Ipanema Beach

30 Pictures That Will Make You Want to Visit Brazil

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“I hope they lose,” he said, “he” being Marcello, the owner of the hostel I stayed at in Salvador, Brazil; “they” being Brazil’s national football team. “If they win, it will send the wrong message to the world and to the people of this country.”

He pointed up at the young woman walking across the bridge that draped over the packed highway. “It will say that it’s OK for me to be driving in this new car, while she walks that dangerous path lined with drug dealers and thieves.

“Or that it’s fine,” he continued, directing my attention to the dilapidated rail track above the left side of the road, “that this piece of shit sits for 15 years unfinished, until all of a sudden we get the World Cup and the tourists need to use it.

“Never mind the hundreds of thousands of us stuck on the road,” he pointed back toward the highway, which was now essentially a parking lot.

It’s a cynical outlook toward a country where Marcello has spent his whole life, but one with which I empathized to a point. Just a couple weeks before, after all, I’d experienced the first theft of my life, to say nothing of the grinding halt to which the Cup had brought Rio de Janeiro during my time there.

And it wasn’t just in the cities. Brazil’s poor rural infrastructure had nearly prevented my life-changing trek in the Lençóis Maranhenses from happening at all, to say nothing of how anxious I felt for much of my trip due to the (Portuguese) linguistic homogeneity of all but the most educated elements of Brazilian society.

“That one’s a fool,” Marcello continued, pointing to a car with two Brazilian flags taped to either of its mirrors, in a show of support for the impending game everyone was heading home to watch. “And that one too. And that one too.

“But it’s not their fault,” he was quick to concede. “You know, only the most clever people even get to go to University here – I was lucky enough to be one of them. The real joke, however, is that once you get there, it’s almost like they steal knowledge from you. They narrow your perspective instead of broaden it. It’s a joke, just like the roads and the government and the economy and all of it.”

Marcello had used the temporary standstill to put on some Brazilian light rock from the 1970s, and as we started moving again (he clearly needed a break from ranting, beads of sweat forming on his face), he turned it up so it drowned out the honking and cheering and motor sounds coming from outside.

As we moved along the road, first at a slow crawl and then at a speed that was almost terrifying by contrast, the beat of the song, and the singer’s smooth, sweet voice proved the perfect foil to the harshness that surrounded us on all sides.

And I began to appreciate, not for the first time ever but for the first time in a while, the seemingly deliberate way modern Brazilian society mimics and shadows the jungle into which it is built: The penthouses of the Miami-esque skyscrapers in Salvador’s nova cidade like the top reaches of the canopy; the beautiful men and women like the birds and butterflies carried on the breeze; the storied colonial buildings and comfortable single-family homes like palms and banana trees; the forgotten poor like the decomposing floor of the rainforest, taken for granted by the plants and animals that dwell upon and within it, but central to their survival.

In both cases, the Brazilian government is a brutal buzzsaw cutting through it all, leaving what remains vulnerable to harsh sun. And in both cases, whether we’re talking about mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases or more sentient pests carrying firearms, the surreal beauty comes at a high price.

“It’s jungle capitalism,” Marcello continued as the car slowed again, turning down the music so I could hear him. “A few thugs – the government; the oil companies; the banks – come in and take control of everything that allows our jungle society to thrive, and sell us back only what we need to survive at a price that nearly kills us.

“Did you know,” he said, pointing to the hood of his car, “that over 50% of what I paid for this car is tax? And the worst part is that Brazilians, with their poor education and football obsession and their misplaced optimism that the tax they pay will buy them honest politicians, will happily pay whatever is asked of them.

“And so I hope they lose – I hope we lose,” he concluded, “because only then will we all be forced to wake up from this dream, to find our way out of this nightmare.”

As we neared the airport, I began to feel sentimental about my impending goodbye to Brazil, in spite of Marcello’s diatribe – and maybe because of it, too. Brazil is a country where danger lurks around every corner, but you dance to meet him; where the only thing more overwhelming than the sweetness of a caipirinha is the foul the stench of spilled ones rotting in the sun; where nothing works, but everything feels so damn good.

In spite of all this – and again, maybe because of it – I hope you visit Brazil. And I hope my photos, whether you appreciate them independently of this text or as a digestive to wash it down, make you want to go there as much as I want to go back someday.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About The Author

is the author of 722 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

 

informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!

 
 
 

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah Travels July 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

This is such a wonderful photo essay. I was so happy to share a bit of Brazil with you. Let’s do a real trip next time–an exchange program of sort.

Franklin July 14, 2014 at 11:09 am

A beautiful and well-written post, as always. 🙂

GoLakers July 14, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Great pictures! But I gotta say, it’s not the most clever people who get to go to college here in Brazil, but either the richest or the ones who are smart AND lucky. There are a lot of incredibly intelligent people that don’t have any opportunities. And in my experience University opened my mind. It all depends on your attitude and whether you go to a good college. And I think is much easier to “hope they lose” when you can find many things in your life to be grateful and happy about. For some people, the World Cup would be one of the few reasons to smile. But I agree on many things he said. Again, great pictures! And feel welcome to come back. =]

Robert Schrader July 16, 2014 at 7:31 am

Thanks for providing the insight RE: collect in Brazil!

Robert Schrader July 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

Thanks Franklin 😀

Robert Schrader July 16, 2014 at 7:32 am

Yes! It’ll be like Freaky Friday!

Chanel | Cultural Xplorer July 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Yep, your pictures definitely make me want to return to Brazil! Great photographs! 😀

Gustavo Junqueira July 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Beautiful pictures Robert, beautiful words as well! 😉

Robert Schrader July 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Gustavo 🙂 I hope you feel I did your country justice.

Robert Schrader July 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Thanks Chanel! <3

Ranthambore Jeep Safari July 28, 2014 at 12:56 am

visit to Ranthambore , i promise you will never forget this Jungle http://www.ranthamborejeepsafari.com/

Robert Schrader July 28, 2014 at 7:59 am

Thanks for the suggestion!

Matheus Rizzi August 6, 2014 at 1:08 am

I spent a month in Rio during the World Cup, it was something that I never experienced in my life.
Beside all the problems my country has, it’s beautiful to see people smiling and happy with no reason to do it.
I just moved to Buenos Aires, it’s a nice city but so different from Rio and seeing your beautiful pics, my only wish is to go back as soon as possible to my country and to Rio. It’s nice to see that the world cup could show to the world a little bit about Brazil and see gringos falling in love to it.

Robert Schrader August 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

Aw Matheus! I am glad you enjoyed my photos, but I also hope you allow yourself to fully experience Buenos Aires. Buena suerta/boa sorte! 😉 :-*

Chris November 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hello I am planning on going to Rio or Sau Paulo end of this month and beginning of next, I’m just going alone and mainly to have a good time and meet some women. I plan on visiting again with more time. Where should I go for night life and women?

Robert Schrader November 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Rio I tink!

Caitlin December 3, 2014 at 1:40 am

What kind of camera do you use for your photos?

Robert Schrader December 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Nikon D7100 🙂

Patricio December 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Glad you had the chance to experience so much of South America, especially the best of it with Rio, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires, and Chile. After living in Buenos Aires for 4 months during a study abroad semester, I can only say great things about Argentina and BA. I went to Rio in September of 2014, and it is another world. The people, places, and foods were all amazing (of course the nightlife as well). Thanks for all the extra info, I’m in the process of planning my trip back to South America for the 2016 Summer Olympics so it was a huge help!

Robert Schrader December 19, 2014 at 7:03 am

Thanks for reading! Hope you have fun at the Olympics!

youbake January 17, 2015 at 6:43 pm

badass. love your itinerary.

Robert Schrader January 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Thanks! Have fun!

Bull Winkle April 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm

The photo that draws me to Brazil the most, is the one where your calves float in the water. Is that native to Brazil, or can that be done here in my bathtub… nekkid! #NoHomo

😛

Robert Schrader April 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

What a nice thing to say…I think!

Max Mugnaioni October 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm

You’re right, I definitely want to visit Brazil now. Have you ever been during Carnival?

Robert Schrader October 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Not yet!

Aron Nunes April 21, 2016 at 10:57 pm

want to come back here in Brazil when?

Robert Schrader May 2, 2016 at 6:59 am

I want to come back soon! When I actually will is another question.

Ranthambore Forest Resort June 8, 2016 at 1:06 am

The photograph that attracts me to Brazil the most, is the one where your calves glide in the water. Is that local to Brazil, or should that be possible here in my bathtub…

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