It definitely felt like years since I had been on the road, traveling around the world and more recently around Latin America before covid-19 struck. Since then, I had chosen Brazil to spend time while the world crumbled in unreal lockdowns, first in Rio de Janeiro for 3 months, then surfing the Pandemic in Paradise in North-eastern Brazil. That had been a blessing for me and the best choice I could have though of while spending time in quarantine, first on my beach in Cumbuco in the state of Ceará, kitesurfing daily. and then 4 months later, when Brazil started to come back to normal around September, kitesurfing the whole coast of 3 Brazilian states in the Iron Macho Challenge – The “Iron Man of the Seas” – 400 km KiteSurfing Expedition across 3 Brazilian States.
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That was all so amazing and beautiful. But as the traveler that I am, something was missing. I was missing my lifestyle of jumping from one city to the other every week like I had been doing for years… World borders were still pretty much closed all over the world, and that is destructive for a nomadic lifestyle. So I though to myself, why not take the opportunity to explore more in details this massive country I am in, literally the size of a whole continent! And what a great time to do so, while the local currency, the Brazilian Real was at record lows, making purchasing power much more attractive for me, with flights as low as 20$ per stretch.
So I designed a route that would take me all over the country in about 3 months, one week per city! That would give me about 12 cities in about 10 states and enough time to rediscover Brazil, once again, as I have done over and over again through all my visits, but always seem to discover something new each time. Most of these cities I had already been in the past, but the country changes so fast that I surely didn’t mind rediscovering them once again.
Starting mid-october, I would make it through Christmases and new years, and then all the way to the end of January when my visa was set to expire! I started in Fortaleza, the Capital of the state where I had spent months kite-surfing in small villages. It was my first big city in a long time and that felt amazing! I’m a big city guy and even though I love beach retreats and connecting with nature, I always love to come back to the groove of big cities!
The second stop was Recife, and unexpected stop I hadn’t planned but a change in flight made me have to stay a couple days. I then continued to the capital Brasilia and followed to Goiania, where I had stayed over a month about 10 years back. The next stop was Curitiba and then to Balneario Camboriú.
The Second Wave
So far, there wasn’t much alarm about covid anymore, the pandemic seemed pretty much in control and people just went their way with masks on and life almost back to normal. But arriving in the state of Santa Catarina was a little different. The second wave was barely starting in the country and was specially high in Santa Catarina.
After 2 weeks in Camboriu, I made it to Florianópolis for christmas, and Porto Alegre for new years. I even enjoyed a little stop in beautiful Gramado, commonly known as the Brazilian Switzerland.
My time was running up on my visa and needed to fly out to Panama at the end of the month oj January. So I enjoyed my last two stops in Campo Grande, the capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso. Both states are in the Pantanal jungle region, know for it’s prestine Wildlife.
A long journey that felt almost like normal
After having covered the whole world, I know for a fact that Brazil is, and will remain my favorite country to my eyes. So much to offer, so much diversity, and even though the pandemic was stopping nomads like me off our tracks, Brazil was still opened for business. It almost felt normal, and for that I am grateful I could spend so much time in the country.
But it was time for me to leave. After 11 months, already exceptional considering in normal times the gouvernement only gives 6 months tourist visas. But the emergency state had suspended the count. I guess there are not only negatives out of this pandemic, if I can see it in a positive way.
Now that I have left, the second wave went into full strength, states starting locking down again and life pretty much fell back to the miserable times of march/april 2020. I feel really bad for Brazilian as everybody thought it was finally over, after having suffered a lot though 2020. I can only wish courage to the people of the country and I am sure it will be back on its feet very soon!