Tim’s Brazil

My first foray into South America has been extremely exciting. From the moment we stepped off the plane in Rio de Janeiro it was clear that we had arrived in a place like no other I had seen before.
The first thing I noticed on arrival and as we took the taxi to Copacobana would have to be the poverty, particularly the standard of housing which looks as if people have just built extra floors onto their house when needed and using whatever building materials come to hand. We found out later that this is in fact the case that as the children get older and married etc the family simply builds another story onto the house.
The driving was absolutely crazy too yet we didn’t notice too many dents in the cars or accidents. We also learnt very quickly to pay our taxi drivers in the exact money as getting change out of them was quite difficult! Most often they would try and charge whatever change you thought you were going to get as a “bag fee” I guess without speaking the language we were always going to be targets, but more so in Rio than elsewhere.
Although there wasn’t much English spoken people seemed very nice and welcoming this may have been due to the fact that most of the people we met worked in the hospitality industry. But in general we would have to say that the locals seemed very friendly.
Rio we loved, it is a very exciting, vibrant and for the most part a pretty city. The views from Christ the Redeemer and Sugar loaf were brilliant. If we had our time again we would probably have stayed in Ipanema over Copacobana but we still had a magical time.
It was pretty clear that as we left Rio there weren’t a huge number of western tourists on the route and people got even more excited to see us the further away from Rio we got. Maybe this was due to the fact that we were catching buses rather than minibus transfers or planes but we really felt quite quickly that we were off the beaten trail. Again not much English spoken if any at all but we coped fine.
We only barely scratched the surface of Brazil but everywhere we went was superb. The country is absolutely massive! We thought that in Australia we had long distances to travel but our 22hr bus trip really didn’t look as though we had got anywhere at all on the map!!
The land we passed through was incredibly rich and fertile land and most was converted into farmland, cattle sugarcane and soya seem to be the main crops. And the climate and the plants all seem fairly similar to those we get in Queensland we are on about the same latitude.
The roadside cafes have been great and there seems to be a place to have a beer every 50 meters and loads of people sat in plastic chairs watching the world go by. We have enjoyed some samba music but on the whole most of the places we have been to its been the gaggle of talking providing the background noise rather than music. And of course football on TV I swear every single football match worldwide is televised here both live and then on endless replays.
We have chatted politics with a few people and the common theme seems to be corrupt politicians. The Lonely Planet that we are using is a bit out of date and describes the current president as just entering into office and her main credibility is that she is going to stamp out the corruption. Well she is now regarded as bad as the rest if not worse!  
Apparently when she is speaking on TV the practice is to stand up and lean out the window banging pots and pans so no one can hear her lies! Too be fair we have certainly noticed a high amount of poverty and there is obviously a big gap between the wealthy and the poor. It’s certainly difficult to see how spending so much money on hosting the World Cup and the olympics has benefitted the lowest classes. But you do get the sense that the wealthy ones have done well out of it?
The wildlife and the nature was great to see and even though we didn’t make it up to the Amazon proper (later) the areas we visited in the Pantenal certainly felt very much like we were in the jungle.
All in all a fantastic experience, you could easily spends months and months discovering Brazil and never get bored, wonderful people and wonderful country. T

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