How come Rio de Janeiro turned out not to be so dangerous? A summary of the most widespread precautions from a practical point of view. We speak from personal experience, we are not translating articles or sharing the thoughts of the grandma of a colleague’s wife. There are criminals everywhere, but common sense can be easily scared away by unconfirmed rumors.
1. In order not to get robbed, don’t get on a public bus after dark.
Yes, but we were tired and we were not in the mood for walking on foot for several kilometers. We stopped the bus, we even confused which door we should enter through, signaling that we aren’t locals. On the way out we passed through whole bus to the back door and then we confused the directions and wandered around. We were not robbed or followed.
2. Don’t go to the favelas.
Go there, but on an official tour. Even though we like to discover the areas on our own, the risk should be measured. The favelas are ruled by drug lords, fighting for territory. Your golden Rolex is nothing to these people. But imagine somebody obviously not local going around taking pictures in their territory. This is why we decided to pay for a visit with a guide, who is on friendly terms with the local kings, to avoid problems. And we avoided them successfully. We only had thousands of emotions provoked by the totally different world on the hills.
3. You are going to get robbed on the beaches
How can you go to Rio and not go to a beach? Or to go to a beach with only a towel and a swimsuit? And how are you going to remember it 50 years from now? The reality: people here have much fancier phones than yours, they were wearing jewelry and they didn’t mind leaving their things unsupervised while swimming. And while keeping the radius of 30 m in sight, let’s not forget to have fun! And also, we look like half the people on the beach, so if we are unlucky we could get our towel stolen…
4. Walk only the crowded streets
We took a walk along empty streets after dark and it was in the nice tourist neighborhoods (where there are things to steal). One day, around midnight we decided to go to the Samba school Salguiero and have fun with their dancers. We walked several empty alleys to the main street, where we took a taxi to drive us to the school, which was in the middle of something like a ghetto. From the street to the entrance of the Samba school we walked about 300 m through a crowd of loud groups, musicians, sellers and shady individuals. We managed to survive somehow.
5. In contradiction with the above, avoid crowded places
We had to walk 10 km along crowded beaches, the samba party was super crowded, as well as the bus stops we waited on and the buses that drove us around. Not to mention the crowds of people with selfie sticks we had to swim through to get to the statue of Cristo. Nothing went missing, there weren’t any wounded.
There are some tricks you could consider to lower the constant stress caused by thinking about what might happen. For example, the money belts, hiding your money in all kinds of unexpected places (avoid the underwear), dressing like a homeless person or at least avoid wearing designer brand clothes. It is nice to not wear all your money or credit cards on you. Don’t forget that once we hide our camera in the bag, we can blend in with the Cariocas. At least until we open our mouths. Even if we stumble upon the scariest of streets, as long as we act like the locals (positive and smiling) we won’t attract anyone’s attention.
We wish you unforgettable moments and less stress!
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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