Brazil is growing on me. In fact, I think I’m falling in love. Can’t help it.

Sao Paulo, as Brazilians will verify, is a concrete jungle: bustling, jammed, thriving, and impossible to enjoy on a daily basis. But, fortunately, Sao Paulo isn’t Brazil.

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Just beyond the outskirts of the city lie beauty and calm. I’ve developed a love for the red earth, green vegetation, and even the no-glass-in-windows homes on the hillside. What struck me before as foreign is now becoming enchanting.

Tropical vegetation growing to the side of the pavement, towns tumbling across and down hillsides, sugar cane fields, unusual foods, people walking or biking along the highway (oftentimes barefoot and carrying packages on their heads), duos or trios of dogs jogging alongside the roads, seemingly impromptu cafes, colonial-style towns, homeless sleeping on the sidewalks, and big skies…it’s all seeping into me. I’m loving it.

Perhaps most wonderful of all, I’ve developed a great affection for the people of Brazil. I cannot imagine that we will encounter a nicer group of people anywhere in the world: they are open, welcoming, humorous, and full of hope.

This is an amazing opportunity. I’m thrilled to be here.