Soccer….Family Style


Last Minute Travel Tips for Brazil
I’m still working on my rewards and thank yous for all the love and support I got for my book on Kickstarter, but in short, I was amazed at the generosity people showed, not just funding my project, but making it happen on May 28th was especially wonderful. My book is now for sale in the real world, on Goodreads, Amazon, and a hundred other wonderful places. Please go ask for “Passionate Soccer Love” at your local bookstore, or at Beaverdale Books if you’re in central Iowa, or you can order paperback, hardcover, or e-book direct from the publisher at this link.
I wanted to post my travel group’s tips for Brazil to share as another thank you for all the book love. Thanks to Kaela of Local Kitchen for compiling most of this list.
COMMUNICATION
Download Viber and/or WhatsApp. If you rent a phone or get a new SIM card down there, make sure to announce yourself by text before you call someone: I, for one, don’t pick up unrecognized numbers, especially if doing so is going to cost me a fortune.
LANGUAGE
In my dealings with the locals over the past couple of months, I’ve found that very few people speak any English. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a Portuguese phrase book, or spend an hour or two on Babbel or Duolingo, just to get a few basics. If you have any kind of complicated situation – like say, you need to go from the airport to Pipa with a stop at a random shopping mall for FIFA tickets in between – I recommend that you type clear and simple directions into Google Translate, then print out the instructions in Portuguese and simply hand them over to your driver, hotel clerk, tour operator, etc.
HEALTH
For any prescription meds, it’s a good idea to snap a picture of your prescription details in case of lost/stolen bags (email to yourself to a web-based email). For OTC stuff, I recommend bringing [I, Tanya, second this recommendation…having pantomimed symptoms in several countries]:
-ibuprofen (not only for the standard reasons, but it can also stop a sunburn in its tracks)
-Benadryl and/or Claritin (if you are subject to seasonal allergies)
-band-aids & travel Neosporin (everything grows in the jungle: infection is a serious concern)
-moleskin or similar if you are prone to blisters (we’ll be doing a lot of walking)
-cough drops (singing, people. singing. I always forget them and wish that I hadn’t.)
-Immodium
-Tums
-Breathe Right strips (for snorers) + earplugs (for the rest of us)
-sunblock + bug spray (I’m bringing tiny bottles of each and will replenish down there)
-Yellow Fever vaccination card (you don’t need it, unle.ss things change…so bring it).
Don’t underestimate equatorial sun. Even the natives stay out of the sun mid-day. For Northern moles like ourselves, it’s going to take some adjustment. No heat stroke or 3rd-degree sunburns, please. [Also beware foreign drinking. Don’t assume drinks have the same alcohol content you’re used to, and know you’ll get drunk faster in the heat.]
PACKING
Two words: carry. on.
You don’t need half of the stuff you toss into a bag. You probably don’t need a third of it. Pack light: no one is going to want to wait for your giant suitcase to come through baggage claim, especially after we’ve been living out of a tiny 20-inch suitcase for a week or two. But seriously: do you actually trust the brand-spanking-new Natal airport not to lose your luggage? That the 4-times-normal flight volume in Brazil is not going to result in a high proportion of screw-ups? That you’ll ever see that luggage again once it disappears? Pack light. You’ll thank me later. Whatever you may wish you had brought can be bought there. Souvenirs! [I talked with my contact in Brazil tonight, you can pick up a duffel bag in Brazil for less than $50, so if you buy stuff down there, you can pick up an extra bag to bring it home.]
Essentials: other than game-day attire and the hot weather basics, I consider a long-sleeve shirt (lightweight UPF 30 is ideal) for sun + bug protection, a single pair of long pants (same reasons), and a shade/rain hat to be the only real “essentials.” It’s probably going to rain every day  –  for maybe an hour every afternoon – probably more in Manaus. So a light raincoat is a good idea. Comfortable shoes: you never remember how much walking, standing, jumping, running, and all around foot abuse happens on one of these trips until you’re in the middle of it, wishing you had brought your favorite sneakers. Bring them. And a pair of sandals/flip flops. And that’s it.
SAFETY
For those of you who didn’t see it on Facebook, I have a friend who is married to a Brazilian and they head back at least once a year to visit family. I asked her about the safety situation – this is what she had to say.
“Rio and Sao Paulo can be pretty dangerous. We stay on the beaten path and don’t wander too far off. I’ve been there 7 times and have never had any problems. I have seen people get jumped for their bikes in Belo Horizante. Normal precautions. Do not show your wealth. I have been told keep some “mugger’s” money in your pocket. So if you get mugged they don’t get mad. Do not carry a lot of cash. The ATMs close normally around 10 pm. for safety. There are some 24 hour ATMs but they come with a big charge. If you go to a bank do not take the candy because the candy wrappers tell people that you were just at the bank. Do not walk around by yourself late at night. During the day you should be ok and in the tourist areas you should be ok. It’s really only when you go away from them you have problems. Stay away from favelas (ghettos). Ignore people when they ask for change. Even the young kids – they can be setting you up. There will be a heavy police presence and the national army! I think just being a smart traveler is the most important thing.
The more serious crimes happen in the big cities. There have been hold ups at stop lights but this is not the norm. Again, don’t play the wealthy tourist!
The driving in Brazil is CRAZY! Between cars, overloaded trucks, motorcycles, bikes, horse and carts, and people walking on the same highways it can be an interesting excursion. It really is pretty funny! Brazilians are extremely aggressive drivers. They pass going up and down the sides of mountains crossing into the opposite lanes and will not move over to avoid a crash. You have to be a defensive but yet aggressive driver always looking for your escape path. But that being said it really is fun to drive in Brazil because of the mountains and the curves. That’s why they are always amongst the world leaders for formula 1 racing!
I have found that most Brazilians are extremely welcoming and gracious. They try to speak English. They like americans. I have not been to Natal, Recife, or Manaus. I’ve heard that Natal and Recife are beautiful.
Alex says be more concerned with the mosquitos since they carry dengue, malaria. Mosquito spray is more important (especially closer to the amazon) than a gun!”
So don’t be foolish. Leave the bling at home. Try not to carry too much cash at once, and carry it in separate bundles – in a pocket, in your wallet, tucked into your bag, etc. Don’t park a car with any visible stuff in it that might tempt a thief. Look grubby & poor: that shouldn’t be tough for us. 🙂
One thing I always do is photocopy my passport (+ visa page) and the front & back of credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card, etc. Make two copies and stash them in two different spots that are not my wallet. My wallet was stolen in France ’98: trust me, the photocopying is a very minor pain in the ass compared to trying to cancel all of your credit cards on the fly without having any of the phone or account numbers. You could also simply snap pictures with your phone and email the files to a web-based email that you can access anywhere.
[Tanya: I also recommend taking photos of your World Cup tickets as soon as they are in your hands. Our tickets were stolen in ’98, and the first thing the police wanted to know was our section, row, and seat number.]
Emergency Numbers in Brazil
National Emergency Services Telephone
Medical Emergency (ambulância) Tel: 192
Fire Service (Corpo de Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Federal Police (Polícia Federal) Tel: 194
Website
Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal) Tel: 191
State Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária do Estado) Tel: 198
São Paulo Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 197
Website
São Paulo Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 190
Website
Rio de Janeiro Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 197
Website
Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 190
Website
Sea Rescue (Salvamento Marítimo) Tel: (21) 2104 6119
email
Website

 

You can add your travel tips in the comments. Please go buy my book and enjoy reading it between matches, and thanks for all the support bringing it to fruition! Safe travels to everyone following their teams in Brazil this Summer, especially all you Yanks!

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Be Safe, Fellow Travelers
June 2, 2010, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve always written about my travels and adventures WITH my children. In my work life, I own a children’s store and blog about my adventures as a parent. My plan for Soccer….Family Style was to write about traveling with my kids. My 7-1/2 year old has a dozen caps, and at the age of 3-1/2 led a German double decker train car in the “Everywhere we go” chant. My 2-1/2 year old sees a flag and starts soccer chants without prompting. They’re great little fans and I love going to games with them.

But even I have to draw the line somewhere. When we realized that just to fly them to South Africa would cost $3700, we had to accept that this trip would be better suited for second honeymoon than family adventure. Thanks to Verizon and Skype we should be able to keep in touch with the kids as they party it up with an extended Grandparents visit.

In the back of my mind, I was a little relieved to not have to worry about their safety. When we were planning to bring them, I had people at my store advising my to write on them in permanent marker with our contact information in case they were kidnapped. But it was hard to take comfort in that since my previous experience has been that the World Cup is typically a very safe place to be. There’s security everywhere, the hosts are excited and helpful, and people are typically in good spirits.

Then I read a story of a mother in South Africa who fought off a child abductor who tried to snatch her child out of her car through a smashed window. I had heard that you should be very careful to always travel with windows up and keep valuables off the seat and out of view, but how are you supposed to extend that to your children? We have two kids…they can’t both sit in the middle.

I would love to have our kids with us. They have a different way of looking at the world that makes sharing soccer with them a pleasure, but in this case, I think they will have more fun getting spoiled by grandparents and we will have more fun knowing we only have to keep track of two grown ups. And we’ll save that $3700 to go visit Germany next summer for the Women’s World Cup.




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