As is the case in many countries of this size, the citizens of Brazil don’t know their own nation very well. I mean that geographically – someone from the Southeast may have visited the Northeast, but is unlikely to have been to the Center-West or the North, too. Someone from Recife may have visited Rio, but Paraná? Roraima? Amapá?
Brazilians are travelling more than ever, but they often look to visiting the US or Europe as quickly as they do to diving deep into the Amazon jungle. This is understandable – the prices are often almost as high within Brazil – and things are quite similar in the US, for example. But for this reason, and because basically all media in Brazil comes from Rio or São Paulo, perceptions about life in certain regions can be very far from reality.
As a correspondent, I suppose I could say that travelling by bus allows me to escape the trails tread by Brazil’s traditionally over-represented elites, and that’s it a professional duty. But the truth is that I actually just like it. People in Brazil’s small or far-flung towns have a remarkable amount in common, no matter where they are, and the country’s reputation for warmth holds up everywhere. I’ve done most of the country by road – from São Paulo to Salvador, to Recife to Belem, or from Porto Alegre up to Rio. Last year, to do a story on the “Mais Medicos” Cuban doctor program, I went from São Paulo to Acre, and then to the Bolivian border. It was about 100 hours in total, and took me through the major communities of Cuiabá, Ji-Paraná, Rondônia, and Rio Branco. So here’s some pictures with some captions.