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Random Traveller Stories: Brazil Through Foreign Eyes Pt 6

Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Meet Richard Gant, from the USA, who travels regularly to Brazil on business, and tries to spend as much time here as possible. Read the following interview where he tells us about 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 have had a love for Brazil since I saw the movie Black Orpheus when I was a young boy in Seattle, Washington. Before I first arrived Brazilian music was my connection. Artists like Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben, Cateano Veloso, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and many many artists who collaborated with American Jazz musicians. Even Sergio Mendes, when I was a kid. Today I work as a sports agent and operate a sports and entertainment marketing firm in the US. We have been expanding our business in Brazil. I have lived in New York City most of my adult life and now try to spend part of the year in Brazil. Mostly Rio de Janeiro. But as business is done in Såo Paulo one must go there.

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

My first trip to Brazil was in 2003 and I spoke at a conference on sports marketing in Rio de Janeiro called EsportBizz which was organized by the great sports daily Lance.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

As I thought I would all along, I felt at home as soon as I arrived. A place I could live, work and love. Since I already had friends in Brazil whom I had met in New York, it was of course great seeing them. I also met a women who is very special to me and we have developed a great relationship which continues to get better.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Nothing, since I go often enough not to miss it. I might miss my friends though, if I stayed away from the US for any length of time.

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

Sometimes trying to negotiate a business alliance presents an interesting problem. Some of the monetary quotes we have received to purchase services are so high and out of the question, either it would lead one to believe someone is trying to take advantage of you because they think Americans have lots of money or there is no concept of how much they should charge in relation to the US dollar vs the Real.

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

On my first trip here my group was taken on a tour of Rio de Janeiro and while riding in the van a song came on the radio by Gilberto Gil. I happened to have been given this particular CD by a Brazilian friend when she was in New York. So, I began to sing along and all of our Brazilian hosts were very surprised I knew this song. As I sang, although I knew almost no Portuguese then, I knew the song well enough that none the less I was able to sing the words but did not know what I was singing about. That special women I keep mentioning, was sitting beside me and began to sing along with me. That was the beginning of a magical day. She took me in hand and for the rest of the tour we were inseparable. On Pão de Açucar, at Maracana, on Corcovado and in Ipanema. We sang more when we were back in the van traveling in between locations. She also knew some American R&B. Since that time we have continued to grow our relationship and it just gets better every day. That day with her is by far my most memorable experience.

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

The people.

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

In São Paulo I like the neighborhood Itaim Bibi and its restaurants. In Rio my favorite place to hang out is in Ipanema. My favorite restaurant was Yemanja in Ipanema, but it has recently closed. I also like Barra Brasa in Leblon. There's also Republican Gourmet in Barra.

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

Not really.

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

I think people in America take themselves way to seriously. In Brazil I like the way people have a kind of ease about themselves.

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 am trying very hard to become fluent in Portuguese. I am able to write better than I speak at the moment. And it is difficult to understand when someone is speaking to me rapidly. I always have to ask, "Por favor fale mais devagar". Portuguese is a challenge but each day I try to learn something different and incorporate that into my communication skills.

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

Enjoy the great people of Brazil and this beautiful country. Leave the Estados Unidos in the Estados Unidos.

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

Check out this huge city and how it moves. There's a lot a energy here. Reminds me of New York, with twice the number of people. Rio de Janeiro if my favorite city though. I have been told I look and sound like a carioca. Now that is a compliment bestowed that I do not take lightly.

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