There are so many things we love about Brazil that we can hardly wait to go back. There are also many parts we still need to discover. But if we’re honest, there are also a few factors we wish would be different there. In this opinion piece, I’m just discussing about our experience in Brazil and stating my honest perception. There are things that belong to a country’s culture and that we shouldn’t try to change; and there are others that I find important to let the world know, with the hope that it could improve one days soon. The topics that I find important to discuss in Brazil are discrimination and the environment.

Topic 1: Discrimination in Brazil

Sexism in Brazil

Firstly, about sexism. Lower salary and career advancement blockers for women are things that we sadly sometimes meet in Europe too, but in Brazil even in everyday situations I, a traveller, experienced discrimination. Despite speaking better Portuguese and having initiated conversation, people (men, women alike) rather looked at Anthony when we conversated the 3 of us. Also, when it came to explaining practical things, like which key on a keyring opens which door, or how to get from A to B, people always turned to Anthony. I felt pretty bad about it and was worried that in Spanish speaking countries I will be in an even more disadvantaged situation, since Anthony’s Spanish is better. (And mine is Portunhol.)

In fact, fight against sexism in Brazil has been moving to a political level.

Racism in Brazil

There’s also discrimination based on skin color. We noticed it only in that there were very very few black people on the events we went to, and the CouchSurfing community in Brazil (the people who can afford having guests using electricity and water without paying) are predominantly white.

It was interesting to notice that the proportion of black people gets less and less as we traveled from north to south.

Oldest church of Ouro Preto Brazil
A self-appointed guide explaining to Anthony about the oldest church in Ouro Preto. I got fed up with being ignored and went to take pictures.

Topic 2: Environment

Plastic bags in Brazil

Shops are pushing plastic bags into everyone’s face.

We were a bit shocked to notice that in Brazil (and Uruguay) supermarkets and markets deliberately give out plastic bags at the cashier. Sometimes, when the bags were made of thin material, they even used 2. Most of them were puzzled when we refused the bags.

Recycling household rubbish in Brazil

On the same note, collecting household rubbish in separate bins is not a thing at all. Many households collect wet and dry rubbish separately, so they have a little organic bin. However, this is only for a reason to get rid of organic waste faster due to the bad smell, and in the end all the rubbish goes into the same bin.

To say something positive about this topic: there’s not much rubbish on the streets surprisingly, let it be small or big cities.

Beach view of Rio de Janeiro Brazil
No rubbish (nor sexy people) on one of Rio’s not-at-all famous beaches

Are these topics important to you too? Have you ever faced discrimination on your travels? Share your story with us!

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Who am I?

Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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    1. Huomenta! (at least it’s morning for us here in Peru :))
      Thanks for visiting us and sharing your thoughts! In Berlin where we live(d), people do make their own bags. But here in South America, we’re faaar from that.

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