Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Brazil: Do's & Don't acc. 2 Apollo 11

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- Stare at everyone, everywhere, as everyone will stare at everyone else in Brazil. It’s polite to do so and you will always be aware of your surroundings. This is very important. If you keep looking down and don’t acknowledge with your eyes anyone who is closer to you than two meters away, you may be a potential victim of pickpockets. The good side of it is lots of flirting and smiles while staring :-)
- Carry in you wallet only the money that you will need for that day, and leave the rest in your inside money belt/hidden pocket inside your clothes, together with credit/debt cards, air tickets and passport.
- If you are visiting a VERY crowded place with thousands of people, make sure to carry nothing in your pockets, don’t wear any jewelry neither a wristwatch, nor a wallet. Don’t wear an external money belt either and don’t keep anything in your socks. Keep your money for that day in a separate inside pocket in your bermuda shorts or trousers.
- Report to the tourist police if you are a victim of any crime.
- Always ask at the reception of your hostel if it is safe to walk through the streets that you plan to go, as in a few cases side streets off main walkways are not so safe in downtown areas.
- Get a taxi when moving between far-away neighborhoods, it’s faster than buses and inexpensive (about US$0.32 per km). Unlike most Latin American countries, taxis in Brazil have meters and are totally safe; almost all drivers have a big photo-ID card facing the passenger.
- Look at both sides of the street before crossing…unfortunately in most cities pedestrians don’t have the right of the way.
- Wear your daypack in front of your chest in crowded areas, not on your back.
- Accept help from reasonably well dressed locals who approach you speaking English. Brazilians are always proud of being able to help while practicing their basic language skills.
- Use ATM machines preferably inside banks and shopping malls. Note that in some cities ATMs function only from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- If you want to look like a local as much as possible: do wear walking shoes, not hiking boots; avoid carrying a bottle of water around; wearing a bermuda shorts and a plain T-shirt will do in most informal situations.
- Follow your instincts and use common sense, but remember that what FEELS dangerous in a culture may not BE dangerous somewhere else…and contrary to some people’s beliefs, all big cities are different; touching others in some parts of Brazil is common among people from the same social class, and part of the communication process, although it may be perceived as a sign of danger for those who are more formal and not used to body contact.

- Don’t get drunk, you will hardly see a Brazilian get drunk. Try to drink up to your limit and stop before feeling tipsy or getting drunk; if you do get drunk keep a low profile, otherwise people may loose respect for you and you may be mocked at.
- Drug consumption other then alcohol is a criminal offense in Brazil, so if you are into it, don’t do it in public, otherwise you run the risk of getting in trouble with both the police and the guys who are trying to sell you the drugs.
- If you (hello single guys…) happen to get involved with prostitutes, the odds of being robbed will be much higher, it’s your choice…and if the girl is under 18 you will end up in jail if caught.
- In the unlikely event that you are help up at gun point or knife, don’t resist neither fight; make sure that you see (or feel) the gun or knife, but don’t look at the thief’s face. It’s rare but not impossible, it happens daily to an average of only 5 foreign tourists out of thousands in the most dangerous cities in Brazil.
- Don’t stay in extremely cheap accommodation, as the owners won’t probably be prepared to deal with foreigners. Also, a few things may not be as safe as they should: windows and door locks, food, electric showers…
- Don’t leave anything unattended in public places. Sometimes the rule in the streets is: “if you are not holding it, who grabs it first owns it”
- Don’t feel unsafe only because a beggar or a poor kid asks for money, they are not thieves…ignore at first or just say não once, don’t give any money, don’t smile and don’t maintain eye contact...do as the locals do.
- Don’t walk through half-dark and deserted streets after 10 p.m.
- Don’t go to the beach after dark.
- Don’t become paranoid, all the above will become your second nature after the first or second day…

Get out and enjoy your trip!

Happy travels :-)

South America FAQ

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