Brazil Has My Heart
*This is for all the fatties interested in visiting Brazil. So many of you have “liked” my pictures on Facebook and I’m so glad I could help change peoples’ perspectives about Brazil.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been traveling in Brazil as my “last hurrah” post-graduation and pre- full-time job. It was the best farewell tour I could’ve ever asked for. And why a farewell? No more endless vacationing and lazy days. No more day-time errands and long walks. No more hooliganism. MY LIFE IS OVER! Boohoo, life really sucks (not really, I’m blessed). But it’s work work work from here on out…got to make that paper. Therefore, I had to make my last hurrah something special, and this trip was certainly the trip of a lifetime (minus all the voracious mosquitoes).
When I was first started “planning’ my summer (and I didn’t do any real planning until a week before my actual trip), I had India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and a bunch of other super exotic places on my mind. You know me, if I’m not somewhere with unpaved dirt roads and barely running water, I’m not having a good time. So I’ve been dying to go to South America forever and ever, but Brazil was always too “dangerous.” Plus, people were saying “it’s winter” and “it’s expensive.” Let me first clarify a few things:
1. Brazil is safe. Be smart.
2. Winter doesn’t really exist in Brazil, especially not in the northern half where it’s always summertime.
3. Brazil IS expensive, especially compared to every other South American country. BUT you can make it work if you’re street smart and travel savvy. For example, I had full-on meals ranging anywhere from $2-60.
4. Pão de Queijo is the BEST thing to happen to mankind. Tapioca cheese bread. So squishy, so perfect.
I don’t even know how to write this post or where to begin. There are simply too many things I want to write about and pictures I want to show you fatties. I’ve been around the (traveler’s) block quite a bit, and Brazil is undoubtedly one of the top 3 most beautiful countries in the world.
Many of you’ve asked me how I planned my trip. Well, I waited until the last minute and haphazardly planned my trip around what Google Images produced when I typed in “most beautiful places in Brazil.” Oh and the Lonely Planet is phenomenal. Travel distance wasn’t a big issue because I bought the Brazil Airpass, which allowed me to travel all over the country fast and quite cheaply. I only had 3 weeks, so I wasn’t about to waste my time on buses that take forever and cost the same as flights.
And just so you know, I’m mostly about the world’s natural beauty and less about museums. My cultural interests lie in food (duh) and architecture. So here’s a quick recap of my trip:
1. Rio de Janeiro: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE WORLD. Everyone says so and now I know why. The city is made up of beaches, tree-lined streets, skyscrapers, mountains, favelas (slums), and gorgeous people. I could seriously live in Rio.
*Faves: Christ The Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Santa Teresa, Ipanema Beach, Favela Tour, Galitos Grill, MegaMatte
2. Iguaçu Falls: This place is Niagara Falls x 100, literally. Absolutely gorgeous. There are two sides: Brazilian and Argentinian. I only wanted to spend one day in Iguaçu, so I chose the Argentinian side (better?).
3. Manaus and The Amazon: Despite Manaus’ pollution and overall sketchiness, I really enjoyed the city. Super nice people, great juice stands, beautiful opera house.
*Faves: Guarana frutas from Africa House
4. Lençois Maranhenses: My absolute FAVORITE place in Brazil. Imagine a gorgeous desert with thousands of sand dunes and lakes. The water you see in these pictures is rain water (crazy, huh?). This might be up there in the world’s most beautiful places.
5. São Luis: I was only there for a hot minute en route to my next destination, but the colonial/historical section of the city was colorful and lively.
6. Salvador: The Pelhorino (old city) might be the only reason to visit this city, but it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Full of awesome architecture and festivities!
*Faves: Mamabahia (for the Moqueca)
7. Lençois & Chapada Diamantina: Lençois is a super cute and alternative town. Very chill and laid back. Great food. Chapada Diamantina is a huge national park full of caves, waterfalls, plateaus, valleys, hills, rivers, natural water slides, cliffs, and all that good stuff.
*Faves: Fazendinha e Tal
8. Fernando de Noronha: Known in Brazil as having the country’s most beautiful beaches and most inflated prices. Both absolutely true. This tiny island is also known for having a bajillion dolphins and amazing diving spots, so I hiked through the mud (rained the day before I arrived) to see some dolphins and paid dearly to scuba dive for the first time in my life. There’s something enchanting about this island that eats away at my heart (in a very good, emotional way).
*Faves: Acai e Raizes, Pousada Carmo, Tricolor, Praia do Boldro, Baio do Sancho
Now, let’s talk about some food! You fatties better get excited, because I’m about to make you REAL hungry.
Pão de Queijo: Hot chewy, cheesy, crispy perfection. Everything you ever wanted in food. Must learn how to make this!
Guarana Frutas: Guarana is some fancy plant found in the Amazon that has a million health benefits, but I only know it as a drink. From what I observed (me no speaky Portuguese), they take guarana powder and blend it with fruits (mine had banana, avocado, papaya), ice, peanuts, milk, and syrup. What you have is a nutty fruit shake that’s better than anything at Jamba Juice (if that’s even possible).
Açai e Cupuaçu: MY FAVORITE SWEET THING IN BRAZIL. I’m not exactly sure how it’s made, but I think açai and cupuaçu are blended with ice, milk, and bananas to create a refreshing, healthy treat. It’s usually served with homemade granola (mmmmm nomz) and banana slices. Pinkberry is blah compared to this.
Churrascaria: Delicious BBQ meat on sticks > mouth > belly. The servers do not stop bringing meat over to your table, even when you tell them “no” 100 times. These churrascarias are buffet-style, which means fatties like me can binge to no end. There are also a ton of appetizers, sides, and desserts to fill you up even more. #fatty
Feijoada: This is a typical Saturday meal of rice, jerked beef and bean stew, kale, farofa, and orange slices. If Brazil had a national dish, this would be it. It’s lovely in a heart and familiar way.
Moqueca: This Bahian seafood dish is native to northeastern Brazil where there’s a lot of African influences. It’s full of flavor thanks to tons of onions and garlic, as well as peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Think of it as curry without the curry.
Passion Fruit: I’ve never had real passion fruit before! All we get in the States is purée or passion fruit-flavored things. It’s not exactly sweet, incredibly tart, and the seeds are edible and delicious. Getting it open without a knife was interesting.
Salada de Frutas: While wandering the streets of Manaus, I saw hundreds of stands and stalls selling “salada de frutas.” I thought that meant a fresh fruit salad, but instead, it’s a bunch of finely chopped fresh fruit dowsed in cream and topped with flaky bits of some unidentified flaky stuff. Yummy!
Caipirinha: FRESH passion fruit caipirinha on the side of a river near Lençois Maranhenses. The bartender cracked open a passionfruit, extracted the juicy seeds, added ice, and poured in cachaça (sugar cane rum). Amazing.
Farofa: Rice and beans are staples at any Brazilian meal no matter where you are in the country. But so is farofa–toasted manioc flour. It’s on everything and tastes like crunchy bits of fried stuff. So blah.
To conclude this post, let me just declare that I’m completely in love with Brazil for many reasons: its landscape, its people, its food, its architecture, its history, its everything! I can’t wait to go back and I’m sure I will (and soon).