August 25, 2015
This month I had the blessing to take some time off for myself, so I went to Brazil. I just had to do it. Life as a young adult without a family, mortgage or commitments — it’s so stressful. Plus, without all these things, it was the right time.
Before visiting, I had a false sense of what the country would be like. I imagined soft sandy beaches, high-fashion shopping, rodizio barbecue. Brazil is so much more than that. Yes, their beaches are some of the most amazing in the world. Yes, they have couture shopping in malls in every neighborhood. Yes, the steak is grilled to perfection. The ignorant American in me did not quite expect a majority-white population and such modern architecture. The sleek white buildings balance the classic plantation homes of historic coffee farmers.
Behind the beauty, there is severe corruption and discontent with the government. The wealth disparity is clear in a city with a population of 11 million people like Sao Paulo. One evening, we’re enjoying a home-cooked meal in the penthouse of a luxury apartment, and the next we’re driving on the highway next to a shantytown of corrugated metal and plywood some call home.
Despite the turmoil, the wonderful Ferreira Bohn family showed me the real Brazil. I thank the most loving people for taking me in and sharing their cachaça, coffee and cheesy bread. I’m happy to have learned “the Brazilian way” when it comes to disregarding the laws of traffic and playing with a stranger’s adorable infant child. Good times depend partly on what you are doing, but more so it’s the people you are doing it with.
I’m glad to have treated myself a bit selfishly, I must admit. Stepping out of the comfort zone into a country with almost exclusively Portuguese speakers was one of my greatest cultural experiences. The more you can seek out the unknown, the more you grow as a person.
From the Brazilian rainforests to the mountains to the deep sea scuba diving, there is much more to explore. My aunt always told me you have to leave a place with something to come back to. Until next time, Brazil!