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There’s nothing more beautiful, in my mind, than the beauty of other countries. There’s something so special about seeing history, traditions and the local environment of another place brought to life.

This week I am traveling in Brazil. My journey includes Sao Paulo, which I have visited a number of times before, and a smaller, more southern city called Porto Alegre.

Porto Alegre was my first destination. While there, I only spent a day and a half but I was fortunate enough to dine on local cuisine, drink locally brewed beer, meet new people and get a small feel of the local sights and beauty.

We took a walk around the neighborhood and saw the posh shopping district, family park and even women, men and children dancing. But this wasn’t any typical dance. It was a form of martial arts that black slaves practiced with music so their masters would assume they were dancing versus suspect them of getting ready for battle.

While in Moinhos de Vento Park, I also experienced a special tradition native to Porto Alegre called Chimarrão. Its a tea ritual made using a special green tea. It tastes a bit like matcha green tea with a kick. People sip it from metal straws out of special wooden cups made especially for this ritual. What is also super interesting is that this ritual dates back to the days of the indigenous people of area, most of whom were wiped out by the Portuguese colonists. Why this ritual survived is a mystery. Perhaps it’s an attempt by the Brazilian population to pay homage to a group of people that they know were terribly wronged centuries ago.

I walked by old, ornate, relatively tall apartment buildings designed by rich families during the era of the major tuberculous outbreaks. People of the town believed you were immune from the disease if you lived high above the street. So rich families built tall buildings and resided on the top floors.

Though I mostly travel for business, I try to get a taste, feel and view of the local beauty, as I have in Porto Alegre. I do this to not only learn about the history and culture of the region, but to reconnect with physical beauty in general. Unfortunately, and I know I’m not alone in this, I take for granted the physical beauty that surrounds me on an everyday basis. I ignore it and go into my “zone.” But we all need to reconnect with this type of beauty.  We are hardwired to WANT to connect with it.

Not all of us can travel often, but we can still reconnect with the local physical beauty that we often overlook. We just have to open our eyes.

Some pics from my travels:

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Local beers…yum

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IMG_20150308_180050Me drinking the traditional tea Chimarrão

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