I got off to a terrible start in Brazil. I’d travelled down from Quito through Peru and Bolivia without any major hassles, had an amazing time in Rio de Janeiro, but then I got robbed. My camera, diary, and all the photos of my trip were gone. By the time I got to Salvador – the destination I’d planned on teaching English – I hated Brazil. However, within a couple of months I’d fallen in love with the place and people, so much so that I’ve decided to share with you the best things about Brazil (in my opinion, anyway!)
After travelling round the world, the carnival in Brazil is still the best party that I’ve ever witnessed. I was in Salvador, north Brazil, where there is a huge African influence. I arrived just before and found a job by walking round with my CV to all the schools, which enabled me to relax and get stuck into the celebrations. I found a place to live right in the heart of the historical centre, Pelourinho, where the drumming bands practiced every night in the week leading up to the main event. The five-day party was quality. Luckily I made a few mates and we spent each night in a different part of Salvador dancing and prancing about. The only negative side was the local thugs. I saw a lot of fights between young louts and the police and one of my mates took a beating. The carnival is a must see, just be careful.
Meeting Mr King Murphy and other adventurers in Salvador
King Murphy was a Nigerian English teacher who became a good friend of mine, whom I met when I was walking about Salvador job hunting.
“Hey, you want place for carnival?” he asked me in his deep voice. Within a couple of days I’d moved in with the Brazilian family he was living with and 6 other locals.
King Murphy was a big, friendly giant. He helped me to learn Portuguese and gave me advice on where to go (and not go) while in Salvador. He was obsessed with Brazilian women and often disappeared for days only too return knackered from his wicked adventures. We had a great laugh and he made my time in Salvador fun.
Getting over the fear
As mentioned above, when I arrived in Salvador I was in a bad way and began living in fear – I saw everyone as a threat and my trust in the locals went right down. I was determined to make a go of teaching though and battled against the fear. Learning Portuguese was the best answer and when I started teaching and saw that most Brazilians were good people I began to chill out. I used to worry about walking through the centre of Pelourinho, but by the end I’d made a few friends and the locals often greeted me. In my last month I felt much more comfortable but I rarely walked round alone late at night.
If you ever go to Bahia then you have to try an acarajé from one of the street stalls. They’re deep fried balls of dough made from peeled black-eyed peas. I preferred mine covered in a spicy prawn sauce. The cheery local Bahiana women sellers, usually dressed in long white dresses, were always fun to chat with. I used to get an acarajé at the end of my late night drinking sessions; Salvador’s equivalent of a late night kebab.
This is a bit of a big up for one of my all time favourite students, Anderson. Anderson was a tall, friendly chap with an excellent level of English. I taught him a few times in one of the academies but we soon started hanging out together at the weekends – he used to love learning funny expressions and taught me a lot of useful phrases in Portuguese.
One day I met his uncle who had his own place on the outskirts of Salvador. When his uncle greeted me by saying “Alright, mate,” I was a bit stunned. The uncle’s English was amazing because he’d lived in London for seven years. We had a great afternoon chatting, eating, and playing the guitar and singing.
I’ve taught a lot of students over the years, but Anderson will always be up there with the best. We’re still in contact and now he teaches English.
So these are the best things about Brazil, but of course there are many more reasons to go and TEFL in Brazil – I’d definitely recommend it! Are any of you thinking of going to Brazil? Leave a comment and let us know. Good luck!
Baz is currently TEFLing out in sunny Seville in Spain, the lucky dude, but has previously taught English in Ecuador, Brazil, Australia and Thailand, so he’s what we would call a TEFL expert!