I don't want to compare to any other group of people, but Brazilians are not pushovers," says Jaro Pribyl. "They want to do something for themselves, they want to make more money, be more successful." Brazilian-born Pribyl is the nucleus of San Diego's Brazilian community -- he is the publisher and editor of the Brazilian Pacific Times, the director of the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, the producer of Miss Brazil USA for this region, and he sits on the board of the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles. But if you ask him, he is not a Brazilian. "I am American, as a matter of fact. English would be my first language, and [Portuguese] would be my second language, though I'm absolutely fluent. I came here when I was 16 years old; this is where I went to school. But I visit my family in Brazil at least once a year." On Saturday, September 8, the Brazilian Fellowship in El Cajon will host the first Brazil's Independence Day Fair in San Diego. Brazil gained independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822. According to Pribyl, approximately 17,000 Brazilian transplants currently live in San Diego County. "There is a good gathering [of Brazilians] in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Point Loma," he says. "Lately I have been finding gatherings in Encinitas and further away, like Carlsbad."
Pierre Rosa, the pastor for Brazilian Fellowship, a Christian church in El Cajon, says his congregation of approximately 45 people is "100 percent made out of Brazilians and their American spouses." The fellowship's services are in Portuguese. Rosa came to San Diego as a student in 1997. "I wanted to learn English and go to school here. I was a business major, and then I became a Christian and switched to theology. I knew if I had an American degree, I could go back home and have better opportunities. The number-one reason Brazilians come [to San Diego] is for better opportunities. Number two might be the weather, because it's so similar to many cities in Brazil."
"Most of the Brazilians that come here are students," says Margot Pribyl, Jaro's wife and owner of Margotour, a South American--specific travel agency in Point Loma. Mrs. Pribyl says most students arrive with some money from their families and begin work as pizza deliverers while attending school. "When they get here, they have to buy a car. Because all their friends are [delivering pizza], it is easy for them to get a referral." She says the situation is different for Brazilian immigrants in New Jersey. "They would come broke, just to work, and would clean houses, work as gardeners, everything. But in San Diego, it's more students."
Aside from surfing (Pribyl says, "All Brazilians here are surfers," and at least three surf shops in San Diego are owned by Brazilians), Brazilian jujitsu is "very popular" in the community. Another popular Brazilian pastime is capoeira. At the fair, students of Paulo Batuta of Capoeira Mandinga San Diego will demonstrate their skills in the acrobatic fight-dance that was created by Africans in Brazil.
Mrs. Pribyl sells imported goods from Brazil (Maguary passion fruit juice, Caboclo and Pilao coffee, Garoto chocolate, and Guarana Antarctica soda) out of her office. "I know two people tried to open a big store in P.B.," Pribyl says of Brazilian food market Nossa Terra. "It closed down about three or four years ago because most of the Brazilians here, they are young, they don't cook. They'd rather buy a burrito. I only sell here stuff that the kids like, like chocolate, juices, cookies, and stuff."
Four restaurants offering Brazilian fare are Rei Do Gado, Brazil by the Hill, Samba Grill, and Brazil by the Bay. Pribyl's favorite food is steak, "with rice and beans, of course." She adds, "Farofa is a big thing for all of us. It's a type of powder, but a little bit thicker; you can compare it to breadcrumbs, like the seasoned Italian ones, but to eat with meat. You get your rice and beans, get a piece of meat, dip in this farofa, and eat." Farofa is ground, toasted, and flavored manioc, also known as yucca or cassava. It is often seasoned with bacon, onions, and other herbs and spices.
The Pribyls know most of the local Brazilian-American business owners. "Carmen Tepper owns Studio Academy [an entertainment-arts school in Sorrento Valley]," says Jaro Pribyl. He recently befriended another transplant from his native land who owns two Living Room coffee shops, one near Old Town and one in Point Loma. "We do have a cop, a Brazilian cop, on San Diego's police force," says Pribyl. "His name is Marco Polo, and he's been one of San Diego's finest for ten years." -- Barbarella
Brazil's Independence Day Fair
Saturday, September 8
East County International Ministry and Arts Center parking lot
389 N. Magnolia Avenue
Info: 619-201-8635 or www.christianexaminer.com/Regions/SD_calendar.html