Meet Eddie Soto, from the USA, who regularly travels to and from Brazil and other areas in South America with work. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of 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.?

I am originally from new York City and my parents were from Puerto Rico. I studied here in the United Sates as well as in Central America. I have lived in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. I am fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I did graduate work here in the USA and have a master&rsquot;s degree from Princeton. Presently I am an Associate Pastor in a Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Previous to this I taught in university level theological institutions in Guatemala, Venezuela and the city of Fortaleza in Brazil as well as in São Paulo City. Among my present duties I take groups from our church to different parts of the world to expose them to other cultures and expressions of the Christian faith. We have been to Costa Rica, Mexico, brazil and this year are planning a trip to Madagascar, Africa.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I arrived in Brazil in August, 1992 to teach in a Presbyterian theological school in Northeast Brazil. First I studied Portuguese in Campinas, São Paulo.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

A happy, lively culture. I was impressed at the people&rsquot;s friendliness towards foreigners and their warm, rich hospitality. It is one of the most hospitable countries I know.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Presently I live here in the USA (returned in 2002 with my wife, who is Brazilian from São Paulo). I can honestly say that I miss Brazil very, very much and try to travel there at least once a year to be with friends and my wife&rsquot;s family.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

The bureaucratic nature of the government and many institutions. It takes forever to get things done at times, even though since I first arrived in Brazil things have gotten a little better. In the northeast I was saddened with the extremes of wealth and poverty in such a lovely city as Fortaleza.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Meeting my wife Marcia Leite. She is a third generation Presbyterian from Brazil and she has been a great blessing and help to my life and work. Also, working with excellent colleagues at the seminary.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

Its people, music, warm hospitality and general culture.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

I lived in São Caetano do Sul and enjoyed very much an Italian restaurant which had the best Italian food and pizza.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Yes, when I first arrived I was invited to the home of a Brazilian physician and church leader (whose grandfather was originally from the USA) and after a meal we sat around and talked for a long time. After a certain hour I decided to leave and said, thank you and I will be leaving now. They said in Portuguese, eh cedo” (its early), so I looked at my watch and sat down and spoke for another hour. I then tried leaving again and when I did was told, once again, “eh cedo”. I sat down again and talked for another long time and finally when I said once again, its time for me to leave, everyone said “esta bom!” (good!) I did not realize that when they say, “eh cedo” it is a courtesy and normally people do leave after saying that.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

The joy of living!! In spite of so many Brazilians living with harsh economic difficulties they have a joy for life and make the best of what they have.

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?

I would say quite well since I continue to practice it at home with my Brazilian wife who is a lawyer and corrects me every time I make a mistake.

Traitor in Portuguese is hard for me to pronounce (traicoeiro). Because of my Spanish there are times I mix-up words with Portuguese that have a different meaning.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Enjoy that beautiful land and its warm, marvelous people!! My most memorable experiences have been there in Brazil and I have been most enriched by them.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Visit its many tourist areas in different parts of the country. I traveled throughout Brazil by car from north to south and was enriched by the variety of cultures I encountered. The different areas of the country seem to be different countries within the one but made up of one wonderful people!!

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 gringoes@www.gringoes.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:

Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
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

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