isbel-2
Sao Paulo

Isbel Diaz Torres

HAVANA TIMES – Brazil is a luminous poem. At the beginning of the year, I published a photo feature that revealed its alarming social contradictions. Now, before the summer is over, I want to share with you some of the country’s incredible beauty.

By a strange twist of fate I am unaware of, my first trip abroad took me to the place I had wished to visit the most. This trip served to confirm something I already suspected: what I like most about Brazil is its sensual language and its boundless music. Unfortunately, this post does not manage to convey that delicious experience.

I visited the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which are very different places.

isbel-1Sao Paulo is an eminently modern city (it is no accident it should be considered the second most important metropolis in South America). It is noisy, overpopulated (more than eleven million people live in the city), gigantic in more than one sense and boasting breathtakingly beautiful architecture.

The city appears to be experiencing unstoppable growth, incorporating the latest technological breakthroughs, such that one can connect to the Internet free of charge through a Wi-Fi network at practically any café. As most of you know, that is something akin to paradise for any Cuban who lives on the island…

The crowded markets also proved delightful for me. The mind-boggling variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and root crops were a sight that overwhelmed my senses, as were the new smells, exotic names, exciting tastes, provocative textures and novel color combinations.

Watchtower at the University of Sao Paolo
Watchtower at the University of Sao Paolo

Tasting the pre-Colombian azai, the spicy feijoada, a refreshing maracuya, a good caipirinha or cacahza drink, made my palate re-evaluate all of its preconceptions. These experiences were enhanced by the Latin sense of familiarity, that care-free attitude that makes one feel at home. The differences between foreigners and nationals would dissolve and true kindness (not that feigned affability one comes across in the food industry or that self-interested servility they would have us call hospitality here) was the one, common factor everywhere.

In Rio, one breaths the air of the Atlantic, which changes everything. Walking down the streets close to the ocean occasionally became an almost erotic experience. More spacious areas harmoniously combined with less flamboyant architecture.

The Corcovado Christ, standing 700 meters above sea level, could be seen from any street corner, during the day and at night. During my stay in the city, it lost one of its fingers due to a lightning strike (something which received much media attention).

Parks with green areas are simply delicious in both cities, and citizens both use and respect these public places. In one of them (the Tuperi park in Tatuape), to my huge delight, I saw black swans swimming placidly across a peaceful pond.

Flowers, including a broad variety of orchids, were everywhere (it was the height of summer in January). One saw them, not only at florists’, but in house gardens and growing in the trees of parterres, whose trunks and branches were often covered with a peculiar kind of fern.

It was gratifying to come across a well-defined culture and identity, expressed and defended by the locals with pride and a true sense of belonging. Rarely did I hear any music that wasn’t Brazilian. Brazilians love samba, which, rather than a simple type of music, is a complex and rich genre, complete with sub-genres.

Pagode, bossa nova, percussion, batucada, cancion – all stem from samba. “Let’s go samba” was something I heard on more than one occasion. This form of diversion was popular among most of the people I came into contact with. Among these, it wasn’t strange to come across someone able to play the pandero, bombo and other percussion instruments.

Brazil and its people are a gift to the world. If I ever return, I must get to know its wildlife and visit the Amazon region, a natural treasure I wasn’t able to see during my trip. I have yet another post about Brazil in the works (I am aware I will not be able to cover every aspect of my experience in the giant, South American nation), a brief report of what I learned about the passionate anti-capitalist struggle there.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.


Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

One thought on “My Experiences in Beautiful Brazil

  • I learned yesterday that castro regime is worried about the possibility of a change in Brasil gov. Brazil Socialist Party can win next presidential election with its candidate Silva.
    I think castro is worried because he think there is a possibility to lose Brazil support for Mariel’s project if Dilma lose next election ……. Brazil is a democracy, things there are not made by decree like in Cuba and a change of president and politicians in the power will not affect signed commercial agreements I believe.
    What I not believe is in the success of Mariel project in spite Dilma win or lose the election……. this kind of projects uses to be born from the necessity created by internal and external commerce and internal industrialization and commercial development…. castro regime is doing things in opposite way hoping this project will bring commercial and industrial development to the zone……… I doubt a lot that without the participation of the Cuban people in the roll of industrialist, merchants, producers, and businessmen any commercial and industrial development can be raised in any side of Cuba….. if you kill the productive forces in a country and keep them dead hoping that foreigners will come to take the place of the local people you are wrong….. it is a common sense thing….. you will never risk your capital in a place where the regime took the locals capitals and investments, uses to take the capital and investments of foreigners some times and uses to act without honor and without law respecting no international or local law not even the own laws created to justify this illegal situation….. you have to be crazy to risk your money in such situation much more knowing the local people is struggling to change the regime and get rid of all this crap and illegality…….. the few crazy or desperate investors must be aware that any change occurring in the country will always affect them and they will not have any right based in any agreement reached in such circumstances and with such illegal regime.

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