October 5, 2007

Meet Jim Jones, from the USA, who recently moved to Brazil. 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 43 years old, married to a Carioca and we have a 6 yr old son. I am a Tennessee native, we lived the last 6 years in Florida which helped prepare me for the Rio weather. I was in the real estate and construction business.

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

We moved to Rio de Janeiro in Feb 2007. We wanted to be closer to my wife’s family even though we would visit 3 weeks a year for the last 7 years. We also wanted our son to know Brazil and learn the language. The Brazilian people are the best! They have a way of making you feel at home, a real part of the family.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impression once we left the airport in Rio is the neglect of the infrastructure. The roads are in bad condition, patches on top of patches make for a bone jarring drive.

My second impression was the beauty of the land. The beaches are wonderful and the mountain size solid boulders rising out of the sea (seemingly over night) makes me wonder in amazement.

The third impression is the amount of poverty and violence which is not confined only to the slums. I worry about driving at night, so I try not to. My windows are always rolled up for fear of being mugged or carjacked at a stop light, even in daylight. The natives are teaching me about safety.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I don&rsquot;t miss the TV shows that I thought I would. They are here just three months behind the U.S. schedule. I use a Slingbox through my computer when I want to watch a few things I can&rsquot;t get here like the NFL and NCAA football. I miss the abundance of food products, California wine, inexpensively price and lack of choices in electronics and autos.

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

The horrible bureaucracy that the government puts everyone (Brazilians and foreigners) through here.
Everything that could go wrong does and then it gets worse. Service people are much more incompetent here. It could be lack of education or common sense, I don&rsquot;t know which. Everything requires a service person from changing the water filter on a refrigerator to a gas fill up for the car. Both of which I have had big problems with.

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

Watching a whole country shut down during the World Cup last year. My wife told me but I did&rsquot;nt take her seriously until I experienced it myself. The malls, grocery stores… everything closes.

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

The acceptance and genuine kindness of the people. I grew up in the southern USA where everyone is supposed to be friendly”, and they are. But the Brazilians are friendlier by far.

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

There are several restaurants, Ettore in Barra de Tijuca (Rio) and Joe and Leo’s at the Fashion Mall in São Conrado (Rio) are the two we frequent most often.

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

I am not a heavy drinker. The first time I met my in-laws was a very festive day. They introduced me to Caipirinhas and various other drinks starting at noon. They kept sitting drinks in front of me all day. I got blasted and the next day had a huge hangover. I learned how to say “Nao Obrigado”.

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

When buying big ticket items like cars, appliances, furniture and electronics in Brazil delivery takes anywhere from a week to a month or longer. On average 3 weeks is about right. I am used to taking a car home in a couple of hours, electronics immediately, furniture and appliances delivered the next day or 2 at the most.

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 downloaded some lessons online before I arrived here which helped a lot. I am taking classes and am improving but I still cannot communicate fluently. I stumble but Brazilians are patient and eventually I get my point across. The hardest part is understanding the Carioca accent. They cut words short and run them together like a southerner from the U.S., but they speak fast like a New Yorker. They speak a lot of slang which is hard to pick up on. I&rsquot;ll get it eventually.

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

Learn at least the basics of the language. It will help you tremendously.

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

In Rio see the Christ, Sugar Loaf, Jobim Botanico Garden and the beaches. All are spectacular in their own ways. Learn a little Brazilian history, it will enrich your visit.

To contact Jim send an email to jiminbarra@yahoo.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:

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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