"I had a reason to live in Brazil for two years, to learn the language and the culture and maybe even mature more. Looking back, I had a wonderful deal."

Upon the completion of a master's degree in 1974, Beck finds himself as a young man with no set plan or direction for his life. When he decides to join the Peace Corps, he receives an offer to work in Brazil in education. His fluency in Spanish is an advantage for him that allows Beck to get by just enough with his limited Portuguese.

His arrival in the “pressure cooker,” Brazil, is instantly life-changing, but it is also eye-opening and lonely. As Beck begins his Peace Corps commitment, he forms friendships while discovering a new land and immersing himself into South American society. He learns about the unseen, deeper, and sometimes dangerous responsibilities of working in the Peace Corps, while at the same time becoming a witness to the varied culture and rich history of the region. He remarks on the differences between life in the US to life in Brazil, and his observations and experiences address a wide variety of things, such as the importance of erva-mate (a drink made from a species of holly), the practice of Macumba (a syncretic religion of the region), foods and customs, wildlife, and businesses and politics.

Written in straightforward and accessible prose, Beck presents an honest look into a world many might not ever see. Broken into more than sixty sections of varying reflections and memories, Beck shares moments that range from light and amusing to serious and tragic. As Beck tells his personal journey, he offers the reader insight into another part of the world that is both exotic and familiar, a culture that is both different and similar. Overall, Beck’s slim book is a positive memoir, a travel story that captures one individual’s life trying to make a difference somewhere in the world.

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