Many people truly believe that Brazil is all about soccer, models and the Amazon Rain Forest. Don’t get me wrong; soccer is hugely popular, the models are gorgeous and the Amazon is extraordinary; it’s full of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the world – but the largest country in South America is more than just that. This amazing country needs to be explored before it can be valued, so here are 20 reasons why you absolutely must travel to Brazil at some point in your life, and cherish it for yourself.
1. The affectionate people.
Brazilians are naturally affectionate. When we first meet someone, we hug and kiss them on the cheek. That’s normal between two Brazilians, while handshakes are not common at all (only between two men). We aren’t afraid to publicly show people how we feel, which is why Brazilians are very open about their public display of affection. People who weren’t raised in a similar culture are taken aback by such act, but don’t be! In the end you’ll just feel more at home and welcomed.
2. The gastronomy.
Brazilian food is something everyone enjoys. Nothing is made from boxes bought at Walmart, no one eats out that often, and there is no such thing as microwavable mac and cheese. Brazilian women often wake up and start the day by cooking. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation and perfected along the way. Restaurants are also, for the most part, family owned while chain restaurants are quite uncommon. Everything is made fresh and right in from of you, from baked goods to main dinner dishes, Brazilians are able to create a whole new dish that accommodates everyone’s varying tastes. And the best part of it is – you can smell these mouthwatering dishes blocks and blocks away.
3. The beaches.
Beaches in Brazil are different than ones in, say, Cancún, Mexico. In the Gulf of Mexico, the water is a grayish color. However, when you travel to Brazil you’ll notice that the water is crystal clear, warm, and blue, while the sand is clean and full of seashells. If one goes up north, the water swarming with little fish that don’t bite and aren’t afraid to swim around you. There’s always a game of volleyball going on between the guys in the sand while the girls are always by the water tanning. Not to mention the people who walk around selling homemade crafts, beer, and barbecue. You don’t even need to bring anything to the beach – all of your necessities are already there.
4. No crazy taxi drivers.
Being a tourist in a new country can be quite difficult, especially when trying to find your way around a city. In Europe, taxi drivers tend to be crazy and reckless, but in Brazil, they’re calm and understanding. They try to get you to where you are in the safest manner possible, instead of the fastest way possible. And don’t forget: they WILL try to make conversation with you even if you don’t speak Portuguese!
5. We love tourists!!
Tourists are something you see all the time in Rome, Paris, or London. When you travel to Brazil though, it’s not every day that you see an American walking down the street asking for directions. Because of that, we are more than willing to show a tourist where to go, tell him or her where to eat, or even direct them to the nearest bus stop. Tourists are great! Strangers who come travel to Brazil amaze Brazilians, and because of it, we are more than willing to be of help (and plus, we also want to teach them some Portuguese and have them teach us some of their language too!) And by the way, tickets to Brazil are not expensive at all – on the contrary, they are actually cheaper than trips to Europe or Asia!
6. The Amazon.
Brazil is a country that is known for the Amazon Rain Forest and many believe that that is all Brazil has to offer. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth…but the Amazon is something pretty great that we are proud to take care of. It only consists of about 6% of the world’s total surface, but is home to more than half of the Earth’s plants and animals. The Amazon is one of the few places that almost-extinct species call home, while there are also millions of plants, animals, and insects that haven’t even been discovered there yet.
7. The bustling city life.
Contrary to popular belief, Brazil actually has many cities that are the same size, if not larger, than ones like New York City and Philadelphia. Many also believe that Brazilians live in favelas, which are houses made of scraps – when for the most part it’s just the opposite. We live in cities such as São Paulo, which ranks 11th in the world’s most populous cities – larger than Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Paris, and London. At night, one can find people ranging from early teens to late 40s out and about the city. Many are in bars, others watching live music, or just sitting outside eating dinner on a warm summer night. Cities such as São Paulo are filled with the best cuisine in the world, the most unique skyscrapers, and of course, many beautiful people.
8. Good looking people.
One of the common stereotypes that Brazilians suffer as they leave their home country is that Brazil is full of models, tan men with abs, and gorgeous, curvy women. That’s not true in its entirety, but of course, a lot of the world’s most famous models like Gisele Bündchen are from Brazil and proudly represent our people. Brazilians, in general, have a tendency to want to eat healthy and stay fit. We are not exposed to as many fast food restaurants as we are bakeries, for example. We strive to stay in shape and always see a nutritionist when we need to. So in all honesty, it’s very likely that when you travel to Brazil, you’ll see a really hot guy and yes, he will be Brazilian, and yes, your jaw will drop.
9. The language.
Portuguese is one of the most beautiful romance languages and is spoken by over 216 million people in the world alone – more than Italian, French, or Romanian – and only second to Spanish. Brazilian Portuguese varies from the original Portuguese from Portugal in that there are different ways to pronounce words in each country. Additionally, Brazilian Portuguese varies within Brazil itself, as varying parts of the country speaks it with a bit of a different accent. However, that wouldn’t stop you from understanding it (Think English spoken in Tennessee and English spoken in New Jersey – same language, just a bit different). Portuguese, though is a language that is fun to listen to – all of the rolling Rs, words are unpronounceable by non-Brazilians, and the fact that it sounds like it’s being spoken crazy fast, when truly, it isn’t. The Brazilian people will not let you leave without learning some key phrases, so you don’t need to worry about not speaking it when you first arrive.
10. The country’s brilliant history.
Many believe that Brazilians either speak Spanish or were colonized by the Spanish like the rest of South America. However, Brazil is the only country in the Americas that was founded and colonized by the Portuguese (gaining independence only three centuries later). The country is rich in its history and culture as a large group of people immigrated there from Germany, Italy, Africa, and surprisingly, Japan. The Japanese presence is still heavily felt in Brazil as everyone brings varying heritage to the table. It’s known as a melting pot for various nationalities and that’s where Americans can relate – both countries have strong influences from many cultures and ancestry from all corners of the world.
11. Fashion trends.
Brazilian women and men are very up-to-date on the latest fashion trends. From clothes, to shoes, to accessories – as soon as something looks good on someone else, the domino effect begins. All stores sell them, everyone wants them. The beauty of this is that Brazilian trends are unique and greatly apply to each season. During the summer, newly designed sandals are being sold with a certain kind of gold purse. Everyone wants this gold purse by the end of summer and stores find themselves sold out, but just as quickly in the fall, a new trend starts and everyone is wearing chained ear cuffs. Every season there are new trends and everyone is always in style. If fashion is your thing, then you definitely need to travel to Brazil ASAP!
12. The favelas.
Favelas are something Brazil is known for – slums comprised of houses made of scraps, high crime rates and low nourishment levels. However, favela communities are incredibly interesting; people are able to create intricate houses with various rooms and furniture with whatever they can find. These are prominent in the outskirts of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Favelas have their own communities, schools, businesses, and even public transportation systems. Many are thrilled by the idea of exploring these favelas, and it’s important to understand that it is not all crime and danger there. It’s definitely not like the movie City of God or Modern Warfare II, the video game. Many honest and hard-working individuals live in favelas due to shorter commute to work or cheaper living conditions, which is why favelas only bring a greater sense of community within the Brazilian people.
Yes, soccer is a big thing in Brazil and YES, we have won the World Cup five times (more than any other country in the world) and YES, we are proud! All boys from a young age are exposed to soccer. It’s the first sport they learn and it’s the main one they are interested in. Brazilian boys are skilled at soccer and are never exposed to American football, hockey, or even baseball. If you travel to Brazil, don’t be surprised if you spot a group of young boys playing soccer on the street in the morning, in the afternoon, and again late at night. It’s tradition!
What many people don’t know about Brazil is that we are one of the leading countries in cosmetics. Its uniqueness is something we are proud of and with that, Brazilians start trends. Last year, the latest nail trend was the fluffy nails. Yes, you heard it – fluffy nails. Manicurists found a way to put fuzz and make people’s nails feel like stuffed teddy bears. Not to mention ombrés, which were also a hit in Brazil, along with the classic Brazilian blow out. It’s not just the idea of fuzzy nails or the perfect hairstyle, but it’s also the cosmetologists who carries out the job. All of them are certified and passionate about what they do. After going to a certain manicurist or hair stylist for so long, they become family. You schedule an appointment and spend the next two hours gossiping and catching up on each other’s lives. Believe me, you will not leave disappointed if you get a mani-pedi and hairdo when you travel to Brazil.
Dance is absolutely everywhere: in schools, in clubs, and even in small-town bars around the corner. Brazilians are constantly dancing or listening to music anywhere they go. Samba is the kind of dance that we are known for as that can be seen in our carnivals, and also has become increasingly taught throughout the world. Nowadays, you don’t even have to travel to Brazil to witness the authentic moves – they’re being taught all around because of the many calories it burns and the great exercise you can get out of it. However, witnessing it first hand in its country of origin is much more thrilling! Some of the biggest samba dances are held in buildings in favelas as many people go there to dance, have a beer and have a good time.
16. The hygiene.
Brazilians are actually weirdly hygienic. We constantly wash our hands, clean the house, and absolutely can’t stand to cook with our hair down. Brazilian women don’t shave their legs either, but rather, they wax. Waxing is actually a more sanitary way to get rid of body hair and lasts for about 3-4 weeks (when compared to shaving that is like 3-4 days). Brazilian women wax their legs, underarms, and even face. Shaving is a big no-no for women there, so if you decide to travel to Brazil, be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.
17. The incredible weather
For those of you who don’t like snow… then you were basically born to travel to Brazil! It absolutely never snows there. During the winter, it never gets down in the negatives, perhaps only in the 40s or 50s. It’s always warm, always sunny, and always amazing weather to go biking, hiking or walking with friends. The seasonal rain gives everyone a chance to cool down from the sometimes humid weather and allows for the perfect night for stargazing.
Brazil has been known for its coffee since the discovery of the country itself in the late 1400s. These coffee beans have been traded around the world throughout history and, to this day, are still in high demand. (About 25% of imported coffee today comes from Brazil – check your coffee label right now!) Brazilian coffee is unique. It’s stronger and has a richer taste than most American coffees. Travel to Brazil will always include a trip to the bakery where you get a baked good with coffee on the side. What is also common is ending dinner with a small cup of coffee (even if you will have insomnia afterwards).
Brazilian carnival is an annual festival that is like the Mardi Gras of South America…it’s often the reason that many people travel to Brazil in the first place! This event consists of parades throughout the country, most notably in cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and others in the states of Bahia and Pernambuco. In São Paulo, for example, there is a huge runway where giant electric trucks, equipped with speakers, play music. On these trucks, there are decorations and other statues placed all around. Each one has a different theme filled with people dancing down the runway to celebrate. Usually there is a competition on what team had the best theme and these teams are held in high prestige as they practice year round and even have celebrities dancing for each of them. It’s a huge event. Kids are let off of school to celebrate, everyone is dancing, and everyone has their eyes glued to the TV to watch. It’s just a very happy and exciting time to be Brazilian because we get to do what we do best – smile and dance!
20. The pride.
Brazilians have it tough; I’m not going to lie. Everyone thinks we speak Spanish, or that we are from the Amazon, or that we are less educated. Yes, we have many children in our country who have not had the luxury of receiving a proper education or a proper home to live in. However, that’s the case in many countries. Despite having these difficulties, Brazilians are optimistic and see the bright side in many situations. We are proud to be who we are. We are proud to be soccer fans. We are proud to speak Portuguese. We are proud to be a third world country. We are proud to wear our blue, yellow, and green with a huge smile on our faces. We know our weaknesses and we know our strengths, and that’s what makes Brazilians Brazilians!! We have immense pride in who we are and that will be extremely clear when you step foot in our homeland.