Brazil holds an exotic and mysterious image for foreigners. Tourism is becoming an important economic activity. In 2008, 5,2 millions of tourist visited Brazil, a record in the subcontinent: http://www.americas-fr.com/tourisme/actualite/le-bresil-seduit-les-touristes-1635.html. Yet for many, the country still remains locked in its stereotype. Images of tropical beauty, soccer and music, along with the recent economic rise are all very positive images. On the other hand, we hear about violence on the big cities, corruption and lack of organization. What a pity! We often forget too often an essential element which is about Brazil, the Brazilians themselves.The country is blooming and still, one intangible aspect puzzles the rest of the world: Brazilians upbeat attitude. As a Frenchman, this is the treat that remarked me the most.
In my opinion, among those countries that have a whiff of dream, Brazil out-stands. The very word “Brazil” captures the individual and aspire to a reality based exotic myth. Brazil suggests an exotic myth. From all my travels around the world – in Syria, Russia or India – I never met such smiling positive and moreover welcoming people then in Brazil. I went to Brazil in 2008 in a field trip for my research* about ethanol. I visited the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. This trip will remain engraved in my memory as a very rewarding experience. Brazilians are friendly and very generous.
Fisherman hospitality in Paraty
I remember my first day in the colonial town of Paraty. The city was flooded and I could not get to my hotel. (Colonial Paraty sewer system that is was designed to clean the entire city (a bit weird, isn’t it?). Flooding is very easy. So I landed in a flooded city by night … And could not get to my hotel. It was then that an old fisherman proposed invited me to host in to stay at his little house home on an island not far from the city. Faced with the situation and after careful consideration I have I accepted the proposal. This old man, that unfortunately I cannot remember the name, lived in a charming little home. As agreed, the next day I was alone on his “island.” Shortly after fishermen came for me … so many memories! …
The Brazilian rapport in Europe
Another example. I was in a small village in the south of Ireland with my close friend, Hildete Vodopives, who is from Rio de Janeiro. I was amazed to see her joie de vivre and sense of appreciation. Not to mention how easily she was able to connect to people. We visited the atelier of Irish photographer Sheena Jolley (who has an amazing work by the way) and they engaged in a warm conversation right away.. something we Europeans would have some trouble in accomplishing.
What about violence?
When I left to Brazil, my friend, my family and my mother were all terrified. They worried about my safety. Ironically, I have suffered no attack in Brazil, but two days after my return in France, yes…
Bottom Line. We, French, tend to be a little arrogant, even suspicious.. we should learn from others. Brazilians’ hospitality is a true lesson.If you are visiting Brazil, let yourself go. Discover this country and its wonderful people and, that melancholy of past joys that Brazilians call “saudade”.
* I am PhD in Research Center of South Atlantic and Brazil, at Sorbonne University in Paris.