Oh, The Places I’ve Been

As my time in Brazil comes to a close, I wanted to share a bit more about my travels throughout the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America and my trip to Chile.  If you plan on visiting or studying in Brazil, these are places that you won’t want to miss; CET Academic Programs has the best sites in Brazil mapped out.


Historically a port for slave trade from the late 1500s to mid 1800s, Salvador’s heavy African influence has forged an incomparably vibrant atmosphere and preserved a dismal truth of Brazil’s past.  While you are surrounded by miles of blue ocean and paradisiacal islands, you are constantly reminded of the omnipresent social issues that linger in Brazil’s society today. Driving from the airport to our hotel on the coast, I could look to the right and gaze at skyscrapers like the ones in New York, and look to the left and stare at deteriorating little houses piled on top of one another nearly as high as the skyscrapers across the highway. The stark reality of poverty and inequality is numbing, but it’s hard to be sad and depressed when you are walking down the colorful streets of Salvador.  In Salvador, you’ll find foods you can’t find anywhere else because nowhere else has the history Salvador does (acarajé, moqueca and bolinho de estudante to name a few). To top it off, you can learn Capoeira (think: fighting and dancing combined) and dance in the same plaza Michael Jackson did for his hit “They Don’t Care About Us.”


The Plaza where Michael Jackson sang “They Don’t Care About Us.”


They perfect hideaway from São Paulo in São Paulo. On the outskirts of the state and coastline of the Atlantic ocean, Ubatuba is a quiet, quaint beach town. It’s where I spent my first Easter on a beach and attended my first Easter mass that started with the priest making a joke about the congregation being hungover. Also, the hiking trail that leads to 7 different beaches is breathtaking as are the sunrise runs on the sand.


By far one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited.  You must wind your way down thick floresta before arriving in the historical town of Paraty.  Paraty was a gateway to the gold mines and built by the Masons.  Nearly all of the buildings have markings from the Masons and are mostly white with colorful door and window frames.  The decorated streets are made of cobblestone and strategically slanted inward so that the water from the tide will drain when it comes in each night.  Outside of the city, you can go cachaça tasting, see the old forts and swim and slide down waterfalls!


It must be the country with the highest robbery rates for foreigners because it stole my heart the minute I crossed the border.  Chile is unlike any country I’ve travelled to in South America or, for that matter, in the world thus far.  Embedded in the Andes and an hour from the Pacific coast, Santiago is a nature-lover’s dream.  There is something indescribably inspiring and powerful about being surrounded by the lusty landscape of the snow-capped Andes everyday.  In addition to the nature, the city itself is incredible with charming neighborhoods, delicious food (mote de huesillo is a MUST) and fascinating historical sites, buildings and museums. Santiago is also home to the tallest building in South America, the Costanera Center- just another amazing opportunity to get a 360-view of Santiago’s mountainous backyard.

You don’t need more than a few days in Santiago to see the city, so day trips are a good idea.  One day, I bused to a little artisan village, Pomaire, known for its ceramic pigs (yes, duh, I HAD to get one).  The empanadas were massive and tasty, too.  The following day, I took off for Valparaíso, a colorful port town.  Because the city was built on hills, you take “ascensores” to get from point A to point B. What is so fun about them is that they are hidden within the city; it’s almost like a scavenger hunt to find them. Although it is a touristy location, the views and colors made it well worth the trip.

It should come as no surprise that I’m already thinking of my next trip to Chile- there is so much left to see! Next on my list is the Atacama desert, hiking in Patagonia and, hopefully, one day climbing Mount Aconcagua (even if it is technically more in Argentina).

Foz de Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls)

It will be my last trip before I return to the States. They are some of the largest waterfalls in the world. They are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, but Paraguay is only 30 minutes or so up the river. I’ll be sure to share photos and more on my final adventure when I return!


  • Estrangeiro– That’s you.  The foreigner.
  • Viagem– Trip
  • Opa– Oops
  • Festa– Party
  • Cataratas– Waterfalls

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