August 3, 2010

Meet Jeff Eddington who first came to Brazil over 20 years ago, and continues to visit. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences 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 born and raised (and still reside) in San Diego, California. I am a corporate and real estate attorney with my own practice. A significant amount of my practice involves Brazil. I am married with four beautiful daughters.

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

I first came to Brazil in December 1987 as a Mormon missionary at age 19. As a missionary, you do not get to choose where you go – you just decide whether you want to serve a mission, and the church gives you your assignment. I hit the jackpot and got assigned to the São Paulo South Mission. During my two-year mission, I spent about six months in Santos, and the rest of the time in various places around the São Paulo metro area (downtown, Interlagos, Maua, Ribeirao Pires, and Cotia). Now, as an attorney, I travel to Brazil once or twice a year for work.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

For a southern California kid who grew up surfing and playing soccer, Brazil was a dream assignment for me. I was sent to Santos first and I think it took me about 5 minutes to adjust. I pretty much loved everything about Brazil from the moment I arrived – the food, the people, the language, and the culture. I very vividly remember the drive from São Paulo to Santos. I was mesmerized by the green jungle as we descended the mountains into the Baixada.

4. What do you miss most about home?

When I lived in São Paulo as a missionary, it was my family, and not much else. When I am in Brazil now for work, it is still same – I miss my family and not much else.

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

The Brazilian tax code! As an attorney, some transactions (actually most) are highly impacted by what taxes do or don’t apply. I have been involved in transactions where we get very different conclusions on the same issue from different tax attorneys. So I would have to say the lack of clarity on the application of the tax code.

When I lived in São Paulo in the 80’s, the driving habits were much worse than they are now. That was a bit frustrating and scary back then.

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

In 2005 I was able to visit a person I knew 15 years ago when I was a missionary and see how her life had turned out. She was a young 13 year old girl at the time and joined our church. In those 15 years, through a lot of determination and work, she became an attorney, a wife and mother of a beautiful family. It was very gratifying to see what she has made of her life.

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

It is very hard to narrow that down. I basically love everything. I love the soccer, the food, the beach, the people, the architecture, the culture, the music, etc. I feel very much at home in Brazil. I have taken my wife to Brazil many times and now she is a card-carrying Brazilophile too.

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

A small restaurant on Copacabana near the Excelsior Hotel where my wife and I would eat (several time a day) the best chocolate (for her) and maracuja (for me) mousse in the world.

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

After I had been a missionary for about 18 months, I had reduced my gringo accent to the point that most people thought I was Brazilian. When we would meet with people in their homes, they would usually ask where we were from. If they asked whether I was from Brazil, I would sometimes say yes. When they would ask where, I would say the Bahia. This would usually cause a perplexed look on their face (I had a full head of blond hair back in those days). I would then ask for a bacia (large, round metal wash basin) and then balance it on my head while I walked around the room to prove that I was a true Baiano. Everyone would start laughing and I would fess up that I was really from California. It was a great ice-breaker!

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

Those differences are starting to fade away as Brazil becomes a more modern society in terms of its economy, business climate, etc. The most striking thing (and something that I love) is how my clients in Brazil treat me and my wife like family. While our relationship started out on business terms, they really do feel more like a family to us. When my wife accompanies me on trips, they treat her like a queen. It is wonderful.

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?

Thankfully I learned Portuguese when I was still a teen and have been speaking it on a regular basis for the past 20 plus years.

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

If you are going to be living there for any amount of time, learn the language. Find some fresh-made maracuja juice (with ground up seeds and all) and enjoy!

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 an acquired taste. Walk down Paulista Ave. and take in the hustle and bustle. Go see one of the classicos (game between any of the major soccer teams in São Paulo) and get down to Santos and Guaruja for the beach and some neat history (historic Santos downtown).

You can contact Jeff via jeff@eddingtonlaw.com.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Rod Saunders – USA
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
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

Can’t make this up