Five unusual cultural discoveries of travel in Brazil
In four weeks in Brazil, I saw a lot of beautiful landscapes, traveled in different regions (Sao Paulo, Chapada Diamantina…), and thus discovered many aspects of the Brazilian culture.
If this country knows how to show a lot of colors and even more flavors, there seems to be some general constants ! No, I won’t tell you about favelas and other clichés . It’s more about what makes everyday life, which surprises the traveler because he doesn’t necessarily expect it.
Of course, I was often surprised – very often in a good way, rest assured ! Even in Rio de Janeiro, a city known to be so dangerous…
So what can I talk about ? Just little things that can also be confusing !
1. The ultra dominance of Whatsapp
This number one is par excellence a major irritant for the ill-informed European traveler. It is important to know that the average Brazilian has a cell phone with internet access and is mainly connected to Whatsapp to communicate ! A study (Panorama Mobile Time/Opinion Box) conducted in 2015 shows the super-supremacy of Whatsapp: 96% of Brazilians with a smartphone and access to the internet were using this messenger. More than 100 million Brazilians !
Result ? SMS is totally unused ! In reality, it is rather a consequence of the exorbitant price of SMS. Even Facebook Messenger is behind Whatsapp. And despite court decisions during 2016 that temporarily deactivated Whatsapp (24h, 36h…) several times, Brazilians remain attached to it. Brazilian justice had ordered cuts in connection with investigations of drug traffickers…
As a result, the uninformed traveler calls or sends SMS to his Brazilian contacts, travel agencies, family or other partners. Problem: no one answers ! 😀 It takes some time before you realize it… Everybody uses this messaging system. Literally everyone, even the pros.
To make an appointment with a hairdresser, send a Whatsapp to the number listed on the internal site. To discuss with the family, join the group. To agree on the meeting point with the diving center: Whatsapp again and again !
Tip #1: if you travel to Brazil, install Whatsapp first !
2. The love of promotions, good deals and contests !
Just like France, stores and hypermarkets are full of promotions. The mass purchase has its advantages to pull the prices down. Some department stores have been set up as giant warehouses where it is possible to do traditional shopping.
Imagine a very large LIDL hypermarket: the pallets are installed directly in the shelves, on several heights. We are quite far from the French supermarkets. There are still a lot of smaller supermarkets that are more in line with our European habits, especially in the city centers.
Other phenomenon, the contests on the internet ! While France is extremely flexible on the implementation of contests, Brazil is very restrictive… to create a contest, as a brand for example, it is necessary to prove the existence of the lot, to file the rules with a notary, and thus to incur important expenses. As much as to say that there are much less internet contests in Brazil than in France.
This does not prevent some sites from referencing all these contests that generate a huge influx of participants ! This is for example the case of the site Galardians which specializes in discount coupons (cupons de desconto), cultural competitions (concursos culturais) and other raffles (sortios). Anything to save money in general… and it works !
Beyond the deals, in a general way, there is a real emerging market of the internet in Brazil ! The search for good deals will certainly grow more and more. Besides, it is surprising that an actor like Amazon is so little represented in Brazil, the taxation and the transport being too strong there.
3. “Credito ? Debito ?”
This is the sentence you will hear the most when paying by credit card ! “Credit or debit ?”
Except that the disembarking traveler must make a choice at the time of checkout. Surprise, my credit card only accepted the “credito”… Fortunately, by selecting the payment in one go, no problem. It is still quite surprising that the debit mode didn’t work.
This experience showed me that Brazilians pay a lot on credit. Even for small expenses. A priori, the interest rates are relatively low and make the practice very widespread. In the restaurant, for small expenses, as for a more important purchase, the little phrase is pronounced !
4. The fabulous rodizio, and especially the incredible ability of Brazilians to eat like four
I save the best for last: Brazilian food ! Surely one of the most surprising aspects of the trip… both on the diversity of specialties and on the way 🙂
From 35 reais (10 euros), it is possible to offer a rodizio. What is it ? It is simply a restaurant with all-you-can-eat service ! You’ll be surprised how well it’s declined in every conceivable way. Canteens on the side of the road, more or less classy restaurants in the city center, even on some beaches, all can offer a rodizio.
In general, a buffet presents the different salads and specialties of accompaniments, some dishes in sauces are placed there. For the rest, the waiters pass between the tables with the still hot dishes coming out of the kitchens ! Fish by the sea, meat and rotisserie everywhere in Brazil, service is at will.
Once the plate already well filled with potatoes, feijoada, or other coxinhas, a waiter will kindly put a huge piece of meat from the barbecue under your nose ! It’s up to you to indicate which piece, which part you prefer. It cuts, you have ! The rodizio de churrasco (barbecue) is extremely popular in Brazil. But it is not the only one.
When I said declination, you should know that the rodizio can be fish dishes, meat dishes (chicken, beef, pork) but also pizzas and sushi/maki . Yes, I even did an all-you-can-eat pizzeria in Campo Grande. A good dozen pizzas with different flavors are brought every 5 minutes (I am told that 5 minutes is not a pizza rodizio) 30 seconds by a flock of waiters who are only there to fill your belly.
Happiness, quite simply.
And the Brazilians take advantage of it ! It is not customary to have less than three refills 🙂 It is necessary to eat as much as possible and from the largest possible plates. The friends and family I met there amazed me about their ability to gobble up tons of food in the rodizio. Impressive.