May 25, 2024

Discovering a Slower Pace During My Travels in Brazil

The minute I stepped off the plane in Rio de Janeiro, I could feel the change in pace. The air was warmer, the people were friendlier, and there was a palpable sense of relaxation. As I began my travels through Brazil, I realized this laid-back attitude and slower lifestyle was not just limited to Rio, but was woven into the fabric of Brazilian culture itself.

In the US, life moves at a rapid clip. We rush from meeting to meeting, apologetically gulping down lunches at our desks. The daily hustle leaves little time for lingering over coffee or meaningfully connecting with others. It often feels like we’re living life in the fast lane.

The Brazilian approach couldn’t be more different. Rather than being seen as lazy, taking it slow is considered an art form. Locals embrace a “life is to be enjoyed” attitude. This manifests in all aspects of daily life.

Brazilians take time to prepare and savor their food. Meals are treated as an event to linger over and share with others. Even a simple breakfast of fresh fruit, breads, ham, cheese and cafezinho (espresso) can stretch for over an hour as families catch up and plan their day. Lunches traditionally last 2-3 hours, while dinners can go even longer. Brazilians relish the time spent sharing delicious local cuisine with friends and family.

Socializing is another area where Brazilians excel at the art of relaxation. Plastic chairs are set up on sidewalks for neighbors to chat. Weekends are full of churrascos (barbecues), where food and conversation stretch into the evening amid laughter and guitar playing. Striking up conversations with friendly locals while sightseeing is par for the course. Life moves at the pace of meaningful human connection.

The beach epitomizes the Brazilian knack for taking it easy. Locals flock to the shore on weekends, setting up tents and coolers for all-day fun in the sun. The day’s agenda is simple: swimming, tanning, snacking, chatting and repeating. Watches are irrelevant as locals blissfully while away the hours enjoying nature’s beauty.

Even businesses have adopted this stress-free ethos. At many shops across Brazil, operating hours seem like mere suggestions rather than hard rules. Locals know if a store says it opens at 9am, rolling in at 10 or 11 is perfectly acceptable. For Brazilians, appointments are loose frameworks rather than rigid schedules.

As a traveler accustomed to tightly planned itineraries, adjusting to the Brazilian pace of life took some getting used to. Yet over time, I learned to embrace it. I began allotting extra time for meals, leaving space for unexpected conversations, and building in ample beach days. Slowly my Type A tendencies unclenched as I adopted the local “life is meant to be savored” mantra.

Immersed in the Brazilian lifestyle, I was reminded there are so many small pleasures to appreciate: The first sip of coffee in the morning, an impromptu chat with a neighbor, watching the sunset at day’s end. Rather than anxiously rushing through each day, I learned to linger in moments and truly soak in their gifts.

Traveling through Brazil was the perfect antidote to a life spent rushing. By experiencing the joy Brazilians take in slowing down and savoring each moment, it inspired me to bring more of this attitude home. Now back in the US, I consciously try to weave in time for simple pleasures between obligations. It’s an ongoing process, but I hope by channeling that laid-back Brazilian lifestyle, I can craft a life with less speed and more meaning.