Sunday, January 9

My Love/Hate Relationship with Brazil

Before I begin, I want to be clear that I am not anti-Brazil, I just want to share the good and the bad in an honest way.
What I love about Brazil:
The weather. Its warm and warmer(at least in Rio de Janeiro)

The fresh fruit and juice. There is nothing more glorious than a truly ripe mango or papaya. The juice bars scattered around the city serving up such delicious juices such as acai, fruta de conde, pineapple juice with mint leaves...the list goes on!!

The warmth of the people. Brazilians are known to be very friendly and hospitable. I will even go as far as to say extremely generous, especially the people who are not rolling in dough. They are also very baby friendly as I witnessed on my outing with Mrs DRL and the Canadoca the other day

The nature. Rio is home to more than 400 climbing routes and Jeep tours drive tourists through the Tijuca National Forest, the largest urban national park in the world. Hangliding from the mountains in San Conrado is a must and should be part of any itinerary in Rio. The beaches are wonderful(if you avoid the weekend crowds). You can sit on your beach chair and have beer and caipirinhas brought right to you, can't do that in Canada!!

The music. I just found out that the best music store in Rio, Modern Sound, has closed its doors, but there are great musicians from Brazil such as Seu Jorge, Rita Ribeiro and Zeca Baleiro who play all over the country.

What I hate about Brazil.
Corruption. I know corruption exists everywhere, but in Brazil it is so in your face. It starts with the police officer trying to shake you down for a '├žase of beer', to the rich kids that literally get away with murder because daddy is buddies with a judge. I hate to see the crooked politicians talking about what they are going to do to change the lifestyle for the people and in the end they have their hands in the pockets of the developers and do nothing for the people. Also the fact that people with a criminal record can run for office!!!. With the World Cup and the Olympics coming soon, I believe that there will be a lot of pocket lining. But when I talk to my Brazilian friends, they are so complacent about this reality. "What can we do?", they say. Uhhh!! Hello!!??? This is a democracy and your taxes are paying their exorbitant salaries, so its your right to see the books!! Seriously!

Food prices. Bananas are more expensive in Rio than they are in Calgary. Explain that one to me please!! Yogurt, cheese, milk..All more expensive than in Canada. Last time I checked, they raise dairy cows here! Restaurants have become insanely expensive!!!

Litter on the streets. This makes me crazy when I am driving and people throw trash out the windows of the bus and their Mercedes Benz! Every summer when it rains, the gutters get clogged with plastic bottles, which cause the streets to flood. There are garbage cans on every corner! The beaches look like a war zone on Sunday evenings after everyone has left and left their garbage on the beach! Oh yes one more thing. If you have a dog, pick up after it and don't take it to the beach. But Carioca's still take their pit bulls and Labradors to the busy beaches, knowing that it is illegal..

The music. Love samba! Hate the funk coming out of the favelas. The lyrics(if you want to call it that) are absolutely degrading to women, calling them dogs etc. and the music is not music, its cause for Motrin Extra strength!! It glorifies violence and gangs and is just an ear sore!!And yes I call a slum a favela, even though it is considered politically incorrect nowadays. It is supposed to be called a ' ├žommunity in need'.

I hate that my electric bill is through the roof to 'subsidize'the electricity that the '├žommunities in need' use to power their air conditioners 24/7. Also known as 'gatos', electricity is stolen from the electric company.

I hate that there is such a disparity between the haves and the have nots.
Brazilian Soap operas. They helped me learn the language in the beginning when I first moved here, but the messages they send to the general population are wrong. Maids and thieves always seem to be portrayed by black or mullatto actors. They don't show healthy relationships between people. Way too much drama.

Tom Jobim said it best, "New York is great, but it is shitty. Rio de Janeiro is shitty, but its great."

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