Scenes from a Family Trip to Brazil

Before I go offline for a few days while we cruise to Montevideo and Buenos Aires, I thought I’d share a peek into what our stay in Brazil is like. We spend a few weeks in Brazil every year with my husband’s family, all of whom live here. It’s not the exotic beach-hopping stay that some people might imagine; instead, it’s very Brazilian in the way I’ve come to know this place. It’s days of long conversations at the dining room table, meals prepared together, hugs and kisses, and lots of laughs. Here are some scenes from this year’s trip to Brazil.

Flying over LA

We flew a different route this time, first to Los Angeles, which wowed us with its light show, and then across much of South America, first over Colombia, where the light was SO weird. It was like something from a movie, hard to capture in a photo, of course, but both my husband and I noticed it. I later learned from my brother-in-law that the magnetic field of the earth is weaker there…not sure if it has anything to do with it…but there was a strange glowing haze over that part of the earth for hours.

Flying over South America

My kids were pros, watching a movie before falling asleep and then waking for breakfast as we descended upon the green hills of southern Brazil.

Flying with kids to Brazil Photos from a family trip to Brazil

I have two sisters-in-law, one of whom lives in a small city in a rural area north of São Paulo. Our days there included a visit to the weekly farmer’s market…

Fruit Market in Brazil

Fruit market in Brazil

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

…and lots of downtime around the house. They have many pets (2 cats, 1 parrot, 5 tortoises, 4 hamsters and rats, and about a dozen chickens). Here the precocious cat watches the chickens:

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Brazilian fruit and flowers

And of course our kids just eat up all the attention from their aunts, cousins, grandmother, and uncle.

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

The walk I’ve taken a few times turns up a few interesting details.

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Christmas definitely felt different here. No Christmas carols or Christmas cookie traditions, and the weather was very, very hot, but one detail of Brazilian Christmas that I love is the seasonal fruit display. This is just the leftovers: peaches, mangoes, passionfruit, papayas, figs, lychees, grapes, and plums.

Brazilian fruit for Christmas

But we added some of our American influence to the celebrations by baking gingerbread cookies for Santa and making a gingerbread house, which we’d brought from the U.S.

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Last weekend we went to São Paulo for one night (maybe you saw this post about the street art). As always, the food there was amazing. Even the little snacks were delicious. Take for example this bolinho de bacalhau–fried balls of cod fish with herbs and mashed potatoes–at a corner boteco where my husband’s been going for 20+ years.

Popular snack in Brazil

And this juice, suco de laramja com acerola, something I always look forward to when arriving in Brazil: freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with the Amazonian fruit acerola, which is high in vitamin C. So so good.

Healthy juice in Brazil

We stopped for a bit of culture at the Museum of Art of São Paulo and were pleasantly surprised by the way the permanent collection is now being displayed. It was as if the pieces were floating–Monet, Renoir, Velazquez, El Greco and more suspended in air.

Permanent collection in MASP Sao Paulo, Brazil

View of Sao Paulo, Brazil: From MASP on Avenida Paulista

And we shopped for New Year’s Eve ingredients at the big local market. Hazelnuts and bacalhau (Portuguese-style salted cod) are especially popular at this time of year.

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Back at my sister-in-law’s house, it was time to celebrate New Year’s Eve, which is a huge holiday in Brazil. Another long meal and holiday fruit display, this time with guava, dragonfruit, bananas (so good!), and much more, followed by more downtime and plenty of much-needed rain.

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

Photos from a family trip to Brazil

I hope you had a happy New Year’s Eve. Até mais!


  • Megan says:

    Looks like you’re having a great trip with the family. Everything looks beautiful. Definitely need to get down there sometime and try one of those bolinho de bacalhau. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Looks like a really nice way to spend the holidays. And all the fruit has me missing summer already!
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    • Jenna says:

      The holidays here definitely have a different feel, and yes, it’s nice to spend them here for a change. And I agree about missing the summer fruits in California! They’ll be back soon 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    Beautiful photos & insights into the culture of Brazil. And gosh, the fruit at Cristiane’s looks scrumptious! Hope you are all having a fantastic cruise…

  • Gina says:

    Sounds wonderful and even better than beach hopping! All that fresh fruit looks amazing.

    • Jenna says:

      The fruit is definitely a highlight. Even though the vacation is not “exciting,” it is very, very nice. I’ve come to really appreciate all the time just to relax and be surrounded by family.

  • Tricia says:

    What a fun fusion of cultures for the holidays, Jenna! Having not yet been to South America, I’m curious what Brazil’s fresh market prices are like. Do you see much organic produce there?

    • Jenna says:

      Tricia, Good question, and one I often ask, too. No, I never see organic produce at the markets here. It may be present at markets in other parts of the country, but not in the areas where I go. I asked my relatives, and they said the demand is too low and the price is too high for it to make good business sense here. However, the number of organic and natural/health food products in supermarkets seems to be growing. My relatives always peel fruit, even apples and grapes, before eating.

      • Tricia says:

        Interesting to know, Jenna! That reflects what we’ve seen as we’ve traveled – there doesn’t seem to be enough of a demand in many places and that results in astronomically-high prices. I certainly wish it could become the norm at home and abroad.

        The vibrant fruit tray in your second to last picture is calling my name. 🙂 Continue to enjoy your adventures!
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