|Tips for the foreigner traveling to Brazil.
It's also to refresh my memory for the next time I travel
there. I'll be adding to this list as things come to mind.
In comparison to Jamaica, Brazil is a "peice-of-cake",
as far as daily happenings. Brazilians don't cling on to you
like some people from other countries, there isn't any high
pressure salesmen on your back the whole time.
There is still crime and danger in Brazil, but if you keep
your expensive items, and flashy clothes at home, you shouldn't
have any problems.
Learn some Portuguese
Bus - Onibus (O-nee-boosh)
Do yourself a favor and learn about the Brazilian bus system before
you get on one. Get a map of the area that you are going to be traveling
in. The bus system is actually one of the most professionally operated
public systems in Brazil, definitely better managed than the airport.
Any problems I had were because of my own fault. It helps to know
what to expect. And you need to know your route. They don't have
a radio that announces each stop, but you can ask them to alert
you at a stop.
Once you know which bus to take, find a bus stop. Watch for the
bus that you need, the bus won't stop for you unless you wave him
down. Enter through the front of the bus. You will meet an operator
working a turnstile, you pay him, or if you have a bus pass, you
swipe it there. If you have any questions, ask him (Called the Cobrador,
or "Collector"), he's the only one who can talk to the
driver (I talked to the driver a few times, there wasn't any problem,
but I think it might have been impolite). Then you pass through
the turnstile and sit down. Or if the bus is full, find a place
to stand and something to hold on to, both hands if possible. When
you want to stop, stand up and pull the chord that runs down the
length of the bus. This chord is way up high on some buses, I had
some people ask me to pull it for them, because it was out of their
reach. A good thing to know is; if the bus stops at a bus station,
and if you need to catch another bus, and what that bus is called.
Once you get inside the station, you can get on any bus, no charge,
but if you step a foot outside of the station, you'll have to pay
to get back in.
Executive Bus R$4.50
This bus is yellow, it has Air conditioning, nicer seats, less people,
and they stop anywhere on the way.
Regular Bus R$2.10
This bus was green. This bus is hot and cramped 90% of the time
I was standing. The bus driver drives like a bat out of hell, so
if you're standing, get a good hold and get your feet set, it's
survival of the fittest, even the grannies have to hold on for dear
life if they take the Regular Bus. One version of this bus is the
accordion bus, that bends around corners. People always stand in
the middle of it, I wonder how many fingers get crushed in it.
Phone - Telefone (Teh-leh-fawn-ee)
First you have to buy a phone card, Cartão Telefonico (Cah-town
Teh-leh-fon-ee-co). These were R$6 for 40 credits, which is
about 5 minutes or less if you call a cell phone, which are the
only numbers you'll probably dial, The phone system in Brazil is
a complete rip off. If you are going to stay in Brazil for a month
or more, it might be worth it to bring a cell phone and open a cell
account, I didn't try this, but next time I might.
Phone Booth - Orelhão (Oh-re-lya-own)
Orelhão means Big Ear. If you're over 5'8", remember
to duck under the Orelhão, I banged my head on it a few times.
Rember these steps:
GET READY: Get your phone number that you are going to dial
PUT THE CARD IN: Pick up the receiver, watch the digital
display, it will say "Coloque Cartão" that
means "Put your card in", after you slide your card in
the card reader, it will say "Aguarde", which means
DIAL THE NUMBER WITHIN 5 SECONDS: Then it will show you how
many credits you have on the card, now you only have about 5
seconds to start dialing your number, if you don't start dialing
in time, you'll have to take your card out and start over. As you
talk on the phone, the credits drop about 1 every 5-10 seconds.
Food - Comida (co-mee-da)
Restaurants - Restaurantes
Clothes - Ropa (Hoe-pa)
Clothes communicate more than you think, they tell people where
you're from, and a little about what you think,
Just like any country, you want to communicate that you want to
meet in the middle. You don't want to communicate that you are a
foreigner who thinks he's above the locals, and that you want to
live in your own protected bubble. I would applaud someone for wanting
to just be themselves, but in Brazil, doing this can actually put
you in danger. Some clothes can inadvertantly communicate, "It
might be worth it to rob me". So if it's a question of
safety, I would suggest going more with the flow. If you're white
as snow, get a tan, either a little bit before, or as quick as you
can once you get there. Wear flip-flops (chinelo) or running shoes
(tenis), don't wear sandles with snaps ect, you'll look like a foreigner.
Buy the flip-flops in Brazil if you can. Fellas, Put on a pink whitey-tighty
swim suit (sunga) and walk around town in your flip flops, you'll
look completely normal here (Ha ha, I'm Joking, although, I've seen
it many times).
Flip-Flops : Chinelo (shee-nelu)
Running Shoes : Tenis (ten-ees)
Male swimsuit : Sunga (soon-gah)
Crime - Crima (Creem-a)
There are professional theives in Brazil that have spent their lives
learning to react when opportunity calls. Unfortunately, when they
see a lost tourist, they see a paycheck coming. They have many different
ways of robbing people. If you're in a dark or hidden area, they'll
use a knife. Some travel in groups, robbing people at night at knifepoint.
Some stalk people for days waiting for the right moment. If someone
sees you with a large amount of money and you put it in your backpack,
they might follow you at a distance, for as long as they can. The
second you put it down, they'll snag it. If you lock it up, they'll
slice the back open with a razor. If you lock your bike up, they'll
cut the lock. Some gangs surround buses and make the driver pull
over at gunpoint, robbing everyone aboard. This happened to a busload
of Japanese, they hadn't even set foot in the city.
It's pretty simple really, don't make yourself look like a target.
Don't wear expensive jewelry, or any for that matter, don't flash
money or electronics around. I carried a camera with me all around
Rio, but I always made sure of my surroundings before I took it
out, and then I quickly hid it back away. Making sure that if anyone
was looking at me, I would look back and acknowledge them, and if
they looked like they might try something, I gave them the look
like it wasn't going to be as easy as some old lady.
A week before I came to Brazil, a guy from Finland was stabbed in
the neck right by where I'm staying. He was taking pictures, and
probably didn't want to give his camera to the theives. I know how
he probably felt, I would probably resist as well, it's instinct,
I value my camera. But, I think if you pay attention to what you're
doing, you won't have a problem. Just never get overconfident, more
people die from overconfidence than anything else.
Police - Policia (po-lee-sia)
AKA: Os Homens
The Brazilian Police have two distice groups, the Military Police
or P.M. (Prononced peh-emmy) and the Civilian Police
P.C. (peh-seh). Both are very corrupt and are might beconsidered
even more dangerous than the theives they are protecting you from.
If they catch you doing something illegal, they might give you an
old fashioned Brazilian Beat-Down, or they will want you to pay
them a bribe. If you are smart you will avoid illegal behaviour
all together, but in the case that you do find yourself in a tricky
situation, be sure to be extra respectful of the police. If you
don't speak any Portuguese, you may find yourself in a much more
difficult situation, as many foreigners seem to expect Brazilians
to speak their language. If you can avoid that stereotype, then
you will be much better off from the get go.
Tips for the foreign traveler to Brazil
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