We returned to Belém for one night, with an evening arrival and morning departure so we didn't get out and about. We did find another great little street side burger joint for dinner though.
This was our last night in Brazil after over 2 months. Perhaps time for some general reflections.
Brazil is a huge country, and the people and cultures we experienced are so diverse. The south, cold in winter, was clean and well maintained. The people sipped mate just like their neighbours in Argentina and Uruguay.
The major cities of Rio and São Paulo were so different. Rio, incredibly beautiful, was a city of relaxed locals, bum implants and a dynamic beach front. São Paulo was exactly what you expect from a big city, concrete and corporate looking people, though with that little bit of personality and flair that is unmistakably Brazilian.
We were amazed by old colonial towns such as Party and Ouro Preto and their picturesque charm. Salvador was, as Brazil's first capital, captivating and depressing at the same time with beautifully renovated buildings standing next to others falling apart and overgrown. The culture in Salvador was so different to the more southern cities with such a vibrant African influence, and the food was deliciously different.
Further north we started to really feel the warm Brazilian weather. While some of the cities along the coast weren't particularly exciting, they did feel more relaxed. Brazil had two more major highlights for us in the north: Lençóis Maranhenses national park and the Amazon.
Lençóis was unlike anything we have seen or imagined. Pristine white sand dunes scattered with blue/green lakes, it was like being on another planet. And the Amazon, beautiful and peaceful, it was so hard to imagine from where we were that there was likely masses of cleared farmland nearby, it felt like the rivers and jungle with their incredible creatures must have gone on forever.
There are things we will miss about Brazil, and things we won't! The incessant blasting from huge speakers atop cars promoting everyone and anyone running for President with annoyingly catchy jingles we can do without. Farofa, why anyone wants to eat dried and fried breadcrumb-like manioc on everything they eat? Rice and beans got a little old too, as did the huge distances between destinations.
But we will miss so much more. We met some lovely people, particularly those that hosted us through airbnb. You can't beat local advice. Brigadeiro's, the yummy chocolate sweet we became so, so addicted to. Breakfast cake. How will we survive the day without it? Per-kilo restaurant, with such dangerous variety in their buffets. Reliable and bookable transport is likely a thing of the past for a while. And the list goes on.
But, we are off to a little slice of France now, French Guiana. A new country is very exciting!