May 25, 2024

Finding Respite in Brazil

The incessant demands of daily life can take a toll. Endless to-do lists, jam packed schedules, constant digital distractions, and the pressures to earn, achieve and acquire can leave us drained. When the weight of it all starts to feel crushing, a respite is needed. For me, that escape comes in the form of travel to a country that forces me to unplug and unwind: Brazil.

As soon as I exit the plane and feel the tropical breeze, the burdens begin to lift. The endless honking horns and bustling streets are reminders that life here moves at its own relaxed pace. The digital detox begins as I realize my phone barely works, unable to constantly barrage me with emails, texts and social media. And as my body adjusts to the new time zone, my sleep is deeper and more restorative than it’s been in months.

But it’s the natural wonders that provide the real tonic. The booming waterfalls like Iguazu and its awe-inspiring Devil’s Throat cascade. Lush rainforests like the Amazon, so dense and untouched by humanity. Beaches that stretch for miles, their water so azure I find myself mesmerized, involuntary deep breaths finally filling my lungs fully.

Even in the sprawling cities, nature’s reprieve can be found. Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca Forest National Park, an oasis of trails and wildlife amidst the urban jungle. The botanical gardens encircling Sao Paulo, blooming with over 10,000 plant species to explore. The rolling hills surrounding Belo Horizonte, speckled with flowering trees and cosmic views.

The people provide a balm as well, with their infectious joy of life. The laughter that fills restaurants and bars, where the dedication to enjoying the food, music and company eclipses any sense of time. The effortless musicality, dancing and swaying down the streets and bursting into song unselfconsciously. The smiling faces emerging from the morning’s first swim in the sea, purified and unfettered.

Partaking in the local traditions resets my soul as well. Padding barefoot down the beach while joining in a capoeira circle, finding liberation in the dance’s unbridled movements. Sampling caipirinhas, their lime and sugar lifting spirits stirred by cachaça. Immersing myself in the blessings of Candomblé, its beads and shells purifying energy. Letting my senses get carried away by the samba’s drums and horns, a euphoric state achieved when I relinquish control.

Brazil has a pace, passion and perspective uniquely capable of providing a deep exhale. The country seems to exist in Technicolor, while the rest of the world feels stuck in monochrome. For brief periods I’m reminded what it feels like to be untethered, weaving freely through each day rather than marching rigorously. The chance to press pause, if only temporarily, is a gift.

Of course shortly after I’m back, real life demands my attention once again. But the memories and sensations of renewal in Brazil linger, their air filling my lungs with new energy. The perspective gained acts as a shock absorber going forward into everyday chaos. Until my next trip south, those respites help me breathe, surfacing wisdom from that place where the pace rewards those who stop to indulge in life’s simple joys. Brazil remains a sanctuary where I’ll keep escaping to renew the spirit whenever it depletes.