By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the morning of the last day of 2016 we take another look over the past year, and review some of the most noteworthy stories of foreigners – aka ‘gringos’ – doing interesting things in Rio de Janeiro.
This is now the seventh year we have created this very unscientific list, and it is not intended to be a ranking, or a exhaustive investigation, so we apologize in advance for anyone missed.
1) The Rio 2016 Olympic Athletes
The Rio 2016 Games has been considered a success in part by the number of sporting records broken by the Olympic athletes. Through all the doubts and fears regarding the city’s ability to host a well-run event, nineteen world records were broken, and 65 Olympic records were surpassed.
2) James “Jimmy” Story
Ranked on our list last year, Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro James “Jimmy” Story deserves a top spot again because of the estimated 410,000 foreign tourists that visited Rio for the Olympics, the largest share (seventeen percent) were from the United States. Consul General Story was at the nexus of the mass outing for many Americans in Rio, and managed a smooth visit for almost* all.
British expatriate in Rio and acclaimed singer Jesuton continues to have success in Brazil, filling venues and following up strong to her remake of Dione Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” which played almost nightly in the Globo novela (prime-time soap opera) “Salve Jorge” and a slot at Rock in Rio when she made this list in 2013.
4) Tom Ashe
In 2014, Tom Ashe, a Briton from Yorkshire, set about opening a music school in the Pereirão favela in Rio, a small community of about three thousand people, which lies between Laranjeiras and Santa Teresa. Now the Favela Brass project gives local children free music lessons and potentially the chance of a future in the music industry.
5) Harry Taylor
Launched by a group of British investors, Moby Self Storage opened last August in the historic neighborhood of Gamboa in Rio’s harbor district. One of the principles, British expatriate Harry Taylor, is originally from Oxford and has been working on several businesses in Rio since arriving, but this is by far the largest in scale.
6) Steve Solot
President of the Rio Film Commission, Steve Solot, who is also president of the LATC – Latin American Training Center, has released a new bilingual eBook in 2016 aimed at informing the foreign investor about new trends in the Brazilian visual content industry. Solot is an American living in Brazil for over 25 years, and also made our list in 2010.
7) Dominic Parry
Since 2014 the WineHouse in Rio de Janeiro has been focusing on Brazilian wines, and offering a sophisticated yet accessible nook on the bustling Botafogo restaurant scene. British expatriate Dominic Parry, and his Carioca wife Selene, opened the cozy wine bar without much experience in the industry, but they knew it was a winning formula and the response has proved them right in 2016.
8) Richard Moxley
Launched in late 2015 the all-natural flavored drink, Eklo Water was the brain-child of an American expatriate in Rio, Richard Moxley. In 2016 the company already succeeded in getting the product on the shelves at Rio de Janeiro supermarket chain Zona Sul, and their 36 stores around the state.
9) Thomas Jonglez
For those that live here in Rio, or seek the ‘off the path’ attractions, the new travel book named “Secret Rio” by French-owned Jonglez Publishing, will help dive into the city’s hidden treasures. Thomas Jonglez, founder of Jonglez Publishing is from France but has traveled the world establishing the publishing business, and since 2013 is now based here in Rio de Janeiro.
10) Kiet To
Filling the culinary gap in Rio for authentic Vietnamese food, expatriate Kiet To launched ‘Culinaria Vietnamita Oriental No Rio’ (Oriental Vietnamese Cuisine in Rio), a Facebook page aimed at Vietnamese cooking classes and dinner parties. Mr. Kiet To arrived in Rio in late 2011, and naturally started looking for signs of Vietnamese culture and cuisine, then eventually launched informal classes for what Kiet To describes as ‘home cooking Vietnamese – Oriental style’.
This Olympic year would not be complete without a new feature to the list, especially created for an American, the “Dishonorable Gringo”.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) had to apologize to Rio de Janeiro citizens and Brazilians alike for the damage that four of the country’s swimmers (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte) caused to the city when they falsely claimed they were robbed at gunpoint during the Games. Aspiring celebrity Lochte led the ridiculous ruse with live televised lies, and deserves the title of our inaugural Dishonorable Gringo award.