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Why I Love Brazilians

by Benny Lewis May 5, 2014

After traveling for eight years and living in 13 countries (and visiting a few others), I can say that my favourite country in the world (at least so far) is Brazil. This is my third time here, and it definitely won’t be the last.

There are lots of great things in Brazil: the tropical climate, the food, the drinks, Carnaval and parties, the dances, their passion for sport, the vast range of nature, the amazing mix of European / South American / African cultures and skin colour, the beaches, and so much more.

But this isn’t what actually keeps bringing me back. The reason I like Brazil so much is plain and simple: It has the coolest people on the planet. I’m so passionate about this belief that the purpose of my current visit is to become Brazilian and see if I can understand them better by emulating them; imitation is, after all, the best form of flattery. As I do this, I hope to be able to communicate even better with them and get to know the culture I love so much more.

Don’t get me wrong — every place in the world has arseholes, and there’s no way I can accurately generalize almost 200,000,000 people.

But in traveling from Porto Alegre in the very south all the way up to Natal in the northeast, mostly by bus (that’s well over 3,000km), I’ve met a lot of Brazilians on the way, and I rarely meet any I don’t like. I’ve met lots in Europe, too, first by living with several Brazilians in Spain and then through the extremely active communities of Brazilians in almost every major city in the world, via the social networking site Orkut. (This site has not been as useful in recent years.)

They always have a spark in them that makes them special and unique compared to us Europeans / North Americans. It’s so hard to actually describe this spark, but I’ll try to list a few points that come to mind.

They’re really friendly.

I travel alone, and it can be hard sometimes when in cultures that are closed and fearful of making new friends. Here in Brazil, any place I go, I can guarantee myself several invitations to parties and dinners within hours, whether I know someone already or not. There’s less of a barrier to break through to be considered someone’s friend in a shorter time. They share the Irish philosophy of “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

They’re social.

Although Brazilians do love to watch soap operas and football, they’re almost always otherwise out of the house in their free time. Brazil’s pushed me towards being an extrovert where I was not as much before. I’ve met a few Brazilians who claim to be “shy,” and I would put them in good competition for the life of the party compared to other Westerners.

They’re so nice.

Almost everywhere you go, you’re greeted with a genuine smile and curiosity. Rather than being xenophobic, which I’ve unfortunately come across in some other Western countries, they’re actually even more curious to get to know you when they find out you’re a foreigner.

They’re healthy.

Brazilians don’t have their famous great bodies because of genetics; they work out regularly, eat a much more balanced diet than a lot of Europeans / North Americans, and are a lot less stressed out too.

They’re optimists.

Brazil definitely has plenty of problems: poverty, floods, corruption, gang wars, etc. But on a day-to-day basis they don’t complain about stupid little things as much as we do, and they enjoy life much more because of it.

They’re very hygienic.

Surfaces, buildings, and services accessed by the public are cleaned very regularly, and Brazilians have more regular showers than any other culture in the world I’ve encountered.

They’re warm people.

I personally love greeting people with warm hugs, friendly pecks on the cheek, and maintaining closer body contact during a conversation. Sadly, other countries seem to have invented this horrible concept of a “personal bubble” that nearly all others can’t ever enter.

They’re smart.

People seem to love to simply categorise Brazil as a third-world country that’s backwards, where everyone still lives in trees, etc. They’re actually more advanced than we are in several ways! They use way more biofuels, and they tackle the unemployment problem by creating lots of jobs (like two people on a city bus: one to drive and the other to take money, who you can pester with questions). They do some things better than we do (any inter-city bus I’ve taken in Brazil includes a baggage receipt, and the ‘bag guy’ only gives you your bag if you have the corresponding receipt number. In Europe, every time the bus stops I have to look out the window to make sure nobody’s stealing my stuff.)

Rather than create more bad blood between countries by inventing different visa systems for different people, Brazil simply has a reciprocal visa system. Anything a Brazilian has to do to get into your country, you have to do to get into hers. Good news for people from Europe, where Brazilians are freely given tourist visas on entry — bad news for Americans, who have to pay $100 and send off an application in advance…just like Brazilians have to do.

They’re beautiful.

In my opinion, Brazil has the most beautiful people on the planet, especially thanks to the melting pot of cultures from all around the world. Sadly, there’s a misleading belief that Brazilian girls are ‘easy’ that I really hate to hear abroad. This is a complete misunderstanding of the culture, based on the points I gave above, because Brazilians are friendly. You can approach even the prettiest girl and she’ll be nice to you because she’s warm, and she’ll give you a greeting of kisses on the cheek, as in most Latin cultures. This is all just being friendly.

If I ever hear someone speaking badly of Brazilian girls, I’ll go capoeira on them and kick their ass. If you want to be anything more than a friend, you have to be charming like anywhere else in the world. Brazilian girls are strong women (despite the macho culture) and really fun to spend time with. I’ve been told the men are very charming and good looking too.

They’re relaxed.

You learn to love “Brazilian time” when here. It slows you down to the pace of appreciating life much more than being controlled by the gadget on your wrist will ever allow you to.

They’re proud.

Brazilians love Brazil, and they love the state and the city they’re from. As you can tell, this love is spreading, and it’s infected me! This post originally appeared at Fluent in 3 Months and is republished here with permission.

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