Brasil

Finally, I am back and enjoying life in the States.  In the near future I will blog on my overall experience in South America.  This post will exclusively cover my travels through Brasil.

brasil flag

After leaving Iguazu Falls, Argentina (see previous post) I traveled to Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brasil.  This city has a high standard of living and its 42 beaches are internationally acclaimed to be amongst the best sites for surfing.  It was here I finally got my feet into the Atlantic after starting on the Pacific (Lima, Peru) 5 months earlier.

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Finally made it to the Atlantic

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Beautiful

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I'm alone at the beach... plus the dog to the right

After a few days in Florianopolis I set off to Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil.  The city is an international role model in regards to city planning.  Crime rates are low, public transportation is excellent, and environmental protection remains a priority.  Similar to Florianopolis, the quality of life in Curitiba is one of the highest in Brasil.

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Botanical Gardens

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Contrast

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Arabian Memorial

I arrived in Sao Paulo, Brasil bracing myself for a mammoth of a city.  Even being mentally prepared, the sheer size of Sao Paulo intimidated me upon arrival.  Stats vary between sources but estimates of the metropolitan area range between 22-27 million people.  It is the financial hub of South America and has a similar feel to New York.  There are numerous bunches of skyscrapers in the center and periphery of the city.  I was worried I would not enjoy traveling to a city like Sao Paulo but I was pleasantly surprised to have an excellent few days exploring the heart of Brasil.

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São Paulo See Metropolitan Cathedral

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St Paul in Praça da Sé

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Liberdade - largest Japanese community outside of Japan

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Bustling Sao Paulo!

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Praça da Luz

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Estação da Luz

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View of the financial district from Ibirapuera (Sao Paulo's Central Park)

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Estádio do Pacaembu - one of the most famous soccer stadiums in Brasil

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Consolação Cemetery São Paulo - almost as impressive as La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires

At this point my anticipation to arrive at my final destination, Rio de Janeiro, became nearly unbearable but I knew I had one more stop before I could get there, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brasil.  This colonial mining town has maintained its charm over the ages.  It is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its outstanding Baroque architecture.  The Spanish and Portuguese were allies to Rome as the Catholic Church utilized Baroque architecture in the 15th and 16th century to fend the influence of Martin Luther’s Protestant movement.  Brasil, a Portugese colony, naturally fell in line with Portugal and utilized this architecture into the 17th and 18th century.  Ouro Preto translates to black gold.

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After 5 months, 4 countries, and endless stops, I finally arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.  This city deserves the hype it has accumulated over the years.  Although the perfect beaches, gorgeous residents, amazing architecture, and exotic jungles inside the city can give an indication as to why Rio is amazing, the city’s greatness is more felt in the air – the city exudes a feeling, an aura, of euphoria unmatched by any other destination I have visited.   Even the poor, dangerous, illegal favela I toured seemed magical and prompted within me a desire to stay.

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O Cristo Redentor

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One of the most beautiful cities in the world!

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One of four TEXAS tiles in the Santa Teresa Mosaic Stairs

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Recently added Obama tiles

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Artist Jorge Selaron

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Copacabana Beach

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Rocinha favela in the bottom half - an affluent neighborhood directly adjacent to the favela

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Rocinha favela - 150,000 illegal inhabitants

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My last night in South America was at a private resort overlooking Ipanema Beach and a full moon - perfect end.

My time in Brasil was short but it was enough to get a feel for its culture.  The country was by far one of the most enjoyable places I have traveled to due in part to the generosity and welcoming attitude of the Brasilian people.  Also, it was nice to make new and meet old friends along the way.  I will surely return to Brasil in the near future!

My next post will comment on my entire South American experience between Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brasil.  I will consider what I have learned both professionally and personally.  I will obviously include a reflection on my microfinance internship with Pro Mujer and my impact in Cochabamba.

Until then,

Shiju

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