We challenge you: Feel like a local in Brazil
If, while you’re drinking your ice-cold 25-degree (minus 4 Celsius!) beer, a cheeky coati animal attacks and takes away your pao de queijo, it’s ok to discuss the matter with the complete stranger next to you.
These and others strange and funny life lessons you will discover during your trip in Brazil.
1. The way to call the waiter in a bar is by whistling, uttering other strange and loud sounds or just shouting “Hey, amigo!” at the top of your voice. Silently waving your hand or muttering “Excuse me, sir, may I…” is a typical tourist behavior which will lead to nothing more than you remaining hungry and thirsty.
2. The beer serving temperature is 25 degrees Farenheit (minus 4 Celsius) and you get your bottle in a bucket full of ice. All fridges in the bars have giant displays showing minus 4 Celsius. In order to make sure that your teeth will be freezing with every single sip till the end, some of the beer brands offer you a special cooler for the bottle.
3. There’s no need to ask for the next beer. Because it arrives alone, so to say. When you take the empty bottle out of the cooler, this is a silent sign for the waiter to bring you another one. Plus, you rarely get the chance to pour the beer in the glass yourself – Brazilian waiters are used to doing it without you even noticing.
4. It is impossible to die of starvation, thirst or lack of shoelaces in Brazil.
In the bus, on the subway, on the beach, directly on the pavement – there’s always someone selling something. Among the goods on display are:
– intimidating middle-aged men with machetes, who will decapitate a coconut to put a straw in it and sell it to you on a hot day (for about $ 0.5-1).
– suntanned lads who sell flipflops, most likely stolen minutes ago from the neighboring beach.
– sweating ladies, who walk around the beach with a mini barbecue to grill in front of your eyes at the beach a chunk of cheese with spices…
Once I was sunbathing (with a bathing suit) on Copacabana Beach, when a bathing suit vendor came over me and absolutely seriously asked me if I had a bathing suit.
5. Your food might be stolen by a coati
Sitting on a table with a “Don’t feed the coati” sign, it waits for its portion. Ok, it’s not a ubiquitous threat around Brazil but if you visit the Iguazu Falls, be prepared for the small tropical pest of the raccoon family. Here coatis (or sometimes called nasua) organize smart attacks to relieve the tourists of their burden of unnecessary food. One coati pulls your arm to distract your attention, while another one sneaks the sandwich away from your bag.
6. Everybody talks to you without knowing you. Brazilians are very easy-going and have no problems to start talking to every man or woman on the street, on any topic. If they see a foreigner who doesn’t speak Portuguese… well it won’t stop them.
7. Of all your personal belongings at the beach you should mostly take care of your… flipflops.
Your money and phone are in danger too. But if you leave your flipflops unattended for a minute, here is what happens: someone will pass by casually, he will put them on and go away with them. Then they will be sold at the nearby beach. This happens mainly at the popular touristy beaches though.
8. The most popular pastry snack in fact… is not exactly pastry.
At least it is not made of white flour – instead the main ingredient is tapioca – the powdery extract of cassava shrub. The snack itself is called pao de queijo – small pastry balls with the local cheese. You can buy it everywhere and it’s gluten free. Very tasty!
9. The way to say OK is by energetically raising your thumb up. Brazilians don’t just say OK. They say OK and throw their thumbs in the air, sometimes of the two hands simultaneously. After a week in Brazil you will no longer be able to keep your hands down either. However, do have in mind that usually the Brazilian “OK” doesn’t mean “Ok, we have an appointment”. It means “OK, I ll think about it but don’t expect me to inform you about my final decision”.
10. You can pay by credit or debit card everywhere. Even if you buy a cup of freshly squeezed guava juice by a street vendor or a hat at the beach.