WordCamp Sao Paulo 2019 – Recap

WordCamp Sao Paulo 2019

Getting to São Paulo is a one-stop flight that I made in Panama City leaving from San Jose, Costa Rica. After a brief (1 hour) flight to Panama City, it was time for a direct flight to Guarulhos, which is part of São Paulo metro area.

It’s also where the airport is located. This airport is also huge (like CDMX) and the walking was well…long. For this trip, due to logistics, it was better for me to have the swag made here in Costa Rica, instead of shipping from the US, where we are headquartered.

Ibirapuera Park
Ibirapuera Park – A huge, huge park in the middle of so many buildings.

So carrying so much swag was quite heavy. But it’s all good. I love working for such a great web hosting company that is GreenGeeks, so the back can hold.

After arriving very early in the morning (about 1 am) it was a long car ride to the hotel. This was another good 45 minutes away.

Getting There

São Paulo has tons of highways that connect the city and one even goes beneath a park. This would be the Ibirapuera Park, which is a landmark attraction for both Paulistas (how people of São Paulo are known) and tourists.

The following day, as I walked the city a bit getting ready for the speaker party, I sat and took my laptop out to work on a few issues. It’s a great feeling to enjoy things outside whilst being able to get stuff done.

But back to the car ride from the airport to the hotel. Luckily for me, I arrived early in the morning. A 45-minute drive would’ve taken a FULL two hours with traffic during work hours.

Yeah. Don’t fly into São Paulo during the day or that might happen to you.

The hotel was great and it was relatively close to the venue. When I say “relatively,” I mean like 10-15 minute Uber drive. Like I said, traffic and distances here are something to consider when you decide to move about.

The venue and parties are close to Universities and residential/restaurant areas. So, hotels weren’t all that close.

The Speaker Party at WordCamp São Paulo 2019

The speaker party was held close to the venue in a pizzeria place called, Tiziano Cappai. This is in the region of Aclimação, a neighborhood within the city of São Paulo.

I have to say I was very nervous going in because I speak little Portuguese. Secondly, I didn’t know anybody prior to going. I really, really didn’t know what to expect.

In situations like these, your social skills need to go up even further because of the reasons I just mentioned.

What I had forgotten (because I lived with many Brazilians around 20 years ago) is how social and easy-going Brasileiros are. These guys are always happy. So, with a broken Portuguese and fluent Spanish, we got things going.

I started to get to know people.

It was a nice speaker party, and a very different one as pizzas were being served. So, slice after slice, and bottle after bottle of beer, we started to have more and more fun.

A couple of odd things about Brasil and its customs: 1) People eat pizza with broccoli, and 2) they eat pizza with chocolate and coconut (no cheese) for dessert.

Chocolate Coconut Pizza
Pizza with chocolate and coconut. Yeah. Odd. But tasty.

A huge thanks to Leandrinho and David, two speakers I met and sat with when I arrived.

Partying with Volunteers

Around midway into the party, the volunteers were brought in to eat with us. This, I thought, was such a nice detail to have.

Volunteers work extremely hard too, so it was a nice gesture from the São Paulo organizers to invite them along and have a good time.

WordCamp Sao Paulo 2019 Speaker Party

After things got going, I started to speak to more of our fellow organizers. It’s always a pleasure to speak to them from this perspective because one knows all the stuff they have to go through in order to organize a WordCamp.

They were very intrigued to know more about Costa Rica (where I am from) because WordCamp San Jose has been the biggest WordCamp in Latin America this year. They are also extremely honored to have the sponsors come to WordCamps.

At the end of the night, I had met pretty much the crew of organizers and speakers.

It was almost midnight, and those beers started to hit me. I thought it was best to call it a night as I needed to have my A-game ready for the next day.

The Venue

UNINOVE was once again the venue chosen for WordCamp São Paulo 2019. Speaking to the organizers, they’ve told me this is the venue they’ve used for all WordCamps because of the free cost.

This is something I outlined in our WordCamp San José recap, as it saves tons of money.

Uninove – Big, big big venue

However, they are looking for a new venue because another important point in the quest of organizing WordCamps is to change things up. You don’t want to make it repetitive year after year.

One tries to change as much as one can: speakers, food, afterparty and of course, the venue. This is a bit harder to accomplish because of costs, how appropriate it is and because it’s really venturing into unknown territory with a lot at stake.

So, one wrong thing with the venue can literally kill the entire Camp. Which is why many will stick to what they know.

UNINOVE is a University in São Paulo, and it’s a huge venue. When I say, “huge,” I mean that from one hall to the other you had to walk around 3-5 minutes. That is WordCamp US distances right there.

There were around 5 sponsors present, and as it is a custom thing here, GreenGeeks was once again schooling them all when it came to swag.


We decided once again to make our swag custom, and we used our Spex in our Yoga pose saying, “tudo joia Sampa” which translates into “everything’s cool São Paulo”.

Beleza. This word was used a lot, which means “beautiful” when translated. But in reality, it just means “cool, wicked, or awesome.”

The Camp and its Talks

First, let’s speak about the camp and its attendees: man, they were swag hungry!

After my master and commander at arms, Trey Gardner, showed me in WordCamp San Jose how to get it done in terms of decorating the table, I decided to replicate it. But as always, the copy can never outdo the original.

But I tried and people noticed the shirts, which they loved. They really identify with things that are local to their customs. So, using a shirt that resembles this, is always a plus.

The funny thing is that we usually get asked if they are free or not, which they are.

So, once again, I was completely overrun by fellow attendees. Brasileiros are just such lovely people. The language was not an issue as I speak some Portuguese. Before you knew it, I was in full swing explaining to them how we are a WordPress web hosting provider that is green.

I met the organizers from WordCamp Porto Alegre who were visiting. I had reached out to them earlier this year. They were incredibly thankful for us to ship them swag and they handed me the very first GreenGeeks glass wipes we made, which was for WordCamp Porto Alegre this year.

What a detail.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t go. But perhaps we can next year? Beleza.

A huge shout out to Donini, Gustavo, Giovanni and last but not least, O fenômeno em Desenvolvimiento Web, Pittoni. A very nice talk he gave which I will give details in a bit.

Group Photo
From left to right Eduardo Pittol, Giovani Blotta, me, Leandrinho Vieira, Rodrigo Donini and Gustavo Tagliassuchi. Porto Alegre crew.

No Time for Lunch

I skipped lunch because I was speaking to so many people. I ate something I had in my bag. An hour later, at about 2:30, we were out of swag. Out. Gone. All of it.

This makes us very happy, btw.

Being out of swag, this allowed me to attend a few talks. I promised to the speakers I would the night before. Those beers made me promise things. So without further ado, here are my impressions of the talks I saw out of my fellow Sampa WordCamp friends.

Advantages and Challenges of Implementing a Mobile first Approach

This talk was given by the Owner of Apiki by day, forró and partier by night, Leandrinho Vieira. This guy, alongside David Arty, were the two guys that I sat with initially at the speaker/sponsor dinner.

I also promised them I would go to their talks. They told me they would call me out to make sure I did (which they did, btw).

Leandrinho spoke about web design projects whose main focus or point of departure is mobile. Hence the name, “Mobile First.” And how to build your way up as far as screen real estate goes.

With this line of thinking, all the decisions are first made for the mobile version of the site. This includes things like information architecture, design and implementation.

Why is this different? From a design and development point of view, I have to admit that I rarely start with the mobile. I usually go from a desktop and then work towards mobile devices.

This is the inverse.

Leandrinho Vieira
Leandrinho runs a successful Web agency called Apiki. Great talk!

This makes you focus (like really focus) on the core features the site should have and work your way up. One of the things that blew me away is that one, Google has a mobile-first approach and two, they use different spiders for mobile and desktop.

Bet you didn’t know THAT one!

So designing for a mobile mentality with good UX decisions is something that will yield you results as mobile users increase more and more.

It’s still a bit difficult for me to think this way, and clients usually want to see a full-blown version of the site before they commit to a project.

I’ll have to think about this one. I like the approach and agree with it. But the clients and their habits, well, those are a bit hard to move beyond right now.

Creating Gutenberg Blocks with React

I enjoy these talks tremendously, given my techie background. And after meeting Pittol, (his full name is Eduardo Pittol) who is part of the WordCamp Porto Alegre crew, I told him I would go.

It was a great talk. This guy is very knowledgeable regarding WordPress from a development point of view.

One of the things I noticed about WordCamp São Paulo 2019 is that Brasil’s level as a whole is very high. They got great talent. There is no denying. What hurts it in my opinion, to which they all agreed, is their lack of English.

I loved Pittol’s talk because it explained very thoroughly how to create a block using Gutenberg. The demo he pulled up did everything, but watch the project in React so you couldn’t see as the project was being changed.

Like setting the whole project up to watch it. This is a bit nice to mention because not all setups are created equal. Thus, having a boilerplate code that can quickly fire up your Gutenberg block creation is a nice thing to have.

He said he had one, so I will definitely follow up with him in the future.

How Can a User Center Design Make My Site Be Worth 4x as More

This session was given by my boy, David Arty. Now, this guy is THE MAN when it comes to captivating audiences. The first sign that he was good was that the room was PACKED. It was the last talk of the Camp.

Usually, this is not a normal thing when it’s the last talk of the Camp as people usually have left for the day. I then heard this guy speak, and he is just as much of a showman on stage.

When he started speaking, you could tell this guy can either be a WordPress speaker or a stand-up comedian. He controlled the crowd from start to finish. What a great orator he is – it comes naturally to him.

An Interesting Approach to a Talk

David was the best orator I have seen this year, in terms of dominating the crowd. But he couldn’t leave it at that, no. He did something I had never, ever seen in a WordCamp or anywhere else for that matter.

He basically did a Spirit Bomb using the crowd present as the energy source for it.

What? Yes. Allow me to explain.

There is an anime series (very popular) called Dragon Ball, where it’s heroes from outside the planet. One of the main characters is named Goku, and he has different moves and techniques and of them is the Spirit Bomb.

It is the strongest blow in the cartoon. So on stage, inside a WordCamp, he used a Dragon Ball Z thing and made the crowd do the exact same thing from the cartoon in the talk.

To perform a Spirit Bomb in the cartoon, all living things need to raise their hands in order to “transmit” the energy to Goku. So David, the speaker, had us do exactly this in front of a packed audience so that “all bad vibes are wiped off the talk”.

Spirit Bomb WordCamp Sao Paulo 2019
The Spirit Bomb in action. Note the bomb on the TV with the WordPress logo. ?

We all did it, laughing hysterically of course. And when the bomb was done and performed, his talk began. This is bar-none the weirdest thing I have seen at a WordCamp, but it comes to show you just how different we all are.

David’s talk was phenomenal. He spoke about many graphic design principles that make up for great designs. This is something I also enjoy a lot given my passion for design.

Hearing him speak about his passion for design, despite the ups and downs his career has given him, made this an unforgettable session to attend.

David Arty
The Chief of Design and Goku of WordCamp São Paulo, David Arty

And yes, design is totally worth it. We make decisions based on it whether we like it or not. Aesthetics play a huge and subliminal part of our decision process when it comes to products and services.

The Afterparty

Soon after the closing remarks were given, it was time for the After Party. WordCamp São Paulo 2019 was for one day only. With that, the Camp was over and it was time to party.

What can I say about the afterparty? People party differently from WordCamp to WordCamp. In Latin America, I think parties are longer, more drinks, more dancing and more laughs and screaming.

Brasil wasn’t the exception. These guys can PARTY. But of course they can…they take a week off every February to see the Carnaval.

Anyssa And Allyson
Anyssa and Allyson, wife and husband, organizer and…organizer. Lovely, both!

This party was beer, food (great food btw), samba, caipirinhas, from pretty much 7 PM until 3 AM.

I made it, though! And at 3 AM, some went to dance even more but man, I am getting a bit old for this. I decided to head back after saying my goodbyes to those who were still there (lots of them btw).

It was the WordCamp I partied the most. And since the Camp was for just one day, I didn’t have to worry about staying the night.

Closing Remarks

After resting for much of the morning and afternoon, it was time to grab a night flight and head back to my country. It was a beautiful WordCamp, and I would like to thank Annyssa, Allyson, Jackeline, David, Leandrinho, Vinicius, Blotta, Donini, Pittol, David, Gustavo, Amanda and Paulo for the laughs, beers, talks and good times.

I will be back in Brasil next year.


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