Music is everywhere and it is intoxicating. In Riocho Dulce, a small neighborhood outside of Maceio where I stayed for a couple months, we would go every Sunday night to the local boteco (rickety sort of outside bar) for a night of grimy, sweaty, always out of tune, and absolutely fabulous samba. A band of at least six men would play for hours, as the audience got drunk off beer and Cachaça. For me, not to dance was impossible. Dancing along full-bodied women in crop-tops with contagious smiles, I was left ecstatic, completely out of breath and dripping with sweat. It seems as though every person you meet in Brazil is a musician. A hang out with Brazilian friends frequently turns into jam session. Everyone is invited to join in, play the pandero (tambourine), shake your booty to a little samba, or belt a tune.
With over 700 miles of coastline, one of Brazil’s best assets is surely the beach. They are diverse, ranging from the excitement and commotion of the Ipanema waterfront, where you will never get bored people watching and can buy almost anything while lounging on your sarong; to the pristine waters of Fernando de Noronha, an exquisite environmentally-protected island, two hours by plane off the coast of the Northeast. One characteristic that combines all the praias (beaches) is the undeniably perfect water temperature.
Brazilians sure know how to spend a day at the beach and avoid getting too hot with umbrellas and chairs that can be rented from venders on the sand. Many beaches are equipped with a small bar or restaurant, giving you a break from sunbathing and letting you refuel. Plastic yellow tables and chairs mark the spot where you can order an ice-cold beer and get your grub.
In Brazil, almost everything is shared; food and drinks are practically communal. I’m not going to lie, this was a bit of a shocker when I first arrive, but after sometime it became one of my favorite parts of the culture. Beer often comes in large bottles and is shared amongst friends in tiny glasses. One helpful fact: If your beer is not cold enough you can send it back!
Whether you are lounging in the sand, cruising the alleys of the ciudades antiguas (colonial neighborhoods), or dancing your heart out, the experiences in this country are incomparable. Expect to feel saudades (a deep longing) when leaving Brazil, because no one can visit this glorious country without being seduced by its enchanting and vibrant spirit.