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// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red), where I've stayed a month or more (yellow), and where I plan to go (white). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.


RIO DE JANEIRO I arrived in Brazil via a weeks-long journey aboard cargo boats and passenger ships, traveling well over a thousand miles along the Amazon River, through the rainforests of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, before ultimately reaching the Brazilian jungle city of Manaus, while you'll see later. But I thought I'd start with Rio De Janeiro, perhaps Brazil's most famous city, filled with beaches, tropical mountains, modern skylines, colonial architecture, and lively bars and cafes. This was actually my last stop in Brazil, indeed my last stop in South America, where I had traveled for 597 days through eight countries. From here I flew to the Caribbean, but that's a story for a different day.
PARATY RIO DE JANIERO STATE Halfway between Sao Paulo and Rio sits the tiny coastal town of Paraty. The colonial towns of Brazil, of which there are many, rival even the most beautiful of those in Europe. This is partly because of the riches plundered from deep within Brazils mountains, gold specifically, which was taken from the interior of Brazil along the 'Gold Trail' and brought here, to Paraty, where is was shipped back to the Old World.
OURO PRETO MINAS GERAIS That Gold Trail began in the state of Minas Gerais. Ouro Preto means 'black gold' and the mines here were among the wealthiest ever discovered in the world. The grandeur of the Portuguese Baroque Architecture that dominates the city is a testament to just how rich this city became. Eventually, inspired by the American Revoltion, a revolt of the colonists against Portuguese rule would arise here in the state of Minas Gerais, though unfortunately it failed and it would be much later that Brazil secured her freedom.
TIRADENTES MINAS GERAIS One of the leaders of the Brazil Independence movement was a man named Tiradentes. The colonial mining town of Sao Jose del Rey was renamed in 1889 to Tiradentes in his honor, even though the original movement had failed and Tiradents himself had been tried, executed, and his body ripped apart with limbs being displayed in various locations around Ouro Preto where he had propagated his ideas, as a warning to anyone else who might do the same.
SAO JOAO DEL REI MINAS GERAIS My journey through the colonial mining cities of Minas Gerais continued to Sao Joao Del Rei. The city was founded by Bandeirantes (fortune hunters and slavers) then later became an important trading post along the Gold Trail before its own gold was discovered near the city.
MARIANA MINAS GERAIS My final stop on my tour of the central Brazilian colonial towns was Mariana, which I arrived via old style train. The town was founded in 1696 as the original capital of Minas Gerais (today the capital is Belo Horizonte). I took only a day trip here before catching the train back through the mountain valleys to Ouro Preto, where I was staying.
BELO HORIZONTE MINAS GERAIS Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais and is today the sixth-largest city in the country. Founded in 1897, it was the first modern planned city in Brazil, and for that reason very different from the colonial towns that surround it. I stayed with a local family in a high-rise apartment, the views from which were unbeatable.
BRASILIA FEDERAL DISTRICT I flew to Brasilia from the Amazon, which is where I had entered Brazil (via cargo boat from Peru). Brasilia is the national capital and near the center of the country, far from anywhere. As an urban planning enthusiast, I had always wanted to see Brasilia, a city created wholesale from scratch in the 1960s. I expected to be disappointed (in my opinion modern day city planners are not visionaries, they are simply glorified highway engineers and parking lot designers). And.... I was right. Boring, monotonous, anti-pedestrian, soul-less, psychologically oppressive, entirely outside of human scale.
SAO PAULO I wasn't sure what to expect in Sao Paulo. With 12 million people, it's the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere, and is the largest Portuguese speaking city in the world. It has attracted a lot of immigrants over the years, including a Jewish quarter, a large Italian and German descended population, and with nearly a million Brazilians of Japanese descent, the largest Japanese diaspora in the world is here (see photos below of the Japanese quarter). Likewise, there are more than a million people in Sao Paulo of African descent (a legacy of slavery), nearly a million Arab immigrants, and a growing Chinese population. Sao Paulo was full of street life and easy to walk around (take note Brasilia), with many distinctive neighborhoods, including some entirely covered in street art. I ended up liking the city more than Rio.
MANAUS AMAZONAS This is where I actually arrived in Brazil. The city was founded in 1669 as a fort and has grown since then into the seventh largest city in the country, with more than 2 million people, despite feeling completely isolated from the rest of the world. It is hot and humid here, the architecture suffering all the worst for it, but in a way this gives the city a bit of mystique. While I think I prefer Iquitos in Peru, Manaus was not without it's charm.
THE AMAZON RIVER In closing, a few shots of my travels down the Amazon River. I'd started this journey weeks earlier, in Ecuador. These shots are only from the Brazilian portion (to see the longest portion of the trip, check PERU). While in Ecuador and Peru the river ships I took were really just gloried cargo boats with a little space left over for passengers, the boat I took in Brazil was massive (though everyone still slept on hammocks). And those sunsets.