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So exactly when are we going to be mugged?

I think that’s the question on most of our family’s minds.  They told us not to go, it was too dangerous.  Let’s face it, there are some scary things that happen here in Brasil.  While in Utah on the international page of the newspaper I happened upon an article noting how a judge was killed in broad daylight by 8 dirty cops (they’d taken over the Favelas from the drug lords and were running it mafia style).  Anyway, people ask all the time how safe is Brasil? Can you drive down the street with your windows open? Can you walk anywhere? Have you been mugged?  I’ve been told by people that you never walk anywhere, it’s too dangerous.  And to all of that, I laugh.  Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to think that my odds in life are good.  I will walk to the store at 9pm at night.  I drive with my car window down, and I take photos all over Sao Paulo with my smart phone.  I’ve even been known to flash a 50 at the feira. 🙂

from Aljazeera

This morning (6am ish) we awoke to 2 gunshots.  Followed by a very very loud shouting match between what sounded like a husband and wife, and then some other guy (to which they all silenced down).  Fairly sure some angry guy shot off a gun in his house, thus the sudden eruption in yelling.  We couldn’t figure out where the sounds were coming from, as there are so many complexes around us, but it happened, it was interesting, and it made us laugh. And yes they were gunshots, we know what they sound like.  So it made me think, how dangerous is Brasil really? Even with gunshot sounds, my husband and I were more curious WHAT the fight was about then that someone shot a gun.

See the thing about Brasil is it is dangerous.  I would be unrealistic and lying if I didn’t type it out.

But when you think about this mega-city you don’t think of small town life, but it’s here.  If we took my mother in law and put her in downtown Los Angeles, she’d have the same stories of fear and death that I hear from the average Brasilian.  It also doesn’t help that the media here loves plastering bloody shot up corpses on their front page (sensational much). Brasilians are close, walking home I get accosted by random grandmas and grandpas all the time that just want to chat.  The last time some old guy approached me in LA he smelt of beer and urine.  People here are connected at a level that you don’t see in the big cities of the US, and with that comes sharing of stories… so I do think there is some exaggeration going on to a small extent.

They also live REALLY REALLY close to everyone, kind of like downtown Los Angeles.  See in downtown Los Angeles all the wine drinking yuppies with their teeny house dogs live just a few streets over from all the whino, druggies, with their tents and cardboard boxes.  The closeness means, the rich encounter the poor on a daily basis.  Unlike the rest of California, where those in Beverly Hills can feel nice and secure in their happy little utopia, as they know all of the “trouble” is freeways away in South Central.  Sao Paulo is like downtown Los Angeles, with favelas smashed up against the homes of the super rich…. you get all close and chummy like that rich folk are going to have bad things happen to them… those same bad things that probably happen to most poor folk in South Central.  Except if you’re rich and something happens to you, you’re going to exaggerate it 100% over because “things like that just shouldn’t happen to people like me.”



About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

3 responses »

  1. Great post, I feel the same way. Im finding I hear several stories that float around among expats and find it ends up being the same two stories told many different ways through the great funnel of the ´telephone´ game. By the time the story works its way through its exagerated to the point of silliness. I do sometimes feel like its just a matter of time since I feel so safe and act like I am in the US a lot of times. Walking the street texting away on my blackberry or even doing the same on the bus which many people say is a big no no but people are getting held up in nice parts of chicago these days for less. Its just another big city…

  2. I hope NEVER! Things are getting better violence wise in Brasil, or at least in SP, right? That’s what I’ve heard and read at least.

    My friend was there over the summer and he said he had no problem whatsoever either.


  3. Great post!
    I have always said that, Brazilians are drama Queens and exaggerate too much and anything happens. We are the ones making the biggest fuss if anyone so much as breaks a nail.
    The irony of it all. I have never EVER been robbed anywhere in Sao Paulo or Rio, always feel safe when I am there and I have been held at gun point in Dallas of all places and have have drunk “crack” additics try to mug me in New York city’s subways.
    It’s all a matter of perceptions.
    Does Crime happen in Brazil? yes, it does, but 99% of the time it’s a bar fight near or inside a favela. I have never even been inside a favela, so I don’t really pay attention to all the crime fuss going around.
    And Jana is totally right, I also hear the same 1 or 2 stories told over and over 100 times like they were different events, but it’s all the same pathetic little stories told over and over and twisted and exaggerated.
    You will be always safe in Sao Paulo, you will NEVER be mugged. You guys are street smart and your behavior is never going to allowed anything to happen to you.



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