August 31, 2007

Meet Edward Gowing, from Australia, who has travelled to Brazil and is currently trying to spend as much time there as possible. 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 was a helicopter pilot in the Australian Army for about 11 years. I have worked in The United States and Canada and travelled a bit in Europe but had never set foot in South America until a couple of years ago.

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

The first time I came to Brazil was in December 2005. A few years back, a mate of mine met a Brazilian woman in San Diego – USA. They got engaged in Sydney, Australia, moved to live in Lyon, France and decided to marry in Florianopolis, Brazil (they now live with their 5 month old daughter in Basel, Switzerland). I took a 42 hr flight from Sydney via Auckland, LA, Lima, Santiago and São Paulo to celebrate the occasion. The 4 weeks I spent around Floripa (with a sojourn in Costa Verde and Rio) was enough to convince me to return to experience more of Brazil (OK… there might have been a woman!). So, 4 weeks later, when I returned to work, I informed my boss I was quitting to go and live in Brazil. Since than, I have been living in Brazil on and off, as dictated by the stamps in my passport.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

WOW! What friendly and easy going people!

4. What do you miss most about home?

SPACE! I miss the unpopulated beaches and plentiful parks of home. I guess coming from a country almost the same size as Brazil but with 1/9th of the population, everything in Brazil seems a bit crowded!

Deep and meaningful conversations. Whilst I am happy with the progression of my Portuguese, it is still difficult for me to converse with my Brazilian friends on a level where I am able to make a meaningful contribution (and they are able to get my jokes).

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

There have been various occasions where I have been unable to explain myself or my explanation has been lost in (my poor) translation. Very frustrating especially when conversing with my girlfriend!

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

It&rsquot;s true that your first time is always the best! This goes for my first visit to Brazil where I experienced the festivals of New Year, Samba Schools, caipirinhas and all other things new and in my eyes exotic. Apart from this time I spent a week kayaking Saco da Mamanug (Costa Verdes) with friends which I will never forget.

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

Like nearly everybody&rsquot;s response on this question – Brazilians. Their friendliness, openness and love of life is a stark contrast to my Anglo-Saxon reservedness. Their laid back nature is similar somewhat to that of Australians but even more significant given their greater hardship in general. &rsquot;No worries mate&rsquot; is a more appropriate call for a Brazilian!

8. What is your favourite restaurant to hang out here?

For restaurants on Ilha da Santa Catarina, I suggest you try south of the island; Ostradamus in Riberão da Ilha for the best oysters, seafood and service.

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

Not long after arriving in Brazil the second time, I visited the house of a Brazilian friend of my girlfriend. He offered me a drink. He returned with a caipirinha, which at the time I thought was strange. After finishing MY caipirinha I questioned him as to why he was not having one as well, to which he responded that I had just drank OURS! I still am adapting to sharing my drinks!!! Very taboo for an Aussie bloke!!!!

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

In nearly all regards Brazil is 30 years behind Australia. This is both frustrating and refreshing. Brazilian attitude to safety is frustrating – from my observations Brazilians consider the wearing of a seat belt in a car as a financial consideration rather than a safety consideration. However in the same breath it is refreshing to see a country that is not over legislated. Here in Brazil exists some degree of freedom to live.

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 love Portuguese because it is so phonetic. I now wonder how the hell I ever learned to speak English! Coming from a country which stopped teaching its children grammar, understanding the grammar of Portuguese was nearly impossible. Having taught myself English grammar, understanding Portuguese became much easier. This has not made remembering all the tenses and moods of verb conjugation any easier however!!!

I had a tutor for a few months. She explained to me that language mirrors culture. English is more structured and precise, &rsquot;within the lines&rsquot;. Portuguese, like other romance languages, is free and flexible, &rsquot;correctness is not the essence&rsquot;. Overcoming my Anglo-Saxon &rsquot;rigidity&rsquot; helped a lot. I still often repeat myself to correct my &rsquot;seus&rsquot; with &rsquot;suas&rsquot; or vice versa.

I still struggle with the SOV (subject, object, verb) structure used in Brazil. At time I confuse, &rsquot;quando&rsquot; with &rsquot;onde&rsquot;.

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

Swallow your pride and try to speak as much Portuguese as you possibly can. Brazilians will love you for your effort. Smile a lot, and share your caipirinhas.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil?

Visit Saco da Mamangu and see the untouched Brazil before it&rsquot;s too late. Stay in a family run pousada for a significant period of time and soon you will become their adopted child. Learn to cook Feijoada and to Samba (still trying to find my right foot).

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 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:

Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
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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