It’s now been a few years since I’ve been in Brazil and I often find myself thinking back to my experiences there. Aside from good times I had with friends and going to tons of free or low-cost cultural events, some of my best memories (if I had to choose) are of being in Brazilian nature.
It’s amazing that a city like Rio can have so many people in it and offer so many close-by activities in nature. Back in the US, nature was something I came into contact with here and there, and it was rarely related to activities suggested by my social group.
In Rio, going to the beach, on a hike, or simply for a walk around the lake was basically considered everyday stuff. In fact, I could have done something cool in nature but I didn’t (ie, going to a waterfall, an outdoor place for sports, an island, or a mountain retreat) on numerous occasions.
None of these things I’ve mentioned were exclusive to Rio de Janeiro, either. In other places I lived, like São Paulo, Natal, and Belém do Pará, I constantly came across people doing open-air activities on the weekends or holidays. It almost seemed like Brazilians felt they had a right to make use of their beautiful coasts, mountains, valleys, and public spaces.
If being from a country with so much natural beauty to offer wasn’t enough, Brazilian social connections and close family ties offered further incentive. When they went somewhere nearby for the weekend, it was more often than not that they knew someone with a house at their leisure destination. Of course, for me, these were vacation spots, not quick trips to relax a bit and hang out. I can even remember having regularly felt something I don’t often feel: envy.