What I hated about living in Brazil...

Hate is a strong word in my book. However, as much as I loved TEFLing in Brazil, there were a few things that really got on my goat. (This post is as seen on the i-to-i TEFL blog.)

Thugs and thieves

Brazil is full of wonderful people, but on my travels, and while living in Salvador, I had a few run-ins with the local louts. The first was in Rio de Janeiro. I’d had an amazing couple of days seeing one of the most exciting cities in the world but then I hit an all time low.

I was waiting for my bus to Salvador in a quiet café at the back of the station when a teenage lad wearing a blue cap tapped me on the shoulder. He handed me a note saying that I’d dropped it. I was suspicious, but I had just put some money in my pocket so it could have fallen out. He smiled and walked off. When I put the note on the table I realized it was ten euros (in Brazil they have Reais), plus my small rucksack was missing.

I chased after the lad but when I turned a corner he had disappeared, along with my camera, diary, and bus ticket to Salvador. After that incident my confidence and trust of the local thugs shot right down. (Photo by simonmcmanus)

That wasn’t the only event. About a week after I arrived in Salvador I was walking to the beach when a beggar started giving me hassle. He followed me down the street asking for money. As I handed over a banana to get him off my back he ripped my watch clean off my wrist. I was fuming.

The carnival was full of louts looking for a fight or innocent tourists to rob. A mate of mine got bundled on the first night and every night I saw the police battering the disruptive men and women with their truncheons. I guess with so many people packed together you’d expect some violence.

Being a Reais Counter

It was probably my own fault that I had to scrimp and save while in Salvador. I’d spent most of my savings while partying in Mexico, and travelling across Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Despite only paying about £30 a month rent, rarely eating out, and only spending money on beers once I week, I had to watch my low teaching wages. It was hard going at times but I lived simple. Don’t let that put you off though. I was only working about 18 contact hours a week and if you get a job with a decent academy you can do alright in Brazil. (Photo by markhillary)

The Witch

The Witch was a nickname I gave to the owner of one of the academies. She was a short, wrinkly Brazilian woman with pointy fangs. At first she seemed friendly, but as time went on she turned into a nasty piece of work. Her son ran the academy; she just sat about moaning all evening.

The first clash we had was over pay. I thought they were going to pay me R$10 an hour (about £3 at the time), but when I questioned my lower than expected pay check the Witch said it was per hour and a half class. I put up with less money and just gone on with teaching.

About a month later one of the students complained that I hadn’t been teaching enough grammar. When the Witch asked if I was sure I was a qualified teacher I lost my rag. Her son made her apologize, but she never spoke to me again. In the working world she was the only person I had problems with. 

Living in a house with 12

Living with a Brazilian family and six others was fun at times, but a few things annoyed me. As you’d expect, with so many people sharing the same fridge, stuff would always disappear, but it always seemed to be my milk. I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the state of the toilets, but on more than one occasion there was a surprise waiting for me.

I could put up with the small lizards scattering around my ceiling at night while I read, and the cockroaches rarely bothered me, but what I really hated were the ants. If I ate in my room and dropped crumbs on the floor they’d dart in, lug their food supply on their backs, and leg it out to their nest, which was just outside my door. The bites on my ankles were the worst parts.

I got on with everyone in the house apart from the Garlic Muncher; a name I gave to one of the stranger Brazilian lads. Apart from being the one who left the surprises in the toilet, and 'I think' stealing my milk, he had a strange desire for raw garlic. One evening, while six of us were sitting in the lounge watching Brazilian Big Brother, he got up, went to the fridge, and sat back next to me. When he crunched into something, I presumed it was an apple, but it was raw garlic. The stench was unbearable.

(Photo by mullica)

As you can see, life is not always pleasant as a travelling TEFL teacher. It’s a great adventure, but be warned that you’ll get your own pet hates about each country you visit. It wasn't all anger though, check out my blog 5 things I loved about living in Brazil to see the brighter side. 

Can anyone related to the reasons why I hate Brazil, maybe you disagree? Why not leave a comment and let  others know.

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