Conde Nast Traveler's choice for "World's Top Travel Specialist" (Brazil) 2008, 2009, 2010
I am a Brazil Travel Specialist with over 20 years experience working exclusively with the Brazilian and South American travel industry. My interest and love of all things Brazilian began during my flute performance studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Many Brazilian students attended this famous international music school, and I felt drawn to the friendly and outgoing nature of these talented classmates whose infectious enthusiasm inspired an immersion in all things Brazilian including the music, Portuguese language, literature, history, art, politics and the wonderful cuisine. I was completely fascinated by the novels of Brazil's famous writer Jorge Amado "Dona Flor and Her Two Husband", never imagining that 17 years later I would find myself spending a wonderful day with him at his home in Bahia.
With a strong desire to live and work in Brazil, I sought a position with a Boston based travel company called International Weekends and was soon on my way to Rio de Janeiro to manage their inbound charter air program. During this working hands on experience I was completely immersed in the Brazilian culture and found myself fluent in Portuguese after one year. Working with travelers visiting from all over the United States quickly became a challenging and educational way to learn a great deal about the Brazilian Tourism Trade.
After 6 years in Brazil, I returned to the United States and became the Official Travel Coordinator of NGOs for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - The Earth Summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. This was the largest environmental conference in history, gathering together heads of state from over 120 different countries. My client list ranged from the Natural Resources Defense Council to recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Many of my clients were scientists, environmentalists and politicians from all over the world who had a great interest in visiting the Amazon region before or after their participation at the Earth Summit. The Amazon State Tourism Authority sponsored my visit to Manaus and I was able to research many travel options available ranging from a unique tree top lodge to Amazon River cruises.
In 1997 I was contacted by the great Latin American author, Isabel Allende, to design and arrange an itinerary for her visit to Brazil including the Amazon, Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia. It was during this trip with Isabel where I found myself visiting Jorge Amado in his home in Bahia. What a thrill it was to spend the day with two great Latin American writers, and Amado's dear friend - Carybé considered one of the greatest Brazilian Artists of all times. Carybé's famous mural stretches across the International Arrivals Building at JFK Airport.
Over the years I have also had the pleasure to know and work with the great ethnobotanist - Dr. Mark Plotkin, author of "Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice", and featured in the Oscar nominated Imax documentary "Amazon." Nothing can compare with the fascinating experience of accompanying Dr. Plotkin on a trek through the Amazon Rainforest. Dr. Plotkin's vast knowledge of plant and wildlife never ceases to amaze me.
I have also had the opportunity to bring National Geographic photographers to the Amazon region as well as the Pantanal in Western Brazil. These trips have allowed me to see these regions through the eyes of some of the world's best nature photographers.
Other clients have included Susan Sarandon, George Tillman Jr. (director of Men of Honor, Soul Food), The Ralph Lauren Family, celebrity film maker/photographer David LaChapelle and Mathew Chapman, great great grandson of Charles Darwin.
Jill is one of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine's "128 World's Top Travel Specialists." Conde Nast Traveler - August, 2008, 2009, 2010 issues.
Jill is available for consultations, custom designed travel itineraries, and all aspects of travel planning to Brazil and South America.