Jetting off to New York tonight for a week! Definitely feeling like a holiday, even though it wasn’t that long since the last one! Hopefully next year I will have much more time to look at places in South America too, as so far I’ve only had a brief excursion to Argentina. Plans for weekends away around Brazil are in the works for later this year and next.
But what has been happening in Rio lately?
An election of course! Which had a slightly surprisingly result where the third place candidate going in to the voting came out in a good second place. Marina, the new candidate who had a surprisingly strong showing in the run up to voting day ended up in a distant third.
But all that means there’s a second round in two weeks, and a healthy chance the incumbent favourite may not win if all of Marina’s votes go to Aércio… Certainly from my perspective as a foreigner here, he seems to have the most forward looking policies for Brazil, actually looking at the economy and how to improve international trade and relations. Dilma’s policies, which are very popular with less well off families, are far more introvert for me and have also landed the country in to a recession and have resulted in what should have been a period of major growth for Petrobras a period of stagnation.
Either way, we will find out in two works!
But outside of the elections, things have all been somewhat calm. I had a long 6 hour bus journey the other day to a relatively near by city… the roads here really aren’t so good except between Rio and São Paulo I’m lead to believe. Single carriageway, dangerous overtaking (really really crazy people…), potholes everywhere, stupidly high speed bumps…
I’ve also discovered the joy of Uber in Rio. As later in the evenings I always commute anywhere via taxi, I always have to make sure I have enough cash. Although there are some cabs with card machines, they are not that common and far from guaranteed. Uber arrived in Rio earlier this year, and I’ve become a regular user. Although it is costing maybe 15-20% more than a regular cab here, cabs are so cheap in the first place (for someone coming from London anyway!) that is still isn’t too expensive, and I have no worry about having to keep extra cash for a taxi. And you tend to get much better drivers who don’t all think they are the re-incarnation of Ayrton Senna.
Oh… and I lost my sun glasses… that’s somewhat annoying as they were fairly new and quite expensive… In a taxi I believe, I think they may have fell off my head… Oh well, time to get some new ones in New York!
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.