Whilst my trip to Brazil didn’t involve any potential When Animals Attack footage, it was a trip that won’t soon be forgotten. The people and the scenery were stunning, vibrant, and welcoming, with a unique culture and atmosphere. I am not looking to tell you a story of how much fun we had or what to do or see, I just want to show a brief glimpse into a small corner of the planet we call home.
When I first began planning this trip I was met with a lot of harsh criticism and concern from pretty much everyone close to me. Nearly every person I mentioned my trip planning to recanted a horror story about why I should not go and the dangers that lurked every corner due to the high crime, poverty rates, alongside corrupt government and policing. As per usual I chalked this up to be a wrong place, wrong people, wrong time, type of issue. My theory has always been that you just don’t go to the dangerous places, take advice from the locals, and generally don’t do anything dumb or illegal. A bit of common sense has usually taken me quite far, barring the monkey biting incident. But we’ll come back to that later.
Nevertheless, I did have some concern, mainly with my camera. As I have mentioned before I have a small Lumix GF1 that goes with me almost everywhere. If I were to get pickpocketed, the first thing to get stolen would probably be my camera. My solution was to disguise it as a broken film camera.
As you can see I drew inspiration from that one older relative everyone has who will fix something as simple as a cardboard box with packing tape until it’s an entirely tape laminated box. I can proudly say no one tried to steal it, and I got some very odd looks while taking photos. I’m not sure if they thought I was a dedicated hipster committed to film or a tourist who dropped their camera halfway down Sugarloaf Mountain and attempted to resuscitate it.
One of the more shocking views I experienced was on the flight inbound to Rio De Janerio. As you descend through the cloud cover and can see land again you are greeted by a sea of Favelas. These slums are a stark reminder of the poverty and corruption that still exists, yet there still lies the human persistence to populate and thrive in adverse conditions.
As grim and sobering as the view is I must tell you that the vast majority of the rumours I had heard prior to my trip were utterly false. Whilst I’m sure there are areas that are rather dangerous, across a 3 week span I did not encounter a single dangerous situation. I truly believe that this comes down to the research done before the trip. I found researching explicitly where and what to avoid very helpful. An example is avoiding the military police, they are often only found in highly visited areas and in Favela regions, they have the ability and discretion to kill whoever they think may be causing trouble. Speaking with the locals this was emphasized heavily. Mind you if you aren’t creating any trouble it is unlikely that you will face any issues. Another common concern is being robbed or pickpocketed. A simple fix to minimize risk, don’t go around wearing flashy easily identified designer brands, don’t wear jewelry, and hide your tech gadgets. If you don’t look like you have money to spare, no one will bother you.
Enough of the warnings and common sense considerations on to a few cool things:
I visited several places but two places have thoroughly resonated with me; Rio De Janeiro and Morro De São Paulo.
On my second day in Rio I crossed off a childhood dream, to see a soccer game in Brazil, this certainly did not disappoint. It was at the world famous Maracanã. Since then it has become a ghost stadium, tattered and ravaged since the 2016 Summer Olympics.
It was a truly unforgettable experience. People say soccer is a religion in Brazil, I think it’s much more than that, it is a way of existence. Hearing the crowd’s roar as if it were a battle for freedom. It was deafening, exhilarating, and had an energy about it that was unlike any other sporting event I have ever been to in my entire life. The energy was infectious, it was impossible not to feel excited at every successful play, or the disappointment of a narrowly missed goal. My inner child was beyond satisfied, after that match, and it was impossible to sleep that night. If you ever get a chance I would highly recommend it, even if you don’t like soccer, just the opportunity to feel the pure energy and passion makes it a worthwhile experience.
I found the people of Brazil to be incredibly kind, welcoming, outgoing, and passionate. The food, music and culture were vibrant and infectious (I’ll spare you the cliché food shots). The landscapes begged me to stay long past my flight back to Toronto. From visiting Christ the Redeemer to atop Sugarloaf Mountain, there are many places that are a must see.
With all the negative things that I have been reading in the media (whether you respect its integrity or not), I find it is nicer to see the infinite beauty first hand without all the headlines and click-bate.
If you can get over your fear of heights and your life being held by webbed nylon cords, and you are looking for a once in a life time experience, try to go paragliding, the view is unbelievable.
The second place that will always stand out for me is Morro de São Paulo, A cute little village on the northern tip of the Tinharé Island. It is home to some truly beautiful beaches.
Now when I say this village is little, I mean little. Here is their local ambulance:
Another truly unique experience was watching one of the villages famous sunsets, with a few locals and other tourists.
Just the dangerous, frightening, treacherous, scenes of a truly misunderstood nation, and the wanderlust past time of a Toronto Fashion Photographer.