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Random Traveller Stories: Brazil Through Foreign Eyes Pt 8

Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Meet Priya Guyadeen, who was born in Guyana and moved to Canada followed by the USA. Priya has been travelling to Brazil for several years, and been here permanently since 2003. Read the following interview where she tells us about her 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 was born in Guyana, South America (borders with Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname). My parents emigrated to Canada, when I was a one and a half years old, and I grew up outside of Toronto. I moved to the US after college, and lived there for about 10 years, before moving to Brazil. I currently work for a US government contract research organization. We work with the public hospitals and reference center in Brazil, doing HIV/AIDs research. I am responsible for managing, and auditing our centers here to ensure that they are conducting clinical research, and collecting data according to international regulations and guidelines.

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

I used to travel back and forth from the US to Brazil, then in 2003, my company relocated me to Brazil to serve as a representative for them here, and to coordinate our activities in Brazil.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

I didn't know anything about Brazil before I started traveling here. The first time I came to Brazil was in 2001 to help with a training workshop. I landed on Ipanema beach, and instantly fell in love with Brazil. I thought the country and it's people were incredibly beautiful.

4. What do you miss most about home?

I certainly miss my family and friends, but I also miss a good bagel with cream cheese every once and while, and nice bowl of Vietnamese pho soup!

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

The most frustrating experience for me in Brazil, is the visa renewal process. The bureaucracy in Brazil is quite difficult to deal with.

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

I think the most memorable experience for me, would have to be carnival 2004 in Salvador, Bahia. I had only heard about carnival in Bahia, but then I had the chance to experience it first day. It's the best party I have ever been too. I spent five days dancing in the street with the locals until the wee hours of the morning. It was fantastic! Everyone should experience carnival in Bahia once in their life.

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

I love the beaches, the kindness, warmth, and receptiveness of the Brazilian people, and of course the beauty of the country. The Brazilian culture reminds me very much of my own. I feel at home here.

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

Well, I don't São Paulo very well as yet. I lived in Rio for three and a half years before moving to São Paulo. But, my favorite place in Rio by far, is Jobi in Leblon. The have the best caldo de feijão, and excellent fried sardines!

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

When I first moved to Rio, I used to frequent a nightclub with some friends of mine. One night, we were there, and drinking too much. There was a reporter from Globo who took my picture. The next day, I ended up in the Segundo Caderno, my arm around two people I didn't know, a caipirinha in each hand, and looking a little worse for wear. Welcome to Rio.

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

There are exactly very few difference between my country and Brazil. There are many more similarities. I come from a country that is made up of a mixture of different cultures as well (African, Indian, English etc). We are a very warm and receptive people, much like the Brazilians. Guyana is also a very beautiful country, in which the Amazon makes up a large part of the country. It is a country full contrasts, much like Brazil. Living in Brazil reminds of my homeland, and I guess that is why I enjoy it so much.

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 quite good. My Brazilian friends tell me I sound like a native. However, it took me about a year to be able to speak fluently, but of course, I still make mistakes. I have the most difficulty with Portuguese prepositions, and articles.

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

I recommend you come with an open mind, explore the country, and really try to get to know the natives. It will be a very enriching experience. I promise!

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

I would highly recommend dinner at the restaurant Terraco Italia. It has a fantastic view of the city. If you are in Rio, one of my favorite places is the Cafe Colombo at the Copacabana Fort. You can have breakfast outside, in front of Copacabana beach, with a beautiful view of the Sugar loaf mountain. If you are interested in exploring other places, I would highly recommend a trip to Itacare, or Morro de São Paulo in Bahia.

You can contact Priya by email at ipanema02@yahoo.com.

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