Ten Things to Love About Brazil
Trip Start Jan 03, 2004
26Trip End Dec 2004
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We wish we could say that we´ve had the best of the best here in Brazil, but it´s too hard to say. The country is massive, and we´ve seen only a speck. Brazil is bigger than the United States if you exclude Alaska. Our trip is equivalent to a Brazilian flying to New York City for a few days (in our case Rio de Janeiro) and then traveling around Texas for three weeks (in our case the state of Bahia). We utilized every mode of transportation, sometimes in one day
We´ve seen so much that a blow-by-blow account would try anyone´s patience, so we´ve decided instead to give you our Ten Things to Love About Brazil (kindly borrowed from our fellow world-traveling friends Gail and Sean who inspired us earlier with their Ten Reasons to Fall in Love with Bali travelogue):
10) Sliding down the Ribeirao waterslide- This waterslide was unlike anything you'll find at your local swim club. Our water slide was a huge slab of red rock covered in a slick layer of algae with a river to propel you down fifty feet on your butt into a large pool of water. The Ribeirao waterslide was one of the major attractions of the Chapada Diamantina, a huge national park several hundred miles inland. We stayed in the nearby town of Lencois and enjoyed the natural wonders of the park. We also rock-hopped up the river to the beautiful Sossego waterfall and climbed to the top of Pai Ignacio for a beautiful view of the tabletop mountains of the park.
9) Partying in Pelourinho- Pelourinho is the historic center and main tourist attraction of Salvador, the vibrant capital of the state of Bahia. Ornate colonial style churches line cobblestone streets. There always seemed to be something going on with Tuesday nights really drawing out the crowds. We sat outside that night and listened to live Samba music
8) Watching capoeira in Salvador- Another form of dance we saw in Salvador is capoeira. African slaves in Brazil originally developed capoeira as a martial art form to fight their colonial masters. It was turned into an acrobatic dance form so the slaves could practice. It was banned for most of the past century until it gradually became recognized as a form of artistic expression. We saw a capoeira demonstration at a school in Pelourinho. The dancers form a semi-circle in which rotating pairs spar in a non-contact display of kicks and evasive maneuvers accompanied by a rhythmic playing of drums.
7) Getting a bowl of açai for a late-night snack -- Brazil is the mecca for cheap and delicious exotic fruit. Many fruit do not have an English name, for example acai (pronounced ah-sah-ee), which has a gritty forest berry taste and deep purple color. However, when blended frozen with guarana juice (another Amazonian fruit) and bananas, it makes an icy sweet treat
6) Laying on the beach of Morro do Sao Paulo -- Morro do Sao Paolo is an island off the coast of Bahia. You can either take a slow boat from the town of Valenca or a fast boat from Salvador to get there. We have especially fond memories of the island because our first day there was our first day of sunshine after 10 straight days of rain. We were also there on Thanksgiving when we gave thanks the sun continued to shine upon us. Morro do Sao Paolo offers some fantastic beaches with a beautiful island setting. Although the area has become extremely popular and developed, there still aren't any cars or paved roads on the island. "Taxis" on the island were wheelbarrows skillfully driven by muscular men who would tote guests' bags from the pier to the various beachfront guesthouses.
5) Eating fresh clams at Maria´s in Boipeba- On the small island of Boipeba, near where the small boats unload their cargo, is a shack with one long table and a few plastic chairs inside and tables and chairs outside
4) Looking forward to cafe da manha -- When it comes to breakfast (cafe da manha), Brazilians don't mess around. We don't know if they eat huge breakfasts regularly, but most of the guesthouses we stayed at had a wonderful spread of fresh fruit, cakes, coffee and juices awaiting us when we awoke. Pousada Santa Clara in Boipeba won our prize for "Best Breakfast." Each morning, they served us a different spread. We ate homemade breads, watermelon juice, pineapple, cakes, mangoes, tapioca, empanadas and other goodies. Sometimes we looked forward to falling asleep because we know we'd get to eat breakfast the next morning!
3) Attending a candomble ceremony- In the state of Bahia, it is possible to witness a candomble ceremony, a practice of an African cult brought over to Brazil by slaves
2) Getting the thumbs-up from a Brazilian -- Another reason to love Brazil is the friendly and fun-loving people. We could sense their easy-going, laid-back attitude from the minute we first stepped off the plane. We also noticed that they always seem to be giving the thumbs-up sign. While in some countries the thumbs-up is an obscene gesture, in Brazil it seems to convey just about every possible message. You place an order. Thumbs-up. You see someone on the street. Thumbs-up. By the end of our month in Brazil, we too were giving everyone the thumbs up. Maybe we'll bring it home to the states and start a new trend
1) Hanggliding over the Atlantic Ocean and Rio de Janiero- All year we had been looking forward to Rio de Janeiro for the chance to see how it feels to fly. Rio is a world famous hanggliding locale, particularly off the 510 meter Pedra Bonita on Pepino Beach. Even Jill, who you would be hard pressed to describe as an adrenaline junkie, was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, rain and clouds nixed our chances of hanggliding during our four days in Rio when we arrived in Brazil. We had one more shot the morning before our flight to Miami on our way to St. Kitts. A few clouds hung over Pedra Bonita, but the sky over the beach was clear. Jill went first tandem with our pilot Chico. One moment, she was strapping on a helmet and it seemed like the next moment she was running down a short runway into the clouds. Suddenly nothing was below her feet, the clouds were behind her and down below she could see trees, beach and an endless stretch of blue ocean. The journey was smooth as we coasted over the treetops that looked like broccoli, the tall apartment buildings and then over the water. For a few seconds, Chico stopped the hangglider to experience a free fall. The stomach-in-throat feeling was similar to riding a rollercoaster, but knowing you're not attached to anything mechanical on the ground gave the thrill a new dimension. Andy flew second and enjoyed the sensation of floating and the peacefulness of gliding in air. The anticipation and thrill of takeoff were worth the wait. After our flights, Chico treated us to cold coconut water and acai. He said hanggliding was our "golden key" to end our stay in Brazil.
There are so many reasons to love Brazil, we could probably keep going. Hopefully we'll bring you another 10 reasons on our next trip to the country. We'd love to visit again and see Iguazu Falls in the south, the Amazon and the beaches in the north. But first, we need to learn some more Portuguese and meet some Brazilians who can show us around. Until then, eating churrascaria at a Brazilian rodizio in our hometown will suffice!