Thong bikinis and tanned butts are a way of beach life in Brazil—anything else will seem huge. Luckily, plenty of beach vendors sell classic, Brazilian-style bikinis. The smaller, the better.
In the beginning, you’ll find yourself rushing to arrive on time only to be kept waiting for at least 10 minutes. After a while, you’ll begin to realize that arriving 15 minutes late is not actually late and you’ll start enjoying the more leisurely approach to time.
When driving, it’s perfectly acceptable to drive through red lights if there are no other cars around, especially at night. The police allow it to preventing assaults while driving through empty streets in the dark.
Don’t bother looking for that umbrella or digging out a raincoat. Brazil has so few rainy days that it’s just easier to postpone plans than to adjusting to the wet outdoors.
For women, getting nails done, eyebrows styled, and bikini line waxed are not just for special occasions but part of the weekly routine. It can seem a bit excessive, but regular ‘me time’ and pamperings is easily embraced.
Making small talk is not awkward in Brazil—rather, it’s relished. Idle chitchat and sharing stories with total strangers at bus stops is not at all uncommon.
Whether a complete stranger or a lifelong friend, greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek is the polite thing to do, but the number of kisses varies (one in Sao Paulo, two in Rio de Janeiro), so check to avoid that awkward moment of going for an extra kiss when the other person isn’t expecting it. Women greet everyone like this, but men meet men with a handshake and friendly back slap or shoulder pat.
Brazilians are extremely friendly people and don’t want to let others down by saying, “no.” Instead, they make vague promises without necessarily planning to keep them. Though confusing at first, it’s just a way of being sociable. Before long, directness feels harsh, and carefree planning feels normal.
Whenever there’s a public holiday—and there are plenty—it becomes a beach day. Even if it’s raining, Brazilians will travel to nearby seaside towns to get their beach fix.
While it may seem like littering, leaving cans on the beach lets impoverished people collect and recycle them for money, so be sure to leave beer or soda cans next to bins rather than inside.
Pints are a rare sight in Brazil because they get warm quickly, so Brazilians drink their beer in small glasses to keep it chilled long enough to finish.
Don’t think about inviting people around for dinner before 8pm. Like in much of Latin America, late dinners are normal and may take some getting used to, but they quickly become routine.
Brazil’s main dishes tend to be heavy with rice, beans, and meat, sometimes with roasted cassava or farofa. These foods are filling and sleep-inducing but bring so much comfort.
Aesthetic-oriented Brazilians take pride in appearances, so exercise (running, weightlifting, hiking, dancing, and surfing) is a standard lifestyle to stay trim and healthy. Before long, digging out running shoes and joining one of the many exercise classes available in all Brazilian cities will be second nature.