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While we all #stayin due to the current situation around COVID-19, reminiscing, and dreaming about our past and future travels are totally acceptable. Don’t we all love to vicariously live through our favourite travel bloggers’ amazing travel stories? Through #TNLRevisits, we get your most loved travel bloggers to spill the beans about their favourite places, off-the-radar destinations, and about countless other experiences that they have encountered through their journeys. Ankita Kumar a.k.a Monkey.Inc tells us how she fell in love with brazil and why we need to head there once #coronabegone. By Amitha Ameen
1. Tell us about your fondest trip of 2019.
At the end of 2019, I went on a solo backpacking trip across Brazil for two months. That was really special to me, especially because 2019 was a tough year for me in terms of work; I had done a lot of content creation projects and I was feeling a little bit of burnout. So this trip to Brazil was just focussed on travelling and taking one day at a time without any pressure.
2. If you have to revisit the same place once travel bans are lifted, how differently would you explore the place this time around?
I think I would definitely go to my favourite places again because I slow travelled across Brazil. I did not cover a lot many places and spent a week or two staying put in just one place in the northeast part of Brazil. So maybe the next time around, apart from visiting one or two of my favourite places, I will also try to incorporate the central parts and Amazon rainforests.
3. Do you remember meeting and interacting with locals there?
I did end up making a lot of local friends especially because Brazilians are extremely friendly and they love their culture. They took me to many offbeat places. In Brazil, anyone can pass off as a Brazilian, simply because the country is full of multiracial people — meaning they are only more welcoming to visitors. So I would pass off as a Brazilian and they would take me to these quaint Samba bars and Favela’s, which is basically where the mafia is and where these mafia wars happen — in the slums of Brazil.
It might be overwhelming and scary in the beginning, but eventually, you will understand that it is just their culture and who they are. As an outsider, it may look unusual or different to you, but that doesn’t mean it is. In fact, there was a time when I almost got stuck between a shootout while heading out to get myself some Açai berries, Brazilian speciality. And, it was probably the craziest and most exhilarating experience of my life.
There is so much similarity between Brazil and India, in the sense, India can also be really crazy and overwhelming for travellers but super charming at the same time and that is exactly how Brazil is.
4. What hidden gems did you discover there?
One place that I discovered along the way was a little beach town called Pipa on the northeast side of the country. There isn’t anything quintessentially great about this place, but it stood out to me. I was supposed to be there for just two nights, but I ended up spending more than 10-12 days there.
Every day, we would find activities to do like feeding the monkeys, spending the afternoons at the beach, and then attending workshops whose topics would range from dance, yoga, and acting to even quantum physics. Really random activities, but I guess that’s what made those days all the more memorable. In the nights, the entire hostel of 60-70 of us would sit together and enjoy our dinner and drinks while sharing our stories.
Since I hadn’t pre-booked anything, the only available room at the hostel was a pool facing tent, as I would refer to it, and I loved every single bit of my stay there. I still keep in touch with the people I met there from almost every corner of the country.
5. Any particular local food that you would like to recommend?
Food is a huge way of exploring local culture while travelling. I eat everything local and have no restrictions when it comes to food. My favourite dish was the Brazilian moqueca, which basically tastes very similar to the Goan Fish Curry.
I would also cook Indian food for my fellow hostellers who would get super impressed with even the most basic potato and tomato curries, especially because they had never met an Indian from India!
6. Give our readers five reasons on why should they visit this place once the pandemic evaporates?
– If you enjoy slow travel, you should definitely head to Brazil and spend at least a month there. I met a few people there who have been slow travelling across Brazil for two years.
– If you love being around and meeting new people, Brazil is the place to be.
– The different workshops that are conducted there are superb and I really loved them. I signed up for diverse classes from quantum physics to inner child workings. It is a great opportunity to learn.
– Beaches and more beaches.
– If you decide to go to Brazil and want to fall in love with the country, definitely head to Pipa.
7. How are you coping with the lockdown?
It was very tough for me in the beginning and I couldn’t imagine that life would change for me so drastically in a matter of weeks. I had just gotten back from Brazil at the end of Feb, and I had a lot of trips planned for the coming months.
I was supposed to be in the Andamans getting my diving certificate, working with the tourism board in North East and even a caravan trip in South America. Everything has obviously been shelved now, which meant that I lost a lot of my income. But, there are highs and lows and it is a strange time. I guess it is fine as some people are having it way worse and we need to be grateful for what we have.
8. Where would you travel to when things get back to normalcy?
I would definitely stay put for some time at least, as I don’t want to risk putting someone else at risk with the current situation. Once things are a little better, I would definitely head to Andamans and get my diving certificate done. If I am underwater I don’t think I will be infecting anyone.