It’s said that travel is one of the best forms of education. I agree and that’s part of the reason I’m taking my family to the Rio Olympics.
However, travel brings with it risks that most classroom education does not: the chance of personal injury. This is especially true in Rio. From the Zika virus to violent daytime muggings (see “Security”) to advanced cyber crime, there are many ways to get hurt in Rio – physically or financially. Add to this, the fact that an African American contact from Brooklyn, now living in Rio, says the treatment and status of blacks in Brazil is worse than in the US, and you’ve got a place where we’ll have to watch our black behinds.
So what does all this have to do with social ed? Well, it turns out that doing what we normally do when we travel internationally – putting our phones in Airplane mode the whole trip to avoid unintentional roaming fees – won’t work in Brazil. Here’s why:
Wazup Whatsapp? We’ve been told the best way to communicate in Rio is with the super popular, free instant messaging app, Whatsapp. We’ve already been using it to get invaluable intel from our contacts there in text, photo, audio and video form.
Desculpa. Nós não falam Português! We don’t speak Portuguese and most Brazilians don’t speak English (in fact, 3/4 of Brazilians are functionally illiterate according to our Rio contact). However, there will be no little phrase book with dog eared pages for us. We’ll use Google Translate! We’ll type in our question then show the translation on our phone to the person we’re asking – or play them the audio if they can’t read. (We’ll have to be as discreet as possible with this as showing our phones off in public is likely to attract banditos).
Ubertouristos – We’re staying a little ways outside Rio because it’s cheaper – and we thought: no problem, we’ll just rent a car. Well, it is a problem. Our contact strongly advised against it saying that, in all the years he’s been in Rio, he’s rented a car twice – and they were two of the most stressful things he has ever done in his life. He told us to use Uber instead. So, Uber it is, right from when we arrive.
To Air is Human – We’ll be using Airb&b for the first time and our phones will be the main way we connect with our hosts, whether it’s with Whatsapp, the Airb&b app, or just regular old email and phone calls.
So, I have one more thing to add to our Brazil “To Buy” list: cell phone covers that make our phones look as ugly as possible.