Maybe the words to describe a visit to Brazil exist only in Portuguese because I have yet to find them.
Originally, I was planning to go to Paris, France last week to celebrate my birthday and 10 years since my last trip there. And then, the opportunity to go to Brazil came up. Since we’re working towards experimenting with localized support (work with us!) and wanted to share with the WordPress community in Brazil, my coworker and I applied to speak at WordCamp Rio to give a talk about how to build a reputation for excellent customer support.
I didn’t sleep at all on the flight over so I was pretty much dead the first day. However, that night we went right over to Pão de Açúcar to catch the sunset. It was cloudy on the day we went so we couldn’t quite see it, but it was absolutely gorgeous nonetheless.
With Rio, I was particularly enamored by the whole layout of the city. Looking from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, you could see how the buildings cascade down the sides of the mountains, right up to the beach. Being in New York, where it takes a good hour on the subway to get to any beach where you can actually swim, it was mind blowing to be able to walk a few blocks from our hotel in the middle of the city to the shore.
Attending WordCamp Rio de Janeiro was fantastic, even if I didn’t understand the talks 100%. I’ll say this: my understanding of Portuguese definitely improved over the past week and by the end of the day it almost felt normal to not hear any English. And speaking at WCRJ was one of the best experiences. Even though our talk was the only one in English, the audience was so receptive and we had some truly great discussions with community members during and after the event.
On Sunday, we took some time to visit Ipanema. It was really crowded, but I loved it. I had to keep reminding myself that it was winter in Brazil because the weather was pretty much the same as back at home. On the beach, we had some açai and queijo na brasa, which is this ingenious idea of putting cheese on a stick and grilling it until it browns and melts. I mean, how could it not be delicious?
During the week, we worked from Espaço NAVE, a co-working space and startup incubator in downtown Rio where we also gave our talk on the importance of providing good customer support. Before heading over one morning, we took an early trip to see Cristo Redentor, which, to me, is the most iconic image of Rio. The view was breathtaking.
Halfway through the trip, I celebrated my birthday. After Karen’s and my talk at Espaço NAVE, everyone there sang happy birthday, which was overwhelmingly sweet. When I originally planned to travel on my birthday, I wasn’t expecting the chance to celebrate with other people, so it was a really nice surprise to be around a group of people I just met who were so kind and fun.
During the day, we flew over to São Paulo so we could meet with a few members of the WordPress and SP tech community before giving a talk at the WordPress Sampa meetup. It was a pleasure to meet some people we’d only ever spoken with online — some for the first time, and some for the first time in a while. We did a whole lot of co-working in São Paulo, but had some time to sightsee on Saturday, where we visited some churches and the Mercado Municipal.
I loved walking over to the market. There were just a ton of people everywhere intermingling with cars and sellers and food trucks. Periodically, the scene would be interrupted by someone playing some choice classics in the street, which made for a really funny and lively atmosphere.
I was really, really surprised by how much I loved Brazil. I knew I was going to like it — it’s been on my mind all summer in some weird coincidental way. Every single person we met was awesome, the food was fantastic, the weather was perfect, and on and on and on. Being able to visit these two cities that were so different was a really cool introduction to the diversity and depth of Brazil in general. And yes, I’m planning my trip back already.