Cromwell like scene from movie

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

‘‘I drive and I look at the lake and I think, 'oh my god, I'm so lucky'. I feel like I'm in a movie.’’

Brazil­ian mum Elaine Felix ad­mits she didn’t know where Cromwell was be­fore she ar­rived in 2007.

Now, 10 years later and with two chil­dren and a fi­ance, the 34-year-old calls it home. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘‘Here is re­laxed,’’ Elaine says over cof­fee in Cromwell’s Her­itage Precinct. ’’I love the moun­tains, the lake, the views here. I drive and I look at the lake and I think, ‘oh my god, I’m so lucky’. I feel like I’m in a movie.’’

Leav­ing Brazil for an English speak­ing coun­try is a right of pas­sage for most young peo­ple from Brazil, she says.

She planned on work­ing and stay­ing a year af­ter a Cromwell­based Brazil­ian friend con­vinced her New Zealand was the place to be. She found a job in a vine­yard and lived in Cromwell.

Not speak­ing English was tough at first, Elaine says.

‘‘I didn’t know if peo­ple were laugh­ing at me, talk­ing about me. At the be­gin­ning, that was the hard­est thing. It was re­ally awk­ward. I didn’t know what to say.’’

It took a long time to trust peo­ple, she says. The cul­tural dif­fer­ences be­tween Brazil and New Zealand meant it was hard to un­der­stand that com­plete strangers were just be­ing friendly and didn’t want any­thing from you.

‘‘[I was] just so amazed there were good peo­ple out there.’’

Elaine found love soon af­ter ar­riv­ing with Cromwell born-and­bred canopy con­tac­tor Nick Scott. The cou­ple started NZ Canopies about three years ago.

‘‘When I came to New Zealand I wasn’t look­ing for any­one. Nick was some­one who just took my mind off things. We just talked. God knows how be­cause I didn’t speak any English.’’

In the be­gin­ning, her fam­ily were hes­i­tant about her stay­ing in New Zealand.

‘‘My dad wasn’t happy when I first [came] over. In my city you don’t live with your boyfriend be­fore you are mar­ried. He was hor­ri­fied [but] when he came here in 2012, he un­der­stood why I live here. He fell in love with the place.’’

Hous­ing and the space in New Zealand com­pared with Brazil blew her mind, she says.

‘‘Peo­ple are not that brave at build­ing houses [in Brazil]. There the houses are wall to wall.’’

Nick felt it was ‘‘like liv­ing in a prison’’ when he first vis­ited Brazil in 2011, she says.

Af­ter lessons and 10 years in New Zealand, Elaine’s English is flu­ent and as an added bonus, chil­dren Lucca and Josh are grow­ing up bilin­gual.

Lucca speaks bet­ter Por­tuguese than Nick, Elaine says with a laugh. Her and Nick plan to bring them up learn­ing about both cul­tures.

It’s her chil­dren that make Elaine - el­i­gi­ble for cit­i­zen­ship this year - miss her fam­ily in Brazil.

‘‘I miss my fam­ily, I miss my friends but I feel like I don’t be­long there [Brazil] any­more. When I’m there, I just want to go back [to Cromwell].’’

Nick and Elaine will marry in her home city of For­taleza in July this year.

RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

Brazil­ian/ Cromwell mum Elaine Felix, 34, loves her new home in Cen­tral Otago.

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