From the Jungle to the Desert This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 29, 2011
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Not many people can say that have swum in their school's soccer field. Even less people can say they can swim in it almost every week. Well, I live in the city of Belem in Brazil, and here it rains almost every day and floods the soccer field at school so much you can practically go swimming in it. It is also almost like a jungle with many trees and plants around. But my school is not just different in a weather-like aspect.

The climate of the city itself is also pretty much the same. There are many trees. It is very humid. It rains a lot, and at times even floods certain roads. But apart from the weather-like aspect the city has other characteristics. It is pretty big and the population is increasing more and more all the time, which makes the traffic terrible by the way. And there are not many fun tourist attractions around.

That is the environment that I'm used to. And it is a place that I haven't been far from much before. So imagine what a person would feel if they managed to find the complete opposite – some place dry, with barely any vegetation, and being a tourist center. Well, that's what I experienced a few summers ago. I went to Las Vegas, Nevada.

And Vegas is just that. It's very hot with a scorching sun, but it's so dry you can't even sweat at times. The city is a big desert filled with gambling centers and other tourist hotspot attractions. I used to say Vegas is just a big amusement park. But that's basically just the downtown area with all the hotels and casinos. The rest of the city is pretty much just like any other normal city. Now I used to live there before when I was a kid, but I hadn't been back for years, so this would be my first experience in a long time.

So a few summers ago I got on a plane and headed to back Las Vegas. Just the plane ride was an adventure for me. I hadn't ever traveled by myself before, especially internationally. And it was a pretty long trip with a few stops in certain cities. But I had finally arrived there. One of the first things a saw as soon as I left the plane was slot machines. They have slot machines in the airport... It's like they want you to land, lose all your money, and be broke before you even leave the airport.

After the airport it an adventure as I moved through casino to casino. The ringing of the slot machines and the cigarette smell flowing through air brought back childhood memories. At night the flashing lights would illuminate downtown as I would stroll across the Las Vegas Strip – another thing so different from back home in Belem. Every day billboards for different shows and concerts could be seen scattered throughout the city. And fun activities would always be present, unlike back in Belem.

So that's Vegas – a totally different environment than the jungle-like, humid city of Belem. But of course Belem has its modern areas, and Vegas its rains... once every two months for ten seconds. But anyway the trip was fun, the time was enjoyable, and for nearly two months I roamed this city, experiencing the its pleasures. But when the time came I was glad to head back home. You can feel the sweat drips emerge as you approach the area. There is no place like home.

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