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In Brazil, life's a beach

Tuesday 17th December 2013

Sunshine; Carnaval; unbelievably beautiful people; and samba.

Olivia Coote, who is originally from Auckland, loves living in Brazil so much that she thinks she must have been from there in a past life.

She tells The Wireless about moonwalking away from leery boys, smashing cockroaches and dreamy morning walks.

Olivia Coote hanging out on Cococabana, just down from her house.
Olivia Coote hanging out on Copacabana, just down from her house.


You moved to Rio de Janeiro in June this year. What attracted you to Brazil?

I met some Brazilians when I was at high school and I got on with them really well, so when I went on my OE in 2009, I planned part of it to visit them. I was here for six weeks and had a great time.

I travelled for seven months, and it was one of the first places I went to. Seven months later I was still thinking about it. It had a lot to do with the fact we were staying with local people most of the time, so getting a different experience from most tourists.

It really got me – there are huge divides in this country, a lot of problems, and the government does a lot of tricky things, like everyone talks about how much money the government steals from them.

But, despite that, everyone still loves life. They live in a beautiful place, and they make the most of it even though there's a lot that could get people down. They have a good time, Brazilians love to party, they are really friendly and upbeat, the landscape here is incredible, and the heat is great.

It’s really strange, I’ve put it down to somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes with a guy you have given him the open door to kiss you ...

And you are working as a graphic designer?

I ended up in a lucky situation. I went to an island in the party here for Festa Junina – a June party – the second weekend I was here, met a guy who is a product designer, who owned a business with another guy. They make and sell souvenirs, I said I was a graphic designer and they said they needed help … I went there and started helping them when I had free time, and after three weeks they asked me to stay on.

How do you fill your days?

I live three minutes from Copacabana beach. There's a walkway that goes the full length of the beach, so I try go down there for a swim or walk in the morning.

I am lucky – the guys I work with don't start till lunch, so I have the mornings to do work from New Zealand, get my things together or sightsee.

I work from around lunch until eight at night ... In the evenings I've been trying to get into things that get me out of my comfort zone. They have a lot of dance evenings that are very popular; they sound naff, but even the guys I work with love going.

And you said you feel like you have a Brazilian soul?

The first time I came here I felt so comfortable and so happy; I enjoyed every second. I loved the sound of the language [so much] that when I got home I started to tell people I am going back to Brazil because there's something inside me that is pulling me. So, I decided I have a Brazilian soul, or I was a Brazilian in a past life.

And what about those Brazilian boys? Pretty sensual?

They have a funny thing about the attention you give people, I've been struggling to get my head around. This is how I explain it to my friends - in New Zealand, if a guy can go out for the night and come home and be stoked he got three numbers, a Brazilian guy goes out for the night, he feels OK if he has kissed three girls.

It’s really strange. I’ve got it down to somewhere between three and five minutes with a guy, you have given him the open door to kiss you, so I've had to do a lot of Michael Jackson moonwalking away from situations because I've just totally given them the wrong idea because I just wanted to genuinely have a conversation with the person.

In terms of dancing I've been honest with the person I'm dancing with. Most people, if it's partner dance like samba, I just say I have no idea, you got to lead me strong! I'm all over the show, I dance like a gringo, but that's fine!

Are your skills improving?

Slowly! You got to embrace the hips. For solo samba someone told me in my first few weeks if you imagine there's a cockroach on the ground you have to stomp on it you will look half decent at samba, so I think about that every time I attempt it. I think “Where is that cockroach, get him! Get him!”

Sounds like you're pretty settled there, is this home now?

At the moment I feel the time is going too quickly, I have started thinking I could stay on... it’s not a cheap ticket from here to there, so I will have to be sure I am going home. But I want to see more of South America, do a trip around – though that depends on dollars.

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