Down And Out In Rio: What To Expect At The World Cup

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Douglas Herman (AlexCojones) via Strike The Root blog,

“Most people go on holiday to escape. They pick a far away destination in the assumption that the further away they are from home, the more rewarding and freeing the trip will be.” ~ Matthew Dawn

Sticker shock. Expect to pay a lot. Hellishly hot in the summer and shockingly less sexy than advertised.
But the city and local people, called Cariocas, are clean and the crime is greatly exaggerated. The Cidade Marvilhosa, or Marvelous City, is a must-see for spendy types, budget travelers and even bucket listers.

Spendy in every way possible, especially during the summer months of December, January and February and certainly during World Cup. Rio de Janeiro is one of the most expensive cities in the world, experiencing a real estate bubble. I lived there recently for 100 days and sampled Airbnb quarters, hostels, hillside camping and a small, furnished apartment. Certainly a feast for the eyes, wherever you go, as this photo of Friday evening in Ipanema shows.

Long ago a movie director shot an amazing film atop one of those hillsides, right there in nearby Copacabana. The movie won an Oscar. Few Cariocas I talked to ever heard of the film (“Black Orpheus”), but I explored the foundations of the movie set high upon Morro da Babilonia. Well worth the hike, on an early Sunday morning to see the sun rise over the ocean. The sun rises across the mouth of the bay, just like it did in the movie. And the joys and sorrows portrayed in the movie are exactly the same, but magnified many times over.

Oh the Places You’ll Go in Rio

The Marvelous City is amazing in many ways. But if you look closely, you see the same old corruption and thuggery, the same painful poverty and injustice, that plague many states. The beaches, the warm ocean breezes, the pretty girls in their bikinis distract the onlooker, tourist and native alike.

One moment you catch a glimpse of a pair of beautiful girls from Ipanema and, not 20 feet away, a pair of heavily armed Policia Militar guarding the sunseekers from groups of predators swift, daring and opportunistic.

The police are hired from the same class of people as those they guard. Brazilians are approachable and know exactly what is going on, but seem uncertain how to change things. Does that remind you of any other country?

The marauding thieves that struck the beaches simply mirrored the behavior of their leaders. But street thieves suffer far more severe punishment if caught. While I lived there in Rio, the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema witnessed wilding events usually seen here during Black Friday or the introduction of a new Air Jordan. The mayor and governor of Rio simply hired more cops.

One hundred fifty demonstrators recently made major news when they demonstrated in Sao Paulo—a transportation strike. The media didn’t add that more than 12 million people live in Sao Paulo. On any given night, more than 1,500 prostitutes show up to ply their wares in the Red Light district. When 15,000 or 150,000 or 15 million angry and determined people show up in force, things might change.

Brazil is like a sub-tropical USA. Filled with dispossessed, with the few wealthy elites protected by armed Policia Militar and easily-bribed local police, Brazil still retains a sort of modern, banana republic feel. Just like here in the USA.

Did I feel safe there? Probably I felt safer walking around in the slums of Rio than walking around in Chicago. I walked around alone at night in many central Rio neighborhoods, one old and slow gringo, and rarely saw a cop. The cops are stationed in Zona Sul, where the rich people live, and where bribes are openly paid.

Tropical Fever

Imagine flying into Rio from some northern city enduring a bout of polar vortex. Late December or January, you catch a plane from Boston, New York or Buffalo in below zero temperature. You get off the plane in Rio. Outside on the curb, awaiting a taxi, with the heat and humidity, you realize there might be a hundred degree difference.

Now imagine a room without air conditioning. I slept in the largest 16-bed dorm of Rio Nature because the windows were large and the overhead fans whirled continuously. The same day that polar vortex arrived over New England, I remember taking eight cold showers in a 24-hour period. Each lasted no more than a minute, but the cool water felt heavenly.

Surrounded by wilderness, flowering trees, birds and small animals, Rio Nature had a rustic charm. Like a forgotten hillside hippie haven in Botafogo. Beds rented for R$28 per night, or around US$13, and included a continental breakfast and more monkeys than people attending breakfast on the veranda. The monkeys preferred sliced bananas, FYI.

Live Like A Refugee

According to Elliot Rosenberg, you can rent a nice place for a month in a hillside favela for the price of a single night in nearby Ipanema. Elliot makes a good pitch in his “7 Reasons to Live in a Favela.” The largest and most picturesque shantytowns in Rio, Rochinha or Vidigal, with sweeping seaside views, might be a good choice for those on a budget. Live in a small studio and immerse into the Carioca culture for a month or three.

Few gringos visited Rio while I was there. I met a handful of Americans in 100 days. The World Cup will be broadcast to billions worldwide. The world will see a slice of life, in between the incessant ads, of Brazil and Brazilians.

But What About Those Brazilian Prostitutes?

Brazilian prostitutes, called programas, frequent the bars and brothels of Copacabana and Ipanema as well as Central Rio. Probably the best known is the Balcony Bar in Copacabana. On warm weekend nights during the summer months of December, January and February, the bar is an ever-shifting fashion show of sensual styles. A wide variety of gringos from many nations peruse and choose, and World Cup will be no different.

Mostly older guys but some younger fellows, wide-eyed with the trepidation only the sexual hunt can cause. Hard to call them hunter and hunted. More exact to call everyone here prey, all of us hungry for a peculiar desire or needful thing that consumes everyone if not careful. Naturally the police were always nearby to protect and serve the commerce. Prices in the summer of 2014 at the Balcony? Between 250 and 300 Reals. One US dollar exchanged for 2.35 Brazilian Real while I lived in Rio recently. So 235 Reals equals US$100, more or less. The plural of Real is Reis, pronounced “hey-ice” but I prefer to use Reals here although not really correct.

According to reporter Julie Ruvolo, Rio’s multitude of sex establishments all stay open at the discretion of the government. All of them pay a price, or bribe, to officials to remain open. “We all know that certain police officials get a handsome chunk of change from the high-end termas (sauna) as silent partners,” says sex researcher Thaddeus Blanchette. “At the Monte Carlo brothel, they went in at the precise moment that a local top official was there, presumably to pick up the cash.”

Combination massage parlor, steam bath, bar and brothel, the Monte Carlo occupies a couple floors in a nondescript building adjacent to the Oceano Copacabana Hotel on Hilario de Gouveia. Lots of glass and polished stone inside the club. Alessandra the receptionist speaks fluent English. Costs 90 Reals to enter, or about US$40. Girls start at 200 Reals for 40 minutes or 400 for an hour. About US$175 US for an hour, which seemed kind of spendy for fleeting pleasure, but the price would be even higher during World Cup.

According to a woman I spoke with, who worked there for many months, the girls gets to keep all the money they earn. No pimps but girls are fined 200 Reals if they miss a shift. A massage costs 70-80 Reals and doesn’t include sex. I asked Alessandra if the masseuse provided sex upon request and was told no. I didn’t stick around to find out because Copacabana beach beckoned two blocks away.

Red Light Green Light

One evening a friend took me to a red light area, far from the trendy beaches. We caught a bus and then walked through some foreboding streets few gringos ever see. The “City of Girls” is located along Sotero dos Reis, and the street resembled a movie set for Road Warrior IV. Yet we were only a mile or two from historic Maracana Stadium, home to the World Cup.

Seriously: What do Brazilian girls want? The same as any girl. Amor, felicidade, respeito, amizade, carinhosa, caricias, sexo, paixao, e dinheiro. Love, happiness, respect, friendship, caring, caresses, sex, passion and money.

Unless you chose to live in Brazil and invest your body and soul in the place, perhaps as an English language professor, you will probably end up paying for your pleasure. Sometimes your fantasies are fulfilled but you will always, one way or the other, pay a steep price.

Rio Very Real

Rio is very expensive now. Times have changed. Brazil is part of the emerging BRICS nations. Gas is about $4 a gallon and a new car costs about twice what a similar model would in America. The new Ducati 1200 CC motorcycle here is priced at 105,000 Reis, or US$45,000. Stateside MSRP on that same Ducati is less than 15 grand.

The simplest things here, from bottles of sunscreen to lawn chairs to tickets to major events like the World Cup, cost more than back home, wherever that is. A lot of that money filters down through the fingers of the ultra rich and powerful, and trickles down to those below. Just like here.

People in Rio and Brazil are the same as anywhere. They want the same things. Happiness, diversion, laughter, distraction, the so-called good things in life. A slightly larger piece of the pie. The World Cup is just a showcase and a distraction.

Bread and circus on a grander scale.

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COSMOS's picture

Gotta have some pigment for that hot sun...No wonder the Spanish settled there and not the Brits.  You gotta have the Mediterranean thing going or its melanoma heaven.

Harbanger's picture

I think it was the Portugese. "Gas is about $4 a gallon and a new car costs about twice what a similar model would in America. "

That's because the Socialist solution is to tax "lux.
Only the very wealthy can afford a car everyone else gets a scooter.

y3maxx's picture

...Clusterf*ck Black Swan event gonna happen in Brazil.

One of the stadiums gonna get blowed up good....starts WW3

Brics vs G7 vs USSA vs Russia vs China

Harbanger's picture

Here's how your particular Govts taxes affects the price you pay for the same car, some people are paying 2-3 times more than others. It seems the more socialist the higher the taxes.

JRobby's picture

Think about your day. The day before you so full of opportunity.

Then take your thorazine. 

NidStyles's picture

I would certainly not mind darkening my blood line there though. Some mighty attractive women there. 

Eeyores Enigma's picture

Just watch out for those hot babes with the 6" to 9" clitoris.

jbvtme's picture

will michele be visiting?

MeMongo's picture

Hey yid/ Mongo means Nid !Whighten up my brother, the tribe deplores it! 

Ps.Norwegian girls can not be beat!

You're welcome!

NidStyles's picture

Apparently some of you think I'm white...

maneco's picture

The Spanish did not settle in Brazil.

barre-de-rire's picture

not spanish settles, but  potugese, mother fucking dumbass american.

Grinder74's picture

Typical blonde.  It was the Portugese, not the Spanish.

Portuguese Revolutionary's picture

Oh LORD!!!! Does anyone know how to write "PORTUGUESE"?? Damn...

If in doubt look it up in a dictionary for cricke's sake!

Milestones's picture

Author could have improved his story mightly, if he'd spell the country correctly. It BraSil, not the mercan BraZil. That is how the Brasilian currency is spelled. Just check out a um real (pronounced He-ay) which I carry in my wallet.

You will get corrected by the natives.             Milestones

NoDebt's picture

I'd end up in jail there in less than a week.

A Lunatic's picture

Agreed. Full of whiskey, bullet holes, aids virus and good memories........

One of We's picture

Indeed!  Discretion is the better part of valor is the saying I think.  Plus I can get a good rub and tug here in the states for $100 including a nice tip....

user2011's picture

More robberies,  rape, prostitutions... drunk and batteries...

That's all.


Hopium Dealer's picture

"Hellishly hot in the summer"


Bro, do you even hemisphere?

Sokhmate's picture

Where I live it's colder in the winter

Karaio's picture

Rio de Janeiro and Salvador are areas of contention gringos, people who come from outside the country.
Not Brazilians go there to spend the holidays so expensive things are. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!
Everything is more expensive in the beach anywhere in the world, if you are four kilometers away, things lower two thirds.
100 on the boardwalk, costs 30 away, it serves for drinks or food.
It's another culture.
The most beautiful girls are in Goiania, may believe, my third marriage was to one, and now there goes 23 years of marriage.

johnconnor's picture

you definitely know what you are talking about... I agree with everything you said, I have been in Brazil a few times. Most people are super nice, Rio is absolutely gorgeous but Brazil in general is not safe, better to move around with locals for sure. It also amazed me how expensive was everything because of the Taxes and VAT, for example a Playstation was like double to America's price, a digital camera 3 times more... cars at least twice, but salaries were not that high.

Karaio's picture

My dear friend, on July 4, 2014 at 05:00 am I will be leaving Anapolis-GO with a 250cc Yamaha Ténéré.
Eight o'clock in the morning I'll be in Catalan GO-, eleven-thirty in Uberaba three-thirty in Santa Rita do Passa Quatro, SP, six ten-minute afternoon will be in Santos-SP.
Are traversed 1200 km in 13 hours, you do not do it in a third world country.
It will be my third trip.
I'll tell you one thing, there is the crisis of fifty years.
When I turned fifty years I was not sure if arranged a mistress of 29 years and bought a motorcycle.
The motorcycle is cheaper, you save the marriage and gets a lot of women, believe me.
Ningém see, you are far, far away from home, traveling ... Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

COSMOS's picture

So hopefully the wife kept a good body on her for most of those 23 years lol.  But I guess with the bevy of beach beauties you can always get another mamasita.

maneco's picture

The U.S. is not that safe either. I never heard of school mass shootings, cinema mass shootings, terrosrist attacks, marathon bombings ETC in Brazil. Oh the other thing Brazilians don't do is assassinate their presidents. I'd say Brazil is not any worse if even better than the U.S. in terms of safety.

Dudeskis's picture

Annecdotal examples.  Data says that Brazil is 4.5x more dangerous if you're talking about homicide.


Brazil murder rate: 21.8

US murder rate: 4.8

Rollingroller's picture

After Olympics in 2016 Brazil will start its decent and the hangover will kick in and the economy starts its puking process.

Northern Lights's picture

Agreed.  Generally, it's been observed that the economy of a country that hosts a large event such as the World Cup sees a 2.5 % up-tick, however, by years end that 2.5% falls back down to -4.0%.

Hard to read into that $14 billion dollar number announced to hold this thing.  How much of that is fact and how much of that is pumped up bullshit????????

After the Olympics, it would be interesting to see what all those stadiums look like 10 years from now.  I'm figuring they'll be stripped down of all anemities right down to the concrete and the soccer pitch and the stands will be turned into a shanty town.


swmnguy's picture

I bet Simon Black knew all of this stuff already.

pelican's picture

The question is will social security support me there?

AntiFabian's picture

First the author missed the fact that it is not summer in Brazil, hello! They are below the equator and the cities of Rio and Sao Paulo are just barely in the tropics.  Tonight the will have a low around 59 and in the day a high of 75 not hot unless you are from Sweden or Finland.  However in the far north where the Amazon river runs it will be lows of the upper 60s low 70s and highs of the lower 80s with higher humidity since it is sub tropical and jungle environment.

As for the capital it is late fall weather for them and if you look at some of the pics from the riots the members of the crowd have light jackets so more like Southern CA. 

So I don't put much stock in this article especially the author's comparisons of it being like the US in terms of social strife.

Rusty Shorts's picture
Helicopter Hunting for Humans - 2014 World Cup - Brazil

InjectTheVenom's picture

did i miss something ?     or did i just waste 2 minutes of my day watching a low-flying helo do...nothing 

COSMOS's picture

above a nice HD helicopter tour

And even better a blast to the old Rio with Roberto Carlos

toxic8's picture

how'd you miss the part where it sprays the guy just off the highway with bullets.

Karaio's picture

One thing I do not understand is invading Brazil, Russia invade, invade China, this insane thing inculcated through the U.S. euopeia mercantilist culture.
Part or another of Economy yes, the people, the people do not.
Hell of political correctness is not in any of these countries.
Here and there smoke is not a bad thing because everyone knows that they will die one way or another, sex is a normal thing, kids too.
Hitting the children when they shit is normal because if parents do not match, they will pick up the police or thugs will turn.
Admittedly, it is best that you take some blows on his son when little better that than when he catches big.
Children have to learn to work with 14 years maximum, but turns villain.
So I created, so I created my children who are now finishing college of Civil Engineering.
The eldest is living with a newly formed Advocacy to seven years, the youngest is getting married in December, the four employees and highly paid.
They are children from my second marriage (the only ones I've had in three marriages).
Since I already separated, living 400 miles away, my ex-wife called the phone saying that the younger was getting involved with strangers.
Twelve hours of travel, I found them, took a restaurant, was fourteen other fifteen, the guy said: look, if you get into shit with drugs I'll kill you, he (the younger) laughed in my face .
Showed backpack with SW loaded two boxes of ammunition and he was white as a straw (here in Brazil only has possession of a firearm if police or dealer).
At the time I was the environmental police.
Well, best not to extend the conversation, it's getting long.

deflator's picture

code is something not everyone understands. I was able to easily decipher your message. +1

Karaio's picture

One thing I want to make clear here:
I am Brazilian.
My last name on his father is Polish (Teledzynski) and, through his mother Schacherl.
A Brazilian like me is not wanting to know if turned upside barbecue or not in Europe, they fuck them.
I am Brazilian and only!
If a Polish or Austrian meddle with me, may believe, will lead because lead was in the land where I was born, it was here that my ancestors decided to manage me.
Having a name is important, who knows where it comes really knows where it will (in most cases will not be bandit).
You immigrant Americans know very well what I'm going to tell:
My uncle Austrian wanted to catch a ship to fight for Hitler, my grandfather pitched automatic pistol at his head and said: "if it is to die, I'll kill you here, I want to see his coffin in Brazil."
Ended the conversation.
My uncle Max Schachrerl was a great shipbuilder.
Maximilian Schacherl, my grandfather built several boats for the government.
I think you've had too much beer ....

fiftybagger's picture

I believe you, which certainly confirms the worst of my suspicions.  I think I'll take a pass on Brazil :-)

merchantratereview's picture

No thanks.


Nice try but it sounds like another shithole.

Aussiekiwi's picture

Yeah, spread it on pretty thick, no mention of the fact that you will probably end up at the end of your night of pleasure minus your wallet and with hepatitis, AIDS or if your lucky just antibiotic resistant clap, not to mention those prices tripling for the world cup. Better to go to  Auckland, $160 NZ an hour all inclusive top class girls, safe, clean too,.....hur, hump, so I hear.

Latina Lover's picture

or minus your kidneys.

Besides, you can get much better looking and much better deals on girls in Colombia.    Central america is better, if you are on a tight budget.

robertocarlos's picture

This is one of the few times when cable TV is worth it.

Edit: I forgot that it's on CBC which is free to air or OTA in TV talk. Even the Stanley Cup is OTA on CBC. Why AM I paying for cable?