Brazil has been one heck of a journey. From muggings, to purse snatchers, police strikes, to skipped cities there have been few dull moments here. Now that I have had a chance to look back on my predictions and thoughts prior to Brazil I have realized that some perceptions have changed while others were reinforced. I anticipated feeling alot more on edge and out of place while here. I have actually experienced quite the opposite. In Salvador especially I felt almost at home with the skin complexion of the people to be very close to my own. Safety for a man of somewhat intimidating posture became a matter of common sense and composure. Walk with a purpose and look like you belong got me through even the most chaotic of city festivals. I also had concerns coming into the trip about my health as an active athlete I consume a cornicopuia of water and the local tap being contaminated seemed to be a major obstacle. Other than Brasilia where markets were not within walking distance did I ever feel truely discomforted by not being able to find adequate amounts of water. I was pleasantly surprised that my demeanor and skin complexion overall gave the appearance that I was a Brasilian. More times than not I was approached by a stranger who began conversing in Portuguese than English.
Most of my assumptions on the socioeconomic stratification of Brasilians were accurate. My homestay family in Salvador for instance was of Afro Brasilian decent and lived in the closest proximity to a favela. More times than not the men, women, and children begging on the street were of darker complexion. Salvador as a whole was a predominately afro Brasilian city and happened to have the police strike and most concern for the threat of violence.
In getting my debit card cloned I feel I became personally aware of the burden the traveling person has. My card ripped off just days before we left Rio but an extra pain in my neck as I scrambled to get the proper documentation for my bank. Even if you can pass for a Brasilian, where you live and conduct business is still a key part of keeping a low profile. While here basic things we take for granted such as vendors ability to break big bills, carrying small amounts of cash on you, carrying drinking water, keeping important valuable safe, were all taxing and activtives that we had to be conscious of.
Overall I feel that my Brazilian experience is one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Seeing people live a lifestyle that is much slower, relaxed, and in certain ways meaningful than the typical perception of the “American Dream“was both refreshing and thought provoking. Gazing out into the deep blue ocean after a nice run reflecting on my life and values are the moments I will treasure the most as I head towards home.