Jonathan Fryer

Michael Palin on Brazil

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th October, 2012

Those of us who are members or supporters of the Heath Library in Hampstead were treated to a preview of Michael Palin’s new BBC TV travel series (and associated book) on Brazil when he came to give a talk at the library this evening. Most of Michaell’s previous travelogues have involved crossing many, often difficult borders; his series on New Europe took him to no fewer than 22 countries, albeit briefly in some cases. But for his latest venture he stayed just in Brazil, never having been to that part of Latin America before. He chose four different regions: the North East, the Amazon, Rio and nearby mining areas, and the far south, thus getting four very different flavours of landscape, people and food. When asked by a young audience member which he would like to return to if he could Michael opted for the Amazon, as it was the least noisy and he had especially valued his time with indigenous communities in inaccessible parts of the rainforest, with their harmonious lifestyle that depends on their knowledge of and respect for their environment. Brazil — which I have been visiting quite regularly for over 30 years now — has gone through extraordinary transformations, from military dictatorship to a functioning democracy, from hyper-inflation to a steady, strong currency, and from a sense of resigned hopelessness about the future to the vibrancy of a get-up-and-go society that is proudly asserting its membership of the BRICs groups of emerging economies as well as its place as an increasingly influential global political player. Being Michael Palin, of course, he had various Palinesque, even Pythoesque, adventures, including being immersed in a rubber tutu in the middle of a river in the Amazon basin while pink river dolphins playfully headbutted him.

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