Traveling to Brazil in 2016
Traveling to Brazil this summer?
A brief history.
Nearly seven years ago now I decided on a whim to travel to Brazil looking for a life-changing experience after a year battling through the English divorce courts. To cut a very long and traumatic story short, I had found myself in the recovery department of a Portuguese hosipal having suffered a stress related heart attack in Faro. Some weeks in recovery at home I found myself in need of a life-changing experience. I am told that it's a common place to find many middle aged men after this kind of tramatic event. So, anyway there I was, sat at my aging pc on a cold winters morning looking out of the window into a dull morning, looking for inspiration. Within a month I was stepping off the plane in Sao Paulo and being met by a friend I had met in London a year earlier.
If you are thinking of traveling to Brazil for this years Olympics or any other reason really, it may help you and prevent a bad experience by taking heed to my on the ground, first hand advice.
The place to start is by stating that the rest of the world isn't like the UK. Brazil is riddled with corruption, crime and violence at all levels. Don't get me wrong, the Brazilian people are lovely and very welcoming. They love the English and will indeed welcome you with open arms. However, because of this corruption at all levels the support systems leave a lot to be desired. From health to policing it won't be what you are used too.
Below I have listed a few do's and dont's that might help you during your visit.
- The police are armed and from what I've have seen, will use their weapons if they feel threatened. Because of the abunbance of guns and knives in Brazil they will shoot first and ask questions afterwards. You will notice that the police walk around with their holsters unclipped and with on hand on the gun in readinesss to use it. You will also notice that the motorcycle police when stopped at traffic lights will cover each other by the last one of the three or four riders stopping in a diagonal manner in order to be able to cover the officers in front protection from the rear should a shooter try to fire from behind. Excessive, you might think! Well they do this for a reason. because it happens. There are a lot of police on the streets especially in busy areas. But don't take this as a feeling of being safe. You will notice that the rules and laws you are used to in the UK will pass them by in Brazil. Things like using mobile phones in the car while driving, eating and drinking while driving, alcoholic or not. Wearing seat belts and seeing children bobbing around in the back of cars. The police seem oblivious to all and simply don't care. This in mind it leads you to wonder what else is left unnoticed. Believe me it's a lot.
- On the streets, especially in busy areas there are a lot of people willing to pop a gun or knife out in front of you and ask you for your mobile phone and cards. Believe me, this is very, very common, and they will use the weapons againts you if you don't give. Shootings happen all the time in Sao Paulo and I'm not talking about once every few months. I'm talking about a whole TV channel dedicated to local crime in the city. I was sitting in a friends home watching TV in Portuguese in Sao Paulo when I first arrived and asking "is this a round -up of the shootings and crime for this year"? and being told, "No this is live and today" I was in disbelief, but I soon realised that it was real and indeed the TV cameras follow the police around in cars and helicopters waiting for the next run of the mill shooting or stabbing. So dont walk around asking for trouble by looking typically English and holding bags or phones in your hands, because you will be targeted.
- A few months ago I was unlucky enough to be bitten by a mosquito carrying the Denghi virus. I can tell you now from first hand experience it wasn't very nice. As I lay on my bed on a pool of sweat with my gums bleeding and with a pounding head for three days before one of my students came to visit and take me to the hospital. At the moment there are two common diseases you could quite possible catch. Denhgi and the Zika virus. Both are common at the moment and as we have seen on TV very serious. The public hosipals in Brazil are not good at all, so don't expect much in the way of help. You will face a long wait for teatment, and through first hand experience a pretty shabby looking waiting room. Don't get me wrong, the staff are lovely but they are working drastically under funded and do their best with poor facilities and pay. One positive is that, unlike the UK if you know what you need you can get a lot of things over the counter in Sao Paulo that are only prescription drugs in the UK. But they can be expensive.
- The last time I looked there were 5.8 Brazilian reals to a pound so your money will go a long way. But bear in mind that this is the reason you could be targeted by criminals. They think all the British and Americans are loaded. So be careful.
- I will finish by saying, please don't let this put you off. Going to Brazil will be an adventure. The people are great and welcoming. The weather is always warm if not very hot depending of course when you travel. But just be aware that Brazil is not England. What we take for granted in the UK does not transfer anywhere else in the world, especially Brazil.
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About The Author
Hi. I am an Adult Learning Private Teacher. I am based both in the UK and in Brazil. I move between the two countries. I have students in the UK, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Japan and Russia. I teach The Callan Method. The Callan is by far the quickest way to teach a non-English speaker Engli.... Read More