Travel: The Brazilian Experience

 
 

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, with a population of about 200 million people. Part of the famous Amazon Rainforest is located in Brazil, in the state of Manaus. The language spoken is Brazilian Portuguese, and its currency is the ‘Real’. The capital of Brazil is Brasilia, and she is home to Dilma Roussef’s presidency, the first female Head of State. While Brasilia is the political hub of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is the entertainment capital and hotspot. This is where most tourists perch when they visit this beautiful country. Perhaps the most sought after sight in Brazil is the Christ Our Redeemer statue. It is a large statue of Christ, set up on a mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro. And it can be seen from just about anywhere in Rio de Janeiro. Oddly enough, it directly overlooks the surrounding favelas. Favelas are clusters of neighborhoods built alongside small mountains throughout Rio de Janeiro and usually inhabited by the city’s poor. However the Favelas have been home to some of Brazil’s most brilliant football stars today.

Other places worth visiting while in Rio include, the Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the beautiful Copacabana Beach.  Of course, the Brazilian experience would not be complete without experiencing the once in lifetime world famous Carnival event usually held in February. The nightlife and Samba dance clubs are a must see as well.

Influence of African Heritage Aside from Rio de Janeiro, there are many other important aspects that define Brazil. Behind all the beautiful sights lie a vibrant, colorful nation of easy-going, laid back people rich in culture and delicious food.  Many of the foods, religions and cultural activities today are reflection of Brazil’s slave heritage. Candomble and Umbanda, for example, are African rooted religions still widely practiced by many in Brazil today, although Christianity and Catholicism still hold majority, there is a lot of religious syncretism. Perhaps one of the most unique art forms to come from Brazil is Capoeira, also a product of African culture.

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. This “dance” on the contrary, is a deadly one. Capoeira is one of the deadliest fighting forms in the world, and a skill learned by every mixed martial arts fighter.  If it is the exploring of Brazil’s rich African heritage one seeking while visiting Brazil, look no further than the state of Bahia. Bahia is the state known best for its African inhabitants and deep African roots. There are many festivals and celebrations that take place in this state year round, celebrating Afro culture. Bahia is also home to African inspired cuisine, and everyone in Brazil knows that when they want something spicy, Bahia is the place to go.Many of the influences of this rich culture date back to the arrival of slaves brought over from the tiny African nation of Angola.

For carnival, many flock to Rio de Janeiro to watch the big float parade, but few foreigners are aware of the huge festivities held in Salvador, Bahia, alongside its marvelous white sandy beaches, and all through its neighborhoods. The Carnival is a party spanning 60 days before Easter, which is very infused with African influences as well. Dancing, drinking, eating, and competitions for the best samba and designed floats characterize in the parade portion of Carnival are held.