‘Homesick’ to Brazil
10 reasons to return or GO (if you haven’t been)
The biggest sports event in the world, the football World Cup, has started again last week, which here in The Netherlands means the whole country turns orange as soon as the Dutch team is playing. It’s really almost as if we have another Kingsnight (or Queensnight as it was previously called).
But I am actually not here to chat about football with you, this World Cup has triggered an unusual feeling inside me not related to football at all, a longing to return to the country where I’ve felt so much at home a couple of years ago: it’s time to re-visit Brazil.
For those who have missed it, this year’s World Cup takes place in Brazil, a country where my partner and me have spent three full months two years ago, during the year we travelled through the whole South American continent. We almost got stuck in Paraty, tempted to take up a business there, but eager to see the rest of the country and the continent we decided to continue our travels instead. We stayed in Brazil as long as we could though, which almost brought us in trouble at the very last day of our visa. The bus from Macapá towards the border city Oiapoque with French Guiana was completely full, and it looked as if we would overstay our visa. But … somehow we managed to get on and with backpacks on our laps for an entire night we made it in time to the border. This is just one of the reasons why I absolutely love Brazil and Brazilians:
1. Brazilians are extremely friendly, helpful and flexible
But there’s much more that makes me longing to go back, a feeling strengthened by all the beautiful footage coming out of Brazil right now, showing places we’ve been, but also those we haven’t seen, because:
2. Brazil is HUGE
There’s so much to see that it’s practically impossible to cover everything in only three months, provided you’d like to see it all properly. I wonder if even a year would be enough.
We did manage to see a lot, but we also had to make choices and for example didn’t see the Brazilian Pantanal (we chose for the less explored Bolivian Pantanal), Belo Horizonte, nor Ouro Preto or Fernando de Noronha, places that are truly stunning from what we’ve heard, but which we skipped either for financial or practical reasons. Sometimes you just have to make choices.
4. The country is very diverse
In a country of roughly 8,5 million square kilometres, covering about 28 latitudes from north to south you can expect a large variety of landscapes, cultures and traditions. From beaches to jungle to cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, you name it. Brazil has it. As we like the variety when travelling somewhere, Brazil obviously scores here too.
Distances are large though, so if you have limited time, definitely consider flying instead of taking public transport. Although public transport in Brazil is pretty good, if Brazilians have a bit of money they’ll prefer to fly or drive themselves.
What this means for you when you travel in Brazil by bus? You’ll get a chance to see another part of society, the side where the large part of the Brazilian population lives, and thus in fact you’ll have a better insight into what a large part of the Brazilians are really about. They’ll chat with you, make friends with you and welcome you to join them further en route.
5. You’ll feel welcome everywhere you go
As if this isn’t enough yet, let me just share some of the natural wonders you’ll come across the country, from north to south, from east to – mostly – west.
6. Brazil’s Beaches
We’ve all seen Rio’s beach pictures by now I guess. When quickly looking at the hundreds of kilometers long coastline of Brazil, you’ll quickly notice that there are many more beaches to be found, the one even more stunning than the other.
Happen to be beach-picky? In Brazil the beaches come in all kind of shapes, styles and sizes, be it Rio’s beautiful, people-watching beaches, the stunning natural, unspoilt beaches of for example Trindade or more deserted beaches like the ones on Barra Grande.
7. Brazil’s Natural Wonders
Besides these natural beaches, Brazil offers an incredible variety of natural wonders, of which we generally hear little about as the focus often shifts to other parts of the country. But seriously just look at the rough, but beautiful landscapes in for example Chapada Diamantina, the Lençois Maranhenses desert or the famous Iguaçu Falls, the last one being appointed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world (and shared with Argentina, where it goes under the name Iguazu).
8. Up-close With Wildlife
With a large part of the country not being inhabited and sparsely populated, the wildlife around is still living freely and not bothered by us human beings at many places. Although you see this gradually changing because of people taking over nature, there are still many locations where you can pretty much come up close with all kind of wildlife. Apart from the wildlife in the Pantanal and the Amazon, you also have places like for example Praia da Pipa and Fernando de Noronha, where swimming with dolphins is just a natural daily activity.
9. Brazil’s Culture
Brazil has an interesting, yet difficult history behind it, being a former Portuguese colony and having taken part in the slavery trade, and it is obviously still struggling with many aspects in its society. Due to this history the country does have, however, a very rich culture, which you’ll find in among others the food, but also in dances like samba or capoeira. Because Brazilians are very open, it’s easy to learn more about it and even join the party if you like.
10. Oscar Niemeyer
One of the most renown Brazilian architects is for sure the late Oscar Niemeyer, who was one of the explorers of modern architecture and designed among others Brazil’s capital, Brasilia. Not consciously having come across his buildings before, I was completely blown away when I saw Oscar Niemeyer’s Eye in Curitiba for the first time, and from there my quest to find more of his architectural works commenced. We even made an extreme detour to Brasilia itself. Although we’ve managed to see quite a lot of the buildings designed by Niemeyer, I know there’s more to find in Brazil and I would love to return to also see the buildings we missed the next time we’re there.
These were my ten reasons why I’d travel to Brazil any day again. Have you been to Brazil yet? Do you have any favorite places around the country? Or are you perhaps planning to go?