Friday, November 03, 2006

DR vs. Brazil?

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.


the Allen gallery said...

Hey Anthony. Like you said, comparing the two countries is unfair for a host of reasons. While we love Brazil, the length of the trip makes it impractical for weekend getaways (like you said above). However, given the rising cost of tickets to sdq (continental pushing over 638.00 rt- coach nonetheless) makes those weekend trips fewer and far between.

I kind of enjoy the low key-not yet developed-gaylife of sdq. It's a welcome change from time to time. If you get the chance, visit brazil. It's well worth the trip!

See you soon.


John K said...

Anthony, a great post. I agree with you that it's hard to compare the two countries, because while they do have some things in common, they're very different. I also always tell people that if they can, don't just visit either Salvador or Rio de Janeiro, but visit both. Even though they're in the same country and share a great deal of history, they're also very different in many distinctive ways, and in both these cities in particular, you see the different aspects of Afro-Brazilian culture. People often leave Rio out when discussing Afro-Brazilian culture, but it's one of the most important sites for Afro-Brazilian popular culture and also one of the cultural capitals of the country. And it's spectacularly beautiful. Bahia is a treasure as well, and always worth visiting and really spending time in. One of the things I hope Curtis and I do is spend more time in each city, but especially Bahia; a number of friends have spent time at the Sacatar Foundation in Bahia, and really gotten a chance to experience the life there not as tourists, but as longer-term residents. I feel like every time we come to DR, we see another aspect of the culture that was hidden, which you don't really get if you're just there for a brief visit.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking of visiting Brazil. Your photos really have cinched the deal. The curfew has really dampened my enthusiasm for SDQ and I am willing to fly a few hours longer in order to not be so repressed.

Nena Nuyorican said...

As one that went on the Bahia trip and a visitor to the DR and other caribbean islands....totally different vacations and experiences.
Brazil should never been done for less than 10days, it's not cost effective, LOL

I don't recall that part of the beach near the hotel where we stayed in Salvador Bahia.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ant. I have been to both places and love them both but for different reasons. I feel each has something different to offer. It's true that I come to the Dominican more than I go to Brazil but then I can go down for a long weekend. I also love Costa Rica which I think is one of the most beautiful countries.

Anonymous said...

I never imagined that I would travel thousands of miles away from home and be assaulted….but that is what happened. When thinking of Salvador da Bahia, the word “sensual” comes to mind.

Immediately I was seduced by the sun, the tranquility of the Bay and it’s surroundings, then by the zest for life in the people I encountered. True we should not compare the DR and Brazil, after all, they are two distinct places separated by thousands of miles but there was one major difference. The difference is the people of Salvador da Bahia are graciously living their heritage. I realized this through the Candomble woman selling their sweets on the corners, enrobed in glory. Before visiting a holding pen for slaves I said to a friend “we live in an east coast city and walk over history every day, perhaps without even knowing that we are doing so”. When we arrived at the site there was no tourist proclamation engraved in bronze to tell us that this was where slaves were held captive in three or four feet of saltwater, or that they lowered and raised the slaves in and out of this dungeon through a series of holes in the ground. It was simply just there, sobering, underneath the Modelo, intact. I was shown a local market that is still referred to as the African Market. Kids in vacant lots entertained themselves with who could do the highest flip as they practiced Caporeia, One night in Pelohrino, as I stood I watched people hundreds of years old going about their business. On another night it came across through the people moving in tandem while Olodum reminded my body over and over again through the beat of their drums.

I didn’t fully realize that Bahia was happening to me until I’d left.

Anonymous said...

I have just been introduced to your blog and let me say how interesting it is. I have been reading past entries to catch up and I want to come down for a visit. And now I want to visit Brazil also. Thanks for this resource and please continue what you do.

J.T from Minneapolis

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't know if being in Rio twice really counts as having been in Brazil given the enormous size of the country and its diversity of customs. But one thing that I highly recommend is experiencing New Year's on Copacabana Beach and the Carnaval parades in the Sambodromo at least once in your life. You will not regret it and the memories will live on in your mind forever!
From Puerto Rico,

Anonymous said...

I have been to both places and I agree, it is unfair to pit them against each other. They both have different and unique attributes. But I like the topic and discussion.

Anonymous said...

Anthony, you said that you definitely want to get to Bahia. Let me advise you to not discount Rio de Janeiro. And when you get there, make it all of your business to visit Point 202 and LeBoy. I guarantee you thee time of your life. Lorin

Santo Domingo Colonial Zone Apts said...

I definitely want to see Rio, too. But, I feel like I'm called to see Bahia especially. Another friend, who learned to speak Portuguese, is in love with Recife.

God willing, I will see that country next year.

axiom2001 said...

Two weeks ago I returned from Brasil (Rio and Sao Paulo). This was my sixth visit since 2002. I truly love "Mother Brasil" and her people, culture, diversity, and yes, her gorgeous men in all shades, body types, personalities.

The crime situation has been escalated; as an African American, I've been taken as being a local. Thus, I've been able to avoid some misfortunes; I guess the way I handled myself in the cities: Rio, Sao Paulo, and Salvador has enabled me to function without encountering any unexpected negatives; I guess if one manages to manuver (sp) in the way that he handles himself in big cities in the States, he will not have any trouble.

I went all over Bahia with a tour guide; I also ventured out alone via taxis and walking and managed: the same in Rio but less so in Sao Paulo due to its vast size.

Guys, before you go, do your homework; read about the culture, the history, etc. Find out about the gay venues: Rio is more than Point 202 and LeBoy (a gigantic but fun dance club). Check out a lot of good gay websites.

If you'd like to know particulars, I am most eager to answer via email.

I've traveled to Santo Domingo and plan to return one of these days, but, more than likely, and traveling from the West Coast, I probably will find myself back in Brasil first.

...have been all over from Curitiba (the most European of cities in that country to Bahia, the most African, the Amazon, etc.

Start planning and find yourself in "Mother Brasil."