔), get annoyed when other gringos start speaking Spanish to Brazilians. I’ll be wearing my headphones quietly but unapologetically listening to popular Brazilian music as I walk down the streets of Austin, Texas. And of course, Brazil, the country obsessed with horoscopes, made me realize that I am a true Sagittarius.

I don’t know where my next destination will be in the world. But I know that I will have two identities moving forward.

Number one. The WFH Nomad.

And. Number two.

The Most Brazilian Gringo.


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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