One week in Rio — First Impressions

Working remotely, living the Carioca lifestyle, and getting the most out of every day

Bundas, Bundas, Bundas!

Today marks one week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In typical Troy fashion, I’m already full of insights I’d like to share with those who are interested enough to read them. Let’s dive right in.

1) Early to rise, late to bed, Troy is happy in his head 😃

The first thing that struck me about the beauty of being back in South America was the drastic difference in lifestyle. Here in Brazil, dinner isn’t eaten until, at the earliest, around 10pm. In the last few days my typical dinnertime has been around 11pm. For someone who is usually getting ready to pass out at that time of night, it’s been a bit of an adjustment.

The good part is that I’m quickly loving this shift in lifestyle. By having dinner so late at night, it takes the pressure off of needing to immediately jump into work upon waking up every morning. If Dinner isn’t until 11pm, that means I can start my workday around 3pm, work until 10 or 11pm, and then still have a full night ahead of me if I wanted to.

This is exactly what I’ve been doing. For the last few days my routine has been to wake up around 8am, have breakfast, and then immediately go down to the beach. I’ll then meditate, exercise, read, swim, and sit in the sun for the next few hours simply enjoying my morning and practicing Portuguese with everyone I can talk to on the beach.

Vidigal Beach

Around 1–2pm I will grab lunch and then take a nap on the hammock here while I listen to Brazilian music. I’ll then wake up, have a cup of coffee, and get to work. It’s been a glorious routine 😃

2) The enthusiasm of Brazil

For so much of my life my enthusiasm and passion have been both a gift and a curse. When I travel to new places I often feel like I have to hold back my personality in fear of rubbing people the wrong way and making the wrong impression.

For example when I lived in Korea I felt like my over-the-top, in your face, personality offended people. I never really felt like I clicked with Korean people. They felt very Vanilla to me. Plain, conservative, restricted (as is with many Asian cultures).

Then in India sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. While I feel that my creative personality flourished there, India was still a very restrictive society (especially sexually). I never felt truly comfortable there despite how long I was there.

In short, both cultures were very conservative, and my loud energetic self was often met with resistance.

Even in the US, my home country, I find that people are often void of passion and enthusiasm. People watch their sports, movies, TV, etc., and they live for the weekend. Their “hobbies” include drinking and eating. When I go on one of my passionate rants I’m often met with blank stares of people who simply don’t care and have no desire to improve their lives.

(Don’t get me wrong, this is not meant to knock the US. I understand that I am the outlier and it’s wrong for me to expect others to have the same energy that I do. I have also met an incredible amount of passionate people who have unparalleled hustle in the US. Don’t kill me for generalizing here to make a larger point 😉 ).

In Brazil however, I finally feel that I have found a match.

Here it’s not only accepted to be as loud and over the top as possible, it’s encouraged!

There are two words that I have used to describe Brazilian people and culture so far — Estilo (style) and Apaixonado (passionate — be careful though, this word can also mean in love).

My first impressions are that everything Cariocas say and do has style and passion, and your energy is always reciprocated.

If you’re tired and lack energy in your conversation, your conversation will be equally lackluster. But on the other hand if you approach someone at the top of your lungs with as much energy as possible and say “Oi Cara! Bom dia! Tudo bem?”, you will get an equally enthusiastic reply coming back.

I’ve also found that people are incredibly friendly. The other day I was on the beach and every other person I walked past was asking me questions and talking to me in Portuguese. The fact that I barely understood what they were saying didn’t discourage them in the slightest.

In fact it was quite the opposite, they would grab me, put their arms around me, hug me, and tell me everything about their lives that they could. It’s been a very welcoming and embracing feeling.

When I talk to people, they love my energy. My passion is met with passion. My over the top enthusiasm is topped by theirs. If anything, they put me to shame. I love it.

3) Language is a reflection of the culture

To build on this point above, the way that Brazilian Portuguese is structured gives people a lot of freedom to be as conservative or over the top as they want to be. There’s a lot of flexibility to use the language as a reflection of your personality.

For example there are the suffixes “ao”, “zao”, that has the effect of “very” or “a lot”, and then there’s “inho” which is smaller or more precise.

For example if I am driving in a car and I want the driver to go fast I can say rapido, or I can express very fast by saying “rapidao”, OR I can express that I want him to be speedy or quick by saying “rapidinho”.

They all have similar meanings, and there is no right way to say it. It comes down to your personal preference of the word that you want to use as an expression of your feelings and personality.

So for me, I basically fell in love with “ao/zao” and I add it to every word that I can whenever possible. Sometimes I mess it up, but people understand what I mean and they love it. I’ve actually gotten quite a few laughs out of it.

I know that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but It’s something that I believe will continue to be an integral part of my time here. I’m focusing a lot of energy on becoming as good at Portuguese as I can, and these are wonderful ways of infusing my personality into the language.

Needless to say, I’m vibin 😃

Although it’s only been one week, I’m loving it so far. Life has a wonderful balance and I feel a great mixture of exposing myself to new challenges, working and maintaining my business, while also relaxing and getting the most out of every day. Here are some more pictures to wet your appetite and come here for yourself

Valeu!

Thoughts? Similar experiences? Let me know in the comments below!

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