So a bit of a bad period financially again it seems in the world…
Chinese stock market crashes, depression in the US and European markets…
And Brazil is in a recession, even if it seems to be in the depths of denial! On an campaign video two weeks ago PT (Dilma’s party) were talking about how there is no crisis, it is all down to the media overplaying it and scare mongering. This week she has made a statement saying that perhaps it is worse than first realised…
And I see no where better to show that than a look at the exchange rates. For me, I am interested in the rate against the pound.
Today we are close to hitting R$5.6 to the GBP (oops… I checked at midday, seems we have shot past 5.6 since then to 5.64). When I first arrived in Brazil it was around 3. Enough said? Actually, perhaps a few pictures can be worth a thousand words!
Looking at the last 90 days (all rates courtesy of Oanda) shows quite how much it has changed lately, from 4.8 to 5.6 representing almost a 20% swing, which for any Brazilian wanting to go abroad makes it a very expensive prospect…
In fact, looking back at the 3 years I have been in Brazil, it is a fairly solid trend of increasing. I have highlighted the 2.9, which was around when I got my Brazilian work contract.
In fact, we have to go back a long time to find when it was last like this! 2002 was the previous time the exchange rate reached these levels… In fact, in the last 20 years, it has only been anywhere near here twice, and had a very volatile journey from 1995 to 2015… From around 1.5 to 5.9!
But for a Brazilian, the current state of the economy must be very worrying. I had hoped that the rate was stabilising, but it seems not with another increase over the last 2 days. There’s lots of people talking about setting a new record of hitting 6 by the end of the year… It doesn’t even look like we will have to wait that long unfortunately.
Of course, for anyone visiting Brazil, now is a great time, and in fact every day is that little bit better! I’ve had many posts in the past about how expensive things here can be, however now some things that used to seem expensive are now seeming far more reasonable when I think in terms of pounds. And as a fan of fine dining, Rio and São Paulo can have some true gastronomic bargains going on with a great set of Michelin Star restaurants to visit, as well as just a great set of restaurants that didn’t quite make it in the first ever Michelin Guide for South America. For me, there’s a visit to D.O.M. is coming up in October and I can’t wait!
So now that I’m back in freezing cold London, I thought I’d have a look back on the first five weeks I had in Rio and the memorable moments!
So one that stands out is crazy taxi drivers and the small crash we had on the way out one evening. Cutting down the shoulder, or even the pavement to take short cuts… Works fine as long as there isn’t, say, a bus where you are trying to go…. My advice – wear a seatbelt, and get a newer cab with airbags maybe! They can be a bit crazy in their driving, and buses think they are doing a timed lap of Interlagos sometimes! Buses take cash normally up to a R$20 as long as hey have change. Prices vary from $2.75 to $5.25 depending if they are air conditioned or not. Always board at the front and exit at the back. And in a lot of areas stops are not clearly marked as to what buses you may find!
Second… Let’s mention food! At a rodizio in Botafogo I saw more meat than I have done in my life I think! And good as well. One thing that did surprise me is how expensive eating out is. At a proper sit down restaurant prices are very similar to London for lunch or dinner. However there are cheaper options. One favourite for lunch was the weigh your plate style, where you can get a big lunch for well under £10. And it terms of the variety, you can basically get most things. I never had any problems with weird foods, but haven’t tired feijoada yet…. Nothing is spicy, but that’s fine with me!
Third… Getting cash! Never have I found it so difficult abroad to be able to get cash… A lot of cash machines are bank specific and don’t take anything other than that bank’s cards. Then more are either just MasterCard or just visa. But even finding a machine that takes your card type is no guarantee of it then giving you money. Or even working one day and still working the next day. My card got blocked several times by my bank for potential fraud as I kept cycling round cash machines trying to get money out! Generally Banco24 machines (often found in pharmacies) were ok, but not all took the same type of cards. Also Bradesco machines normally worked. Sense would work with some banks but not others (eg Barclays card works, Lloyds card doesn’t for example).
Fourth… Mosquitos…. No dengue fever to mention, but I did get bit quite a bit. I would recommend a plug in mosquito repellent (I had two in my room to finally keep them at bay!). Although I didn’t wear repellent all the time, if you are bothered by them it is probably a good idea.
And that’s it for today’s instalment! More tomorrow hopefully.