BEACH CULTURE: RIO DE JANEIRO (HOW NOT TO BE A GRINGO)
The Beach Culture: Rio de Janeiro:
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”! The same guidance also applies to our lost and ill equipped sun burnt gringos vising the jewel of Brazil. That is, Rio de Janeiro. The beaches in Rio de Janeiro dominate the city landscape and play a central role in the eclectic mosaic of Carioca culture. This beach culture, however, has some unwritten rules that may not be at first apparent to non-natives.
Do’s & Dont’s:
Do bring a beach bag or a small backpack for your personal belongings and Don´t ever visit beach with a plastic shopping bag from Zona Sul bag, eyes will roll!
Do keep a close eye on your bag and personal items. Don’t leave items unattended. Belongings are not safe on the beach and items are often stolen without the victims even noticing. Thieves often operate in gangs and are smooth operations targeting gringos. They use distraction and magician like misdirection incredibly well and before you know it your “find my iPhone” is disabled and money has been taken off your credit card. You may have not even woken from your beach siesta for this to occur. Also, don’t wander down for a swim and leave items unattended.
Do buy your food & drink from your barraca (beach stand) that you have rented your chair (caderia) or umbrella (guarda-sol)and things to eat and drink on the beach. Ask the locals what price the rental is to avoid the Gringo rate. Don´t bring food and drinks, especially not a 2 litre bottle of water that warms within minutes. Try to support the vendors that are traipsing through hot sand in that baking sun trying to make ends meet. Be aware though that ice from beach sellers may not be suitable for a sensitive gringo gut.
Do bring a magazine to read but Don´t bring your 1000 page Moby Dick novel. It’s not that you can’t, but you’ll be spotted a gringo straight away.
Do’s & Dont’s (Women):
Do make an effort and wear beach fashion. For the gentlemen that might be sungas, swimming trunks or surf shorts. For the ladies it´s a bikini. Despite the minimal dental floss amount of material used in Brazilian bikinis and almost erotic allure, topless is strictly forbidden and is frowned upon. This is not like France or Portugal and views on this are conservative. You may actually get arrested. Don´t wear GAA shorts guys. Man United football shorts or a bathing suit.
Do, if you’re a girl use a Canga (sarong) to sit on. A chair covered in your canga is often more comfortable too. Don´t use a towel, and certainly don’t try to get changed into your swim shorts on the beach under your towel.
Do’s & Dont’s (Men):
Do be friendly guys & chat but Don´t treat the beach like a pick up joint, Carioca’s come to the beach to relax and unwind but often are pestered by half cut Gringos on the prowl for sex. A chat and an invite for a cocktail later, if done correctly and respectfully, is fine.
Do enjoy a beach beer (any time of day) to call off or perhaps a ice laden citrus caipirinha. Don´t get drunk. carioca’s often dislike the inebriated state gringos get to, unable to chat or sometimes even walk. Carnival is the exception to this rule!
It seems like there are a lot of rules but not in essence. In truth Rio’s beach culture in Ipanema and Copacabana are a hub of life and love. It is a melting pot for every tone of skin so so soak it up gringos.