Porto Alegre (Port Happy) Isn't The Happiest Place I've Seen
I was in Manaus Brazil (North eastern Brazil), when it was time to decide on the next destination.
Unfortunately, I was stuck with expensive flights during peak Brazilian Carnival season.
A flight to almost anywhere in Brazil, was going to cost about $500+ USD.
The least expensive flight?
To Porto Alegre… on the complete southern end of Brazil… for a modest $250.
So off I went to Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande Do Sul (Large Southern River)
I landed here on a weekend, and was surprised at what I found.
Where Is Porto Alegre, Brazil?
The Design Of Porto Alegre
To be honest, the city has a modest sense of Developing nation beauty to it.
The architectural mess of old and new, pretty much representing Brazil, is no different here.
Porto Alegre isn't a city you would remember as being beautiful. It's just a developing city, with many unfinished, abandoned, and decaying sights.
Racism In Brazil And an Abundance of Homeless People in Porto Alegre
Brazil is still a very racist country. If you are black, you are placed within the lowest caste of the culture.
Most blacks here are considered low-income, and in many cases are prevented from entering different venues, including bars, malls, restaurants, etc.
The only way to avoid this, is to indicate that you are not a black person from Brazil, or to show that you are of a higher socio-economic strata (ie. education, style, etc).
As such, many homeless people in most parts of Brazil (Recife, Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Manaus), are black.
Yet, this city was loaded with homeless people, and in this case, they were predominantly white.
And there were a LOT of them.
I decided to label this as the ‘homeless person every 50 meters' observation.
And as a side note, I use ‘white' very loosely, because most Brazilians are ethnically mixed with the Indigenous and African populations.
Carnival in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil
Since this was carnival season in the entire country of Brazil… Porto Alegre wasn't going to miss out.
Imagine a 1-2 week long Halloween party, with excessive drinking, police presence, amazing dancing and popular Brazilian music.
But honestly, there aren't really that many costumes. Just drunk people, and garbage everywhere.
And the police don't f*ck around.
They will simply take you into some alleyway, and break your teeth, if you cause too much disturbance (I've seen it happen in Manaus, Brazil).
A Little Green in Porto Alegre
But it's not all grey buildings, homeless men, and drunk people on the streets…
Porto Alegre has some charm to it with a nice park (although it's a bit far from the center).
Jardim Botanico means Botanical Gardens
Should You Go?
If you are like me, and you will try almost anything once, then give it a go. Your experience will be your own.
But I personally wouldn't be able to recommend coming here more than once.
But it's a great stepping stone if you plan on visiting Uruguay and Buenos Aires after, since they are just around the corner (relative to everything else).