Brasilia, I'm living in a jetplane....

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
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Flag of Brazil  , Federal District,
Sunday, September 19, 2010

Honestly, I never really thought I would ever be in Brasilia.
 
This city is very, well, "special", unique, and interesting. It's first of all very far away of everything else that would be labled 'interesting', so also really out of the way while traveling. So why would you pass here?
I first heard about this city a few months ago, in an evening talk at my dad's work about someones travels to Brazil. Knowing I wanted to go to Brazil, I was very intrigued by the story of this city, but I already thought I would never pass by there because it is so out of the way of anything else. But then I got lucky, meeting 2 couchsurfers from Brasilia, and getting a ride from them all the way to Brasilia.
 
So what is so very interesting about Brasilia?
 
First of all, it's Brazil's capital. Not Rio. Brasilia is. I think it's a little bit funny, naming the capital city "Brasilia", just like Bolivia's money, they called it "Bolivianos". But then again maybe France's "francs" were the same kind of funny, or the Euro. Still, Brasilia as the capital of Brazil, it's a funny name to me :)
 
So why is Brazil's capital in the middle of the country? Far from everything?Maybe you could also see it as as close as possible to anything. Brazil is a huge HUGE country.... And for a long time Rio was its capital, being far away from the North and West regions. So in the 60's a president candidate promised to build a new capital, right in the middle, where there was nothing before.It was a huge stunt, and he did get elected, so he did build this brandnew capital in only 4 years time. Of course creating a ton of debt for Brazil, but history is very forgetful/forgiveful in this, and build a huge monument for his grave to remember him and his creation of the capital. If you see the city, it is truly amazing this was build in only 4 years time, and with no direct accessroads.
 
The city is very very special. First of all, the shape, it's in the shape of...an AIRPLANE.Yes, an airplane. People live in apartmentblocks in the wings, and in the cockpit and middle are the governmental buidings, and ministeries. The architecture is highly interesting, all Neimyer. So eventhough it is from the 60's, even now it feels futuristic, startrek and alien-style.
The wings where people live are very structured. There are no streetnames, but numbers. By telling someone the code of where you live, they immediatly know the exact location. No maps/gps necessary ever! There is the north wing (Asa Norte) and the south wing (Asa Sul), and then blocks with apartment buildings, called "Super Quadras". There's a highway running in the middle of each wing, making access fast, and all blocks above the highway (called "The Big X" because it makes an X shape with the middle of the plane) having an uneven beginningnumber (208, 413 etc), all the ones under an even (the 100, 300, 500 and 700 blocks). It would be clear if you see a map. Amazing, made me think of walking in a Science Fiction movie.Also institutions have their assigned blocks. You have for example a block for hotels, a block for hospitals, and a few blocks for embassies.
 
On one hand this is all so convenient and 'perfect', on the other hand also odd, and maybe lacks a soul in a way. For the longest time I wasn't sure if I loved it or hated it, and I still ain't, but am leaning more to the love-side.It seems that the extreme structuredness does change the people in good ways. 
For example, this is be the ONLY place in Brazil (and maybe South America) where cars always stop for pedestrians. In other places you have to look out for your life. In the rest of where I passed in South America it's New York style, everyone crosses anywhere, but drivers really don't brake, so you better time your running-over-to-cross-and-surviva very well! But here in Brasilia, this very odd thing happens, that cars actually do stop for you, everywhere! Makes me wonder if the structure just makes people less selfish, more zen, how else would you explain it?
 
Another thing I really really liked is the busstops. Because at the same time they all are little libraries. In the busstops there are always shelves full with books, free to take and donate new! And this works! Amazing... My host Claudiomar had a Brazil Lonely Planet he found in one of the busstops.
And what I also loved is how everyone sports. At night I went running and I never had so much company, hundreds of other people were running also. And they have the "playgrounds for grownups", fitness equipments everywhere, open to use for free by anyone. Great!
Brasilia is also very green, like 1 big park. The advantage of being planned! Although I arrived in the dryseason, sadly, I heard it is beautiful after rain. Instead I saw little random fires everywhere.
 
I had to be in this city for 2 weeks, because my flight out was only on the 21st. Every local kept asking me why I stayed that long, remarking that there isnt much to do, but actually time flew by (maybe because I was living in a plane haha). First of all, the city is so interesting. And the people very very nice. I met up with a ton of very friendly couchsurfers. There are amazingly good restaurants, and a TON of waterfalls around the city. So I went on a waterfall-hike, which was interesting because I enjoyed much swimming in one, but we saw so many, and the brazilians would every time dive in as enthousiastic. While I would be thinking, hey I am just dry!
Also the musicscene is nice, a couchsurfer took me to an Aerosmith coverband, and I attended a free festival with 3 stages and good performers (you only had to bring 1kg of food to give to a local foodbank, lovely initiative).
Further very nice CSers like Nay, Cleber, Franziluz and Tiago took me around to interssting places in and around Brazilia.
I also spend a few days in a national park (will post pictures eventually), with my host Claudiomar and his roommate, and went to the beautiful colonial town of Pirenopolis, but for both I will write a short blog-entry and post pictures, keep posted!

Brasilia was extremely dry when I was there, and everywhere there were little random fires. Schools even got closed because it was too dry! (weird! they told me it could make people faint?) 
We went to an all-you-can-eat pizzaplace and here the sweet pizzas are popular and delicious. Pizza with icecream, chocolat, fruits, you name it! A real new experience and surprisingly delicious! Culinary, there is everything! From the best sushi, to places where you can create your own pasta, choose the kind of pasta, the sauce, and then 8 ingredients... amazing!

So, time flew by and I really had a great time in Brasilia! More pictures will be posted! (and on my facebook)

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