Tuesday 5 March 2013

Thoughts on Brazil

As I am nearing the end of my time in Brazil, I thought I would sum up some of my thoughts on this South American Superpower.

Economic Growth – The country has obviously come along way in a short time, but one of the things that has struck me is that outside of Rio and Sao Paul the economy is completely build around the primary sectors of agriculture and mining. There is very little manufacturing (domestic market only, but when you have a population of over 200 million you can get away with this) and the service sector is still very undeveloped. When you have the resources of Brazil this makes sense, but it does leave the country open to the fluctuations of global commodity prices and extreme weather. It is noticeable that the economy is significantly stronger than Argentina (although on par with Chile), but cracks are starting to appear.

We will do it tomorrow culture – As with Argentina there is a real ‘we will do it tomorrow’ culture, which means that the majority of the infrastructure and support services are in a shocking state. If you visit a bank you can guarantee that 50% of the ATM’s are out of service and the rest out of money!

Work Ethic – I think a lot of this has to do with the anglo saxon / Presbyterian work ethic back home, but Brazilians seems to have a very, very relaxed approach to work. Generally customer service does not exist as we know it, with really bad service the norm. Considering the economic development over the past 10 years, this some what surprises me and is a real stumbling block to future growth when you consider the work ethic within China, India etc. To be fair to Brazilians the weather does not help.

Rich vs. Poor – Similar to India it is really noticeable in Brazil that there is a growing divide between the haves and the have not’s, with very little of the economic wealth filtering down to the masses. This is especially striking in the North where there is also a racial element, with a majority disadvantaged black population.

Tourism – More developed than Argentina, but still along way behind Europe and South East Asia. Outside of the big cities foreign tourists have primarily comprised of young backpackers or elderly Americans on cruises.

Weather – Rain, rain and more rain. Wetter than a British summer! If you are thinking of coming to Brazil, avoid the wet season.    

Language – Communication has been a challenge. Outside of the tourist sector no one speaks a word of English and unsurprisingly I speak no Portuguese. I blame Spain for not conquering Brazil as well.  

Food – Very similar to Argentina. All about the meat, not my cup of tea. I have had some nice meals in Brazil, but these have been the exception rather then the rule. Brazilian wine is also best avoided at all costs. On the plus side the beer is good and fresh fruit excellent.   

Summary – The weather has not helped (hot, humid and wet), but I have been slightly disappointed by Brazil. Interesting country to visit, but not one I can really recommend as a holiday destination. Rio is worth a visit and some of the natural attractions are really nice (such as Bonito and Iguazu Falls), but the rest was rather uninspiring. Roll on Venezuela!


No comments:

Post a Comment