Issue no. 292
Sao Paulo - a giant in transition
What makes Brazil so special, so different, so attractive? To find out, every tourist must be aware that Brazil is not a country to be explored quickly. It is too multifaceted for that and too large. From Lençois Maranhenses National Park over Parana to Porto Alegre, the topography is a challenge, because it encompasses everything from absolute aridity to subtropical profusion.
The many foreigners who will fly to Rio de Janeiro for the World Soccer Championship or the Olympics will get but a fleeting impression of this emerging nation, now between boom and miserable conditions, trying haltingly to establish its place in the top tier of economic nations. Should they limit their visit to this narrow sports window, the country will remain foreign to them. And that is a real shame. Sao Paulo, for example, has great hidden charm and museums such as the Museu Paulista, centrally situated in the splendid Parque Independencia. The most appealing green area is the Parque Ibirapuera, designed by Roberto Burle Marx. It is a first class destination for every Paulistano. Sao Paulo is a paradise for both shopping enthusiasts and gourmands and a must for music lovers of all kinds.
A tourist to Brazil must also be prepared to abandon preconceptions. It is a fact that the major cities are not exactly paragons of safety and the police not unconditionally friend or helper! In the South, however, one finds fabulous beaches and inviting cities such as Florianopolis, Joinville, Blumenau, Porto Alegre, all of which are quite orderly. It is also true that corruption is undoubtedly democracy's greatest foe. But that is equally true for a substantial number of other countries. With open heart and mind, one meets people unsurpassed in warmth and hospitality throughout the country.
Vik Muniz, an international artist and exhibition curator, opines: "Moderation is unknown in Brazil. But the continuous back and forth between too much and too little helps Brazilians hone their senses and discover the beauty that lies somewhere in the middle."