Salvador da Bahia, 6 de outubro de 2017:

Today, we took a boat to two different islands in Salvador. After about an hour and a half on the boat, we spent about an hour at the beach on the first island and then took our little boat to the next island. This second island didn’t have a dock, so we had to disembark from our small watercraft onto an even smaller rowboat. This second boat would take us ashore where we would jump off of the boat and wade shore from the boat. And what was waiting for us on this second island? A FULL BRAZILIAN BUFFET AND HAMMOCKS AND MONKEYS. We’d spend the rest of the afternoon here before we had to make the long journey back to Salvador, but I was able to capture so many pictures of the sunset that night. The one I’ve included is one of my favorites. I think this day showed me something kind of significant—yes it was an incredible day, but do the people who actually live in Salvador enjoy things like this? No, they don’t. Salvador da Bahia has the highest black population in Brasil and the highest levels of inequality in the country. This day showed me just how privileged we were in Brasil. Sure, we were able to witness the poverty and inequality in Brasil firsthand, but we were always able to go back to our nice apartment in our rich neighborhood in São Paulo or back to our chique (roughly: fancy) hotel on the beach. I will never forget what I saw in Brasil, but I will also never forget just how much I was able to do that many Brazilians have never done in their own country.

Rio de Janeiro, 3 de dezembro de 2017:

I think this is what everyone thinks about when they think of Brasil: Rio de Janeiro, Pão de Açúcar, Cristo Redentor, Ipanema, Copacabana, the Olympics, and the World Cup. Brasil is so much more than that, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t do all of that when we went to Rio. The second we landed all I could think and say was “CHEGUEI,” which roughly translates to “I’ve arrived,” but it’s also a reference to a Ludmilla song that is extremely popular in Brasil right now. Heck, I was still saying it when we went to see Cristo (seen in the reflection of Jan’s sunglasses). This day in particular was the hottest day in Rio (of course since we’d be ascending Concorvado directly into the sun), but that’s okay because it was the perfect opportunity for terrible pictures like this with Rio and Pão de Açúcar in the background. The four of us are notorious in our study abroad group for just taking the worst pictures—it’s our aesthetic. I think this trip to Rio (that wasn’t part of the study abroad program) taught us the importance of planning when it comes to traveling; we traveled as a group of eight Americans from the city of São Paulo to the city of Rio de Janeiro on our own. We planned every activity that we did and didn’t lose a single person. I think that’s an accomplishment.

Avenida Paulista, 5 de dezembro de 2017:

This was one of the first places I went to in São Paulo, so, clearly, it’s the best place to spend my last free moments in the city. In this city of nearly 20 million people, Avenida Paulista is the cultural center where everyone goes to spend the day. In fact, every Sunday, the city closes the street to cars and it’s open to the public. You’ll find street vendors, live music, protestors, museums, people riding bikes and skateboards, and just about everything you could want to do in a single day. You can come here to write all of your final papers for CET Academic Programs at one of the many Starbucks, or you could go to my favorite place: Livraria Cultura (it’s the Brazilian equivalent to Barnes and Noble, but it’s so much better). And once you’re done writing all of your papers, you can head outside and enjoy a pastel or a bolinho de bacalhau from any one of the food vendors on Paulista. Almost all of my favorite memories with my favorite people are on Paulista—they’re currently preparing for Christmas by decorating the entire street and the city busses are wrapped completely in Christmas lights and the drivers are dressed as Santa Claus. I already miss this place because it’s taught me the importance of being able to find a place you can call your own—in this case, it was Avenida Paulista where I felt incredibly comfortable. This is a sanctuary for people of all walks of life—it’s a place for LGBTQ+ people, people of all shapes and sizes, and people of all social and cultural backgrounds to come together and enjoy this place.