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Violence and Safety

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Houston
posts: 4
reviews: 1
Violence and Safety

10 years ago, I would have never thought anything of this. But I have a trip planned for my wife and I in March and we are reconsidering given the latest violent news from Rio. It seems every form of transport could become dangerous. If driving, you may get hit and robbed. If taking a tour bus, you are announcing yourself as a large group of tourists, and I understand not to take public transport in Rio. Can anyone who has been there recently attest to the safey, or lack therof, for travelers and visitors.

California
posts: 300
reviews: 1
1. Re: Violence and Safety

I just got back a few days ago. I had a FANTASTIC time and plan to go back. I traveled with my boyfriend. He became a little worried (we went soon after the other incident on the tour bus airport transportation), I was fine cause I had everyone here to put my mind at ease a little. I am so so sooo glad I went! It was a fantastic vacation! All went well and nothing bad happened to us. We met some great people. These things happen to everyone down there. If locals feel safe living there, we should feel safe traveling there. Go and have fun! You wont regret it!

Lunenburg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
posts: 2,818
reviews: 7
2. Re: Violence and Safety

Hi Ice!

For you, I'm going to re-print a posting I wrote earlier for someone else. Let me apologize in advance to any others who may already have read it:

I'm a Canadian who just finished our first (but absolutely not our last!) two week trip to Brazil.

Before we left Canada, we saw the same doleful fear stories you're now getting. Like you, we debated whether we should back out. Well now I'm home, so let me tell you what things are really like. For ordinary travelers, that is, who stay in ordinary hotels and don't go with tour groups and guides.

We found everywhere we went in Rio safe and friendly. We saw no crime, nor did we ever once find ourselves in a situation where we feared we were about to become a statistic. And I emphasize: it was not just that nothing happened to us. Everywhere, we found people out and about, not in the least worried about the wildly prevalent crime that those who have never been to Brazil are telling you about. The happy ambience everyplace we went convinces me that we actually were safe, all the time.

We stayed in Barra da Tijuca, about 30 minutes or so from the heart of Rio. When we arrived, we started out frightened from all the horror stories. They all turned out to be false. We walked the streets of Barra at night. Our hotelier said we'd be OK. No problems. No bad guys. We went up to Sugarloaf at night. No problems.

We drove up to the famous Christ statue atop Corcovado. Coming down, we made a wrong turn and wound up in a favela (the kind they say no tourist should dare enter, under any circumstances). No one even bothered to look at us. We parked the car in a lot in Rio. There are at least a half-dozen uniformed parking attendants to watch the cars (carrying reflective solar umbrellas to shade their heads). We shopped for five hours in the stores and the little shops of the walking quarter. (With frequent hydration and snack stops.) Everything was safe, even with our arms loaded with parcels.

Don't believe any of the foolishness you read in guide books about buying special Brazilian wardrobes and leaving your wedding ring at home. These yarns may sell books, but they don't reflect reality in the least. Ordinary Brazilians dress for warm weather the same as you do (only, the men are less likely to wear shorts). Short of wearing knee socks with your sandals, you'll blend right in. From Rio south, the majority of Brazilians are Europeans, including redheads. You won't stand out, any more than the other tens of millions of European-Brazilians do. (If you happen to be a member of another ethnic group, such as Chinese to give one example, you'll find your number well represented in multi-ethnic Brazil too.) I found that lots of Brazilian women color their hair blonde, much as anyplace else.

I'm convinced that a lot of the wild fear mongering you've read comes from people who've never been to Brazil, but rather post excerpts out of guide books, perhaps after watching the TV news. You can become a victim of crime anywhere, in London or Toronto [and, Ice, if I'm not out of line, Houston] as easily as in Rio. But everywhere we went in Brazil, Rio included, we found people friendly and the streets safe. Having actually been there, I'm convinced you will too.

I invite you to e-mail if I can help further. If I'm wrong, I promise to make a 100 dollar memorial donation in your name to the charity of your choice. But seriously, in 17 days, we never had a single moment when we felt nervous in Brazil. I know you'll love it!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Brisbane
posts: 11
reviews: 1
3. Re: Violence and Safety

CAPTIEN: Yay finally some good news!

My husband, daughter and I are heading off on Jan and will be in Rio for 4 days before we join up with a tour (ending in Buenos Aires) and we are having serious reservations about pulling the pin on this UNTIL I read your article!

Now all we need is for Niteroi floods to recede and some sunshine all round in Brazil!

BTW has anyone flown with Aerolineas Argentinas before? Your comments would be appreciated.

Muchos gracias amigos

Princeton, New...
posts: 3,629
reviews: 55
4. Re: Violence and Safety

Here are facts and my opinions. Poverty and police corruption are very high in Rio, this adds to the possibility of tourists being targeted by petty thiefs. It happens, more than in most cities, this is a developing country after all where income gaps are wide, drug dealing is an industry that employs kids, police are underpaid and poorly trained and so on.

That said, I've been to Rio several times in the past 10 years, even for a month with my wife and small kids, and I've only experienced problems once. This was when I ignored my regular tourist advice and walked alone late at night. After that, nothing has ever happened. It's a great place with severe problems, enjoy it, but do so with open eyes.

Lunenburg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
posts: 2,818
reviews: 7
5. Re: Violence and Safety

Further to what DJ wrote, in my 2 1/2 weeks of driving, I had no contact with the cops. If it indeed is true that they are corrupt, I have no way of knowing because they left me alone.

Speed limit enforcement in Brazil is not done by policemen. The government uses photo radar, and Brazilian motorists scrupulously observe the limits any time a camera might be present. In built-up areas, there are axle-busting speed bumps, so I can assure you that you won't have any chance for speeding in towns.

Since my experience is limited, I can't say what would happen if a cop stopped you or if you were in an accident. I can tell you that our car rental people told us not to worry about being stopped and did not suggest baksheesh if we were. And the cops were definitely not looking for trouble with me.

Here are a few of my complaints about Brazilian motoring:

President Lula, if you are reading this, please improve your country's signage. The directional signs lead you in a certain direction OK, but when you reach your turn the sign is nowhere to be found. This is especially a problem in built-up areas.

Another problem is that the signage for urban by-passes is poor or non-existent. For instance, driving from Rio to Ouro Preto, the sign for Ouro Preto leads you off the freeway one exit too early. Once you figure that out for yourself, and get back on the correct road, you come to the town of Ouro Branco. You don't want to go into downtown Ouro Branco, of course, because you'll get stuck in town traffic. There's a new by-pass around Ouro Branco, which is the way you want. Unfortunately, the signage for Ouro Preto leads you needlessly into Ouro Branco. Your Excellency, please change the sign for Ouro Preto to lead motorists onto the by-pass, not into town. I ran into numerous examples of this problem.

Please take some of the speed bumps off the intercity big roads when they come into towns. I understand the need to slow the traffic, but speed humps bring the truckers to a crawl, creating needless stop-start traffic when a simple slow-down to 60 km/h would suffice.

This being said, driving in Brazil is easy and pleasant, if you don't mind a few wrong turns. Taking an unexpected road can sometimes be fun.

David

capetien10@gmail.com

6. Re: Violence and Safety

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NYC
posts: 3,420
reviews: 11
7. Re: Violence and Safety

To put things in perspective; this article ran on ABC News yesterday indicating the increasing homicide rate in New York.

abcnews.go.com/US/LegalCenter/wireStory…

The opening paragraph was this ...

"Gangs, drugs, easy access to guns and a disturbing tendency among young people to pull guns to demand respect were among the causes authorities cited in trying to explain this year's increase in murders in New York and many other major cities after years of decline. "

I haven't run to the NYC forum to "warn" the tourists because by living here, working here, and walking past several major tourist attractions daily, I know first hand it doesn't effect them whatsoever.

For whatever reason, people dwell on the crime stories in Rio and crime stories. If that was all people read about New York, they wouldn't want to come here either.

NYC
posts: 3,420
reviews: 11
8. Re: Violence and Safety

meant to say (crime stories ONLY.)

Princeton, New...
posts: 3,629
reviews: 55
9. Re: Violence and Safety

Capetien

About your message regarding traffic and road signs in Brazil, you must have missed the big one that read "Welcome to Brasil"

10. Re: Violence and Safety

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Removed on: 6:51 pm, December 30, 2006