THIS MONTH IT IS EX-PAT APRIL ON THE RESIDENTS
YES - WE'RE GOING OFFSHORE (KIND OF)
Daylight saving has ended. The temperature has dropped slightly. Easter is over. This month it really is starting to feel like winter is coming. But all is not lost. Personally, I am a big fan of this time of year. I love Autumn and even the thrill of winter chill. So to celebrate going into the next season, and to change up the pace a bit I have an exciting announcement. Drum roll please. This month is Ex-Pat April!
Instead of profiling residents that are currently occupying the city, I thought it would be fun to look globally and see what some of our glorious ex-pats are up to. Now unfortunately this year The Residents working budget (read: zero) did not extend to flying me around to the places that these cool cats are at. So I got them to help me out a little bit by answering some Q&A's. I have to admit, lots of the questions revolve around food. Six or seven awesome sets of friends have helped me out and I will bring them to you, week by week, over the month of April.
So sit back, relax and take a trip to visit our Residents of Wellington, wherever in the world they are. Because you don't HAVE to be here to be a Resident of Wellington in your heart.
....UP FIRST - WE HEAD TO THE AMERICAS. SPECIFICALLY SOUTH AMERICA. TIME TO WHIP OUT YOUR BIKINI AND POLISH YOUR TAN...
JAY LEE AND LAURA MCQUILLAN - CURRENT LOCATION: RIO, BRAZIL
Age: 26 (Jay) 29 (Laura)
Occupation: Athlete (Jay) Journalist (Laura)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1. How are you doing over there? Why did you move away (i.e. describe the series of events that led to you finally making the jump)?
Laura: I'm here because of him! We moved to Brazil so that Jay could train Brazilian jiu-jitsu full-time at a world-class academy. Things are going well, but Brazil's a pretty challenging place to leave - especially in the current political climate! We've been here one year so far, and plan on staying until the end of 2016, when we will move on to somewhere new.
Jay: I started training on a full-time schedule in 2013 and proceeded to win National Championships in New Zealand and Championships in Australia, as well as competing internationally in Japan. To keep the progress going with my training, it made sense to come to Brazil and train where the sport originated, and where the best athletes in the sport continue to come from.
2. Are you alone?
Nope, we've ended up with a cat!
3. So when did you live in Wellington, and for how long? What do you miss about Wellington, apart from friends and family (i.e. describe in some detail the memories of the city you have)?
Jay: I was born in Lower Hutt and lived in the Wellington region until the start of 2015 when we left. The thing I miss the most would have to be the food and, most notably, coffee. The food here in Brazil isn't great and the coffee is even worse - I've often contemplated coming back for a week just to do a restaurant and cafe crawl, haha.
Laura: I lived in Wellington from 2005 till 2015. I miss the food too (especially Fidel's muffins, and affordable good wine), friends, and how easy it is to do things back home - Brazil has a lot of bureaucracy, and everything moves very slowly.
4. Do you think you might come back? We won’t be offended if not.
Jay: I'm sure we will come back at some point, we still have a lot of family and friends there and in my mind it will always be my home, but at this stage we have no immediate plans to return.
Laura: We were thinking about coming back for a couple of months after Rio, but it's so difficult and expensive to get a cat from Brazil past New Zealand's biosecurity! We'll definitely come visit sometime, but will we move back? Who knows.
5. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Jay: My breakfast is pretty standard and what I would have in New Zealand to stay consistent with my training, basically coffee, granola with honey and bananas and an egg whir omelette.
Laura: I had peanut butter on toast, which was really exciting, because the peanut butter here is not great - but this was American stuff, gifted by a friend!
6. What are your favourite places to eat out where you are right now? Where did you like going in Wellington (ie what do you order, what are your favourite dishes)?
Jay: Good places to eat out can be hard to find in Rio. The best culinary spots are usually hidden and extremely expensive. My number one place is probably a chain restaurant we have close to our house called 'Boteco Belmonte' - the food is well-prepared, classic Brazilian food at an affordable price. I usually have a chopp (tap beer, poured Brazilian-style, so half the glass is foam), and an empada carne seca (a classic South American empada with shredded, dry, jerked beef).
I miss eating at a lot of places in Wellington: cafes like Fidel's, Maranui and Queen Sally's Diamond Deli immediately come to mind, as well as classics like Burger Fuel, as good burgers are hard to come by here.
Laura: Friends of ours have opened a new cafe here, and they have Vegemite and long blacks! I'm pretty underwhelmed by Brazilian cuisine (also, I'm vegetarian, so it can be a bit challenging - especially when waiters tell you something containing chicken or bacon is vegetarian!).
I really miss brunch. It's not really a thing here - I could go for some eggs, Vogel's, hashbrowns and hollandaise right now. Also, decent yoghurt, and #1421 pick n mix candy!
7. Where do you buy your shopping for food when you eat in? Where did you like to shop in Welly (i.e. what are the differences between buying food here and there)?
Jay: There are various supermarkets here, but the choices are often limited and general size is half that of New Zealand. I usually only buy food for breakfast and dinner sometimes, as a popular restaurant style here is "por kilo" buffet, where they weigh your plate on a scale and you pay per 100g. This often works out cheaper or the same price as cooking your own food so often it's a lot easier just to go to one of those restaurants even though the food can be very unimaginative .
I'd usually go and buy groceries from either Countdown or Pak N Save, the biggest difference I've noticed is that some food here can be a fraction of the cost compared to NZ and other things can be extremely more expensive. One thing that can be frustrating is lack of good food ie fruit and vegetables aren't fresh, I've often bought a bottle of coke and found its flat once I get home.
Laura: You have to pick a good time to go to the supermarket here, otherwise you might be in the queue for more than half an hour. I also go to the vege market, and I go to the bulk store to get ingredients to make my own granola and oat milk (both are super expensive to buy in a store here!).
We were pretty standard supermarket/vege market shoppers in Wellington. I'd also buy more organic food at home, because the prices are much cheaper than in Rio.
8. What is the best thing about living where you are?
Jay: For me, it's the level of training I get here, of course. It's the best training in the world. Otherwise I would say the climate - the temperature is about 35 degrees on average and normally always sunny, and Rio has some great beaches.
Laura: Learning the Brazilian culture - people take time to do things here, and it's taught me to relax more and rush less. But at times it's very frustrating!
...and the worst?
Jay: General day-to-day living can be very demanding, coming from a country like New Zealand. The level of bureaucracy for almost everything is crazy, and things like going to the bank or supermarket can be a 30min+ chore, as nobody here is really in a hurry to do anything.
Laura: Exactly what Jay said! Also, I really don't know why, but Cariocas (people from Rio) are always late - sometimes by hours! It drives me nuts.
9. What do you not miss about Wellington?
Jay: Definitely the cold, but lately I've been thinking it might be nice to be cold just for a day or two, but not for long, haha. Otherwise, it would be just the general lack of major events happening. Wellington is a cool cultural community and there are, of course, things happening all the time, but the population of Rio is six million, so there are constantly international events happening - for example, we have the Olympics coming in August.
Laura: Definitely the weather!
10. Do you hang out with locals or mostly expats?
Jay: I'd say about 50/50 right now. My gym is out in the North Zone of Rio, which isn't exactly tourist-friendly, so all day I'm around locals, but when I'm during my regular social time at nights, I'll generally hang out with other expats.
Laura: Mostly expats, which is so bad. The language gap is a big part of it, though it's so good to practise Portuguese with our patient Brazilian friends. I also hang out with journalists a lot - we're just drawn to each other!
11. What makes you feel all wobbly?
Jay: Right now, I'd say probably nothing, I haven't been homesick since I left which I guess means I made the right decision to leave, haha.
Laura: Too many caipirinhas. I also get really homesick when I watch a haka (true story).
13. Share a special memory that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, one for where you are now, and one for Wellington?
Jay: For me, it would have to have been a recent memory when I was in my gym. After being here for a year now, having a lot of experiences both good and bad, and speaking Portuguese, my training partners have come to see me as a Brazilian rather than a gringo, which is certainly a touching feeling as Brazilians are fiercely patriotic.
A good memory for Wellington would probably be almost every Sunday, when I would sleep in and drive to one of many great local cafes and enjoy some great coffee and food, that really was a great feeling every time.
Laura: A warm and fuzzy one is definitely meeting our cat, Rambo. It's been a super challenging process - she needed emergency surgery the day after we found her, and now we have to move apartments (our flatmate doesn't do cats). But she's worth it. It's also really extraordinary to see the popular uprising taking place in Brazil right now - not so warm and fuzzy, but a definite wow-factor.
I have so many good memories of home - I really miss my friends and living an easier existence, but it's really cool to be making new memories at the same time.
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