Dos and Don'ts
“When in Rio, do as the Cariocas (Rio natives) do.”—Priscilla Ann Goslin, author, How to Be a Carioca. (www.howtobe.com/)
Clothing: Rio is a relaxed city. Dress casually and comfortably. But less-is-best doesn’t mean shabby. Cariocas are famously style conscious. Avoid tourist attire and you’ll fit in Rio’s informal fashion show.
Eating Out: When in a hurry, skip the deep-fried botequim (neighborhood bar) food, and head to a suco (juice) bar for freshly squeezed mango, papaya, maracuja (passion flower), guava, or fruta-do-conde (“fruit-of-count”) juice. For a special treat, order açai, an Amazonian berry blended into a tropical smoothie.
Social Etiquette: Body contact is essential. When greeting, women kiss women, women kiss men, and men kiss women (two kisses, right cheek first). Men exchange a firm handshake, followed by a few brisk pats on the back and a lingering one-arm embrace.
Getting Around: Don’t drive in Rio if you value your life; Cariocas are wannabe Formula 1 racers. Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Look carefully before crossing the street (this includes bicycle lanes). Cariocas don’t stop for red lights—or pedestrians.
Scheduling: Rio has a pace of its own. When things don’t go as planned, keep your sense of humor. Cariocas are known for taking things in stride and enjoying life. You’ll gain their respect and trust by doing the same.
Beleza?: How’s it going? (informal) Pronounced beh-leh-zah
Tudo bem?: How’s it going? (standard) Pronounced too-doo behng
Botequim: Neighborhood bar with table service. Pronounced boh-cheh-king
Caipirinha: Traditional Brazilian drink made with sugar cane brandy, crushed limes, sugar, and ice. Use vodka for a caipirosca, white rum for a caipiríssima. Pronounced ky-pee-ring-yah
Carioca: A person or thing from Rio de Janeiro city. Pronounced kaw-ree-aw-kaw
Favela: Distinctively Rio shanty towns. Pronounced fah-veh-lah
Gostoso-a: Delicious—used to describe food, drinks, and sexy people. Pronounced goh-shtoh-zoh–zah
Orelhão: Public phones, because they look like big ears. Pronounced oh-reh-lyown
Por quilo: A pay-by-the-kilo buffet. Pronounced poor kee-low
Rodízio: All-you-can-eat meat, seafood, or pizza at a set price. Served by waiters. Pronounced hoh-gee-zee-oh
Saudade: Fond remembrance; to miss somebody. Pronounced sow-dah-gee
Saúde!: To your health! When making a toast, or if somebody sneezes. Pronounced sah-oo-gee
Valeu: A hip “Thank you.” Pronounced vah-lay-oo. Or stick to the more common Obrigado-a. Pronounced oh-bree-gah-doo-dah
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