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The Real Face of the City of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Updated on January 26, 2012

A Rio de Janeiro from a different perspective


All the tourism agencies tell you amazing things about Rio and they tell you so much about this wonderful city that they convince you there is a perfect paradise waiting for you. However, what you see on TV and read on the internet about Rio is that it is a city full of violence, prostitution and drugs. There are murders and robberies everywhere. You cannot step out of the airplane without being assaulted instantly. Well, I would like to show you a more realistic view of Rio, the reality behind all that convenient marketing and excessive propaganda made by the travel agencies on the one hand and the media on the other hand. Welcome inside the mind of a real Brazil expert, who is going to be your tourist guide during your discovery of The Marvelous City.

What do I see that tourists don’t see?

The foreigners that come to Rio to spend their vacation go to nice places like Ipanema and Copacabana. They listen to international music and eat in international restaurants. I am a random average guy who came to live in Rio 10 years ago. I got to know the rich side of Leblon, Alto Gávea or Barra de Tijuca, the poor side of a real favela and all the people who live in between all those contrasts. I saw how ugly this beautiful city can be and how it changes you and your point of view of life. I saw the pure realities with the ugliness and the beauty. I`m married to a woman from a small town in Brazil called Macaé, which is located in the state of Rio. In the suburbs, I am much closer to the “real” people and the “real” culture of the largest country in South America. When I talk about Rio de Janeiro, I feel love, fear, anxiety and excitement at the same time. It’s a paradise with dark sides, a country located in the tropics (and subtropics in the South) and a place where people wear Havaianas and Ipanemas.

The pretty side

Rio has all those gorgeous things you see in trip brochures and actually even more. There is so much beauty that you will never get to know because there is no trip that lasts long enough for you to have time to see it all. You will discover amazing colorful flowers, lively and engaging music and delicious food with lots of exotic fruits and vegetables that are filled with vitamins. You will taste the orange flesh of a ripe mango and become enchanted by its flavor.

The ugly side

However, there is a lot of danger and violence just like we see on TV. But don`t think there is as much crime as they say. 5.1 million tourists visited the country in 2010 and all of them returned safely to their home countries. Dangers are everywhere, what changes is just the kind of dangers we are exposed to, so all you need to know is how to keep yourself safe. There is no reason to be scared or to panic. Follow the advice below to be safe and have a good time.

Be safe!

#1 – Don’t walk around wearing the most expensive watches or jewelry.

#2 – Don’t go inside a favela unless you are with a Brazilian and he judges this to be safe.

#3 – Don’t leave your belongings anywhere and lose sight of them, such as when you are at the beach and you want to go in the water. If you leave your camera or money in the sand without anybody there to watch it, it will probably be stolen by the time you get back.

#4 – Don’t get totally drunk and lost in a place you don’t know.

#5 – When you go out at night, try to take as few things as possible. Usually your document and money will be enough and all you need.

I hope you enjoyed reading and like they say out there, boa viagem!


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      Lucas Araujo Manfrim 5 years ago

      Great article with good advices, since I'm brazilian and know the two faces of this amazing city.