"Come with me to Brazil, my home may be ״Pequeno״ (small in Portuguese) but my heart … biggy biggy". That's what my friend, the brazilian football striker Cristiano Dos Santos told me, during our last training of the 2005-2006 football season in Hapoel Raanana, whilst we were be both in the middle of our last abdominal exercise, at the end of another practise.
That was actually he last practise of the season, and at the end of it Cristiano and I continued talking, whilst still stretching our muscles. Cristiano asked me what my plans were for the off season period, I told him I was planning on going to Thailand with a friend but he had cancelled on me at the last moment because his father needed help in his factory. "Come with me", he said, without knowing that I was the most spontaneous guy in the world. Two hours later we were at the travel agents office where I purchased my first ticket to Brazil. Two days later we were on a plane to Rio De Janeiro.
After 20 hours in the air we arrived at Rio, home of the Samba and beautiful beaches. We landed and took a taxi to Cristiano's home. It was 2 in the morning, the taxi sped off into the night without stopping at any red lights. Cristiano explained that Rio is dangerous at night, with robbers and thieves hiding at every corner.
The communication between me and Cristiano moved on a funny range of three languages - Hebrew, Portuguese and English, since neither of us really completely understood the other ones' language. In the end it made every sentence we spoke between ourselves multilingual.
After two hours in the car, the driver stopped in front of a huge mountain. Cristiano smiled and said "It's lucky you are in shape, start climbing. The house is on the mountainside and there is no access there for cars". I smile at him, cursing him between my teeth "you son of a bitch". Cristiano feel obligated and answered me "Pida de puta". When I asked what it meant he patted my back and said "Welcome to Brazil".
After 20 hours of flying, 2 more hours in the taxi and another half an hour of climbing a mountain carrying two suitcases along the mountainside, we made it to his home. Cristiano said he lives in Rio. Rio, is a cool place, sounds similar to Tel Aviv, young and vibrant. But Critiano forgot to mention that he lives in a fevela of Rio, which is not a place you want to visit, unless you really really have to. And even then, you must do so heavily armed. But I was already there so I just went with the flow.
Cristiano did not lie, the house was indeed small but the heart was biggy biggy. The time was almost 4:30 in the morning and his entire family waited for us at the entrance to the house. It was the warmest house welcoming party I ever received, it felt like my own family from back home was welcoming me. The fact is, that it doesn't matter how big your house is or nice the neighbourhood, what matters is the people who live there.
The next morning we already at the beach. Copacabana, the mother of all of the beaches in the world. Girls in thongs were all around us, green coconuts, cocktails, surfers and beach football. In short - we had made it to paradise.
After a few days of doing nothing,with short breaks of beach football to keep up the morale, I laid in my regular spot, with a green coconut in one hand and a caipirinha in the other and I started thinking. I asked myself "what do I really love?". The answer to me was clear: sun, summer, women and dreamy beaches. I looked around at all the beautiful women surrounding me, all wearing gorgeous bikinis and then I wondered - why shouldn't I bring these amazing bikinis to Israel? Why not import these high quality, amazing, beautiful and sexy Brazilian bikinis to Israel?
I gave my coconut and drink to the two Swedish girls sitting next to me on the beach and picked up a pen and piece of paper. I wrote down "Goal: To become the main importer for brazilian bikinis to Israel. Time to achieve goal: six month."
Now the real question was - what do I import? I decided that I would turn Brazil inside out if I needed to, just to find the right company and designer for me, that will match my standards and all of the things that I love.
After a week of searching, I met Adriana Fernandez, who is an amazing, innovative, crazy, impatient designer with a major lack of tact, well I guess that's how designers are, artists. She had brilliant and original ideas and I offered we work together. She immediately said no. "You are only a kid, what have you got to do with bikinis, fashion or franchises!". I was only 21 years old, not exactly the typecast of an international business man.
But I didn't give up and after five days I went back and sat outside her office. I was stubborn, persistent and in the end she folded. She agreed to sell me 30 units at a discounted price, and we agreed we would talk again once I got back to Israel.