|Brazil Through Foreign Eyes |
| Meet Eddie Soto, from the USA, who regularly travels to and from Brazil and other areas in South America with work. 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 originally from new York City and my parents were from Puerto Rico. I studied here in the United Sates as well as in Central America. I have lived in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. I am fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I did graduate work here in the USA and have a master‘s degree from Princeton. Presently I am an Associate Pastor in a Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Previous to this I taught in university level theological institutions in Guatemala, Venezuela and the city of Fortaleza in Brazil as well as in São Paulo City. Among my present duties I take groups from our church to different parts of the world to expose them to other cultures and expressions of the Christian faith. We have been to Costa Rica, Mexico, brazil and this year are planning a trip to Madagascar, Africa.
2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
I arrived in Brazil in August, 1992 to teach in a Presbyterian theological school in Northeast Brazil. First I studied Portuguese in Campinas, São Paulo.
3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?
A happy, lively culture. I was impressed at the people‘s friendliness towards foreigners and their warm, rich hospitality. It is one of the most hospitable countries I know.
4. What do you miss most about home?
Presently I live here in the USA (returned in 2002 with my wife, who is Brazilian from São Paulo). I can honestly say that I miss Brazil very, very much and try to travel there at least once a year to be with friends and my wife‘s family.
5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
The bureaucratic nature of the government and many institutions. It takes forever to get things done at times, even though since I first arrived in Brazil things have gotten a little better. In the northeast I was saddened with the extremes of wealth and poverty in such a lovely city as Fortaleza.
6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?
Meeting my wife Marcia Leite. She is a third generation Presbyterian from Brazil and she has been a great blessing and help to my life and work. Also, working with excellent colleagues at the seminary.
7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?
Its people, music, warm hospitality and general culture.
8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?
I lived in Sao Caetano do Sul and enjoyed very much an Italian restaurant which had the best Italian food and pizza.
9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?
Yes, when I first arrived I was invited to the home of a Brazilian physician and church leader (whose grandfather was originally from the USA) and after a meal we sat around and talked for a long time. After a certain hour I decided to leave and said, thank you and I will be leaving now. They said in Portuguese, "eh cedo" (its early), so I looked at my watch and sat down and spoke for another hour. I then tried leaving again and when I did was told, once again, "eh cedo". I sat down again and talked for another long time and finally when I said once again, its time for me to leave, everyone said "esta bom!" (good!) I did not realize that when they say, "eh cedo" it is a courtesy and normally people do leave after saying that.
10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?
The joy of living!! In spite of so many Brazilians living with harsh economic difficulties they have a joy for life and make the best of what they have.
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 would say quite well since I continue to practice it at home with my Brazilian wife who is a lawyer and corrects me every time I make a mistake.
Traitor in Portuguese is hard for me to pronounce (traicoeiro). Because of my Spanish there are times I mix-up words with Portuguese that have a different meaning.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?
Enjoy that beautiful land and its warm, marvelous people!! My most memorable experiences have been there in Brazil and I have been most enriched by them.
13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?
Visit its many tourist areas in different parts of the country. I traveled throughout Brazil by car from north to south and was enriched by the variety of cultures I encountered. The different areas of the country seem to be different countries within the one but made up of one wonderful people!!