A Brazilian in Kazakhstan

Autor of text: 
Photographer: 

Many of us must be dreaming to spend some time in Brazil, to enjoy its warm tropic climate, beaches of Copacabana and the romantic gorgeousness of Rio-de-Janeiro. But there is such a man who left the city of carnivals and festivals for the sake of living in our lovely Almaty. His name is Leandro Ferreyra.

He is neither Ostap Bender nor Pele

He looks like neither Pele nor Ronaldinho, but he has got appearance and vigor that strangely give away something very Brazilian in him. His character is a bizarre combination of the Latin American cultured person from Julio Cortazar’s novels and the “last hero” from Victor Tsoy’s songs. 

Interviewer: How did you make up your mind to visit our city?

Leandro Ferreyra: Before visiting Kazakhstan I’ve been studying the Asian region in Internet, encyclopedias and other sources for several years. At first I had an idea to go to India and to get to know its culture, including music. It was interesting for me as a musician to enrich my knowledge, because the Indian folk music traces back to the ancient times and is very diverse.

But soon I got acquainted with many people from Kazakhstan via Internet. It probably happened so because they were more sociable and ready to be in touch. And after I broke up with my girlfriend with who I’d lived for five years, I decided to visit your country with the same educational plans. Back then I was eager to leave Rio-de-Janeiro as soon as possible.

I: Does it mean that you came to visit those who you had been in touch with online?

LF: At the airport I was met by the representative of the KazNU (Kazakh National University) Linguistic center, which I had written to before and where I had been invited to learn Russian. When I was being driven to the campus, I started recognizing districts we were passing by, because I was very well acquainted with the city map virtually. I have completed two semesters of studies and entered the pre-university courses to learn Kazakh this time.

What surprises you in Kazakhstan?

I: Leandro, tell me please what surprised you in Almaty most of all as soon as you arrived?

LF: First - snow! I haven’t seen snow for thirty years! I saw it for the first and last time in Germany, when I was a little child.

Second – that the city appeared to be up-to-date and multicultural and not so Islamic as I’d thought before. That Kazakhs are such a sincere and positive people. Not as touchy-feely as Brazilians, though. But it’s safer here in Almaty than in Rio.

Also, Kazakhstani girls impressed me very much. They are so different: Kazakh, Slavic, Uigur, Korean girls, and girls of very diverse nationalities. But all of them are equally particularly beautiful and enchanting. 

I: What are the most vivid impressions you’ve had during three years of living here?

LF: It must be of the trip to the plateau Assy, where high in the mountains a team of movie makers was shooting a film, and a friend of mine was playing the part there. It is a very beautiful place between two high plateaus, Assy and Don Zhailau. It’s an amazing combination of mountain peaks, magically gorgeous valleys and wild forests. The campgrounds of the shooting crew were located about 2500 m above sea level. When I came out of the tent in the morning, I saw that everything around us was covered with the thick coating of snow. And it was the first summer day!

And the ascension to the Pioneer peak about 4000 m high, gave me strong and unforgettable impressions, too.

I also liked The Peace and Love Festival that took place 40 km from Almaty. It was also called The Hippy Fest. The site of it was in the steppe, where the shallow canyon had formed around the riverbed and turned into the picturesque valley in bloom. It looked like an oasis with the bright flowers, thick luscious grass and winding river, where you could joyfully swim. In the big campgrounds there gathered many interesting and beautiful people. We had much fun and no negative emotions at all. Different music bands performed, both plugged and unplugged. It was a big camp, where bonfires were burning near tents at night, and remarkable people were gathering around these bonfires. You could hear sounds of guitars, flutes, and percussion instruments.

Despite the fly in the ointment, he doesn’t want to leave

I: Leandro, it’s impossible that you like everything here. Please tell me about the worst impressions of yours from your life in Almaty.

LF: One day I went to a nightclub with my acquaintance, the Kazakh girl. And there I was attacked by several Kazakh guys. They were pissed off by the fact that she had gone out with a foreigner, i.e., with me. It was a male’s jealousy. Sure, but for the guards, I would have a hard time. But it didn’t change my good opinion about the residents of Almaty and Kazakhs in general.  It was just an episode. And it didn’t influence my desire to stay on here at all.

I:  Your studies of Kazakh are finished for now. What are you going to do next?

LF: We’ll see. Actually, I like it here in Almaty. I’d like to have my visa extended. Basically, I can make my living by teaching Portuguese and English, and in fact I do this now. It’d also be great to make my primary dream come true: to make a documentary on Kazakh national instruments and your folk music, in which the true soul of the Kazakh nation is expressed.  

Ask the author