2023, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Brazil Day 11: Rio Tuesday September 5, 2023

My fever broke the night before I felt a little more human though I didn’t seep again.

The Salvador airport is definitely better to spend time in than the Recife or São Luís airports.

Like all internal flights except our flight from São Paulo to Recife, this flight was short. But, for me, it was miserable. My stomach hurt from constipation. My throat hurt from coughing. My face was covered in snot under my mask. My ear hurt on the descent because I couldn’t swallow effectively to pop it. My ass hurt because I couldn’t find a comfortable position on this particular plane. It was fun.

We flew into the smaller airport in Rio, SDU, which is right in the bay next to downtown. Flying in and out is pretty cool. Reminded us a bit of Hong Kong.

SDU is very small. We got off on the tarmac – because they don’t have enough gates – and were dropped off at what felt like an overflow baggage claim.

Outside we couldn’t find our Uber. There were signs saying “Go to this specific place” for your Uber but no signs indicating where that was. So our first driver gave up on us, literally just cancelled the ride about 30 seconds before we found him. Our second driver waited for us but turned out to barely have enough room for our luggage. We found Uber extremely useful in Brazil but this particular time it didn’t really work. (I mean, it did work, we got to our hotel, but I was very cramped in the ride.)

At our hotel we were “upgraded” to a very normal looking room. I guess the initial room we had booked must have been quite small.

We had lunch across the street and Jenn’s chicken was still overcooked but actually moist. I’m pretty sure it was the only time on our entire trip either of us ate chicken that wasn’t cooked to shit, that we actually enjoyed. Maybe we chose the wrong restaurants but maybe Brazilians overcook their chicken. (We’ve eaten chicken at multiple meals since we came home just to prove to ourselves chicken can indeed be cooked decently.)

We went to the steam room to try to and clear up our colds. It knocked us both out, I think, as we just lay in our hotel room doing nothing for quite a while afterward.

For dinner we walked (shock! horror!) a few blocks and found a local restaurant. Jenn thinks she may have eaten there last time. (She later discovered the apartment they rented back then was like a couple of small blocks away from our hotel.)

I ordered their national dish, which I somehow hadn’t tried yet. My food was good for the most part, though was too much of it, except that it was incredibly, unrelentingly, salty. Brazilian food had struck me as salty before, but nothing like this, especially the collards. It did not occur to me that this might have something to do with my illness.

As we sat there, I noticed all the single women walking by at night, by themselves, on the supposedly unsafe streets of Rio.

I understand there is crime in Brazil, and there is a lot of crime in Rio and Salvador. There are also a lot of indigent people, particularly in Rio. I’m not trying to minimize anything that has happened to someone who has been a victim of crime in either city. But I think there’s a bit of a disconnect between what people and the media say about crime in the big Brazilian cities and what things are actually like in some areas. Where we stayed, and everywhere we went, we never once felt in danger. There were a lot of people who appeared homeless or hungry or both, but nobody behaved in a way that made either of us feel unsafe. Almost everyone was either friendly, polite or ignored us. Sure, some people were a little insistent, but that happens everywhere. I’m sure it’s possible we could have gotten mugged. Maybe it’s even probable and we just got lucky. But it sure didn’t feel like it was probable. And all we did was what we do in every big city we’ve ever traveled to. We did very little to disguise that we were tourists, though we also didn’t look wealthy. People told me to be careful. They told me to Uber everywhere, especially at night. We somewhat ignored that and we were totally fine. We didn’t walk really long distances, and we Ubered at night if we were going from one neighborhood to another, rather than staying within a neighbourhood. That’s it.

I’d say if you’re somewhere and you see families and single women walking around at night, it’s probably safe to walk around at night.

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