I have moved 44 homes in 41 years of life on planet Earth, and actually lived in at least a half dozen countries, spending a few years at least in each. Add to that many more countries I just visited or spent a few months in, and one begins to see certain patterns with respect to living anywhere.
For this reason, I am perhaps not as wide-eyed a traveller as most. It is not that I am jaded, I still enjoy every new experience, but I just understand really well how to get through airports, what officials of pretty much most countries are likely to be like in various situations and so on. I expect that unless your name is Chris Guillebeau, chances are I could probably give you some tips on how to get past airport security with little hassle, travel really light, and many other little things like that.
But ultimately, for me, travel is mostly about the people. The people you travel with of course, as these can lead to homicidal urges if they are not on your wavelength, but also the people of the places you visit.
Japan was the last country I visited which I thought I could live in. Brazil is a pleasant new surprise and I think living here would be very cool. I have lived in Europe for 7 years now, but you must understand, that for me, Europe will always just be a stop-over. I cannot see myself growing old in the so-called first world. I grew up in various countries in Africa when it was still pretty wild, and the benefits that come with the sense of internal freedom you have in such places, far outweighs the negatives which also sadly co-exist pretty much throughout the Dark Continent.
Nevertheless, it would be great if some country in the world had a happy medium of the personal freedom of Africa, –which believe, me regardless of what any proud American tells you, is far more than any kind of “freedom” you can ever have in the US of A– with some of the safety factors (decent doctors and hospitals, decent quality of life for most of the population, good level of education and so on) of the first world.
Well…I think Brazil might just measure up.
- Having to learn Portuguese fluently
- Some cities in Brazil have pretty poor infrastructure
- Having to get some kind of work unless you already are making cash from some “location independent” means
- The people. They are generally friendly and what’s more important: HAPPY!
- The General philosophy of life here. The country is nominally Catholic, but in reality there is a great deal of Laissez Faire and the resulting overall sense is one of a co-operative community. A feeling that to be honest I have not come across on this level and in this open way anywhere else. Japan comes close in terms of helpfulness, but their society is far more shy and reserved than the Brazilian one.
- The weather. This is so obvious it really needs no further explanations. Some areas in the North-East have year-round warm ocean and sunny beaches. You could certainly write a few novels there while surfing and contemplating life as you suntan.
- The general approach the government of Brazil takes is one of conscious involvement of the citizens. You have to vote in Brazil by law. Which forces a minimum of awareness in people. The rules of the road are a good example. Even on highways you have plentiful “retornos”. Places where you can simply cross the highway and re-enter it so you are going in the opposite direction. In the UK this would be seen as a “terrible lack of Health and Safety” because you re-emerge on the highway in the fast-lane. All it practically means is that the people using this “retorno” have to be awake and not completely brain-damaged in order to avoid a pile-up. It works and is safe as well as does not treat the citizen as some kind of retard that needs constant looking after by an overweight state. On the other hand, Brazil has effectively killed the practice of speeding on pretty much any road. The additions of speed-humps and slow-speed zones anywhere there is a built-up area means that fatalities from speeding drivers are few comparatively speaking. There is also very frequent and present traffic police presence throughout the country and they do random checks on people, which against promotes a relatively non-drunk, non-careless driving public. Overall, though I am not a fan of any government anywhere, I dislike the Brazilian approach the least so far.
- The food is fresh and of good quality and in some cases of really amazing quality.
Overall, I think you can see why living here is pretty much a no-brainer. At least for me. And that’s even before I tell you about the cool and weird side of Brazil. Which I will do along with some pictures, in my next post.