Expats in Brazil: The most 10 interesting Gringos of 2017 call Rio de Janeiro home


The most 10 interesting Gringos of 2017 can be found in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This is according to an article in the Rio Times.

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.

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There were some highlights though, including a successful Rock in Rio, some marginal economic growth, and for estrangeiros a potential easing of the visa process for some nationalities.

This is now the ninth year we have created this very unscientific list, and it is not intended to be a ranking or an 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. An 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.


Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.