Travel

15 things Americans just don't get about Brazil

Americans love Brazil. Or at least the idea of what Brazil is all about: Beaches, rainforests, beautiful people, blue macaws, caipirinhas, Carnaval and soccer. While that's all fine and dandy, there's still plenty about Brazil that Americans might find unflattering.

From peculiar social norms to habitual tardiness, the culture shock awaiting in the South American behemoth could very well put off (or piss off) the average American. Oh, and if you're not accustomed to seeing transvestite prostitutes, well, perhaps Rio's not the place for you after all.

To mentally prepare you for the affront on your American sensibilities, Thrillist has compiled a list of 16 Brazilian idiosyncrasies that rub Americans the wrong way — including literally rubbing them.

1. They say hello and goodbye... to absolutely everyone
Brazilian social conventions oblige you to greet everyone individually in a room, at a table or around a barbecue pit. Same goes for saying, "So long"! Basically, hell on Earth for someone with social anxiety.

It’s rude to avoid the awkward exchanges or save time by throwing up deuces for all. The Irish exit is simply not an option. 

2. They're awfully touchy-feely
"Space Invaders" is more than just a video game in Brazil. Depending on which state you’re in, every encounter begins and ends with one to three cheek kisses. Make sure you brush and floss.

Furthermore, Brazilians use touching like punctuation while engaged in conversation. That sensual back rub? A mere comma. Hand on your thigh during conversation? More like a semicolon. Don't ask what constitutes a full colon.

3. They love touching strangers' babies
Again with the touching. Brazilians’ boundaries obviously include body contact, and babies are no exception. That's just outright weird in the US, but in Brazil, it extends to tickling, patting, and nuzzling babies -- with or without permission.

4. Dog sh*t is everywhere
Brazilians curb their dogs like Hollywood studios reject superhero scripts, mutating man’s best friends into your shoes' arch-nemeses. Perhaps you can practice shaking a leg by dodging all of the K9 crap on sidewalks. Or just prepare yourself to always smell faintly of poop.

5. Brazilian men love wearing speedos
Grape smuggling. Pickle pinching. Banana hammock-ing. Pick a name. Brazilian dudes are doing it at the beach. And it's pretty much always gross.

6. There are a lot of transvestite streetwalkers
Transvestite prostitutes aren’t unique to Brazil. But they’re definitely a bigger thing in Brazil than most Americans are used to. You may think you're shopping from one aisle, and end up with something completely unexpected in your cart.

Just ask soccer star Ronaldo.

7. Their dance moves make Miley Cyrus look mild
You might have a mean Macarena or an awesome Achy Breaky, but they ain't cuttin' it in Sao Paulo. Samba, sertaneja, and forró are just three of the Brazilian dance types requiring hip movements that will make you realize just how unhip you are. Although dancing to Brazilian funk music strangely resembles twerking, so at least you'll have something to look at while you're being carried off the floor.

8. They're either late or never show up
Scheduling an appointment in Brazil is as exact a science as astrology. Brazilians will be late, if they show up at all. Maybe they just eat out a lot. Or maybe they're just being boxed out on the subway, since people on trains are awful.

Oh, and if a Brazilian says, "maybe", it means probably not. And "yes", means maybe. So good luck getting that time and date nailed down.

9. Their subway etiquette makes New Yorkers seem dainty
Getting past Nitro and Gemini in the American Gladiators’ gauntlet is easier than boarding the Sao Paolo subway at rush hour. Commuters box out better than Dwight Howard. And when organized lines do mysteriously form, they disappear quicker than JaMarcus Russell's NFL career. The jeitinho brasileiro, which roughly translates to screwing over anyone else to get what you want, prevails.

If you ever actually make it inside, chivalry shifts from Theon Greyjoy to Prince Oberyn of Dorne — or from castrated to skull crushed — with teenage males refusing to surrender seats to any women under 60. Chairs reserved for seniors, pregnant women, and the physically challenged get some respect. But not much.

10. They don't care if you want to pay and leave
Ask a Brazilian food service employee to turn over a table and he's more likely to turn into angry Chris Farley than actually wipe things down. Brazilian restaurants seemingly hate when people pay and actually leave... just try to find your waiter after a meal. He’s Waldo in a sea of people dressed like candy canes. It’s as if Brazilians have nowhere to be. Which makes no sense, given how people act on public transportation.

11. They eat ants and put ketchup on pizza
Unclear which is actually weirder. While Brazil has tons of food Americans will love, it also serves chicken hearts as delicacies. Other regional favorites include: cow stomach stew; goat innards; ants that supposedly taste like peanuts when roasted (unverified); ketchup instead of tomato sauce on pizza; and requeijão, a ricotta-like cheese spread that goes on every sandwich ever.

The most typically Brazilian dish, a pork-and-beans stew called feijoada, includes pig parts formerly used for hearing, walking, and grunting, but is still worth a try (you can eat around those nasty bits).

12. They drink corn juice and eat corn ice cream
OK, yes, we just listed weird Brazilian food stuff. But corn juice. And corn ice cream. These deserve their own place on this list; not even a US presidential candidate stumping in Nebraska would think about going down those corn roads.

13. The alcohol outside cachaça sucks
Argentina and Chile are the go-to South American countries for wine; Brazilian wine is too sweet, and more often than not tastes like rank grape juice. The beer tastes like water with stale bread thrown in.

Outside of a few new-to-the-scene craft beers (Colorado, Karavelle, etc.), the brews are only good for really hot days… of which there are a buttload in Brazil. Also, they love foam on top of their beers.

14. They applaud after touchdown
No, not the football (the not-soccer football) touchdown. Plane landings. Brazilians clap for the pilot after the wheels stop on the runway.

In their defense, the country has a history of horrific aviation disasters. So maybe the applause is actually warranted.