So here I am, living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I've been here for 1 month and have 2 more to go and I am enjoying it very much. Having grown up in the state next door (São Paulo) and just moving here after almost 4 years abroad I say it is very nice to be back home.
Here are more fantastic views of the city!
It is amazing how comfortable you feel when you are in a place where you exactly know how things operate. I know not to expect the express mail package to arrive on the day it was supposed to. I know where I can haggle and where not. I know where to go to get the things I need (to the corner store for groceries packed into a space smaller than a normal mall store in the US, to the booth set up on the next street to make copies of keys, to the flower shop to find dirt for plants....). I understand all cursing, jokes, laughter, slang and implied meanings (Brazilians are very fond of these) as well as indirect comments (when people don't want to argue with you). It is truly liberating when things feel "normal". :D
However, having lived in the USA for a while also makes me see things that most Brazilians don't want to see: the homeless teenager sleeping on the floor, the way that getting things done always depends on someone that knows someone, the lack of long term planning (and consequential mud slides from the last rains), corrupt politicians and how they seem to always be reelected, and the blissful ignorance about the world at large.
Of course beaches, coconut water, friends and family visiting often make up for all of this! And the best of all is the time off... Brazilians are very fond of weekends, holidays, evenings, long lunches, and any other time they can get off (meaning no work allowed). After 3.5 years as a grad student in the US I admit I love the feeling of not being expected to and not thinking that I should be working. It is amazing!!