Rio De Janeiro Reminds Me of Israel, USA, & Latin America

There is something very unique about not only Rio De Janeiro, but Brazil as a whole.  There are some countries that are similar to others and very few countries that are completely unique.  I wouldn’t consider Brazil to be entirely unique but the way that everything comes together is unlike any place in the world.

  • The music is different
  • The language is different
  • Brazilian Bundas (backsides) are different
  • Everything is so different

The only place that I have been that is 100% unique is Ethiopia;  Canada & USA are similar, many places in Europe are similar, many countries in Latin America are very similar and even Africa has countries that resemble each other.  Brazil has hints of other places I have been to but how it is all put together is completely unique.

Sunset in Rio De Janeiro, sunsets

The sunset from my apt in Rio

This isn’t my first time in the country, I attended the fantastic chaos that is called Carnival in Salvador, Brazil.  Salvador is the city that Brazilians go to for Carnival while Rio De Janeiro is where tourists go for Carnival.  I hope you choose the right city.  I didn’t have many first impressions of Brazil after Carnival simply because I know that I didn’t get to know the true element of the culture.  I only visited one city and it came at a time when everyone is partying and not working.

This time around I would be living in Rio, upon arrival, I happily learned it is one of the most expensive cities in the world.  I debated leaving the city and heading to a smaller one like Porto Alegre or Florianopolis but I did what any day trader would do, I invited my friend Brice from TravelingToColombia and we rented a penthouse together.

When people think of other countries they only think of one culture, one people.  Everyone in the United States considers themselves Americans but we can

famous steps in rio de janeiro

Rio & The USA

Brazil is absolutely massive, it is the 5th largest country in area and also the 5th largest by population.  The diversity that you see in the city of Rio De Janeiro and the country reminds me of the states.  United States is known for being a melting pot of cultures, Brazil is a melting pot of people but they have already assimilated into being Brazilian.

You can find every shade of person here from purple to green, black to white, caramel to Japanese.  Yes there is a massive Japanese population in Brazil.  The diversity I could compare more to Canada than to United States because everyone lives with each other.  In the United States, ethnic groups hang out with their ethnic groups, Hispanics hang out with Hispanics and Asians hang out with Asians.

People don’t usually mix in the United States while in Canada everyone lives together in harmony.  The attitudes of people in the city also reminded me of the United States.  Living in Africa for roughly 5 months made me start getting accustomed to sticking out;

I was constantly getting second looks by everyone in my Somali neighborhood in Kenya, called Farangi (gringo) in Ethiopia, and even attacked by being the only white boy at the club.  In Brazil, there are no foreigner points because there is such a vast array of people.

Sugar Loaf Rio De Janeiro

Sugar Loaf in Rio De Janeiro

The attitudes of the people in the city are hard to explain, there is an I don’t care attitude similar to the states but at the same time once you get to know someone they are some of the nicest people in the world.  We attended a hippie hoppie concert, oops.. that’s hip hop, and people were smoking more than just cigarettes.

It isn’t legal but many people do it,  there was a time my buddy Brice was kind enough to pass the illegal smoking object to someone else.  It was between two women and after the other woman accepted it from Brice, no thank you or smile.  She just snatched it from his hands and didn’t even look back.

Rio & Israel

When I visited Israel thanks to my friends at the Once In A Lifetime project, I was lucky enough to see another side of Israel.  It has become one of my favorite countries in the world because of the people.  Many people mention the politics but I chose to instead enjoy my time in the beautiful country and make new lifelong friends.

Everyone in Israel is so laid back it blew my mind away.  In Tel Aviv, where many of the hi tech technologies that create the 2nd most businesses on the Nasdaq are created, everyone goes to work in jeans and a t-shirt.  In Rio, the beach culture, poverty, and personalities of the Brazilian people have created the same effect.  When people go out to party they wear shorts and sandals.

arches in rio de janeiro

The famous Arches in Lapa – Rio De Janeiro

In the famous Lapa party district I was amazed to see a giant block party, not clubs and bars that people enter to.  Many times you would have one bar with music blaring and everyone dancing on the streets.  I am still learning how to dance Samba, the official dance of Brazil.

Rio & Latin America

This can be attributed to all of Brazil and not just Rio but there is a Latin American feeling to the country (even though Rio & Brazil are part of Latin America); it isn’t quite western, it’s not quite European, the only way to describe it is Latin American.  The people of Brazil do not speak Spanish but there are a lot of similarities with their culture Latin America with the first being Brazilian time.

From the buses that pass by to the waiting for friends, everyone is usually late.  Like many Latin American countries, when you go out on the weekend you will see people from the 16 years old all the way to 50 and 60 years old.  I am still amazed how older people can still move so well.  Those 1920’s and 1930’s treated them really well.

Even though Rio was overwhelming at first, I am certainly getting acclimated to the country.  As I write this from the beautiful beaches of Florianopolis I am excited to return to Rio to see my new apartment and go out and have some fun.


  1. Wow… great post Marcello! I’m a brazilian and I’m amazed on how quickly you could ‘read’ the country. I lived in Rio and loved every second of it while I was there (I lived in Leblon right across Sushi Leblon, very nice beach and place to live in general). Your comparison with Tel Aviv is unique and very interesting. Brazilians are very open and I always found jewish and israeli people very open also and could quickly become friends with them in USA where I live now. I always found them so much more aware of the world (than most people here if you know what I mean…).
    I’m debating if I enjoy more these or your trading posts… 😉
    Keep safe e tudo de bom!

    1. Hey Dori thanks so much… Im glad that someone else sees my point of view. Why did you decide to live in Leblon rather than in other areas like Ipanema or Copa? I personally avoid those two and really like Botafogo….

  2. Super helpful… I am 22 years old and live in philadelphia. I will (if all goes well) be moving to Brazil in early 2013 to teach english to children. Of course, my location in the country all depends on where I can get a job – but at first I was leaning towards Rio. But, I am the same as you & would rather have an actual, culturally in-depth experience. So, as of now I have been doing alot of research in Recife or Salvador.

    Your blog is really helpful! I loved it.

    – Do you think Recife o Salvador are safer for foreigners then Rio De Janerio?
    I just hope to be safe, indulge 100% in the Brazilian culture, and get away from the “American way of life”

    1. Salvador is shotty in some places and Recife can be dangerous as well. As a rule of thumb I would say to just make sure you take precautions to ensure that you dont get into a situation that you dont want to be in. It think Rio is the best combination to live in the country because you have a little bit of everything

  3. hey marcello. Love the Blogging and jealous of your world travels. heading to Brazil next week from Toronto and wondering if what i’m hearing from everyone is true “Brazil is very dangerous and you have to be careful going anywhere”. From your last response, you eluded to it i guess, but is being in Brazil, Rio more specifically that dangerous for a tourist?

    1. No its not like that at all Darren. For the most part Rio is not as dangerous as it used to be at all. It is more of a left over stereo type now. I never had an issue once in Rio and I even visited the North where most tourists don’t go. Keep an eye on your surroundings, don’t flash tons money around, and if you are taking pictures with your iphone/samsung galaxy or camera just put it in your pocket and keep going. Walk with confidence and you should be okay Darren. Don’t listen to the hype. There are even riots right now in Rio but for the most part Brazilians are very kind people that love to have fun. The one place I would recommend that you watch out would be if you go out in Lapa. I have seen lots of pick pockets there so watch out for that

  4. H
    Thanks for your blog.
    i wonder how much USD enough for two weeks trips in Rio de Janeiro? economically speaking.

  5. Nice article, I just got back from South America and I found that Brazil and Colombia have a similar vibe, from the the favelas, to colorful cities exploding with exotic fruits, the people of all types of complexions, looks, sizes, the in your face daily life… I truly loved it, it’s like you’re alive.

    Peru and Ecuador felt different, they’re a more quiet people, more reserved, the people also look different, their faces resemble the Incan heritage of their land, the landscape is also different, huge impressive mountains, amazing cuisine colorful coastal towns.

    Argentina it’s also its own thing

    I truly loved visiting south America, I need to go back, I miss it already!

  6. Viva Luso-tropicalismo! The Portuguese language is booming in the world i.e., Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Macau (China), etc., etc. Brazil is t, the next USA. Watch out world. Brazil is so huge, diverse, natural resources rich, and incredibly beautiful….a nation blessed by God!

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