"I want to go to the real Brazil!"
That's what my niece exclaimed when we landed in Foz do Iguaçu, a city in the state of Paraná. In the 5-year-old's mind, Brazil pertains to Rio de Janeiro. And we pretty much predicted that she wouldn't stop looking for the "real Brazil" until she sees the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) up close lol.
And for most, that is their vision of the largest country in South America.
But what is the real Brazil?
For some people, you haven't really been to Brazil unless you've watched a football match. For some, it's all about the carnaval, the samba, the parties. Some think getting the full experience is about filling your stomach with churrasco (barbecued meat) flushed down with the perfect caipirinha, their national cocktail. Then there are those who believe that it's equally important to experience the favelas (slums) as it is to bask under the scorching Ipanema sun.
For me? It's all of those and more.
I'm yet to finish sorting my three thousand plus photos from the trip. But here's a glimpse of "the real Brazil" as captured through my lens and ever-so-curious eyes :)
|The view at the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a lagoon and district in the Lagoa, Zona Sul (South Zone) of Rio de Janeiro.|
|Praia de Ipanema (Ipanema beach).|
|Beco do Batman (Batman's Alley).|
|Graffitiland. In Brazil, particularly in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, graffiti is everywhere.|
|A mural on the wall of a bar in Praia de Bonete (Bonete Beach). Can I pass as part of this artwork? :p|
|Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail.|
|Mercado Municipal de São Paulo (São Paulo Municipal Market).|
|Praia dos Castelhanos (Beach of the Castilians) in Arquipelago de Ilhabela, an island 205km from the city of São Paulo and 340km from the city of Rio de Janeiro.|
|The coastline of Praia de Copacabana as seen from Pão de Açúcar (the Sugarloaf Mountain).|
|The Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).|
|Cataratas do Iguazú (Iguazu Falls), one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It can be accessed through three entry points: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.|
|Performers for the GRES Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, a school of samba in Rio, rehearsing for the 2014 Carnaval.|
|Angra Dos Reis. The municipality was given this name which means "Bay of the Kings" because it was first reached on January 6th 1502, the Day of the Three Kings.|
So at the end of the day, the real Brazil is how you let yourself loose in the music and the high of dancing among strangers; It's how you let your palette savor every dish you taste; It's about drinking both the colorful and caste side of the country's culture; and, it's saying "Bom dia!" (Good morning!) and stepping out without any expectations because, really, Brazil is a place that will always, always be filled with colorful surprises.