Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Paul's Country Review: Brazil

Brazil, the China of Latin America. I don't think I was ready for Brazil, especially after the laid back feel of South Africa and Namibia. There are too many people, with no concept of lines or waiting your turn. It felt like I was offending the locals for not cutting and pushing my way to be first - it's just something I can't do. 

As you can see, I am first in line

As for what to see, São Paulo was a sad place, maybe I didn't understand it or it was probably that we were there too long but either way I didn't like it. The girl that checked us in to the hostel was very surprised we were there 5 nights - how else do you get a feel for a city? Everyone else staying at our hostel was only there for a night - just to pass through. Oh well, it's another learning experience - for the next time we got to Brazil. If you find yourself in São Paulo the place to go is Avenida Paulista, which I read is like 5th Ave or Broadway in NYC. It's definitely like 5th Ave especially if 5th Ave is 10 blocks long and only has a Starbucks and a cafe and 2 malls at opposite ends and all of the banking institutions where everyone goes to work and that's it - so yeah, definitely like Broadway or 5th Ave in NYC.

The place to be in Sao Paulo!

Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon, the city has nothing special to offer but we weren't there for the city. The tour we took up and down the Rio Negro was great. Meeting a tribe of indigenous people was a fantastic experience and spending an entire day on the river helps put into perspective just how incredibly huge the Amazon River system is.

We are now part of the tribe

I also read that Rio is the Miami of Brazil, to which someone responded that that is an insult to Rio. I'm not sure about Miami, having only been there once but I definitely got a Washington Heights vibe. So yeah, not Miami but Washington Heights - on the beach - with a sprinkling of Seaside Heights. 

"Soooooo, what do you think of Rio?"- said Jesus

Washington Heights with a beach

Last stop was the town of Foz do Iguaçu (Iguaçu Falls) to see the 2nd largest waterfall in the world and no I'm not going to tell you what the largest is - look it up! This small city was ok but in comparison to the other cities, was great. Seeing this series of waterfalls first hand is incredible. Feeling the spray, hearing the roar of the rushing water and seeing the power of that much water can not be properly described and photos do it no justice. You'll have to take my word for it.

This is the kingdom of the crystal skull

All in all Brazil had a few interesting things to see but the cities are to be avoided. Any place that you are repeatedly warned not to bring anything of any value whatsoever, anywhere you go, just isn't a fun place to be. One person went so far as to tell us, "you'll get robbed, everyone does here, it's just a fact of life". Awesome, is that part of a tour or is there somewhere we need to go specifically for that authentic Brazilian experience? Oh and it took 3 days to withdraw money from the ATMs because our bank insisted it was fraud, apparently Brazil (not Nigeria) is the ATM fraud capital of the world. It just wasn't the place for me.

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