I’ve been in Brazil for several weeks now and despite being in love with the culture, there are some things that are lacking in Brazil making the country far behind many other nations. Below is a list of extraordinary things that I’ve experienced here, as well as information I’ve heard from relatives and friends. People are scared to complain or express their frustrations for fear of their safety and security, so I feel like I must say something.
A list of extraordinary things that I’ve experienced in Brazil.
1- There is a unique personal ID number that exists in Brazil, and it is required if you want to purchase anything (online and offline). This unique ID is called a CPF and only applies to Brazilian people. However, they expect everyone who travels here to have a CPF. You’ll be asked for your CPF most of the time even when you buy things such as your groceries, bus and airline tickets, merchandises and even when trying to exchange defective items.
2- In many instances, there is a tourist price and a different price for the locals. Make sure you’re charged a fair and reasonable price. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly simply ask or argue your point as I’ve had to do many times here – it’s very annoying.
3- Carry a certified copy of your passport everywhere you go. I was stuck for 3 hours trying to board a bus. I was left behind because I didn´t have a certified hard copy of my passport with me, although I had a passport photo on my mobile phone and my driver´s license in hand, the bus driver refused to let me on the bus – how ridiculous! Just imagine if I had to take this bus before connecting to an international flight back home – I would have missed it.
4- Don’t walk alone anywhere. I’ve heard some of the sick tactics used here to rob people such as young boys in gangs who attack you all at once, people who kill for your mobile phone – yes KILL you for your mobile phone to exchange it for cash to buy drugs. People snatching items such as your jewellery if you’re sitting on a bus with the window open. Be extra careful when you are in Brazil.
5- Make sure to carry some cash. I was told not to carry cash but trying to get cash from the ATM here is not easy. I had a stupid $100AUD limit at one ATM ($100 a day in Brazil doesn’t buy you much). If you can bring some cash here, it’ll save you some trouble. Also, a lot of places don’t accept credit cards – and this country is supposed to host the Olympic Games in 6 months!
6- If you book accommodation online ´bookings.com´ be extra careful as the price shown on their page is described per room but when it comes time to check out you are charged ´per person´ and not ´per room´.
7- WiFi is not easy to access here. Even the airports and popular tourist places do not have WiFi.
8- Many places I visited had no tourist information available and in some instances, people were not helpful at all, in fact, they were terribly rude. Do your research before travelling and don’t expect to find help if you need it.
Also as a customer, you have no rights in Brazil. You hardly can exchange or refund items, even if they’re faulty or broken, especially if you’re a foreigner. I’ve been double charged for accommodation, lost a plane ticket due to the fact elevator and luggage belt was broken, which delayed my connecting flight. I had to argue almost an hour for a $40AUD pair of sandals that I bought and the strap broke when I tried it on in my hotel room.
9- The corruption in Brazil is unbelievable. This is the only news we hear for the most part of the day: corruption and crime. There are no informative or educational shows or information on new initiatives from their government to fix problems. People are alienated and powerless in their view. Did you know that a judge here banned Whats App for 48 hours! Many TV shows are infantile and immature, and it’s frustrating because I’m used to a certain level of information being provided freely in Australia on TV and online.
I hope I’ve shed some reality to what the majority of people think Brazil is all about. It’s not a paradise – actually far from it. The traffic congestion, the stench in the air, the dengue epidemic and the surrounding poverty in the slums are some of the things that are very hard to accept. I’m gravely concerned about the safety of people who travel here as well as security and future of the people who live here. I feel there is no hope for improvement, except for the corrupt and who exploit the poor for their benefit. Slavery and labour exploitation are very much alive in the Brazilian society. Since the last time I was here, which was only 4 years ago, Brazil has stepped back to the early 80’s, not having evolved like the rest of the world.
However, despite what I have written above, I have to say that I will always come back here to see my beloved family. I feel I have a responsibility to share with people back in Australia what life in a place like this is actually like. So watch out those of you back home who have everything and who are still not happy, maybe you need to swap with someone here in Brazil to appreciate just how lucky, fortunate and safe life is in Australia.
Check out my other posts about Brazil below: