By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Once again on the morning of the last day of the year, we look back and review some of the most noteworthy stories of foreigners – aka ‘gringos’ – doing interesting things in Rio de Janeiro for 2017.
While it was a year of turmoil in Brazil, with unprecedented political corruption and the worst economic crisis in recent history, Rio de Janeiro faced its own unique challenge with a security melt-down and the effective end of the UPP.
This is now the ninth year we have created this very unscientific list, and it is not intended to be a ranking, or a exhaustive calculation, so we apologize in advance for anyone missed.
1) Simon Wood
Recently appointed British Consul General Simon Wood has been in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a career diplomat for almost twenty years. He arrived in Rio just four months ago and his plans for the next four years are to put an emphasis on trade, education and the environment.
2) Mateen Thobani
Living as an expatriate in a new country can be hard but fortunately Rio has The American Society of Rio de Janeiro. The organization has just turned 100 years old and current president Mateen Thobani gracefully helmed the milestone.
3) Belinda Casson
Belinda Casson, an Australian expatriate living in Rio and manager at Caminhos Language Center has been organizing events and social programs for years. We were especially impressed with her on July 22nd, when she mobilized Cariocas, expatriates and visiting volunteers to cook and deliver soup to Rio’s homeless.
4) Alma Thomas
American singer in Rio, Alma Thomas, hails from New York and has thankfully brought her jazz to Rio de Janeiro. She participated in The Voice Brasil in 2012, and regularly performs at venues around the city with a smooth, soulful authenticity.
5) Riju Konwar and Ângela Konwar
Rio de Janeiro had been lacking an authentic Indian restaurant, until the Taj Mahal opened in Lagoa last January. The venture was launched by Riju Konwar, who was born in India but brought up in the U.S., and Ângela Konwar, from Portugal and Brazil.
6) Brandon Collier
For those that have not heard of Entrusters yet, it is a peer-to-peer shopping platform aimed at disrupting the global shopping and shipping model. American expatriate in Rio, Brandon Collier, has been the director of operations for the start-up since 2015.
7) Roshni Thakker
Roshni Thakker, an American expatriate and director of the travel company XperienceRio, regularly hosts interesting events in the city. In particular this year, on November 17th, Rio had the opportunity to experience some of India’s Hindu culture with “Diwali”, the Festival of Lights which was hosted at the Yndú Beach Lounge in Barra da Tijuca (not the Leblon location).
8) Josephine and Kristopher Jennings-Bramly
The pousada Casa Dois Irmãos in Santa Teresa was opened in 2015 by siblings Kristopher and Josephine Jennings-Bramly, who are from Vancouver Island in Canada, and children of British and Brazilian parents. The space also acts as a venue for parties and events including collaborations with Eat Rio, by Tom Le Mesurier.
9) Tavi Norén
Defined as a destination manager service, the tourism outfit Rio Love Story was launched in August 2016 just before the Olympics, and they have not looked back. Established by Swedish expatriate Tavi Norén, the team has also recently launched a Rio Cultural Interaction program based in the Vidigal favela community.
10) Duncan Hay
La Pizzateca opened in mid-February in Copacabana aiming for high-quality Neapolitan pizzas, as well as homemade breads. The eatery was launched by long-term Australian expatriate in Rio, Duncan Hay (formerly of Kraft Café), and his wife Priscila.