November 16, 2007

Meet Jim Adams, from the USA, who married a Brazilian and visits Brazil regularly. 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 Charlestown, Indiana. A small town just north of Louisville, KY. I attended college locally and work for large US based brokerage firm as in investment advisor. I am married to a Brazilian who was an exchange student in the US. We have been married 5 years and have one daughter who is 18 months old and another child on the due in March of 2008.

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

My first trip to Brazil was in 2000. My most fond memories at the time was the exchange rate. If memory serves correctly the Real was near 4.5 to 1 US dollar. Those were the days. My wife and I were just dating at the time for a couple of months. My first time in Rio was a culture shock, to say the least.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My impressions of Rio were almost indescribable. I never imagined a large city spread out, nestled in the middle of mountains and oh, throw in the beach.

My in-laws live in the Copacabana neighborhood in Rio. I just recall trying to sleep with horns blowing outside on the street, four lanes of traffic jammed into two lanes with men selling soda in the middle of the street. Also, don’t forget about the elevator noise, up and down with a large release of noise when it arrives to its floor. Seven years later all the same noises are still there but they have almost a calming affect now.

4. What do you miss most about home?

As a family, we are in Brazil four times a year. When in Rio, I do miss inexpensive phone calls. My cell phone bill is usually $300 dollars for the three weeks I am in Rio. I also miss just picking up and going places. Brazilians, do not just pick up and go. Especially my in-laws. Everything is a process. To go out to dinner, it take at least 10 minutes to get out of the door. Then depending on the time, traffic will be bad and take 35 minutes to travel to Ipanema.

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

In Nov of 2002 we were traveling back to the states from Rio. This was just after the US started their airport security push. As everyone knows, if the US enforces something onto Brazilians, Brazilians will do the same to US travelers. So, our luggage was chosen to go through extra security. Along with our luggage, my wife and I were escorted into a room the size of a broom closet. We spent more than one hour in this room while three Brazilians unpacked our luggage and inspected the contents. After that ordeal I decided I would never return. Three months later I was back in Rio…

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

On July 17th 2002 my wife and I were married in Rio. 300 people packed into a very old church in Rio that had a maximum capacity of 50. The reception followed at the Jockey Club in downtown Rio. What a sight to look over the city while being a part of the craziest party of my life. The wedding and reception went off without any problems. Other than I could not get a beer at my own reception. Nicer Brazilian weddings usually do not have beer, just scotch and champagne. My mother in-law and wife feel really bad about not having beer at my own wedding. In the states that is very common.

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

Brazil is a melting pot of sights, sounds, smells and experiences. I like how people work really hard but also find time to relax and enjoy their family. I love how families are very very close. Families gather around the TV at night to watch the novela on Globo. I enjoy the kindness of the people. Brazilians will go out of their way to accept you and ensure you have a wonderful experience.

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

My favorite hangout in Rio is Guapo Loco, Leblon. On Tuesdays they have a rodizio that serves the best Mexican food south of the Equator. I also love Servantes on Rua Prado Junior in Lemme. A roast beef sandwich with melted cheese and a slice of pineapple. A really cool night out in Lapa is hard to beat.

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

On the corner of our street in Rio, a homeless person has lived their since my wife was in her teens. He has been on the same corner for the last seven years that I have been going to Brazil. It never fails, this person is in the same spot, even on the hottest days. He always has food, drink and clothes. We just recently heard that our homeless neighbor moved to São Paulo because things were too difficult in Rio. I laugh and wonder how he got to São Paulo and who sat next to him on the bus.

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?

My Portuguese is OK. I do have the ability to get around on my own, order food, drinks, and shop. I cannot hold conversations unless I am drinking heavily. I do practice using Roseta Stone but recently found Travelersdictionary.net.

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

Learn a bit of the language and get out and explore what Brazil has to offer. The sights, sounds and experiences can only be found in Brazil. Any beach in Brazil would be the ideal location to visit.

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

Go to a football match at Maracana stadium, visit anywhere in Brazil during the World Cup and find a place you like to visit in Brazil and buy a condo. I did.

You can contact Jim at camilasdad@aol.com.

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:

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

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