We are a week away from the official start of the World Cup and you are at home wondering what to pack in your suitcase for your trip to Brazil. Suddenly it hits you that besides football you don't know much about the country.
Well, I am here to help you. Put down the passport, move the suitcase over, sit down and take note. These are the kind of things that will come handy once you arrive in Brazil for this years World Cup.
Transvestites & Transsexuals
Not always what it seems to be is. Brazil has one of the largest amounts of transvestites and transsexuals in the world. Sex change operations are very affordable in Brazil and many people travel to the largest country in South America to have the procedure done, so it is only normal that many stay behind and the ones that are local to Brazil have the means to have surgery in their very own backyard. My advice is for you not to follow that old saying that if it walks like a duck, and it sounds like a duck it is a duck, because in Brazil it may not be.
Baggy Swim Trunks
Brazil has great beaches, so it is normal that you decide to pack a pair of swimming trunks in your suitcase so you can enjoy the beautiful weather and great beaches. Just remember that you are not alone in those beaches, and while locals enjoy wearing speedo's, most of us outside of Brazil are not physically equipped to handle the viewing pleasures of almost naked beautiful woman without "raising" any concerns. My suggestion is get some bermudas, baggy ones if you can. You need as much room as you can give yourself, so you can walk around the beaches enjoying the view, without poking anybody in the process.
A form of saying "Hi" to someone or greeting them is by a kiss on both cheeks. While this is normal in countries like Portugal and Italy, it is not a custom that all share. So if you are travelling from a more traditional part of the world, don't think the room service girl is kissing because she is madly in love with you and wants to have your love child. It is just part of the local customs. They kiss everyone all the time, so get used to it and enjoy it.
English, Do you speak it?
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. English is spoken in Brazil but not as commonly as you would think. In your hotel you will find English speaking people, but outside of that familiar surrounding you will have a difficult time finding people who will be able to speak English and understand what you are saying. One thing you should avoid is speaking English slowly and loud, if people don't understand it, won't matter how loud you are and how slow you say it, in the end they still don't get it and you sound like a complete moron.
MMA is very popular in Brazil, don't believe me? Look at the roster of MMA fighters on UFC, more than half are Brazilian. Having said that the chances of you being attacked by a group of MMA fighters while walking in Rio are slim to none, on the other hand the chances of being robbed by a 8 year old are exponentially higher. Don't wonder off the "reservation", you could find yourself in a messy situation in a hurry. Body organs are a lucrative market, don't become a forced donor.
We have all seen the movies where Piranhas eat a cow until only the bones are left. That is the movies, in realty Piranhas are in the Amazon rivers and not in any shape or form a real danger to you. Relax, enjoy the beaches and go for a swim. Nothing will be biting you to the bone, unless you want them to.
Don't Be Shy
Brazilians are not shy by nature. They are a fun, loving people that love to party and socialize. If you are walking down Ipanema beach and 2 gorgeous woman come and talk to you, and you look like CC Sabathia, be aware. They are friendly but not stupid. Hold on to your wallet, like a catholic priest to a 8 year old boy after mass, and expect to have some guy named Carlitos nearby ready to mug you.
Always be aware of your surroundings, and never trust a beautiful woman's smile.
There are huge social gaps in Brazil. The rich are very rich and the poor are very poor. There isn't any middle class. Understanding the social gaps in Brazil will help you better tip your waiters and hotel staff. They are not part of a union making an insane a mount of money, they are poor and trying to make a living, so don't be a cheap foreigner and give the people treating you like a king a nice tip. Not too nice you don't want them to think you are an idiot, but nice enough that you can get "extras" deliver to your room at no extra cost.
Rhythm is King
Brazilians love to dance, but unless you are a regular at Dancing with The Stars, or part of Jennifer Lopez choreography your dance skills will hurt you more than help you. Another misconception is that everybody in Brazil dances lambada. That is like saying everyone in Italy is friends with the Pope and eats pizza. Save yourself the aggregation and embarrassment and stay away from night clubs and any dance floor you may come across. You will stick out of the crowed like Kanye West at a KKK rally.
Brazilian wax is not an export from Brazil to the rest of the world. Normally during a trip to a new country you feel adventurous and willing to try new things, well, this is one of those things that you should probably skip, unless you are a woman and then it is ok. If you are guy going down to Brazil avoid having it done there or elsewhere for that matter. The look is not the best for men and the pain outlasts the possible pleasures that could come from it. What you could do is go to your local beach and count how many woman on the beach have done it, and for each one you take a shot. That should make for an enjoyable afternoon.