Here's one of my (superficial but hopefully fresh) impressions. Imagine giving Britain's metropolitan elite [TM] - the chattering classes, the Islington set - total social control for twenty years, and imagine that their ideas actually worked. Well, that's Brazil in certain aspects. For example, it's ridiculously racially integrated. There is a complete chaos of ethnic types, and the melting pot seems genuinely to have melted here - compared to, say, the US. I don't say there's no racial injustice or discrimination. But there are no hard and fast colour lines.
Or take sexuality. In a town - OK, a university town - of one of the poorest states of the Northeast, they hold an annual gay pride parade, by golly. Picture that in our Northeast? Well... eesh, perhaps.
In this particular way, Brazil seems like a glimpse into our future, or at least like science fiction.