Englands Lesley Cushing (pictured on the left) first visited Brazil in 1994 and now calls Florianopolis home, where she is a partner in a tour company. She shares with us her love of Brazil and encourages readers to discover some of the out of the way places. Read recommendations about places to stay and eat in Florianopolis along with a story about a mutiny on a Brazilian bus!

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?
I was born in London, England 40 years ago and lived there most of my life, except for some months working in Australia and Israel.

What do you do?
In my previous life (before Brazil) I used to have my own business as an antique furniture restorer. Now I am a partner in a tour operator specialised in South Brazil, called Brazil Ecojourneys.

When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I had been to Brazil many times before I moved here in 2003. As with many of your readers, I met a Brazilian in London and after a long journey, we ended up here!

What were you first impressions of Brazil?
Well, the first time I came to Brazil it was in 94 and the dollar was 1:1 to the real, so my first impression was that it was a very expensive country. As I had come to spend 3 months here on a tight budget it was a big shock! I ended up traveling everywhere by bus. In the end it was a nice way to get to know the real Brazilians. They gave me a very positive image of the Brazilian people.

What do you miss most about home?
Family, friends, Thai and Indian food.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
Obtaining a visa – in fact everything that has to do with legal and official matters.

What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil?
The view of the Iguazu Falls at 6:00 am without another person around. It was almost a spiritual experience.

What do you most like about Brazil?
We live in Florianopolis so we still have the advantages of a small place, with a laid-back atmosphere, very friendly and easy going people. There is a sense of community and always someone to help you if you need. And of course the weather and the beaches.

What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
There are two in Florianopolis that I go often for seafood. The first, Chão Batido, is in Santo Antonio de Lisboa , one of the old Azorean villages (called Freguesias”). It has gorgeous views and very good mussels. It’s perfect for a happy hour. The other, Ostradamus, is in the south of the island, in another “Freguesia” called Ribeirão da Ilha. It’s my favourite seafood restaurant in town. The risotto is a must!

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
There are quite a few but I still remember my first trip to Bahia by bus. There was some confusion with my ticket and the driver wanted me to get out before my destination to buy a new ticket, that meant waiting for hours for the next one. The rest of the passengers on the bus took my side and there was almost a riot until the driver just gave in and let me continue. That would not happen in England, nobody would get involved. I guess you had to be there to find it funny!

What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
The countries couldn’t be more different. The nature, the people, the infra-structure, the food. some things are better in England, some are better here. there is no perfect place.

What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Learning the language is essential, then have an open mind and try to involve yourself in the community.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in Florianopolis (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
Florianopolis is a great place but you should avoid the tourist traps of the north of the island (unless you like Costa del Sol or Miami). Visit the south of the island, the Azorean villages, have a meal at Costa da Lagoa. There are great trips away from the beach as well, lots of day treks and sports opportunities. Try to contribute with the local economy by staying in small places and eating locally.

Lesley can be contacted at: lesley@brazilecojourneys.com. Check out her company website: www.brazilecojourneys.com

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

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

Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

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