Okay, I have never been to Brazil, but so many people I know go and send me pictures and tell me great stories so I feel like I have been. That coupled with the books/articles that I have read about the country. I even know people who have gone to Brazil and bought home their men, AND, are still together, thank you very much. So, when I start talking about Brazil people just assume that I have been there.
Well, I haven't been. OKAY!
But, I want to go desperately. Especially to visit Salvador de Bahia. I just feel connected to the place, though I have never been. Sorta like I felt about the DR, before I came here for a visit. I would just read about the Dominican Republic and Panama, and say I want to go, I want to go, and eventually I came here, and the rest is history.
One of my closest friends went on the Bahian Heat trip to Brazil, and had a great time. He had been a couple months before, for the first time, and liked it so much he decided to go back to check things out. My friend is not one for long emails, they are always concise and short. The email I got from him on his first trip to Brazil was long and detailed (I like very much). Then there is the great guy that I met (online), Fernando Bingre (there is a great interview with Fernando on the Bahian Heat blog), who is the guide extraordinaire for anyone daring to venture to Bahia for the first time. He speaks several languages, and everyone who has met him in person comments on how sweet he is.
This got me to thinking. With the DR experiencing a lull in gay travelers now, are more and more people going to bypass us here in favor of Brazil? I spoke with several people who travel frequently to both places got mixed reactions.
The one thing that the DR has going for it is that it is a 3.5 hour non-stop flight from NYC. Maybe 6 hours with connecting flights anywhere on the Eastcoast. Brazil is an 8.5 hour flight from Miami, so it makes the possibility of popping down for a long weekend not too enticing. Not to mention how much the tickets cost. Those that I know that go to both places and prefer Brazil, complain that the time it takes to get there is just too long.
Brazil has almost 180 million people, compared to 8.5 million people in the Dominican Republic. Sao Paolo alone has over 40 million people, almost 5 times the population of the DR. The country is huge (land mass) and has so many things it can offer visitors, like the world-renowned Amazon Jungle, world famous beaches, soccer, Afro-Brazilian culture and lots more. It also has the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan. There are more African-descended people in Brazil than anywhere in the world outside of Africa (including the United States). And the people. Well, they come in every shade from Nicole Kidman pasty white, to African blue-black.
The Gay life in Brazil is much more developed. There are Gay Pride Festivals in the major cities that have hundreds of thousands of participants. There are even Gay Samba Houses that parade for carnival. The one downside is the crime element. Everyone who I have spoken to talks about how it is much more dangerous it is in Brazil vs. the Dominican Republic. I have been told about robberies at gun-point, knockout drugs in drinks, etc. For this reason, most of the gay life (Brazilian and tourists alike) centers around the bathhouses, which from the pictures I've seen are pretty spectacular and house upwards of 50 of the most beautiful men the mind can imagine.
Now, the DR, on the other hand is much smaller. There is crime here, but I have not heard of anyone being heldup at gun-point in the Colonial Zone (though I'm not saying it has never happened). In the DR, it is also much safer to travel around the country and meet people anywhere you go. For a small country, the DR has some of the most beautiful people in the world in all shapes, sizes and colors. As stated before it is much cheaper and quicker to get to. Now, if we could only get rid of the curfew.
Now that I finish reading this item I think, what am I trying to say? I don't know, but I guess my point was that comparing the two is unfair, because of the sheer size of Brazil. But, I would love to hear what others think. I'm curious about those who have been to both Brazil and Dominican Republic think? Which place do you like best, and why?
Here are some photos from a friend's recent trek to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil:
Note: I didn't change the color at the top. Something went wacky.