Joao Pessoa

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Le Petit Paradis Pousada in Joao Pessoa

Family run Guest House in a quiet residential street and close to local amenities

Why I chose Joao Pessoa

April 28th, 2009

snowplowWhen it snowed where we lived in the US, we would often find a wall of ice and snow at the end of our driveway – sometimes as high as 8 feet tall. It had been created by the snowplow clearing the road. There was no way to get out. Just part of the way of life there.

Here in João Pessoa that snow is only a distant memory. And because we are on the tip of the NE peninsula of Brazil, jutting out into the ocean, we have breeze and cooler temperatures than one would expect this close to the equator. Temperatures in the hottest and most humid times of year are far more comfortable here than in Florida. The weather is pleasant year round – so much so that I can’t even say that I prefer one season over another.

Before we found João Pessoa, we had been uncomfortable about events and trends in the US, and had been looking for another place to be. We were leaning toward the southern hemisphere, since so much was going on in the northern hemisphere around toxins, radioactive explosions, global warming, and war, and as the earth spins it drags all that from east to west. So we investigated one country after another in South America, but everywhere we looked we found either climate or politico-social reasons not to live there.

But Brazil did check out, and we subsequently noticed how creative people are in this part of the globe – in their solutions to ecological challenges (e.g., leading the world in use of alcohol and other alternative fuels), the architecture, the clothing, the fresh-idea business start-ups. We noticed the vitality of the people. We discovered how friendly they were. People here actually look you in the eyes. They hold the eye contact. Then they are quick to a warm and friendly smile, given any excuse at all – given even a flicker of openness from us.

The buses here are frequent, and It is easy to get around town using public transportation. There are lots of busses, and you can go most places in João Pessoa easily. People over 65 years ride free.



However, my favorite thing about João Pessoa is having to do business at the banks. Who invented this comedy?

It’s hard to get a bank account here. One bank can refuse you, and the next welcome you with open arms. It appears that behavior and decisions in much of Brazil are predominantly relationship-based (who you know) rather than principle-based (the “rules,” or “right and wrong.”)

Transferring monies from the US or other countries to Brazil: For aposentados (retirees), there is a term that allowed us to bypass innumerable problems/blockades in transferring money: it is called TRANSFERENCIA UNILATERAL DE PATRIMONIO. As retirees on permanent retirement visas, this allows us to transfer an apparently unlimited amount of money easily from the US to Brazil.


Knowing Portuguese is an invaluable asset, even in small amounts.

Scheduling appointments with people: When people agree to come at certain times to do work for you, don’t expect that they will necessarily show up – or even call. EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO CULTURE SHOCK.

Buying Property:

propertyDon’t buy too quickly. There are factors that may become very important to you; but you don’t know about them until you’ve found yourself in a lot of different situations. (E.g., ventilation and southeast-facing locations within a building turn out to be very important to our comfort.)

Written by Lorraine Kirk, Ph.D.

I am retired. My background was in Microbiology as an undergraduate, and Cultural Anthropology through graduate school. I spent 4 years in Africa – two years in Ghana and two years in Kenya, doing anthropological research and community assistance. I kind of went native in Ghana, learning the tonal language, abandoning English, dancing, wearing the clothes, and eating as the villagers did.

I wrote a number of articles on linguistics and cognitive development, which led to tenure after four years of teaching at the University of Missouri; but shortly after that I left academics to join the real world – business, computers, video editing, and web development.

I do tai chi, like nature and hiking, and love to dance to an Afro beat. I find new cultures exciting, enjoy the unusual, and can find adapting to a very novel way of life a definite adventure.

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