My Love Affair with Brazil: Beach Me (i.e. Eu Amo a Praia)

So it turns out despite Brazil being one of the top four fastest growing economies in the world, and ish is almost more expensive there than in the U.S., Internet is one thing Brazil has not yet quite mastered.  (Go figure.)  So that’s my lame excuse for not having posted while I was on my trip.  Internet access was either non-existent, extremely slow, or really expensive.  That, or I was busy.  : )  In any case, BRAZIL IS AWESOME.  I love the vibe, the people, the food, the language, the color, the music, the dancing, the beaches, the cities, the small islands, pretty much everything–except for the crime.  Luckily, I had an incident-free five weeks, but the ONE thing I´ve learned that can be frustrating about being a female traveling alone in Brazil is that everyone will tell you that it´s dangerous to do anything that´s not on the well-trodden tourist path.  And since I do love a good wander, that was rough.  I found most Brazilians to be very cautionary, and understandably so, but it made me long for the days of Thailand where I could have done anything, anywhere, at any time on my own, and I’d probably only encounter the nicest Thai people ever who would invite me in for some mango sticky rice.

Anyway, despite that smaaall setback for Brazil, I really did love the country as much as I expected I would.  Here’s the first of many reasons why I have a love affair with Brazil.

Lopes Mendes beach in Ilha Grande

– BEACHES.  Unlike Argentina, where they consider Mar del Plata a beach resort location (okay, so I haven’t been so I guess I can’t legitimately criticize, but I’ve heard it’s not something you’d capture on a postcard…), Brazil has some gorgeous beaches… and I didn’t even make it to the most pristine of them.  I don’t know what it is, but the presence of sand bordered by ocean has a more therapeutic effect on me than almost anything else.  In Ilha Grande, I hiked through the jungle to get to Lopes Mendes, a gorgeous white-sand beach with clear, incredibly clean, bright azure water.  In Barra Grande, I walked for two hours along a peninsula with unending golden sand underfoot, unending palm trees to my right, and the blue Pacific to my left.  In Itacare, we hiked again through the jungle to Engenhoca (with surfboards in hand–okay my arms are too short to carry surfboards… but other people did), a ridiculously deserted hidden cove (for most of the day it was just our group, and the coconut vendor at the beach) with striated black and white sand and again, clean turquoise water.  Yes, I did spend a LOT of time at the beach over the last five weeks, and I loved every second of it.

The fact that the country has such a long coastline just brimming with great beaches also translates into the attitude and style of the people.  Most Brazilians I met were lovely people, but beyond that, they seemed to be much more easygoing and relaxed than, say, Argentines, or residents of the good city of Washington, D.C.  People don’t wear clothing here–they go shirtless and wear board shorts everywhere, and either go barefoot or wear Havaianas.  I don’t think I saw close-toed shoes for five weeks (unless it was on the trail, or sneakers in the city).  In Florianopolis and Bahia, style is a funny mixture of Californian/surfer/gangster.  Lots of gold chains, board shorts, and wide-brimmed baseball caps.  And I’m not sure if lounging on the beach is a profession in Brazil, but it would appear that way from the number of people constantly on Ipanema in Rio.  Love it!  Why did I choose to live in a city on a poo-colored river rather than one with several long beaches backed by green mountains?  Fail.

Barra Grande, Bahia
another nice cresent of sand in barra grande
black sand at Engenhoca, Itacare, Bahia
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