Brazil, Part III – February 18 to February 21, 2017
Santa Maria & Final thoughts
Once I finished seeing the incredibly amazing FOZ, I made my way down to Santa Maria in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. This is a city that isn’t typically visited by many Americans, and I had even seen there are zero hostels in the city! But I had to come here to visit my friend, Alfeu, who so kindly invited me to stay in his house with his mother, brother and sister. It was incredible to be able to visit a place in Brazil that is so typical. It’s not a tourist hotspot and honestly, there isn’t nearly as much to do as a city like Rio, but that in and of itself is what makes it worth visiting (for me). I love seeing the more “out of the way” places where a local can show you their home! So again, thank you to Nara, Alfeu, Vanessa and Leonardo (in order, left to right) for being such amazing and warm hosts. So greatly appreciated!
Brazil – lessons learned
I’ll do this at the end of each country, just summarizing the impression I had of it. Please keep in mind, this is only my honest opinion. I do want to talk about both the good and bad, so please don’t remember that I love every place I visit in its own way and highly recommend everyone visit to see for themselves!
Prices – I knew Brazil was more expensive than other countries, but I definitely went over budget here. If you’re in small towns, hostels are in your $10-15 range, but if you’re in the major areas (cities or very touristy), they were closer to the $20-25 per night. Food was typically very reasonable, being able to get a decent meal for $5-6. Beer was a little more being priced about $4 or so for a 600ml bottle. Buses weren’t terribly priced, where I typically spent between $20 and $70 on trips ranging between 4 and 15 hours. Granted, the buses were pretty nice, certainly better than I’d expect in the US!
Language – Many people in many places only know Portuguese (hostels always know some English though). If you’re in major cities or tourist areas, English is much easier to come by. With that said, I was able to speak Spanish when I needed basic things and get by with that. Listening to what the people responded with proved to be challenging, though, as Portuguese pronunciation is so much different!
People – Overall, the people are extremely warm and giving. My friends that hosted me, I honestly couldn’t ask for anything better. People were generally helpful and I had no issues with theft or anything (although I know one guy at the hostel that had his phone stolen while drinking in Rio). I met many European and South American travelers here, but only met one American in my three weeks in Brazil, which seemed strange.
Cities and Nature – Brazil has a couple of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world and plenty of others that are significant. Even Curitiba has almost 2 million people! With that said, I do have to admit, I didn’t fall in love with a “city” vibe while traveling around. I saw a number of beautiful (and some less so) cities, and as nice as they were, I would still say the reason to visit Brazil is the nature. Because the nature is unreal. Seeing the crazy landscape/bay area of Rio, to Ilha Grande and Foz, this country has it all. Alien landscapes, huge mountains, stunning beaches–literally some of the best natural wonders in the world (and I only saw a small portion of the country!). If you’re a nature lover, visiting Brazil is absolutely a no-brainer.