Brazil Has the Friendliest people in the World
So what can I tell you about Brazil? Actually I don’t know, despite all the time we spent there we just don’t quite get the place. It’s a land of contradictions, on the one hand you have beautiful scenery, fantastic, lush countryside with fields of sugarcane or dense green jungle filled with wildlife. Or you have the coastline with mile after mile of gorgeous white sandy beaches with palm trees and turquoise water.
On the other hand you have cities full of crumbling colonial buildings interspersed with ugly skyscrapers to cram more people into a small space. Or favelas for the disenfranchised. Adorning it all is the ubiquitous third world problem of litter strewn along every street, railway-line and watercourse. In fairness we only managed to explore one tiny corner of this vast country, but I think we saw a good enough cross section of people and places to form an opinion.
The problem is: none of it quite adds up. We saw our fair share of poverty and squalor but what we personally met were the friendliest open people. They were all inquisitive and interested in who we are, where we come from and what we are about. They will stop and chat to you, as if you have known them, all your lives. They are polite in a very “old fashioned” kind of a way; people go out of their way to help you. They stop their cars and offer you a lift. They give up their seat to you on a bus or train. They wait nicely in queues and don’t barge.
Everywhere we went we were greeted with friendliness but also concern for our safety. We were warned to stay away from lots of places, especially at night and not to carry bags or cameras. This is a bit tricky when you are trying to share your trip on You-tube. We went to all kinds places and we personally never felt we were in danger though the underlying threat was always there. We were constantly being reminded by locals to keep our wits about us.
After a while, having only encountered helpfulness and friendship we started to wonder. Is the crime and violence in Brazil just an urban myth spread far and wide to keep people in fear? Then we met some sailors for whom it was no myth, but a very real and grim reality.
Soon after arriving and talking to a few sailors we made the decision not to travel along the north coast of Brazil. Cruising from town to town as first planned, was reputed to be too dangerous. Only a few days after we arrived, the newspapers were full of stories of a nightclub in Fortaleza which had been raided. 18 people, many of them tourists, had been killed.
Bad things happen to good people
Then the news reached us of a very sweet couple Paul and Liliane SV Luna Blu whom we met when we first arrived in Jacare. They left heading for French Guyana but had engine trouble on the way. They put into Fortaleza to try and fix it. Their boat was boarded that night. They were tied up, forced to hand over all their valuables and their boat was ransacked. The armed robbers even messed up their radio so they couldn’t communicate with the shore for assistance. You can read all about their misadventure on Noonsite. http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Brazil/brazil-fortaleza-armed-night-robbery-february-2018.
We still had plans to make the four day trip to Salvador. We wanted to see the city and some of the beauty spots in the surrounding area until we met Peter on SV Andromeda.
He preferred to jump off his boat and swim ashore. Rather than be held up at gunpoint by armed robbers who boarded his boat and made off with his valuables and dinghy. You can read his story on this link. http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Brazil/brazil-maragogipe-armed-night-robbery-march-2018
Having met all the lovely people we did it seems unfathomable that such awful things can happen there, but they do, and the threat of them, was enough to deter us from the bigger adventure we had first dreamed of.
Paraiba and Pernambuco
Joao Pessoa – shame about the wires
We contented ourselves with exploring the small corner of Brazil we had arrived in. We looked round Cabedelo and Joao Pessoa. We visited Olinda for Carnival. Olinda is a beautiful town, designated world heritage site, full of brightly painted old colonial houses and buildings. We took part in their humongous street party with samba bands playing and so many celebrating people. The streets were packed to bursting.
Our favourite spot of all was the national Park at Boca da Pedra “mouth of rock” which we visited on my birthday. It was a stunning place with huge outcrops of rock rising up out of the landscape. At every turn as we walked round them you could see faces eroded by time wind and water. They looked down .at you like they had all the wisdom of millennia in them. If only they could speak. It was a magical place and the countryside around it was pristine and gorgeous such a change from all the trash everywhere in the cities. We both said we could live there, if only it weren’t so isolated.
We learned that Brazil is perhaps not best visited by boat. We would have loved to go to Rio and see Carnival there, so it is still on our bucket list. The distances are so huge though. With only a three month visa, a 15 day trek south, where you see nothing but ocean, and 15 days back is too long. When subtracted from only 90 days, that is just too much. If you fly you can get such a thing as the South America pass which offers really affordable flights for a given time period but you need to give your ticket number from Europe to south America to qualify for the pass. And if you arrived by boat you haven’t got one!
Well there is always next time. With such friendly people, I’m sure there will be another time before too long. In spite of the underlying threat to your property a trip to Brazil is easily worth it just for the people.
If you fly and you are attacked in the street you might lose a camera, a phone or a bit of money, it’s not pleasant, but not the end of the world. In a boat however you are carrying with you, your whole home and possibly everything you own. In reality on a boat there is nowhere to hide your stuff. An ocean going boat, to a poor man reduced to life in the favelas seems like a rich man’s paradise and you look like you could afford to lose a chunk of it with no real harm done. In reality it may be your entire savings, all that you own and a lifetime’s worth of dreams that you stand to lose