Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Things I like Better: Brazil vs the US

Just wrong

I did the US vs Brazil yesterday and here is where Brazil stands against the US.

1. Coconut water. Sure it's all hip to drink coconut water now in the states but that little box does not compare to a freshly opened chilled real coconut.

2. The beach. I thought I knew the beach before Brazil but I was so wrong. Brazilians do the beach the way it was meant to be done! I can't explain it because it is not a technique, it is an experience.

3. Flakiness. While I hate flakes and flaking, it is really nice to be able to flake when you really want to and not be judged. You will get a little shit initially but since everyone flakes on everyone every once in a while there is a certain flexibility to it. I can not go to a friends party and only get shit about it while on the phone with them. Buy them a beer the next time you meet and all is forgotten.

4. Big lunches. It took me a while to get used to having my main meal in the middle of the day but I have now been converted. Sure I still have a sandwich every once in a while but my body much prefers digesting during waking hours instead of trying to do it while I sleep.

5. Flip flops. Sorry folks but Havaianas are the only acceptable brand and yes you should own a variety of styles and colors.

6. Bathing suits. The bikinis may be small but you don't get a saggy butt and you look better all around (not to mention the fact that they really last!) The speedos the men use are flattering and not creepy like the Italians (no offense). That and why on Earth should men be forced to wear long baggie uncomfortable sand catching shorts? So not fair.

7. Brazilian earrings. I love them all, the expensive ones and the ones sold on the street. Sure you may have to sift through some tacky ones but you will still better your collection by far (and usually it's much easier on the wallet).

8. Delivery. You can get everything delivered! Stuck home with a sick kid? Call the pharmacy and have the medicine delivered. Call your favorite neighborhood restaurant and have lunch brought to you. Hell, go to the grocery store and then leave all your goods behind for the store to bring them over by bike. This is a big plus, especially if you cruise around with 2 little ones like I do.

9. Homemade food. Sure I miss food from home but my eating habits have improved greatly. I hardly ever use my microwave and the only frozen food I eat is previously made homemade food frozen so I can use it at a later date. That being said, I am 10 pounds lighter in Brazil without trying. Coincidence? I think not.

10. The people. No offense to my country but people here are friendlier. You can talk to a stranger's kid without being called a pedophile. Actually, if you didn't pat that random kid's head who stepped on your foot you'd more likely be called an ass. Brazilians love company, friends and family. There is always a lunch or event or random meet up. There are no "private space" issues. You kiss on the cheek hello, goodbye, and constantly use endearing terms with everyone. Brazilians just give out love and it is something the rest of the world should try.


And you?


  1. really? you prize the flakiness? Brazilians are bigger flakes than americans and i don't think it's an asset. i hate flakiness here just as much there. i agree on the bathing suits. not a fan of any big meals.... lots of small meals is healthier :) why does everyone think brazilians are friendlier than americans? i dunno, i just don't feel like im so negative. but i know plenty of brazilians who don't make anything homemade, its because you want to feed your family better ! you would do the same in the US.

    1. Business flaking is a no no for me. I should have clarified that. Of course I do appreciate the 10 minutes late thing because I'm sometimes the reason Mr. Rant is 10 minutes late ;)

  2. To me the flakiness is a life lesson that time by the minute should not be the most important thing. Sure, I can say that because I have a very casual self employment situation.

    I totally find Brazilians more friendly than Americans. But maybe that is because I have always lived in urban areas in the US. I have been scolded by parents for making kind gestures toward small children. WAY more than once.

    At several hundred reais - how many Brazilian families even own a microwave? It´s always homemade...

    1. Everybody owns a microwave, even if it is paid in 20 payments on Casas Bahia.

    2. all brazilians I know own a microwave but they don't usually use it. they prefer the oven and stove.

    3. Brazilians do own microwaves. They don't, however, buy beans in a can.

      And I dig your explanation of the flakiness and I do think there is some truth behind it. They get the flow of the day, that things will happen, and that you have to do what you are doing at each moment... at least in comparison with Americans

    4. Forgive me, but with all due respect, your comment carries a good deal of ignorance. Before saying a nonsense you should learn more about what you say. What do you think? That Brazilians live under trees in the jungle? That Brazilians dress with feathers and Cokes and fish with his bare hands? Come on dude, you're better than that. Have you ever been to Brazil? We're talking about an industrialized country. We are talking about the sixth largest economy in the world for God's sake. It is clear that the country has huge problems of infrastructure, development, and immeasurable social challenges, but think that Brazilians do not have a goddamn microwave is unacceptable.

  3. "Toda vantagem tem sua desvantagem" (Cruijff)
    P.S.: the American bathing suits look like huge diapers for women.

    1. it so does. I couldn't find a better picture than the one above. I am going to go to Ipanema one after and sit by the water with my camera just to capture the saggy water filled tourist bikini bottoms ;)

  4. Yeah I don't like the flakiness so much, the Havaianas even less ( such evil flake-flops they are, ugh). I can get on board with the rest of your list; although I don't see any use for the beach, other than swimming.
    I can't really come up with anything besides what you've already mentioned. Wow, that kind of sucks for me.
    Wait! I like hanging out in padarias and, ok, on RARE ocassions I enjoy being in there wearing flake flops - if it's not rainy season. I just love the padaria setting for reading the paper and sipping on café com leite, while eating a hot mixie ( a mixto-quente you pervs).

    1. I can't believe I forgot padarias. I will only move to an apartment with one conveniently close by. Of course I life in RIo so basically all of them have that. mmmmmmm Carbs!

  5. Although I agree with Jim that "time by the minute should not be the most important thing," I still think that flaking WITHOUT CALLING is inconsiderate.

    Sure, if my English students show up 15 minutes late, tudo bem. But if I've planned my day around the fact that I'm meeting someone for lunch... or if I drag my butt out of bed at 5:30 AM for an English class... the least my student/friend could do is give me or the school a call and say they can't come, or will be late, or whatever. Most of my students flake about 1/3 of their classes.

    I can't believe you didn't mention the fresh tropical fruit year-round! I'm eating a chilled mamao as I type this :-D

    1. You have to call! HAVE TO CALL! I have to beat that into peoples' heads.

      I can't believe I forgot fruit. I especially can't believe I forgot to mention the bananas which only confirm my fear that ours really do taste like cardboard

    2. american bananas do taste like cardboard!!!

    3. American bananas? I think there are very few if at all. I'm pretty sure all bananas come from another country. It's like saying all Brazilian cranberries taste like cardboard.

  6. I love the willingness to barter here in Brazil. We have registered students at our school in exchange for animal care (puppy vaccinations and puppy food!), new furniture, commercials, fliers, and maybe even a pronunciation coach!

    1. I love that you are willing to barter in return! You rock!

      And yes, I do love this too. So many things :)

  7. Rachel,

    The flake thing is totally a Rio treat, being a flake would be the best way to loose friends in Sao Paulo and unthinkable in business situations. But I understood your point of view! ;)
    I also miss all that life style of fresh homemade food that it's the norm in Brazil.
    I have to say I miss good quality chocolate and candy from Brazil, made fresher and with real SUGAR opposed to stale tasting chocolate made with corn syrup...
    Gil and I have also talked about the weird after taste o chicken over here, God knows what they eed these chickens and also the milk here has a kale like after taste, but we can get rid of the weird milk taste by steaming it. I think it might be due to the fact that cows ae grain fed here, versus grazing on fresh green pastures in Brazil, that makes a big difference in taste, we miss Brazilian milk!
    This is a fun post!! :)


    1. And the chicken thing is changing here too. Quite sad. YOu have to know your chicken guy at the feira these days. I actually saw one stand opening a grocery store packet of chicken hearts and putting them out. I was horrified.

      And Sp... how do I say this nicely... I would not live there. Sorry. Maybe the state but certainly not the city :)

      And you miss your milk? Hell, I'll send you some snail mail. It'll still be good ;)

    2. Ha!!! I don't really like the UHT milk, in the box. We used to buy the regular fresh milk in the corner bakery along with the bread.
      Gil is always complaining about the milk here, he can pick up a veggie like aftertaste if the doesn't steam the milk.
      We just saw on the news today that the raw chicken here is soaked in water with salt solution to preserve it's taste until we buy it, so they say we are consuming a lot of sodium even when buying raw chicken and cooking at home.
      You are right, it helps to know your butcher and you chicken guy.
      Also, keep in mind I left Brazil 15 years ago and a lot of things have changed for sure.
      I think as Brazil develops it's food production and distribution system, it will be just like the US, and many things already are filled with sodium and fat to preserve it.
      We can buy higher quality better tasting food here, but it comes at a very high price from places like Wholefoods!
      Regarding Sao Paulo, you would fall completely in love if you give me a chance to show the city from a local's point of view! ;)



  8. HHAHAHAHAHA oh god, can't wait for the day I step out on Ipanema in my sunga. Only question is, what color shall it be? Green, yellow? I think I'll steer away from white unless you guys want a free show....better start starving myself now.

    Interesting about the flakiness comment. I'm not discounting what you're saying at all, but the Brazilians I know here are more reliable than my American friends! I will give it to you that they are usually always late though. Not a problem for me because I've never been anywhere on time in my entire life. Reason 4385439894 why I should be Brazilian.

    And Amen to the friendly comment. Brazilians are so freaking god damn cute, sometimes I literally get sick from all the shuga'!!!!! It really amazes me and I will never, ever get tired of the genuine care and "carinho" of the Brazilian people.


    1. You need a baby blue one. Will look good with your white ass skin ;)

    2. Are you saying the skin of my ass is white, or I have "white ass skin" in general? Probably both. Alright, blue bikini it is

  9. 1) Fresh juices
    2) Padarias and the fact that you can get warm, fluffy fresh bread at anytime of day, within walking distance of your house, no matter where you live
    4)Cafezinhos - I never drank coffee in the US and I am still not a big enough fan to drink a big cup...but there is something about the ceremony of the matter what is going on there is always a minute to stop and share a tiny cup...with anyone and for any reason at all
    4)The selection of ugly fruits and vegetables (It took me a while to get used to non-shiny/perfect apples and tomatoes...then I really started thinking about why the bugs were avoiding the American plants and what that meant for my body)
    5) Affordable medical and dental care. Root canal for R$300?? Out of pocket private ER visit - R$150? Take that USA.
    6) Feriadao - of course holiday weekends can/should always be ammended to four day affairs.
    7) The fact that stores are actually closed on Sundays/holidays - I know it is a bit inconvenient...but I enjoy my churrascos more knowing that everyone has a fair chance to participate, even if they are a minimum wage workers. An average 44hour work week is enough suffering for the average Joe - no need to rob the of any/all potential beach/family time
    8) Feiras
    9) Homemade foods sold out of people houses/street food and vendors - picole, deserts, acai, hamburgers & hotdogs, churrasquinho, tapioca, cuscus, quentinhos
    10) Giant extended families and the fact that people keep in constant contact with each other (weekly family reunions, daily convos, living with other relatives for way too long)

    The list could go on forever....

    My only doubt about your list, Rachel, is whether Havaianas are the only acceptable brand of flip-flop. Yes, they are the cutest brand and only acceptable brand for a social visit to the beach, etc. but Ipanemas take a better beating if you walk a lot (example - walking from Barra to Recreio via Reserva - Havianas will die - Ipanemas will survive)

    1. Your list kicks my list's ass! How could I forget the juices? And the padarias! Touche I say. Touche!

  10. 1) As a lot of people mentioned -- the fruit & veggies
    2) Pizza
    3) Farmer's Market
    4) Customer service when in the mall (but not at, say, the post office)
    5) Ditto on the beach scene and homemade cooking

    1. LOVE the farmer's markets!

    2. And pastel. Right there is a HUGE reason Brazil rocks!

  11. 1- big family lunches and reunions
    2- love for children
    3- baby clothing - love it!!
    4- brazilian weddings and kids parties
    5- fresh tasty juices and food: churrasco, farofa , brigadeiro , pastel de palmito , coxinha com catupiry, strogonof com arroz e batata palha
    6- havaianas and brazilian leather shoes in general
    7- beautiful people and beautiful country
    8- no rush to leave the beach , friend’s house etc “relax and chill out“
    9- the people! lots of smiles and kindness.
    10- padarias and feiras

    ps: I am an european in love with brazil :)

    1. Brazilians sure do know how to throw a wedding and bday party! Seriously amazing! I LOVE weddings down here. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Same goes with Bday parties. I surprised myself in that I am one of the only foreigners here that I know of that throws traditional Brazilian kids' bday parties. They are just such a blast

  12. it's funny, but I loved the point 10, never thought that such simple things would make me feel so special, lol, seriously if you play with small children in the United States they will call you a pedophile? What folly! So I guess if I lived there, had already been arrested, because I love playing with children, [no malice] hehehe = P

    Good to see you here not only has negative points, is not it? But putting in the balance, here's more positives or negatives?

    1. How did you not know everyone is so nice. You are so nice :)

      Few but big negatives. A large amount of positives

  13. seriously, you all are putting my list to shame! I am practically re-doing it as I forgot so much stuff!

  14. Replies
    1. yes!
      breastfeeding in public!!!
      hmmm french kiss!

  15. Well, of course I like certain American things better than I like Brazilian things and vice-versa. For example, I love Vidalia onions - not aware if they're sold Brazil. Every time we ask friends and family about them, they seem to have no idea of what we're talking about. I could eat Vidalias like I eat apples (sweet and almost no acidity). I hope they are sold in Brazil, otherwise I'll be less of a happy Brazilian back home.
    I like the much easier access to goods and services here in the U.S. No wonder Brazilians keep flocking here in a consumer frenzy, and I don't blame them as prices in Brazil are stupidly ridiculous.

    Corruption? Here or there it's the same s*** with different flies flying around it. The biggest difference is that here in the U.S., unlike in Brazil, corruption is an institutionalized thing, or what else you call lobbying and elections run by big money? By the way, the true ruler of this country are the Corporate America - talk about s*** that are added in your food and cosmetics that have been prohibited in Europe and in Japan for ages and might be causing all sorts of health issues that you'll be able to treat only if you happen to be lucky enough for having health insurance.

    The socioeconomic reality, where is it better? Well, it depends on one's view. In my personal view things are getting better in Brazil with the present booming economy and the recent massive social inclusion. Sadly, though, the US seems to be going in the opposite direction, thanks mostly to this disgusting widespread corporation greed that is creating an evil trend of social exclusion, which means a growing number of impoverished Americans that don't have access to the health care system, consumption and even a roof above their heads.

    I like CHEAPER clothing here better, but I think Brazilian clothes can be as good and even better if you can pay for the more expensive stuff.

    Chocolate? Hmmm... sure it's a matter of personal taste. I like Brazilian's better. Brazil produces it's own cocoa in Bahia state (what a luxury, huh?) and I don't see anything "chalky" about them at all like some (expats) insist to say.

    Candy? Well, I'm not much into them as here they are loaded with the evil "corn syrup"(although it lately has been changing to sugar, thank God) - corn syrup is one of the agents responsible for fattening Americans, and also I find scary this food dye called Red 40 that contains a known carcinogen or cancer-causing agent called aniline that's is largely used in everything here. That's why I stay away from those very red foodstuff. I really miss Brazilian candy, specially those traditional ones like doce de leite (bar), doce de amendoim, torrone, quebra-queixo, etc. They are mostly hard, but fun to chew on.

    Milk? Someone said something like "that UHT stuff". It made it sound like some sort of a harmful crap added in the milk. But UHT simply stands for Ultra High Temperature process, which means it's nothing but a kind of PASTEURIZATION, and I happen to love it better than the "fresh" milk ordinarily sold here as this milk tastes kinda "veggie" (for some reason). That's why I only drink steamed milk in order to get rid of this funky taste - that I never got used to. By the away, here it's possible to buy UHT milk, but it's expensive and it tastes exactly the same as the Brazilian UHT boxed milk.

    Poltry meat? I consider it to be a true disgrace in this country. The taste is strong and sometimes the smell of it is even worse, except for the BREAST PART that, ironically, are heavily imported from Brazil.

  16. Ground beef? Super greasy, even when it's said to be only 10% lean beef, which means it's almost impossible to do anything with it other than grilled burgers.

    Fruits? Citric fruits in general are awful here. A Brazilian from Ribeirao Preto, SP, in one of the main producing regions of oranges in Brazil, for example, certainly would throw away 90% of the oranges he/she would taste in this country. I rarely tasted a decent plum here either - a fruit that I happen to love. The same goes about the peaches - not so much tasty nor juicy like the Brazilian ones. Tropical fruits? Forget them! They're simply not as good and we all know why (refrigeration). I'm tired of getting frustrated with mangoes and papayas. I like apples better here and berries in general (Brazil simply doesn't have the right weather conditions for growing them, except for the strawberries). I really, really miss jabuticabas and red guavas.

    Vegetables? In Brazil they are better by a long shot. I specially miss "mandioquinha" or "batata baroa" - depending on where you live in Brazil. I also love and miss good and cheap coyote squash (such a delicate taste and texture), cassava (usually they're awful here - not rarely they have dark patches inside, woody texture and are all covered in thick wax for conservation purpose).

    Breads? I like better Brazilian ones, and we must thank the Portuguese and Italians for the good breads we have, specially in the south part of the country. Sometimes I die for a fresh baked “pãozinho francês" from a good Paulistano or Carioca bakery. Some expats don't get it and complain that "pãezinhos" are not good anymore after a couple of hours - they get mushy (duh!). Of course, they're supposed to be eaten as fresh as possible, that's why most of the bakeries have certain particular hours set for baking them, so people know it and go to buying them. They smell so good, are crusty outside and very soft inside. Hmmm!

    Space? What a luxury these days! This is something that I value the most here in the U.S. Houses are, in general, detached from each other, there are (still) spacious backyards like ours - also considering that here we live in a small "treesy" suburban town and in Brazil we will most likely end up in the Paulistano concrete jungle. By the way, people here enjoy privacy way more than Brazilians do, and surely I'm going to miss it dearly when we're back,

    Social behavior? I'm totally American on this one. I'm more of an individualistic person. My time is precious, so you better be on time, because I'm always on time. I'm not your typical huggy-kissy type of a Brazilian - a sincere hand shaking and a good eye contact should be enough. I very much prefer the more American informal way of entertaining people. A great deal of Brazilians love ostentation/showing off (a very Brazilian thing, by the way) and because of that some tend to be a little to the (tacky) formal side. I also am very fond of my 3 feet circle of personal space around me that are fully respect by the Americans - in Brazil... well... I really doubt it's even conceivable.

  17. Here in France fresh food is preferred. When I arrived 20 years ago, there was very little packaged meals but now there is a whole long cooler full of them. Americanization is creeping in because now it takes two salaries to live and a lot of single people put off marriage for economic reason. Hence they have to bring home the quick preparation food for dinner.

    I definitively agree that Brazilians are the friendliest people in the world. I've worked in many countries so I can attest to that. On my first business trip to Brazil, I was invited to dinner at the home of a colleague. His wife greeted me at the door with two kisses on the cheek. I was both surprised and delighted. The French do kiss their friends and neighbors on the cheeks but for strangers, it's still a handshake. The French are friendly but not as friendly as Brazilians. Could it have anything to do with the warm climate. Aren't southern Americans friendlier than northern Americans?

    1. Well the culture in the US really depends on area.... there are places, like New Olreans where people are mean (due to a long history of suffering). I went to places in Florida where the people were scary and where people were super nice. The west coast people seemed to be really down to earth. I also love midwest people. But it's relative. I would say, each state thinks they are nicer than all the rest. But I think people from the Bahamas seem to be the nicest people I have ever met.

  18. Great list. I now appreciate Brazil just a little bit more. I'm with you on the flakiness in social situations. If you don't feel like doing something at the last minute, you just don't. I've always given other people that freedom, but in the U.S., most people get pretty pissed.

  19. One thing that bothers me living in any big city, be it Rio, NYC, Paris, etc. is the noise of the traffic, the pollution and the crowded public transport. Here in France hardly anyone uses their horn. In Mexico City, everyone used their horns even while driving without any problems. In Rio, they use them a lot to warn they are coming through a red light at an intersection because they are afraid to be carjacked if they stop.
    One nice thing about Brazil for us old farts is that local buses are free (one you get you old fart pass) and inter-state buses are 50% discounted. In France, we get 25% off train travel just for being over 60 and 50% if we subscribe to the Senior's Travel program which costs 50 euros per year.

  20. I agree with everything, except the Brazilan flakiness issue. Although, the definition of flakiness might be in question. Ok, 10 minutes, can be reasonable, although if its constant can be annoying and eventually unacceptable. I also think we all know there is something deeper then the casual 10 minutes here. Its not showing up at all, and not calling either. Its waiting all day, arranging your day to fit that particular schedule, and then the other person not reciprocating. Its actually funny to hear my fresh Gringo friend's befriending Brazilians then complaining to me, that they made plans to do something, and they didnt show up.... Me - Living in Brazil now 12 years... kinda of have to laugh, oh yeah.. and remember... they didn't know that yet... but they will soon learn. As an American in Brazil, I always keep my appointments, if I cannot, I always call, and I do find Brazilians appreciate it. Perhaps if they see more people with this mentality of consideration for other peoples time, they will do the same as well.

  21. I think the biggest thing in Brazil is the freedom to relax and forget. It's like in the US, if we do it we end up feeling guilty. There was research that showed it took American 3 weeks of vacation to stop stressing out about work, family and daily life and enjoy their vacation (well what was left, if any). A lot of comments you hear from Americans are, oh I need a vacation from my vacation.

    Here in Brazil my life is so much more laid back and stress free. And this is coming from someone who has had employment issues for three years in Brazil, someone who has to sue they're employer for maternity leave and money is tight in our family. So I can imagine people who are not dealing with things I dealwith , probably have such low stress in Brazil.

    The "minero" stereotype is famous for people from mineas not letting anything stress them and be laid back 24/7. I know lots of Brazil who live and love this motto.

    1. Mineros, at least in my experience, have a pain in the a** attitude. They are so serious about everything and no, they don't let things go. And fofoca/gossip is huge, at least in my area.

    2. Well, that sounds very Brazilian of them!

  22. LABOR RIGHTS! I think that this has to be mentioned. Brazil has awesome benefits as a worker and your rights are FIRST.

    1. From a business owner point of view, its more of a challenge. For example, I know owners whom were counting on workers to show up, on a busy day, and could not reprimand the worker. That is not okay. Workers cannot be fired for being late or the latter. If the workers are fired, they go to court and get awarded money. To me, that is not right. I am not condoning business owners that don't pay their workers within a reasonable time. While remodeling our shop, a couple workers told us they appreciate us, because we always pay them on time. There needs to be a balance.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Luasol, labor rights is labor rights. Workers who abuse their rights are wrong. However, Brazil is a really really expensive place and I can tell you by far it's more employers taken advantage of good workers, than the other way around. It's sad that there are so many bad employees and bad business owners. But really this is all over. Really though part of business problems come with their hiring practices and the low pay in Brazil.

      As someone who has been abused by a bad owner, I am so thankful that I have my rights here. If I was an "immigrant" in US I would have no rights. I would be entitled to ICE knocking at my door. Or being threaten with losing my visa, something to that fashion.

  23. Dear Nina,

    I am proud to share with you that these GREAT LABOR RIGHTS in Brazil didn't come easy, they were conquered under a lot of fight and hard work by folks in the 30's and 40's and my awesome grandma, who is 89 years old now, fought tooth and nail for these rights when she was a young girl working at a Textile mill in Sao Paulo.
    By the end, let me know how that is going ;)

    Grande abraco

    1. Ray,

      Things are moving, I am lucky to not NEED the money. Because it's a bigger process, it won't be going to small claims so it will be a while.



    2. kudos to your awesome grandmother, great women have paved my way!

  24. I like the fruit, especially papaya. And I agree about eating lunch as the main meal. It also took me a while to adjust. Vacation time is much appreciated. Flakiness, well I have mixed feelings about that. If the person calls, then that is okay. I get annoyed when people flake out at the last minute and don't call or acknowledge they flaked. Flaking on business meetings or not showing up to work is not okay.

  25. Brazil is too vast a country to define, so let's just focus on Rio here.

    Good things about Rio :

    (1) Lax (i.e. non-existent) drinking laws and thus, awesome street parties with vendors openly selling caipirinhas and mixed drinks and whatever you want (e.g. Lapa, pre-football match, Carnaval blocos).

    (2) Caipirinhas and batidas and pina coladas and exotic drinks. Fruit + leite condensado + cachaca or vodka = incredible.

    (3) Easy access to 'other' products, if you know what i mean (although recent government crackdowns are hindering this).

    (4) For some (i.e. old people) it's a negative, but for me it's definitely a positive - crazy bus drivers who race their vehicles as fast as they possibly can.

    (5) Physical beauty, in the form of nature (beaches and mountains and forests) and historic architecural beauty in bairros such as Santa Teresa and Lapa and sporadically located around Zona Sul.

    Bad things about Rio :

    (1) That people do not respect their city - throwing trash on the streets, leaving trash on the beaches, urinating where they please. Also, the tragic demoltion and neglect of historic buildings to build new high-rise condiminiums - sad.

    (2) Living at home with the parents until getting married. It has nothing to do with RJ being 'expensive', because even playboys from Leblon with good incomes still live with mommy and daddy. As a result, there are two problems - the room-rental market is impossible; and secondly, it just makes people irresponsilbe - i don't belive that anyone truly grows up until they move out and start paying their own rent.

    (3) Corruption. Sure, it exists elsewhere. But perhaps most frustrating, is the impunity - the fact that politicians convicted of corruption get reelected and just carry on pocketing millions.

    (4) Lack of affordable and good quality restaurants - it seems to be one extreme (botecos of dubious quality and hygeine) or the other (way overpriced). I miss the US$7 lunch specials in LA and NYC, where you can get a solid Thai or Indian meal at a nice restaurant.

    (5) Social inequality. It's obvious, sure. But kind of hard to ignore, if one actually travels outside of Zona Sul and Barra.

    But despite everything, the positives outweight the negatives which is why i'm here...

  26. A few more i thought of :

    Positives :

    (6) Music - samba is whatever, but i love pagode, baile funk, Brazilian hip hop, Brazilian reggae. And then there is psy-trance which although not originally from Brazil (is Israeli), has become adopted by Brazil and as a result, there are many big raves here.

    (7) The weather - obvious, but it's understated how much a warm climate affects the moods of people and the overall ambiance of a city.

    (8) Football (i.e. soccer) - the most even league in the world, where like ten clubs are capable of being the champion (as opposed to say, Spain - which is always a two-horse race). The atmosphere at the matches is superior here also.

    (9) Improvisation. Bairro too expensive? Build a new one (i.e. favela). No decent nightlife in the vicinity? Bring the stereo outside and set up some tables and chairs on the sidewalk - instant party (Zona Norte style, at least - this wouldn't fly in Zona Sul).

    (10) Graffiti - amazingly colorful murals and wall pieces, which are accepted and legitimized. Unlike other parts of the world, Rio is tolerant about this and does not criminalize graffiti art (i.e. art that is - not pichacao or vandalism).

    Negatives :

    (6) Macho culture. Attend any Carnaval bloco to see what i mean - how shirtless posers think that it's acceptable to force an unwanted kiss on any girl they want.

    (7) Traffic jams. The government thinks it's cool that there are so many cars on the roads because it supposedly reflects a 'strong economy', but Rio's transit is such a mess. There is no logical thinking or proper planning. What about elevated trains along the middle Avenida Brasil and Linha Amarela?

    (8) High cost of living, especially for rent. As i mentioned in point number (2), the living at home thing contributes to this - as there is a severe lack of house-share situations. But beyond this, the beauracracy of needing a 'fiador' to rent your own place, the condominium fees, and the inflated prices because of the Cup and Olympics - are all the factors. The UPPs aren't helping things either.

    (9) Bad graphic design. Most people don't pay attention to such things, but under-employed designers like myself get frustrated, walking down the street and seeing the horrible amateurish graphics and logos on signs for stores and restaurants and whatever. Permanbuco Gypsy wrote a whole blog piece on this, so i know i'm not the only one who sees this.

    (10) Police abuse and violence. I hoped that the recent pay increase could change things - but then i read in the news today how an off-duty policia militar (walking around with his gun) robbed a cell phone at a bloco yesterday. Some things never change...

    1. I live in a city where the police rake in about 6,000 a month. Yup, still corrupt and still assholes.

    2. Wow Nina, do you live Miami, San Diego or NYC? because your comment sounds familiar to me here.

  27. Rachel, number 10 is spot on, though there are still people with common sense here in the US, majority in the middle of US. At the coast areas majority act paranoid, rip you off in front of your face and less friendly and when they travel to one place, they act as if they know the whole country.