Small Town Existence in Campinas, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Laura Vasilion
May 15 · 4 min read

Talking to the World Project

The world was abuzz with World Cup fever, as I wrote this. Especially in Brazil, where the games were held in 2014. The World Cup opening festivities took place in São Paulo, very close to the Campinas home of this post’s interviewee, Jaell.

I met Jaell through a colleague at ChicagoNow. Jaell works twelve-hour days as a translator-interpreter, university professor, and international business advisor, She also works with student exchange. All photos are used with Jaell’s permission.

My Conversation with Jaell

What is unique about where you live?

Jaell’s back yard.

Despite being a city of around three million inhabitants in the metropolitan areas, Campinas still maintains a small town air. People know each other. There is a certain parochialism, totally unusual for a big city.

What animals roam freely where you live?

Marmoset money in a tree outside Jaell’s house.

Besides pets and birds, we see little marmoset monkeys in places around woods. My complex is full of trees and those little animals show up here and there.

What rumors or myths about Brazil would you like to dispel?

That we live in forests. A friend of mine was once asked: “Is it true you live in trees?” Mad at the situation, she answered, “Yes.” When the person asked how she got up there, my friend joked, “We ride elevators.” It would be nice to see foreigners informed about what good hosts we are and what a happy people we are.

The world’s eyes are on Brazil because of the 2014 World Cup. What would you tell it/us to look at?

The way foreigners are treated. They are always welcome. Hospitality is our middle name. Brazilian people enjoy pleasing visitors.

Being an interpreter, what interests you about your native language?

Portuguese is quite a difficult language, but very rich. What calls my attention above everything else is the large vocabulary; for a single thought, one may have a wide variety of ways to express the same idea.

What do you miss most about Brazil when you are traveling?

The food — I am crazy about good meat and here I can have as much as I want for a reasonable price. The variety of vegetables and fruits is incredible. I love eating well and in Brazil, you can easily do that.

What do you cook for friends?

I love French cuisine, so I mostly fix meat with exquisite sauces and side dishes. Occasionally, I also fix stockfish and codfish. Wine and champagne are part of the dinner. For lunch, I love preparing rump steak, chicken and smoked sausage barbeque, or feijoada, which is a bean stew with pork sausage, smoked sausage, pork ribs, and pork loin. It is served with rice, chopped collard green, vinaigrette sauce, toasted manioc flour, and peeled sliced oranges. This Brazilian dish is served from June to August when the outside temperature is between 53 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

Who inspires you?

God. He is my life, my guide, my everything.

What brings you joy?

My children’s success, their laughter, and the happiness in their eyes.

What worries or concerns you?

That my sons will move away from me to upgrade their careers. I will miss them so very much. They are my closest friends.

What are your impressions of the United States?

It is my second home. I got my Ph.D. in the United States. I have had only excellent experiences and made everlasting friends there. What impressed me most is that I was given a job after a competition that was attended by hundreds of Americans. That showed me there is no prejudice, no distinction. If you are good at what you do, there is room for you in the market.

Describe a perfect day in Brazil.

I would say that a perfect day is what most Brazilians dream of — no floods in the South, no droughts in the Northeast, no violence in big cities, no government corruption.

A perfect day is still to be born in Brazil.

Originally published at

Talking to the World

A One-on-One Global Conversation. Focusing On Our Commonalities, Honoring Our Differences

Laura Vasilion

Written by

Editor of Present Tense and Talking to the World. Author, blogger, novelist. Would rather be living in Iceland.

Talking to the World

A One-on-One Global Conversation. Focusing On Our Commonalities, Honoring Our Differences

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