And so, after a mad rush to finish the year, I was setting off again for another trip to Brazil, eventually – I changed the ticket about 5 times and wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen. It was an intense 2013, and I was really beginning to feel it towards the end – with back pain problems throughout the first half and the ensuing surgery, then a new opportunity to work in Indonesia with my company in February 2014 meant lots of changes were happening in my life. (It was just like puberty all over again… everything changes). There was a job to finish up, a house to move, and meanwhile, bags to pack for Brazil.
People often ask me why I keep going back… and there’s no one answer to give them. It’s a little bit of everything all bound together. It’s all about the food, the music, the people, the vibe and the awesome places to visit in such a diverse, friendly country.
Over the next few weeks I hope to share a little of each aspect with you, and maybe one day you might head over to Brazil too. It can be difficult to get around at times, and sometimes you just feel like banging your head against a wall when it comes to processes here, but for those that push through, the rewards are most definitely worth it.
If you get frustrated by slow walkers, or find yourself wanting to slap the back of the head of that person in the line at the store who can’t make up their mind, or generally get frumpy if you have to wait more than two minutes… then you’re going to probably have a love-hate relationship with Brazil.
Everything has a ‘fila’ or a line… and why have one line, when you can have three, one after the other… you just need to have a game plan for your down time. Socialising, flirting or public displays of affection while waiting in line are completely expected and acceptable. I remember reading once that a great way for two people to meet in Rio, was to crash their cars together, and get a number… There is always a way, or ‘jeito’.
I’ll elaborate a little on the lines in a bit, but for now… it’s just good to know that I’m back in Brazil again – I really do miss this place.
Somewhere between Sydney and São Paulo, my bags got left behind, which was a first for me. There was a connecting flight in Santiago, and with a few delays early on we had 30 minutes to get off the plane and on to the next. If you have connecting flights and if traveling with your bags the whole way is important to you, allow enough time at each stopover so they can connect the dots, and perhaps budget a bit of time for delays. Otherwise you might find yourself down at the shopping mall picking up some new undies, socks and anything else that comes in your size… Or perhaps pack at least one change of clothes in your hand luggage, I know I will from now on. #traveltipsFTW
Air conditioning… a pure luxury!
But who needs it when you’re in Brazil and want to sample the local lifestyle, where sometimes the memorable experiences are the ones without the luxuries… like catching a local intercity bus…
Closing your eyes as you bustle down the road, you can smell the different aromas; smoke from a wood fire cooking something delicious, the different fruit trees, like the jack fruit, and hear the constant sound of Brazilians conversing, greeting each other and signaling for a stop.
For me, it’s a great way to meet people too…
On the trip from Sao Paulo to Ubatuba, I had the privilege of sitting next to Raquel and Rafael. Rafael was just 8 and was heaps of fun during the journey. He became a very quick learner of how to play Angry Birds on the iPhone, and I must say it was fine trying to translate what you need to do to play the game in Portuguese.
He wanted to know all about kangaroos too, and how high they jump, and whether we ride them..
Afterwards I offered him and his mother one of my favourite chocolate biscuits (Passatempos), and he turned to his mum and said, “I like him, he’s really cool”…
Raquel works in Sao Paulo part time and then heads back to home near Ubatuba, which must be difficult to live in two places at once, three hours apart by bus. They gave me a smile as they hopped off and told me how long it would be until the next stop.
Just two of the many cool people I have been fortunate enough to meet while on buses in Brazil.
If you like soap operas on television, then this is most definitely the country for you…
Most Brazilians seem to stay reasonably up to date with the main ‘novelas’ or soaps, which occupy prime time television viewing slots. You can start watching them at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and finish up around midnight…
They have these intervals throughout them, which are like extended breaks, and they even come with their own small ‘credits’. You kind of think they are finished as the credits are showing, but then all of a sudden the same one is back on again 10 minutes later… It’s a TV toilet break where you can actually go to the toilet and get back before it starts back up.
The latest offerings are ‘Incessata Coracao’ and ‘Ti ti ti’… where they seem to be going through a phase of having the soaps set in the design/fashion industry.
They also still have Big Brother on the tele over here… so I’m having a little bit of reflux each night when it comes on and I remember what we went through in Australia for a few years hehehe. The biggest difference here – more fights, more love, more flesh on display, and they also take FOREVER to leave once they’ve been eliminated from the house… there’s about 5 minutes of back slapping and face kisses…