Cape Town - Do Brazilians do a Brazilian blow dry in Brazil? Are the Chinese really obsessed with skin lightening creams?
These are some of the questions the De Bassompierrre family of Cape Town is hoping they will find the answers to during their travels to Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Together the four countries and South Africa are Brics, the acronym for these five emerging economies deemed to be at a similar stage of development.
The countries hold regular summits to promote political, commercial and cultural ties.
The family of four hopes to discover more than just these nations’ economic ties, but also fun facts about their people, culture, food and attractions.
I meet them at their home in Mowbray, Cape Town, where they are busy preparing for the 10-month long trip.
Leanne de Bassompierre, deputy editor at EWN Cape Town and mother of two boys, Max, four and Guy, six, says she and her husband, Guillaume have been planning the trip for years.
“We always planned on doing a long trip when we have kids, but we did not know when or how.
“We just knew that we wanted to do it at some point.
“We did a two-week trip to Japan last year and the kids loved it so much that they still talk about it today. Travelling with them and just seeing the world through their eyes is so amazing,” says Leanne.
“We talked about all the places we would like to see and the things that we wanted to do. I really wanted to do Capoera (a Brazilian martial art-form) and we always wanted to spend some time in India and China. When I looked at it I was like, hold on, we will be doing the Brics countries,” she said.
“When we did our research, we found that no other family had done it before. Brics is really a formation where you have these countries that a lot of people do not really know much about and it may be the next G7.
“We thought that it would be a nice opportunity for us as a family and also a nice opportunity for our children to learn, and for us to grow professionally,” she said.
The self-funded journey will begin on Sunday with a short trip to !Khwa ttu, the small San village on the West Coast.
This will be followed by a road trip to the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. Their Brics trip will officially begin in Rio de Janeiro followed by Mumbai in India and then China and Russia.
“We have not planned every single minute of the trip but we have certain pillars of the trip or markers that we will be following to make sure we are not in Russia in the middle of winter in December. I have no doubt that it is going to be challenging, it will not be just a holiday - it is going to be a different way of life,” said Leanne.
To prepare, the children have been taking Capoera classes so they will be able to do it in Brazil and are reading children stories about the places they will be visiting. While the boys will be home schooled during the trip, as part of their “Brics Schools project” the family will be visiting at least two schools in each country to teach the pupils about South African culture and the country’s people.
“When you travel to a touristy place you see the landmarks, but you don’t have enough time to get a feel for things such as how people relate to each other and what they eat. But if you stay long enough and use public transport -living or trying to live at a pace that they do, you learn so much more than the cultural nuances. The idea is to get a different perspective of the world,” says Guillaume
“We are not going to be comparing the big stats because that is what companies do. We are going to be learning about life in the other Brics countries. We think that it is an important story to tell,” he added.
Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba launched the first Brics Journal in Joburg this week.
“The financial formations are there on a government level but we want to as much as possible talk about the life in the different countries. People may look at us and say: Are you crazy? You have a good job and a nice house”.
“But Guillaume comes from a family of diplomats and he has been travelling his whole life. I grew up in a very traditional coloured environment, but my mom always encouraged me to wonder.
“At Cape Town High School I got an opportunity to go to Greece and Turkey on a cultural trip. Since then my dad always says that was the best and the worst mistake he made because it was great for me. It opened my mind to everything but, for them, it also meant that they won’t always have their grandchildren with them because of this wanderlust that we have.
“We don’t really know what Brics stands for. At the moment it is pretty much a dialogue between the next wave of countries that have a strong and growing young population and that, we know, are economically going to be the next G7. But at the people level there isn’t much information about the countries,” says Guillaume.
“That is why I think it is important to foster, if possible, university exchanges for young people. Those are the kinds of ways that you will learn about each other - to have a tiny window into that world will be a plus for us,” he said.
l Follow the family’s ‘Travel Through Brics’ journey and connect with them at:
l Facebook: @travelthroughbrics
l Instagram: @travelthroughbrics
l Twitter: @travelbrics