First Impressions of Brazil

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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Somehow I made my way through all of the correct customs lines and collected my suitcase. It was a bit harder to figure out where to check in my luggage, but through frantic traveler's sign language, I made it to the Tam Airlines domestic flights check in. I also unwittingly recieved my first Brazilian Portuguese diction lessons. Apparently an "m" following a vowel is like a nasal French sound so Tam is pronounced more like "Tan". Going through security was so easy that it made me feel a bit awkward. I've gotten so used to long lines and the stripping down, shoes off, belts off, small "liquids" in a quart-sized bag routine. There were no lines and two security guys who looked extremely bored. I waited for detailed instructions, but the guy told me to just put my carry on on the machine and go ahead and walk through the dectector. And that was it. It reminded me of a simpler time.

From Sao Paulo to Salvador the flight was delayed and pretty empty so I took the opportunity to finally get a bit of sleep. As we flew further and further north, the sky cleared up and I finally got a view of Brazil and the coastline. As we approached Salvador, I was extremely excited. It looked beautiful from above- a combination of tall white skyscrapers, tropical greenery, favelas, and blue ocean. At the airport, the vibe was very different from hurriedness of Sao Paulo- it was very relaxed and calm. The weather was warm and humid and there were Baianas selling Afro-Brazilian food right outside of the airport. I met some fellow volunteers at the airport and we took a van to the volunteer house. It was a good first look at the scenery and people of Salvador. There are some areas that are way more developed than the average 3rd world country but the favelas definitely outnumber those areas. Quite a bit of it reminded me of Ghana but without the excessive vendors. I was happy to see that I could pass as a local.

Our house was in middle class neighborhood and rustic, but clean. I learned that I would be in a tiny room with 5 people. A bigger concern was that there were 3 showers for 30 people. But I had promised myself that I would be open to whatever was presented to me and accepted the fact that I would probably not always smell good while I was there. At dinner, we met some volunteers who had been in Salvador for awhile and were returning from a soccer game. That night, most of us went out to a bar called Nova Schina in the Barra neighborhood. I find that it's good to go out when you arrive somewhere and you're jetlagged. A drink or two can help you get some rest when your sleep schedule is off. We had a good time getting to know each other and I had my first caipirinha- the Brazilian national beverage. We also got ripped off for the first time... when you go out in large groups with other foreigners, they'll often sneak extra drinks onto your bill if you don't pay attention. But all in all, it was a good first impression and I slept soundly that night...

architeqt says:
mmm caipirinhas are good!!! i remember my first one in sao paulo! now i need to go to salvador to get another one =)
Posted on: Jul 04, 2007
AndiPerullo says:
Caipirinha's are so yummy! I can't wait until I visit Brazil and can drink them there myself. :)

I love your writing...very captivating!
Posted on: Apr 27, 2007
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Sao Paulo
photo by: Eric