I apologize beforehand, as this trip was a little different for us. We blindly tagged along on a group trip, staying with some host families and mostly relied on Google Translate. Below is a recollection of my feelings of the trip, hopefully it will still do its part to entice you to visit this extraordinary country. Don’t forget to check out a few tips and the photos at the end (warning, some of the photos are a little graphic).
It was a losing battle, attempting to guard myself against the humidity and mosquitoes of Brazil. My days were a constant drippage of sweat, sunblock and bug repellent, laced with the acrid aroma of burning trash. Yet despite my sunburned and half swollen body, there was something absolutely alluring about this place. Maybe it was the relief of their swimming pools (no bigger than a deluxe bathtub), maybe it was just the sluggish pace of life (that later I realized might just be a more natural pace), or maybe it was the bright bursts of refreshing açai that we would try anywhere they were offered (it was part of our daily meal). Yes, I think it was the nonchalant caravan driving down single lane through endless midday traffic, the surprisingly pleasant conversations of car horns, and holding onto the promise of a beach at the end of the road.
Life does not need any more complexities beyond choosing which hammock to nap in and checking who wanted to drink. Indeed, there were always cerveja (beer) or capriñhas to be had. People were always cooking, always eating. There was a man, the kind that could grace the packaging of Brawny, the type you want to stick with during a zombie apocalypse. He built a smoker out of some clay and bricks, put together the same morning he butchered the pig from his families’ pig farm. A whole day, sipping beer and watching him break down the hog, a blur of steam as he sloshed boiling water across the table, a red flow marbling across steel.
Colors are more vibrant here. Colorful homes are everywhere, not just in the favelas. It’s like the buildings realize they’re residing in the tropics and adorn themselves accordingly. Sunsets last forever, actually the days just seemed so much longer, when not confined to the 9 to 5. Time is marked only by the rotations of fresh pão with queijo, yucca a hundred ways, or rice with feijoada. At any moment there will be music, because Brazilians are dancing people. The shuffling two step will catch the familiar boom-cha-cha-boom-cha-cha for almost any song, but be prepared to dance until well after the sun rises, and should they say you dance like a Brazilian, know that you’ve achieved the greatest honor.
A more rural area, lots of mosquitoes, you’ll definitely need a car to get around.
Tip: Check out Arraial do Cabo, and rent a boat that will take you around to the nearby beaches that are less accessible.
Rio de Janeiro
The bustling city, where everything is twice as expensive! It’s a beautiful city though, where the jungle mingles with the urban.
Tip: Go to the Christ the Redeemer on a Sunday, when they close off the nearby road to cars and you can walk through the jungle on paved road and maybe catch a glimpse of some monkeys.