Meet Richard Dougherty, from the USA, who has travelled in Brazil and married a Brazilian. 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’m from mainly the Ohio Valley area where I grew up although I spent many years in both Wisconsin area, Michigan, Connecticut, and California. I’m going to be giving English classes again once back to São Paulo and establishing in and around the Campo Belo area.

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

I first arrived in Brazil in 2001 on kind of a vacation. I had met a Brasileira via the Internet and after our virtual dating decided to see what reality had in store. I came with a ring, she accepted and we were married in our home in Campo Belo some months later with all the preparations needed.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

My first impressions coming past the poor area in from GRU was sadness. The traffic, the smells, the sites all so different from where I came from. The graffiti… so much new input. The only international travel I’d ever done was with the US military and then there was always someone somewhat guiding you in the proper direction.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I’ve come to understand what ‘home is where your heart is’ means and ‘next time I go looking for something better, I’ll go no farther than my own back door’. Memories are our photographs that we can sometimes share or keep for ourselves when nostalgia or low times come, as they do. Be happy where you are, with whom you are doing what you are.

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

Dealing with traffic, whether it be citizens, motoboys, cab or bus drivers. Brazil could boost their revenues greatly if only the police were on the highways stopping and giving tickets.

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

That would be when I left my wife and step daughter, Fernanda, at Congonhas airport to go back to the US in hopes of getting allowance for my wife to travel there on other than a tourist visa which had been denied her. I found so many problems with immigration to the USA and have finally come to the understanding that there is no guarantee to the monies you spend nor to the final decision. Its been almost a year away and its time to come home.

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

The foods, the combinations of flavors and textures.

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

We haven’t a ‘hang-out’ place as yet although we do enjoy a local padaria and boteco close to home. One of my favorite restaurants is Santorini’s in Campo Belo. A grrrreeeeat pizza and cold Bohemia, what can be better?

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

I am a licensed med-board massage therapist and we did a specific event over new years in 2003 at the Coconut Hotel in Maresias for the guests. We had put up a light structure using lona over a tent structure and the wind/rain came in. I turned to look over my shoulder as I stood holding one side of the structure down to see my wife in the opposite corner doing the same thing. Then I looked to my front at the ocean thinking how much this structure we were holding down was like a kite and decided better to let go. We laughed, enjoyed the bad weather and after Jan 1st set up in a weight/exercise room inside the hotel and continued with our sessions. Quite the experience and most definitely in our memory photographs.

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

Definitely the skyline of the city! Approaching Sacramento, CA you see just two or three buildings in comparison to São Paulo where the end of the city is never seen even from the 28th floor of the Hilton Morumbi.

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?

Eu falo um pouco de Portuguese mas eu falo, mias ou mes… and hopefully going to improve now one foot isn’t in the States and will have both planted in Brazil soon. (I’m still stateside currently but heading home in first week of April, 2007) Pronouncing gives me no trouble since I have a good ear but it’s the verb usage that’s confusing. As I teach English though I have improved my Portuguese.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Don’t be frightened by things you hear, there are problems in all the world but you need to touch and be touched by the people, the customs, the foods, and most definitely the music/samba.

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

Go to the people, the samba schools, to the centers of the city where they have huge garage sales (feiras/street fairs). Peruse the items for sale, watch the people, listen… then go to the center and have a pastel and cold drink and hear the music from the chorinho band. Walk through some smaller cities, the cobblestone streets to the outlying city limits… down by a waters edge and find a waterfall, taste the flowing waters. Feel as if you could be the very first one to find this beautiful place… enjoy and take nothing away with you, but leave it for the next traveler to experience.

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:

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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