Juergen Keller was born in Southwest Germany, and has studied in his home country, as well as Spain, Portugal and Brazil. He wrote his Masters Thesis at the World Bank library in Washington, D.C. Even while studying, Juergen began taking American, Canadian and Brazilian high school students and adults on multi-country tours throughout Europe. While working as Export manager for an international company, the itch to share his love of traveling inspired him to found 4star South America.
“Why would you travel to Brazil?” You may have never even heard of it. Your friends have been to Botswana and Thailand and have of course seen all of Italy and spoken to the Pope, but nobody’s ever spoken to you about it, so why then go to Brazil? Let me try to explain.
Because we will fascinate you! While many of us may not speak your language, we will communicate with you. We love to have a good conversation and tell a good story. As an example, see how Brazil became independent.
When Napoleon invaded Portugal, the Portuguese King fled to Brazil, the richest Portuguese colony. After the English finally threw the French out of Portugal, the King wanted to go back, while his son, with typical precociousness of any teenager, refused to follow daddy’s order and stayed. As anyone can imagine, tensions rose between the two and the youngster quickly declared Brazil independent and himself Emperor.
Well, THAT was not very Brazilian – we usually like it more modest – but the fact that the end was peaceful, without war, is VERY Brazilian!
Halfheartedly, daddy mobilized the few friends he had left in Brazil, but even those were soon convinced to lay down their weapons and head for the beach.
Brazilians love to talk and we despise violence. When the military took over the business of running our country, we took to the beach – it was a sunny Sunday after all, what would you expect? It didn’t matter who ran the country, you could always talk to them we thought, but those military guys were tough, hooh, it took us twenty years to talk them into elections. We love to talk.
Our President too loves to talk. He has no rhetoric and he lisps, but then again, he has talked and worked himself up the ladder all his life. He comes from the poorest part of Brazil, a real peasant who started as a shoe-shine boy in Sao Paulo, assembled cars at VW and ultimately became the head of the Workers Party and then President. When he tells the story of the shoe-shine boy becoming President, he does not talk actually, he cries! But we still love to listen to him when he talks. Many Brazilians don’t even know his real full name (Luis Inacio da Silva) but we simply and affectionately call him Lula.
Be careful, our love of life is infectious! Brazil is infectious. Once you have a taste of our spirit, you can’t live without us! One study shows that: Topping the list of all countries, a staggering 85% of first time visitors want to visit Brazil again. France is a distant second at 55%. 94% of visitors to Brazil would recommend a trip to Brazil to their friends.
Well, that should make you curious. So let me tell you what else we have besides the Brazilian people.
Imagine a mountain range covered with a green layer of rain forest, sprinkled with the occasional Ipe tree blossoming blue or red, tumbling down 5000 feet in the blue ocean. Don’t like the rain forest? We’ll take you to the desert and show you indigenous wall paintings in the caves of Brazil’s North East.
Want to see birds and other creatures? We’ll show you Anteaters or the earth’s biggest (and cutest) rodents, the Capivaras. We’ll take you to the Pantanal to show you this open savannah-like plain that gets flooded once a year to cover an area the size of Texas with cool water. During that season you’ll see thousands of caymans laying on the little islands basking in the sun to suck as much heat as possible into their cold-blooded bodies. It looks as if they want to tan their teeth and tongue as they are trying to absorb the heat with their open mouths turned into the sunlight. They are so busy, but you can still get as close as two feet to them. Not to worry, they’re ignoring you, humans have way too many bones.
We Brazilians detest violence – even our animals prefer to talk! The birds certainly wouldn’t be denied their oratorical platform creating a nice atmosphere on the porch of your lodge. Trees full of little birds talking at sunset. The monkeys – well, some of them talk too much. We call them Howler Monkeys because at night you can hear them three miles away…. sometimes that’s too much even for us!
I didn’t mention the Amazon Rain Forest. Well our guests seem to know more about it than we know. The state of Amazonas has 2.2 million inhabitants and almost 2 million live in it’s capital Manaus. It’s a quarter the size of Brazil, and Brazil is slightly bigger than the Continental U.S. So not many of us live there. But they have nice non-stop flights from the U.S. Four and a half hours from Miami to Manaus, same time zone, no jet lag and excellent lodges for you to explore the forest.
Also not yet mentioned is our Brazil beaches. Well, you don’t mention what you take for granted. We have 5000 miles of shoreline and we use them year round because the temperature drops to only 75F in winter. And that’s good. It’s the time when the rest of us can finally wear our fur coats. As a matter of fact, we don’t know how to deal with the cold. The latest hit in the pet shops are winter shoes for our dogs. Oh sorry, I am talking about us again, while I really wanted to tell you what else we should show you.
Salvador da Bahia:
First capital and our black soul. The most African city in Brazil. The many baroque churches in it’s UNESCO heritage and the declared historic center are tying to hide how difficult it was for the Catholic Church to deal with the Africans.
The church finally gave in and declared that some African Gods and Goddess are also Saints, or was it the other way around? Anyway, take for example, Yemanja, an African Goddess of the Seas and the most revered. While the Africans were forced into little boats to cross the Atlantic to serve as slaves at the Portuguese plantations, she was declared a version of Our Lady. And the Africans continued with their cults. Salvador still today is a mirror of Africa, a baroque gem and an eternal fountain for our future.
Twenty five million inhabitants (remember what I said about Amazonas) the cultural heart of South America. Sao Paulo is the economic powerhouse of Brazil. For example, the German industry employs more workers there then any city in the world! The subway of Sao Paulo carries more people per hour, per line, then any Tokyo line. A dozen car manufacturers from all over the world have set up shop there. Every night another cultural highlight to see on stage. Daytime visits to museums. The new Pinacothek grabbed a lot of awards. Adventure yourself into Brazilian art there. Most of the authors you may have never heard of and you’ll soon begin to wonder why.
Rio de Janeiro:
We simply call it “maravilhosa” or the marvelous city. A respected British publication, the South American Handbook warns: Do not start your trip to South America in Rio, you might never want to leave it and you may miss seeing everything else. The infatuating Brazil is most contagious here.
I can’t tell you much more, you have to feel it and find out for yourself. It is not just the Carnival or the biggest New Years party in the world here on Copacabana beach. Take those two events out and the attraction of the city remains. It is the other was around. Only this city, only this atmosphere is able to create something like that. Our festivities are the result of what we are. The happiest people on earth. Peaceful, warm, embracing, welcoming and always ready for a little dance, usually exuberant. Be it a romantic Bossa Nova or a good Samba. The city has almost as many live music events as Rio has street corners.
Have we made you curious? Below we have added a typical itinerary that shows the diversity of Brazil including the Iguassu Falls, the Atlantic Rain Forest, Sao Paulo and Rio. As added spice and contrast, it starts in straight-laced Buenos Aires, Argentina and ends in Rio. Extensions to all parts of Brazil and South America are easily added before or after.
We would love to take you by the hand and show you our country and hope to see you soon!