Sunday, March 16, 2014

Observations On Brazil

Carnival in Rio may not be the best way to formulate one’s opinion on the country of Brazil… well… because I suppose alcohol, drugs, and samba does really weird things to people. It would be unfair of me to judge the country solely on my Carnival experience alone... so for this blog post, I’m taking it out of the equation.


These are the three cities that I’ve had the pleasure to visit here in Brazil. All of them are so different. Rio is the most popular of the three for good reason… It’s the most touristic – with beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana, and the iconic landmark, Christ The Redeemer.  

Obligatory Christ The Redeemer Shot
Ipanema is beautiful… The water is clean and has a pretty good temperature, the sand is fine and ecru, and you can witness pretty spectacular sunsets from the beach too. 

Girls from Ipanema

Ipanema Sunset

I got invited to stay with a friend of mine in Salto, which is a city around 2 hours away from Sao Paulo. They call it “the countryside”. It’s lush and green and very laid back. It was exactly what I needed right after Carnival. Downtime with a proper Brazilian family with authentic Brazilian food cooked fresh for me every day. HEAVEN!

With new friends from Salto

My Brazilian mom!

Then off to Sao Paulo I went, just to see the city for a couple days. I stayed at this great hostel called, Hostel Brasil Boutique (an amazing hostel, totally recommended), where my good friend, Eduardo, works. 

You guys remember Eduardo whom I met in Italy, right? 

Dinner at Hostel Brasil Boutique with fellow travelers

Sao Paulo reminds me a little bit of New York City, in the sense that it’s quite congested and compact. It isn’t much of a touristy place, but I think Sao Paulo’s strength lies in the lifestyle.  I only had a very short time to visit, but I liked the vibe better than Rio.

Sao Paulo, View from the top - Reminds me of Manhattan


Now to the important stuff. Dude. I LOVE Brazilian food.  I don’t know what it is… I mean I never really liked beans that much before, but I’ve started craving for them every meal since I got here! Everything is just so savory… I love how the restaurants over here are almost all “buffet style” and they encourage you to just pile everything on to your plate and eat them all together. That’s definitely how I roll… I have no patience to start with appetizers, then entrées, then main dishes, etc… I’d rather have them all together – and that’s how they do it over here!

And don’t even get me started on the Acai. Aaaahhhhh acaiiiii!!! Acai with granola and banana! I literally had them every day in Rio. They sell it on the beach! I guess since they have an abundance of this fruit from the Amazon, they just make them everywhere! This is, hands down, my favorite bit of Brazil. Healthy, fruity, and DELICIOUS. Mmmmmm…


OK… taking away the Carnival from the equation… I’ve noticed that in general, the people here in Brazil are very kind. Very hospitable --- very much like the people of The Philippines. They love visitors, love foreigners, and would do anything to be of help to them. There were several instances when my friend and I were conversing in English in the Metro or a restaurant, figuring out where to go or what to eat, when a random Brazilian would pop up to say, “Do you need some help?” – picking up on the fact that we were having a difficult time with the language.

One time, we were on the bus trying to find this one Favela, and two ladies volunteered their services to us as a Favela tour guide because they lived there! It was amazing!

Two of my Brazilian friends took me in as their house guests in Rio and Salto, and I was shown the most incredible hospitality... I felt like I was in a Filipino household... Food was being shoved at me all the time, and I was constantly being reminded that their casa is my casa. I love these people. :)

The only thing that makes it a little challenging is that hardly anyone speaks English. Really. I was very surprised… especially since The World Cup is coming up… and The Olympics in 2 years too! I got by with the little Spanish I knew when I was by myself... but most of the time I was with friends who spoke Portuguese. It will be interesting to see how Brazil does when all the tourists arrive this June.

On the physical aspect... I'd have to agree with the rest of the world in saying, Brazilians are HOT ---- BUT - they're not necessarily my type. Only because for most of them, there is no subtlety. Everything is sort of in your face with the hotness. The men are half naked with perfectly sculpted Jesus abs, and the women always in thongs, with their JLO bums and perfect boobs, all of them with the most beautiful tan --- and they know it too! 

Most of them are confident (borderline arrogant sometimes) and they like to flaunt what they've got. You see them doing pull-ups on the beach or anywhere they can, actually... This may work for some, but not for me. Call me old fashioned, but I have this annoying habit of looking past appearances. It sucks, I know.

Obviously, this is but a generalization. Not everyone is as I have described above... In fact, my first (and favorite) Brazilian friend, Eduardo, is completely anti-Brazilian, in the sense that he doesn't have an arrogant bone in his body, a little shy, beautiful but doesn't know it, and a total hippie. He says he may have been adopted, and may possibly not actually be Brazilian. That would make more sense if it were true. :) (Hi Eddie!)


For all intents and purposes, I *had* to do a Brazilian wax in Brazil. I had to. Just to see. I mean – you go to Japan to eat Sushi and Ramen… You go to Italy to eat Pizza and Pasta…. And you go to Brazil to get a Brazilian Wax. That’s just the way it is. And so I did it. 
The verdict? 
It’s just like any other waxing place I’ve been to everywhere in the world.  Hurts like hell. 

And that concludes my time in Brazil! A Brazilian wax for the win! Woohoo!
It's a shame I never had enough time to explore the other areas of Brazil... I hear great things about the beaches of the north... I'll go back one day for sure.

If you guys are going for the World Cup - just be prepared for a whole lotta crazy... Try to learn a little Portuguese, and eat lots of Acai. :)