Meet Peter Baines, an Englishman in Brazil long enough to recall two currency changes. Read on as he discusses business ventures, his thoughts on Brazil, and the lack of HP sauce.
Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? When did you arrive and what brought you here?
Born in Preston, Lancashire, in 1943; moved to Canada in 1949 and arrived in Brazil 1950.
My father was a textile man, and moved from England as the textile industry in England started to suffer the competition from India and Asia in general after the 2nd War.
We arrived here in Santos, Mum, Dad and six kids, later to be 8, 4 boys and 4 girls.
I went back to England, to boarding school, in 1953, Mount Saint Mary’s College, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, run by Jesuits; it was tough. When I was 16, the school said they couldn’t do much more for me, they said that I was wasting their time and my Dad’s money. In fact I was, since my main interests were sports, and just having a good time. So in 1960 I returned to Brazil, went to Chapel School, to continue having an even greater time, partying, playing rugby, etc.; that’s when my old man said, enough.
It was back to England, and then I suddenly realized that I had to do something with my life. I did an OND in Mech Eng. at Bolton Tech, passed with good marks, and went on to Salford University which at that time was called The Royal College of Advanced Technology, the Royal CAT”, also our mascot, which we had to protect on many occasion before and after rugby games at home and away. During the holidays I played rugby for Preston Grasshoppers and occasionally for Manchester RFC.
On leaving Salford with and BSC (Hons) in Prod. Eng., I joined Reckitt & Colman in 1967, did 6 month training , and came out to Brasil to be the Chief Engineer at Atlantis , in St Andr.
I came back for good because of Diana Tinkler (my Di ), whom I had met on a visit to Brazil in 1966, we later got married in 1969,and had our daughter Lara who teaches at the Graded, and our son Terence who works at the BM&F.
During my 7yrs with Reckitt’s, I travelled back to England, went to Mexico, & South Africa, to obtain know-how to install a baby food plant in a joint venture with Gerber’s.
What do you do in Brazil?
At present I look after a small farm in Holambra (The City of Flowers.), producing Green Tropical Plantas, breeding Canchim registered cattle, and growing sugar cane. I also look after the remains of two inactive companies, not closed for obvious reasons , which in Brazil can be a full time job.
What were you first impressions of Brazil?
As I was only 7yrs old, my first impressions that still have stock in my mind, was my first meal, , rice and beans, and a bife as hard as leather and Guarana da Antartica, and the feeling that we were in a very big city. São Paulo had about 2.2 million people, and was the 13th largest city in the world, smaller than Rio. This was the year Brazil lost the World Cup at home, and Corinthans were champions.
What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
Leaving Reckitt’s to join a family business, which suffered first the death of the founder; then the tremendous impacts of the government economic plans from 1989 through the 1990s, not being able to save the company, and being obliged to sell out for peanuts.
What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
Being asked to be President and then being elected as President of the Canchim Cattle Breeders Association, 1997 to 2001, from engineer to cattle breeder.
What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
The opportunities, of every kind, with little restriction, other than of course money, in all walks of life, if your willing to work hard and go along with the Brasilian way of life and turn a blind eye to many of the idiosyncrasies of the country and it’s people.
What do you dislike most about Brazil (in general)?
Security, impunity, corruption, lack of value for human life.
What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
For special occasions the Jardineira Grill, in fact the same restaurant where my son Terence, paid out of his first salary the first meal for his Mum & Dad.
For a good meal on the spur of the moment, the Cantina Bella Donna, Itaim, two block from home.
Use to be the English Club(SPAC), now it’s nowhere special, mainly at home.
Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
This happened, not exactly in Brasil, but at the border between Brasil and Argentina , Uruguaina.
Once again, involving rugby, at the time I was the coach for the SPAC U-17, 40 boys and I,were on are way to La Plata RFC.for a weeks Rugby Clinic by bus,
On arriving at the Argentina border, we handed over all our passports for the normal scrutiny, well after about an hour the police came back to inform us that there was a passport with a problem. I tried to think whose it could be, since we had Brasilians and other nationalities with us.
So I decided to find out who and what was the problem, to my surprise I find out it was my British passport.
This is unbelievable, I had visited Argentina a few years before on business, on leaving, the airport police had not stamped my passport, so for the border police I had not left the country, and had been living illegally in Argentina for two years., ( This was just after the Falklands)
Well after a lot of explaining, they decided that they would have to put a stamp on my passport referring to my leaving two years prior, so they found an adjustable rubber-stamp, and made a exit stamp in my passport, unbelievable, all this took about 2 hours.
Then put an entry stamp and we carried on our way.
What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
Its on the Brasilian flag ” ORDEM E PROGRESSO” , the difference is ORDEM. It’s as clear as that!
No HP sauce, Heinz BAKED Beans or good TETLEY’S tea, can’t have baked bean on toast, with an egg on top covered with HP sauce and a good mug of tea.”
Fortunately I have friends who supply me with the ingredients, and you can always have a good FEIJOADA!
What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
I believe this is the country of the future, I have done so since I started working here, and so did my father who worked for Alpargatas till he retired, and passed away last year after 54 years in Brasil. We’ve had many obstacles put in our way over time , internal and external, but PROGRESSO continues.
Don’t be put off by first impressions, this country has a lot to offer, it’s not the cushy life of back home, it’s getting better, at least you can still have a maid.
What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
Travel in Brazil north to south, east to west, preferably by car; see the immensity and differences in the regions.
In the city of São Paulo, visit the museums, the town center, and other points of interest.
In the state take a trip along the main highways the best in Brazil, visit some of the larger cities in the interior, feel the wealth and warmth of the country, agriculture, industry, tourism, remember: this is a city of about 15,000,000 people, a state going on to 35,000,000, and a country with 170,000,000. There’s plenty to see!!!!!!!!!
To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia
Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to email@example.com