Meet Atlanta Foresyth, from the USA, who has travelled to Brazil many times, works with Brazilian music, and is opening a pousada in Brazil. Read the following interview where she tells us about her 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.?
I’m a vocalist, dancer and actress currently living in New York, but slowly making the move to Brazil. I grew up in a small town in northwest Florida, and my mother is a Cape Verdean American, so I always felt a strong connection with Brazilians and Brazil. Many people aren’t aware that Cape Verde even exists, so I’ve always told people that my heritage is Brazilian. I’ve never been to Cape Verde and I travel to Brazil about twice a year.
Here in New York, I work with an ensemble of dancers called Brasilierando (the act of being Brazilian), DJs who love Brazilian music or Brazilian musicians. In Brazil, I’m opening a pousada.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I first came to Brazil in 2002, a few months after Sept 11 happened in New York City. I was in the building, and after a few months of just feeling disconnected to all the things I thought meant so much (work, money, the city), I escaped to the beaches of Rio and Salvador to re-evaluate my life.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
I knew of the beauty, but actually seeing it with my own eyes was an experience that chokes me up, even now. During my first flight, descending through the mountains and clouds in Rio, I cried because it felt like I was coming home. The poverty is staggering, even compared to the homeless problem we have here in New York City, but the spirit of the people, no matter what their financial situation, is inspiring.
4. What do you miss most about home?
Different kinds of hip hop, whole wheat bagels, tofu cream cheese, top notch vegetarian food, the whole foods market, The New York Times in print, pomegranate martinis and the FoodTV network.
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
Seeing kids who still seem to have little more to do than stand on street corners and ask for money because it’s really the only way they know. It’s heartbreaking.
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
People in Brazil have SUCH big hearts. Little things like the fact that one lady who used to make these meals outside the pousada where we stay in Bahia, she found out that we really like coconut, so the next day she must have shown up with 6 or 8 different desserts with coconut!
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
The alegria (happiness) of the people. The spirit of their hearts that always has a smile, always is ready to welcome you to a dance. It’s the way people don’t have much, but they know the value of having their lives, and live them with FULL thanksgiving.
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
I’m a huge fan of a little place called Toca de Siri. It’s on a side street in Copacabana, doesn’t really have an address, but it is SO much fun! Great food, nice friendly atmosphere, and really it is the embodiment of what Brazil is truly about.
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
People in the USA live to work. They haven’t grasped that the reasons Brazilians are so happy is that they LIVE TO LIVE. it’s a huge difference, and as Americans, most are conditioned to think that 2 weeks vacation each year is enough time to reclaim your sanity after the rat race of the entire year. That’s the fast track to a heart attack.
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?
Eu falo bem portugues ;o) com sotaque carioca! Honestly, often times locals will come ask me a question and I have a tendency to run out of vocabulary. They’re perplexed by this, because my accent and appearance are so authentic, that they cant believe I wasn’t born and bred there in Brazil.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil? Relax & have an open mind.
Brazilians are some of the most wonderful people on earth…
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
São Paulo is a shoppers paradise. Antiques, furniture, art, jewellery, Japanese artifacts, it’s a DREAM!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
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“