Vice: What are you doing in Barcelona?
Luam: I’ve been here for nine months. I could’ve had a Spanish baby by now! My intention was to begin cinema studies and also work in video production or graphic design. That’s what I studied in Brazil.
What do you say to your friends when they ask about your life in Barcelona?
I say that it’s pretty cool here—there’s a lot of partying, and they can’t imagine all the great things they’re missing. But then again, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a job, and I’m still trying to get used to the Spanish habits. People sleep too much here, I think. The workday doesn’t start until ten in the morning and they take breaks two or three times a day. In Brazil, I was used to a faster rhythm of life, waking up at 7 AM and not stopping until 2 AM the next day. Of course, I was sort of energized when I first arrived here, so everybody kept telling me I’d better calm down: “Relaaax, relaaaax.”
What about the ladies here? How do they measure up to Brazilian girls?
I like Spanish women. They’re superhot and stylish here, but to tell you the truth I’ve mainly met foreign girls. Very few tourists come to Curitiba, my hometown. Barcelona is quite the opposite, with lots of people from different countries gathered in a relatively small place compared with London. Here I’ve discovered a weakness for Frenchies, but I still miss the “free love” culture that I used to find in Brazil.
Well, at least you’ve already realized that the whole “hot Spanish woman” thing is a bunch of bullshit. Have you made friends with any natives?
I have some Spanish friends, most of them classmates, but other than that I’ve mainly met foreigners, including some Brazilians in the city center at the MACBA square, which is always full of skaters. I have the feeling that Barcelona is a display window, a leisure place for foreigners. If I want to know what Spaniards are really like I’ll have to move farther away, to the peripheral areas.
You’ll find much better food there, for sure. The grub served in the bars and restaurants in the city is terrible and expensive. Have you tasted the poisonous paellas they serve to tourists in the Ramblas?
No! I pretty much only eat pasta and pizza. I don’t like fish and seafood—a very important part of the diet here—so I’m taking the opportunity to taste dishes from different countries. I used to exchange break-dance lessons for cooking classes with some girls.
Nice one! I take it this exchange has allowed you to eat some tasty things.
Yeah, sometimes I get lucky. [laughs]
INTERVIEW BY SANTIAGO SALVADOR
PHOTO BY MIGUEL FIGUEROA
Vice: When did you come to London?
Ciro: I left Rio de Janeiro two years ago.
Why the hell did you do that? Do you feel like you made a huge mistake?
You know what? I was bored of my city. I got married, and my wife is half-Brazilian, half-Portuguese, and we decided to leave and go to Europe. And London was the obvious place to go. First we went to Old Street, then Stoke Newington, and now we live in Stepney Green.
Is there a big difference between Portuguese and Brazilian-Portuguese?
Oh yeah! To us it seems that Portuguese people from Portugal are talking in an extremely polite way. Brazilian-Portuguese is all mixed up with languages from Africa, assorted Italian dialects, and the native Indian languages. Plus Rio is well known for having a very fast, distinctive accent.
What do you think of London? A lot of foreigners think it’s kind of depressing.
I like it here. Compared with my city, it is quiet. I can ride my bike everywhere, I don’t have any problems. There are some things I don’t like. One thing I notice is that people are too serious. In fact, they are often rude. If you smile at someone here, they won’t smile back—in my city you say hello to the bus drivers. The kids back home make fun of my ears—but in a smiling, nice way. Here your differences are seen as bad.
What do you miss about home?
The weather, the food, and my family, of course. But the food there is so much healthier. You can get great fruit and vegetables fresh, and it’s cheap. I used to work in a kitchen back home, so I would rather cook for myself than buy Brazilian food in a restaurant. You can buy all the ingredients here, black beans and rice and stuff. So I am fine.
What did you do when you first got here?
I only spoke a tiny bit of English, but you pick it up from music and film automatically. Then I got some books and started teaching myself. I looked for jobs that only required a little English. I found a pub where they were desperate for staff, and I had three years of kitchen experience, so they gave me the job.
And what do you do now?
I study video production and postproduction. I work, I study, I live—it’s all good. One of the best things about England is that if you work, you will have money. It doesn’t matter what job you do, you will earn money and you can live. If I did this job at home I would be living in a terrible area surrounded by heavily armed men selling drugs. That wouldn’t be so fun.
INTERVIEW BY ELERI POWELL
PHOTO BY JAMIE LEE CURTIS TAETE