Day 45 (well, like 50 by the time this is up) :
So its been 45 days, over 6 weeks since I have left home and my journey began.
The first 3 weeks were spent in the cozy homes of my friend and family in the US, baby sitting, hanging out, prepping myself for the journey ahead, and the next three weeks, finally stepping foot into South America. One day of layover in Bogota, Columbia, then 3 weeks of the greatest new experiences in Brazil, my dream.
New York (1 1/2 wk) -> Baltimore (1 wk) -> New York (1/2 week) -> Bogota, Columbia 8 hrs) -> BRAZIL: Rio De Jainero (4 days) -> Itacare (4 days) -> Salvador (3 days) -> Chapada Diamantina (12 days) -> Salvador (2 days) -> Maceio (4 days) -> Maragogi (1 day)
It does sound like a lot of traveling! but on the map, its actually only this. Bogota aside (since it was only a few hours) I have probably not even 5% of South American continent. I have a lot more to go…
Taking some time to organise my thoughts about the my first 3 weeks in Brazil. There is so much happening all at once every day; new location, new people, new food new experiences, and I’m filled with thoughts and things to share, but its just happening so fast and so much that I haven’t really had the time to organise my thoughts. But here is a short recap, are 3 thoughts on Brazil and travel.
1. Brazil is ENORMOUS.
There was one back packer that told me “2 months and you can cover South America!” but I’m not sure how you travel to do that. I have been here in Brazil for 3 weeks and probably haven’t even covered 10% if Brazil. There is just too much land and too things to do and too much people to meet. At this rate, I will spend the whole year going through Brazil and not even stepping foot into the other countries, but I am completely okay with that because Brazil is just that great.
So far, I have stepped on to the lively and sexy city Rio, from the beaches to the pumping night life to the Christ then to the surfed in the secluded beaches of Itacare, danced and sang to the beats of afro-culture in Salvador, trekked, biked and even rock-climbed in the unbelievably grand scale of plates and rivers and waterfalls of Chapada Diamantin and relaxed and dived in the beautiful beaches of Maceio, Maragogi and Port de Galena. It has only been several hundred kilometres moving up and down the coast like of the mid region of Brazil but I am amazed at the big difference each region has in scenery, culture and people.
Rio De Jainero
Maceio, Maragogi, Port de Galinha:
There are like 8 0% more of the country I haven’t explored yet, like the south the Amazons, the mid west region and I want to explore more, but if I do take that rathe, I will never step foot outside of Brazil. Its just that big and in no way can be covered, even with a full year.
Rio, was the very image I had for Brazil and probably what most people imagine of this country. Beautiful contrast of green mountains right next to the beautiful turquoise beaches. People playing soccer and hanging out in Brazilian bikinis at the beaches sipping Caiperinas with music all around. Nights are loud with socialising around Brazilian food and dancing to beats of Samba and Brazilian music. People in Rio are called “Carioca” they are generally are relaxed, put the most importance in enjoying life with a mix of some crazy. I’ve been told that the more north you go, the more relaxed (slow) people get and the more south you go, particularly in Sao Paulo, the more serious and fast paced life is. I have seen that as I explore the Bahia region and the beach regions of people being super relaxed (SLOW!) and the attitude is “Tranquiiiiiiiiiilllllllo (take it easy)” for everything. I think the Tokyo in me wants answers and results quickly and it shows in my face, many people tell me “Tranquil” and tell me to relax and don’t worry. The funny thing is, in Japan, I think I am considered quite relaxed and chill, and even described as ” you’re so Latin!” but here, I am just a uptight person here compared to the locals.
Traveling for me is about seeing, hearing, feeling and experiencing these kind of cultural differences and immersing myself in these amongst the local people. I don’t care about hitting the right spots and sight seeing but more value in people I meet of conversations I have. So maybe that is why I won’t be able to cover South American in just 2 months but that’s the way I like it and that is why I don’t own a guidebook (though there are many times I wished I owned one)
Brazil is enormous and I am finding that I absolutely can’t cover it enough, unless I make a living out of it!
2. Brazilians and talking.
Its funny to me how much people can talk and how much Brazilians talk. At the market, at the hostel, on the street, at the beach, in the mountains, wherever there is people, it is an opportunity to talk and laugh. Not sure yet if this is a Brazilian, thing, a latin thing or just a regional thing, but I find it really impressive on the amount and the length of this happening. Ultimately, I guess its about wanting to connect to people, share stories or advise, being curious about their stories and life, and I think that is a wonderful thing about Brazilians. Though for me and my lack of Portuguese I am often wondering what they have to talk about so much, this long to a complete stranger! but maybe it because I am from Japan and its not a common thing there to just strike up a conversation everywhere. For now, I am just taking in the talk talk talk like music to my ears because it is always there and it never stops 🙂
3. 1:3 the ratio of helpfulness
There are some people that will go extremes to help you out and be so incredibly kind and I have been very blessed to meet people like that so far. However to get to those people I feel like I also met a lot of people that are just the opposite. That’s not an uncommon thing at all, but what I found pretty shocking was the extreme of their rejection to the point of being almost comical. I try with my best efforts to speak in Portuguese and in gestures, but the minute they know you don’t speak Portuguese, some just shut off, or literally turn away, or look away and pretend like they are busy. And I’m thinking, “ oh come on!! You were not busy just a minute ago!!!”
Understandable for this to happen in local shops, etc where they can’t be bothered with tourists, but it also happens a lot in tourist places such as airports, air line counters and tourist attractions. Now, I’m not saying they should speak English, I’m just saying, hey let’s try to just give it a little bit of an effort, and at least hear me out. But many times they have a few tactics of bluntly ignoring or being super busy all of a sudden in hopes that the foreigner will give up and go away. Maybe I’m just sensitive to this because I come from Japan where good service is a given and even excessive that I’m not used to getting no service.
Speaking to some Brazilians, they said, there were issues for the World cup on foreigners not being able to make their way due to these situations and it is probably be an issue for the Olympics coming up. Understandable. Hopefully for the Olympics, there will be a bit of improvement in the service.
Though I should note that the incredibly awesome people and friends I have been lucky to encounter have wiped any negative impressions out and I would say that the ratio is quickly changing to 1 incredibly person : 3 unhelpful (or just unresponsive) person. I’m sure the more Portuguese I speak the ratio will go down.
So some quick first thought on Brazil for the first 3 weeks. There are a million different thoughts and findings in my head, and once I find the time to myself, (which has surprisingly few considering this is a solo trip) I have much more to share.
I love Brazil and I can’t say it enough.
The 3 weeks so far has been unbelievable and I can’t imagine how fulfilled I will be by the end of the trip if just 3 weeks has brought me so much excitement and happiness. I would say it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Thank you Brazil, and thank you to myself for taking myself out of my normal life and taking the leap into this adventure.
ボゴタ、コロンビア（１日）→ リオ・デイジャネイロ（４日）→ イタカレ（４日）→ サルバドール（３日）→ チャパダ・ジアマンチナ（１２日）→ サルバドール（２日）→ マセイオ （４日）