I’ve never been to Brazil, though it holds massive appeal to me. There’s a lot to like: rainforest, soccer (they call it futebol), the culture, various meats served on swords. Even the notorious ‘rough’ parts of Brazil seem kind of alluring. Let me explain.
I’m always interested to see how ‘the other side’ operates and navigates day-to-day life in any country. Not in an idiot poverty-gawking American sense (Look, Ma! That feller’s peein in the street!). My interest in the world’s ‘wrong sides of the tracks’ isn’t academic, journalistic, do-gooder based, thrill-seeking or scientific. I think it’s mostly just inquisitiveness. It’s also practical.
For one thing, I find that meeting people who look and live different than you do is the spice of life. Also, fancy places are pretty similar the world over. Shopping malls in Chengdu, Cape Town, Calcutta and Columbus are largely indistinguishable. Wealth seems to breed insipidness, as well as the propensity toward being a pompous jerk.
Poor places in general are usually just more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there is nothing fun, quaint, exciting or entertaining about poverty. There’s nothing nice about high infant mortality rates and not having access to life’s basic essentials. What I’m trying to say is that whatever country you’re in, it’s usually the poorer areas where you’ll find the most interesting people, the warmest hospitality, the most innovation, the most unique experiences, and the best food.
Getting a sense of how the poor, the forgotten, the feared and reviled, the outcasts and outliers live is always an enlightening experience. How do they survive? What’s their life like? This seems like a good starting point for trying to figure out a country, and understanding the people who make up a country. Continue reading