Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What should I absolutely not do when visiting your country? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
1. First of all, don’t come here assuming that brazilian women are naturally promiscuous, that women are “whores,” the latin fever, etc – and men are thugs. We (especially us girls) suffer a lot already when traveling abroad receiving this kind of inappropriate treatment. It is deeply disrespectful and quite frankly, if you believe so, you’re not the kind of person that we would like in our country.
2. Please do not get offended when you are treated informally. We are a very welcoming people, and we treat everyone like this – even authority figures such as the President – Dilma. Yes, she’s a woman, just FYI – people will refer to you using you first name, probably mispronouncing it, but with the best intentions! ;)
3. We have a hard time with English. Don’t come around expecting that you will be understood by everyone, because it is rare to find people that speak basic English. We will try our best to communicate with you, though, especially servers, taxi drivers and such.
4. You will come across with some rude people, but most of us are quite nice and will “celebrate” you for being different.
5. The public transportation system is absolute crap. If you can, please, take taxis everywhere. Is some cities, like Rio, they are relatively cheap. And this is really important: make sure that they have credentials. Ask for recommendations on cab companies to locals or at the hotel you’re staying.
6. DO NOT ASSUME WE SPEAK SPANISH. We speak Portuguese – we were colonized by Portugal, though our languages are completely different nowadays – and assuming otherwise is really rude and you will be seen as ignorant. Actually, we have very little similarities with our fellow South American countries.
7. You might be praised and treated better by your wealthiness if you do so, but refrain from showing off belonging like electronic gadgets, expensive jewelry, and money itself. You WILL get mugged if you do so, and it can get pretty violent. If you keep a low profile, don’t worry, touristic areas are usually well guarded.
8. We are a developing country. Don’t expect to come around and finding only the beautiful sights and lovely people; you will come across poverty, favelas, poorly managed city areas and so, especially if you choose not to stick to the traditional touristic areas.
9. Don’t worry about tipping, it is only “mandatory” to hotel staff and waiters. However, it is appreciated.
10. We come in literally all shapes, sizes and colors. Don’t come expecting to meet stereotypical standards on how we look. You will probably be stunned by our diversity.
11. If you attempt on bribing a police officer, it can go either way: you might get away with whatever you were doing (the corrupt officers you probably try to take all the money from you that they can, definitely) or you might get arrested. Refrain from doing anything prohibited just in case.
12. Drugs (including marijuana, which we call “maconha”) and going topless at our beaches are prohibited. Drug consumption is quite common in places like nightclubs and such, but it is not legal to do so. Don’t do it, you’ll probably get in trouble.
13. You will be called “gringo” several times.
14. Religion is not a very hot topic for us. We do have a great variety of creeds, but try not bringing it up. We are mostly Catholic, and the Catholic doctrine is pretty rooted in our culture.
15. If coming to Rio de Janeiro: don’t, don’t, DON’T try visiting the favelas alone! They are still ruled by drug dealers, and it is VERY DANGEROUS to go by yourself. The people living there are absolutely simple and honest, most of the time, but being a drug territory, the laws are mixed up and the domain is from the dealers. There are guided tours that you can purchase in specialized traveling agencies! Do not try going by yourself!
If you wish to come to Brasil, please do so, you will be warmly welcomed. We are a beautiful country. Enjoy your stay and be safe!