I met so many life-long friends on my first trip to Brasil. So many in fact, I could write an entire book about my friends in Rio alone.
A couple of the most memorable included a grade school teacher named Daniela Camara, who along with her husband, gave me a tour of the entire city and neighboring towns. They showed me everything there was to see, from the world famous Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, to Maracaná Stadium–the BIGGEST soccer stadium in the WORLD! We struggled communicating, I knowing almost ZERO português, and Daniela only knowing a tidbit of English, but the company and smiles made up for the lack of words. They showed me their home, we had lunch, and they even bought me a souvenir to take home. Daniela and Sergio were one of the nicest couples I’d ever met.
Then there was Aurélio Campos, a radio DJ at 96.5FM Radio Nativa in Rio. I had sent a few e-mails to the radio stations in Rio prior to leaving, asking if I could tour their studios, to get a taste of Brasilian radio. Aurélio not only responded saying that it would be his pleasure, but even picked me up at my hotel to take me downtown to the station, since I didn’t have a vehicle! He and his friend Mario gave me the grand tour, I met the Program Director there, and even got a “shout out” on their Brasilian news stations, TUPI AM. Everyone was full of smiles, and although we couldn’t even speak to each other, I could feel the love, and knew that Brasilians were people with big hearts.
Even my cab driver, Martinelli, was a good guy! He took me up to the Cristo Retendor (the big Jesus statue) that overlooks Rio, and talked to me on every cab ride like we were homies, even though I understood maybe just two or three words.
I was blown away at how friendly and loving Brasilians were to me, being a complete stranger. I made countless friends on this first trip, and some life-long friendships. It would be hard to forget Brasil.