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A warm welcome and sustainable inspiration in Brasilia

As third year participants in the project “Say HI to Sustainability” we (Thomas and Ane) have had the pleasure of being in Brazil´s capital for a bit more than a month. It has been a month filled with new impressions, acquaintances, experiences, and a new way of working. The first thing that is new for us is the city itself. Brasilia is a relatively new capital. It was decided that Brazil´s capital was to be moved from Rio de Janeiro to the more centrally situated Brasilia in 1956, and the city was inaugurated as a capital in 1960. Brasilia is known as an example of modern urban planning. If you look at map of the city you can see that it is shaped like an airplane, where the main street goes through the plane´s cabin. In this street you find all the government buildings, while in the plane´s wings (north and south) you find residential areas, malls, restaurants, cafés, etcetera. Each wing is divided into blocks, and each block is meant to contain most of what you need in your daily life (this is not the case for all the blocks, but this was the idea when the city was constructed). The streets do not have names, but numbers – a system that can seem overwhelming in the beginning, but it is very logic as soon as you get into it.

Furthermore, Brasilia is undoubtedly a city that was made for cars. The public transportation reaches only a part of the city, and it is also difficult to know when the bus will arrive if you decide to go by bus. A very good initiative, however, is that public transport is free for all university students in Brasilia. As sustainability ambassadors for Norec and Hostelling International we try our best to walk, bike and use the public transportation, but we also use Uber from time to time in order to get from A to B.

Even though the city is quite different from other cities we have been to, we are enjoying Brasilia. From samba in the streets on Fridays, to lovely lunch-buffets, nice cafés (with great coffee), large parks and green areas, the possibility to go swimming in the lake and in the national park, to the people who live here – Brasilia is definitely a good place for two Norwegians such as ourselves to stay. 

The Brazilians we have met so far have given us a warm welcome. Amongst other things, we have been to carnival, to the city´s landfill, lectures, birthday party, meetings, lunches, climbing, the national park, we have been biking in the main street on Sundays, jamming with local musicians, we have been to a diving contest, and we have been showed around at different HI hostels. There is no doubt that the culture here is characterized by openness and joy. It is for example not difficult to make friends at our local bakery, or to get to know people who are interested in helping us with the project when we are working from our new regular coffee shop. And these are just a few examples of how open, lively and helpful Brazilians can be.

The hostel we mainly are affiliated with is Hostel7 in Brasilia, which has just moved to another location in a bigger facility. For us in Say HI to Sustainability the opening of the new Hostel7 is a fantastic opportunity to implement sustainable initiatives at the hostel from the beginning, and to keep on working with HI-Q&S. HI-Q&S is Hostelling International´s system for quality and sustainability certification, and the processes that evolve around HI-Q&S make up a big part of our job this third year of the project. So far, we have been in contact with many of the hostels that last years´ participants started working with, and we have visited two HI hostels in addition to Hostel7. When we were in Chapada dos Vedeiros (which is located 250km north of Brasilia), we stayed at the HI hostel Catavento, and we used the opportunity to have a meeting with the hostel manager. She also showed us around and talked about the many sustainable initiatives that already are in place at Catavento. We have also visited the other HI hostel in Brasilia – Hostelplan, where we also were very well received and gained insight into the sustainable processes that are in place. It has been very inspiring to meet these managers, and to learn about how they run their hostels in harmony with the nature and the environment.

One month is not much time to get into the daily life in a new country. We are learning a new language, we are adapting to a new culture, a new job and a whole new daily life in general. Even so, we are happy with the work we have done so far, and we believe that the HI-Q&S work will be a big part of our job this year. In addition to the hostels that have been mentioned already, we are cooperating with Hostel7 in Goiânia, and are going there on a visit soon to continue the certification process. In addition to this, we are planning a trip to north-eastern Brazil in June, where we will visit several hostels and help them to move along in the certification process. We hope that we will be able to certify many hostels in Brazil this year, and consequently contribute to better routines at the hostels both when it comes to quality and sustainability.

Beyond the HI-Q&S work we plan to arrange events in order to increase the awareness about sustainability as soon as the new Hostel7 in Brasilia is ready. In addition to this, we are cooperating with the brazilian participants in Norway in order to continously keep our social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, webpage and blog) updated. To get more information about the project have a look at our sites. Say HI to Thomas and Ane, Say HI to Sustainability!


Picture 1: One of Brasilia´s many parks, here with last year´s participants to Norway. 
Picture 2: All you see is trash. From Brasilia´s landfill
Picture 3: HI-Q&S meeting at our regular café
Picture 4: Earth Hour - our fist event in Brasilia
Picture 5: One of Chapada´s many waterfalls
Picture 6: The national park in Brasilia
Picture 7: Leaving hostel Catavento in Chapada

Written by: Ane Omland