The Brazilian police are the butt of Facebook jokes with their supposed ‘Don’t scream’ tourist guidelines for the World Cup. Apparently, tourists visiting the country are being advised not to raise an alarm if they are robbed on the streets – it may just aggravate the situation! Well, we’re not sure if someone can actually take part in peaceful mugging, but there are quite a few things to keep in mind while in Brazil.
Check your drinking
You are in the land of parties, so naturally you’d think alcohol flows like water – and that you’re free to gulp it down in mugfuls.. But mind it, as much as Brazil loves drinking, the government is pretty strict about drunk driving and drunken brawls. The penalties are heavy and you may not like the treatment in the hands of lawkeepers. So have a ball, but keep the pegs small!
Brazil is still an evolving economy. And despite taking giant steps forward, petty crimes are very much a reality in every part of the country. With millions of tourists coming over for the Cup gala, the host cities will become happy hunting grounds for thieves and thugs. Do not carry too much cash or any valuables while on the street. Keep your important documents, such as passports, tickets and ID cards, at your accommodation, and keep them all scanned and stored as e-mail attachments. Try to move in a group, if you have one. Don’t leave things unguarded at the beach, as thieves lurk there in groups. The pickpockets in Brazil – particularly in Rio de Janeiro –are infamously called ‘rats’ and, trust us, they have magic fingers!
Mind your language
It’s very important to understand a place’s culture in order to enjoy it to the fullest. This knowledge will help you avoid unwanted situations. Brazilians aren’t proficient in English, but don’t attempt to display your Spanish skills – the country largely speaks Portuguese and picking up a few words may help you in the street. Brazilians try to speak a bit of English and a patient approach may make them feel good, too. Even when using sign language to convey your meaning, do check from a local what the appropriate ones are. For example, the ‘OK’ sign that symbolises ‘fine’ or ‘great’ in most parts of the world is quite derogatory in Brazil. Instead, do a ‘thumbs up’ to say that you’re cool with… whatever it is that you’re cool with.
Most backpackers consider accommodation to be the least important thing on their checklist – just about any habitable place will suffice. Therefore, their accommodation budget is low and the information they have is sketchy. Ditch that idea in Brazil. The country is very hospitable, and there will also be many homestay options available, especially during the World Cup. But make sure you research the place on the Internet. It’s advisable to go through reviews and recommendations, if any. Since business is expected to be huge, many places may just not bother to maintain quality. Also, read up about the neighbourhood.
Have a good DAY!
Day time may not be your favourite time of the day and Brazil definitely encourages nocturnal life – but remember that predators, too, hunt at night. While the beach scene is Brazil’s pride, even government directives discourage visitors from spending too much time there in the evenings. The guidelines also advise people to avoid most alleys and non-touristy neighbourhoods after dark. Identify your places of choice in the bustling sections of the town and near your accommodation, and spend your evenings there.
Keep calm about Brazilian ways
The ‘professional standards’ you may have come to expect on foreign travel, especially if Europe and North America are your usual destinations, won’t be matched in Brazil. The order you place at a café may take much longer to the delivered, or someone you’re waiting for may be so late that you could sue for it in another country – but keep calm. You may be recommended a certain steak that turns out to be a nightmare – but keep calm. Don’t show your disgust, as it’s a delicacy for the locals. Stuck in an endless traffic jam with no clue to the possible reason – keep calm and take inspiration from your unfazed cab driver.
Keep a safe distance – literally!
You’re spending a bomb on this once-in-a-lifetime trip, and you want to enjoy it in every possible way. So the prostitutes – yes, it’s legal in Brazil – taking spoken English courses may have made you chuckle a bit more than necessary. Beware! These Brazilian beauties may be inviting, but they’re known to be notorious at the same time – you could end up drugged and robbed if you fall for the come-hither looks. Also, don’t – absolutely don’t – buy from a local drug dealer, no matter how much you might want to roll a joint. The country has stepped up its vigilance for the World Cup and you’ll land in very, very hot water if caught with drugs. Other things to keep at bay are pesky bugs. The tourist guidelines recommend carrying anti-dengue medicines and mosquito repellents.
Keeping all these points in mind will ensure smooth sailing through your samba-ride with the friendly Brazilians -- unless they find out that your icon is Lionel Messi. If your team is Argentina, just keep your mouth shut and enjoy their success. You may get away with being a Pakistan supporter in India, but not an Argentina fan in Brazil!
Play hard, party safe... 'Juntos num só ritmo' (All in One Rhythm')!
**Various agency reports and tourist guidelines have been referred to as sources of information**