Academic Trips & Language Classes
Learning Portuguese will greatly enhance your travel experience in Brazil. "Knowing a bit of Spanish" usually won't cut it here, especially outside of the main tourist destinations. The better language programs are found in large cities where there is a constant supply of students. In addition to learning Portuguese, many programs will also include cultural outings (such as music and events) and provide a great opportunity to meet other travelers. Languages in Action (www.languagesinaction.com) offers individual and group courses in São Paulo and Salvador. A company with a language school in downtown Rio de Janeiro is Bridge Brazil, Rua da Quitanda 191, Rio de Janeiro (tel. 866/574-8606 in the U.S. and Canada, or 021/2220-8659 in Rio; www.bridgebrazil.com).
Brazil is emerging as one of the prime destinations for cosmetic and plastic surgery. Brazilian surgeons are second only to U.S. doctors in the number of procedures performed and therefore have extensive experience. Their training is top-notch (in fact, many foreign surgeons come to Brazil to train) and cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have outstanding medical facilities. In addition to plastic surgery, travelers can also opt for excellent dental care and other beauty treatments, like laser hair removal, botox, and peelings. Of course it pays to do your research. One company that offers a lot of information and a free consultation service to get you started is Cosmetic Vacations, 120 E. Oakland Park Blvd. 105-1A, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334 (tel. 877/627-2556; www.cosmeticvacations.com).
Volunteer & Working Trips
For a different kind of travel experience consider donating some of your time as a volunteer to a local organization. One organization that is particularly well set up to accommodate foreign volunteers is Iko Poran, Rua do Oriente, 280/201, Rio de Janeiro (tel. 021/3852-2916; www.ikoporan.org). They can provide you with detailed information and help you decide if this is something you want to do. Although speaking Portuguese is not a prerequisite, some language knowledge will open up more interesting opportunities.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.