Ah Brazil, land of beaches, sun, samba, caphirinas, tropical rainforests, idyllic islands, football mania...where food is pricey and very mediocre; bus journeys super long and freezing with air con (the locals wear tiny shorts but carry a blanket and huge pillow for all their travels); and thousands of mosquitoes await. So Brazil wasn't without its drawbacks, and as I griped in my previous post, I really struggled with the Portuguese to start with (and I'm no expert now, neither); but its pros outweigh the cons so overwhelmingly, I cannot recommend this beautiful, amazing country enough. Seriously.
So, I started with a few days in the Pantanal, before flying to Salvador de Bahia - dubbed Africa in exile - with its colorful historic Pelourinho centre, sunny beaches and incredible African rhythms. From there, I headed south to Minas Gerais, the old gold mining district of Brazil, where I visited Inhotim, an interesting contemporary art complex set in the grounds of a huge botanical garden an hour or so from capital Belo Horizonte, and Ouro Preto, with its sloping cobbly streets and pretty colonial architecture. Pity about the rain. And the bus load of school kids who swarmed everywhere...
Next was Rio - which lived up to all expectations and more; visited all the usual sights - Christ the redeemer, Copacobana, parties in Lapa, Sta Marta favela and Pedra do Sal - apparently the birthplace of the samba. Stayed five days and still didnt manage to do or so everything i wanted to - but thats just part of travelling, i guess.
From there I headed to Ilha Grande, where my first real piece of bad luck with the weather hit - two days of non stop rain, which hampered visits to what I'm told are world renowned beach (which beaches arent though, in Brazil, I'd like to know? Most of them seem pretty spectacular over here). So I moved on another two hours south to enjoy the picturesque coastal town Paraty; My intended overnight bus to Florianopolis was postponed for a night at a music festival in Sao Paulo with Blur, Beck and Lana Del Rey, to name a few bands (jeez, am I showing my age...?) - free ticket and backstage pass courtesy of a friend I was traveling with! Amazing who you might meet and random events you can find yourself at during these travels.
More stunning beaches in Florianopolis, followed by an even more stunning finale to the country with a visit to the Iguassu Falls. Simply...wow. Just wow.
So, that is just a quick run through of an amazing four weeks in Brazil, but this country is so much more than just beaches and sun.
It is huge, diverse, overwhelming, stunning and defies description. It is somewhere to be experienced, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. But as with everywhere else, its the people you meet and share with that makes these experiences so special, and that's no exception here. Thanks to all those people who made my time in Brazil what it was.
Sorry this entry is such a gushing summary of what I've been up to, have been very slack with my writing and now playing catch up. More coming soon. Ish.
Only three months left!!!