To Brazil and Back Again

Late last month I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a few days to attend Rio + Social, the United Nations Foundation and Mashable’s conference on social media for social good. I also attended a few side events for Rio + 20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. This was my first time traveling to South America and as can be expected I was not disappointed at all.

Since the United Nations was holding such a huge and historic conference in Rio hotels were booked solid for months. Thank goodness for where I found a charming and quaint little apartment in Copacabana. If you are ever going to Rio I highly recommend any of Katia’s properties to rent.

It was thrilling to travel to Rio for work and also take in some of the beautiful sights of such a stunning city. I am already figuring out how I am going to visit Rio again, next time with my family.

Rio is a city everyone should experience at least once. Not only are the white sand beaches and blue waters gorgeous, the lush rainforest and towering mountains are equally as marvelous. I suspect since Rio is a beach city that is why it’s so very laid back; no one ever seemed very rushed or anxious for anything. Coming from the States where everything is go-go-go, now-now-now experiencing a relaxed pace was delightful.

Despite being laid back Rio is also a fairly packed city with residents and tons of tourists. If you go to Rio keep in mind that many of the service sector – taxi drivers, food service, etc – don’t speak much English. Usually when I travel to other countries it is extremely easy to communicate because English is so ubiquitous. Not so in Brazil. While an international city, I had problems communicating and found myself writing numbers and drawing often in my journal to communicate. How embarrassing! Next time I go to Rio I am definitely going to learn basic Portuguese! Also, be sure to exchange some of your US dollars to reais before you leave the airport so you have money for tips.

My trip to Rio was full of surprises. I got a chance to catch up with and meet several people from the United Nations Foundation and was introduced to the Mashable team. Most surprisingly I also was in the presence of two former presidents – Mary Robinson (Ireland) and Jose Maria Figueres (Costa Rica). I was also surprisingly close to Sir Richard Branson. I couldn’t believe I was so close to them at the Virgin Unite Awards Ceremony, but I guess such is life in Rio.

Sir Richard Branson, Jose Maria Figueres (right with orange tie)

On my last day in Rio I decided to venture to the Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro in downtown Rio. They were hosting the People’s Summit where environmentalists, artists, and everyday people gathered to talk about the future they want for the earth.

I participated in an exhibit called Future We Want where people left their ideas for the earth’s future.

After a full two and a half days in Rio I was certainly ready to get back home to see my family. I love traveling as much as anything, but always love coming home. Here’s Miami International terminal.

To read more of my coverage of Rio + Social and Rio + 20 visit my other site, Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

See more photos of the People’s Summit.

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