Brazil is South America's biggest country — geographically, economically, and population-wise — as well as its most unique (culturally, demographically, and language-wise). And yet, I've barely spent 10 days here! Considering that I've seen such a tiny portion of the place, and that I haven't even learned the language, I feel totally inadequate to write a wrapup of my time here. But nevertheless, I'll do my best. Brazil has been a roller-coaster of a final stop in South America: hot, exotic, dangerous, sensual, and friendly — to say the least. I wish I'd at least been exposed to the music here a bit more (let alone everything else): but oh well, I guess I'll be back here one day; and when I return, there'll be pleeenty more to see.
I haven't had time to appreciate very much about Brazil, in my short time here — but one thing I did manage to take in, is that geographically it's an absolutely enormous country. Even just going from Foz to Rio was a whopping 24 hours by bus! And that's just within the limited confines of the country's southern corner. Brazil's a big, big place: I think it takes over 60 hours to travel from north to south by bus. And in that big, big area, there are all sorts of environmental and cultural regions. Rainforest, farmland, beach country. Tribal natives, African slave descendants, and white country cowboys.
Brazil's economy has really shot up in the last few years — the real is now 2-to-1 with the US dollar. I'm very happy for the people of Brazil, that their economy is doing so well — but, sadly for tourists like myself, this has made Brazil the most expensive country that I've visited during my time in South America. Even more expensive than Chile. Although somehow, you don't feel like you're paying so much as you do in Chile — perhaps because the exchange rate isn't so ridiculously bloated; or perhaps just because Brazil is so much more fun and colourful than Chile. Whatever — the bottom line's that Brazil is still definitely worth visiting, regardless of the price.
I gotta say, Brazilians are some of the friendliest, the most easy-going, and the most hospitable of all the people that I've encountered on this continent. And that's saying something, because everyone down here embraces that warm, friendly Latin culture — even if they don't always embrace fixed prices or punctuality. Brazilians have a great attitude: they really do seem to treat even total strangers as long-lost friends, and I'd say that unless you go and live in a cave (not sure how many of those there are in Brazil, though?), you're going to end up chatting and sharing at least a few drinks with the ever-smiling locals.
Brazil hasn't got any soaring Andean peaks. It isn't known for its indigenous handicrafts, or for its rich ancient historical roots. It's a bit short on steak, red wine, and a good cuppa tea. But really, who cares about all that, anyway? The place is jam-packed with gorgeous, sun-soaked beaches — and as any Aussie will tell you, at the end of the day, that's all you need. Sand, sun, and surf: Brazil has the holy trinity; so in my books, it's a pretty sweet place. Just a pity that I didn't visit more of that endless Brazilian coast. Ah well: as they say, always next time!