Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Meet Wayne Wright, who was born in the UK. After travelling to Brazil, and being subjected to Tourist Visa limitations, he finally decided to move here. Read the following interview where he tells us about his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?
My name is Wayne Wright. I was born and raised in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, and lived there for the first 45 years of my life (I am now 49).
Initially working in the glass industry (as a glass cutter) I started keeping tropical fish at the age of seven and with my first job being experienced in cutting glass, I started manufacturing aquariums and my hobby of breeding aquarium fish started my desire to have an aquarium shop. I opened my business in Aquatics in 1977 and had a good time breeding, selling and importing fish from all over the world.
I travelled all over the world, mainly places that I could collect aquarium fish during my holidays in the British winter (I had too much work in my water gardens to holiday in the British summer). I started to learn scuba diving to be even nearer to my beloved fish and am a qualified advanced BSAC diver. Having dived in the red sea, Australia, Cuba, Malta, Spain, and many places around the UK including the Channel Islands, Scilly Islands, Scotland, etc. also freshwater dives were had in many lakes and rivers in the UK always with a intention of seeing fish and not wrecks, as is the desire of most of the diving fraternity.
I have always had an interest in flora and fauna, and growing plants has been my hobby for as long as I care to remember. I love nature and have a great knowledge of fish plants and animals.
Here in Manaus I have a young daughter Loren (2 years old) hence dont have to be away six months in every year as before (but still awaiting my residencia even after 2 years). I have a lava jato business and am just starting a plant centre as this is now my primary love (plants). Fish have been postponed until my business has been completed and I have more spare time.
My friends tourist boat business is starting to take off and at times I go with him as a guide and translator. The boat takes up to 21 passengers and is available to hire for fishing trips etc, one of the best boats here in Manaus and has all the items needed for filmmakers too.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
Initially I was invited to visit a fish breeding farm in Recife in 1996. This was the first time I visited a country that I thought I could enjoy retiring to, but having spent three weeks there I did change my mind a little, despite being offered a good job running the fish farm should I care. I returned to the UK and did not visit Brazil again until I realized my dream of visiting the Amazon in 2001. What a difference to Recife Manaus is. Paradise found, I fell in love with Manaus instantly and having travelled on the Rio Negro in a tourist boat I love all the area around Manaus. Hence my reason to visit here was just for a holiday, it did not quite work out that way though.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
In Recife I loved the climate but not the city, I arrived in Manaus and after just two days fell in love with the climate, the people, the river, the city and everything. I made myself a promise that I would have to learn Portuguese as I was one way or another going to live here in Manaus, louco idea né??
4. What do you miss most about home?
Thats an easy question: wine gums, Bovril, and nothing else. Thats the truth.
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
Without a doubt the most frustrating experience was having to return to the UK because of the immigration laws. I bought a ticket to stay in Manaus for the six months allowed and having to go back to the UK nearly killed me. I had to return to sort out my business and divorce, but the thought of leaving paradise and going back to the UK made me depressed. Every time I saw an airplane pass overhead I felt like crying (sometimes I did).
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
I received a phone call from the BBC asking if I was a qualified scuba diver, as they were making a series about the Amazon area here in Manaus and at Santarem. I ended up being the technical scuba adviser during the reccie, and later one of the fixers for them during the making of the programmes. Being on the boats and seeing all the wildlife and being paid at the same time was out of this world. My knowledge of tropical fish and the husbandry of them made me an invaluable asset to their team of experts. I had the privilege of being in charge of four metre long electric eels in my ponds for about three weeks until they were put back into the wild after filming.
The series was called Amazon Abyss and was five half hour programmes. I had a really good time and will never forget the experience. Every time I watch the DVD of the programme I am reminded of the reason that the world thinks of the Amazon as paradise. I must say though that watching the programmes I dont class the Amazon rivers as scary and dangerous as they like to portray, but thats filmmakers eh?
I eagerly await any other work of this type should the chance come along
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
Thats easy too, I hate cold weather and here in Manaus we never see cold weather, just quente, ou quente com chuve, both acceptable to me. I dont believe that most of the people here complain about the heat, but I tell them here is better than cold places, and if they had experienced cold they would not complain about the heat. Cant please all of the folk all of the time eh?
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
Here in Manaus the best restaurant is without doubt Torro Louco near the airport. My favourite place to hang out is just a few minutes from my house and called Balneario da cia, with Forro music and an ambiente maravilosa. If you visit Manaus you must visit this night club, its open just Sundays, Mondays and holidays.
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
My friend has a tourist boat and had been in Brazil for a great deal of time but still has trouble with the lingo, the funniest thing was when I heard him shouting to his wife whilst in the shower "Ana get me the sabado" I looked at the bewildered look on the face of Ana. Ana asked me what John wanted and I could only wonder myself. Some time later I asked him what he wanted from Ana, and he replied that he just wanted the soap to shower with. Ah John you should have asked her for the sabonete not the sabado, as Ana has no Saturday in the house today. que doido né.
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
I can be sure that every morning I will awake and be warm when I go outside the house. I can walk in my large garden and look at my plants even in the rain if need be without feeling cold. My pleasure is in not being cold and this is the most striking difference in my opinion.
11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?
Arriving in Manaus I had a little knowledge of Spanish but none of Portuguese. How I survived is still a surprise to me and I suffered lots of frustration especially when some folk did not understand my Portuguese. Why do some folk understand and others dont?
I get confused at times with some words that have different meanings like manguera, a mango tree, and manguera, a hose pipe. I remember I once asked my wife to pass the manteiga (butter) instead of the manguera (hose pipe). You will have dificulty watering the plants with butter, but remembering this maybe my mates not the only doido.
My Portuguese speaking is fine now. I have never had any lessons but spent lots of time writing to my fiancée during the time I was in the UK passing my six months away. Now my writing in Portuguese is rusty as I havent written much of late.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Just to be careful and dont believe everything that you are told here, especially when asking a builder if he can do a certain job for you. They always say "yes, no problem". They dont always know how but want the ability to try (you are their training sponsor).
A promise made here is not the same as in our culture. A promise of meeting at a certain time, for example. You may have to wait for folk to arrive as time is not important in Manaus. For example, if you say to meet at 8 oclock you may see them at 10 or 12 oclock. Its normal for Brazilians but quite a shock to us Brits. To put it in perspective folk here arrive for job interviews late! Some shock when they dont get the job eh?
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
In Manaus there are lots of things to see, the opera house and some of the buildings in the centre. The best things (in my humble opinion) are the trips on the river. A trip to Barcelos is brill, not because of Barcelos, but because of the journey itself, which includes dolphins, birds, monkeys, plants and other wild animals. Fishing here is good and the variety of species is unbelievable. Anyone wishing to take a boat trip can contact me on 92 3681 0532 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A short walk from my house is the nature reserve Adolfo Ducke. This has all of the large trees in the region and over 2000 species of plants in a relatively small area (compared to the massive forests everywhere else in Amazonas). A walk around the part of the reserve open to the public is rewarding to say the least. Wild orchids and a bewildering array butterflies and ferns can be seen there.
Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to email@example.com with "Interview" in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.
To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
Walt Kirspel - USA
Priya Guyadeen - Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling - USA
Nicole Rombach - Holland
Steven Engler - Canada
Richard Conti - USA
Zak Burkons - USA
Ann White - USA
Monde Ngqumeya - South Africa
Johnny Sweeney - USA
David Harty - Canada
Bill McCrossen - USA
Peter Berner - Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson - USA
Solveig Skadhauge - Denmark
Sean McGown - USA
Condrad Downes - UK
Jennifer Silva - Australian
Justin Mounts - USA
Elliott Zussman - USA
Jonathan Abernathy - USA
Steve Koenig - USA
Kyron Gibbs - USA
Stephanie Early - USA
Martin Raw - UK
Sean Coady - UK
Hugo Delgado - Mexico
Sean Terrillon - Canada
Jessie Simon - USA
Michael Meehan - USA
Thales Panagides - Cyprus
Tammy Montagna - USA
Samantha Tennant - England
Ron Finely - United States
Bob Duprez - United States
Peter Baines - England
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