Rio - I am Carioca

Monday, March 10, 2014

Brazil Takes Centre Stage

Surrounded by controversy, speculation, terrorist threats and tens of billions of dollars in spectacular facilities, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are now behind us.  Now the world’s focus and attention shifts to my home country. Poised to host the biggest sporting events in the world over the next two years; the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, there’s no better time for me to share my insight into Brazil.

First Up - The 2014 FIFA World Cup

The people of Brazil are extremely passionate about soccer. Honestly, to call it a sport doesn’t seem to be enough, it’s practically a religion here.

From June 12 through July 13, 2014, Brazil will host the World Cup for the first time since 1950. Back then, the entire country was devastated when Brazil lost to neighbour Uruguay in a dramatic final match watched by over 100 thousand people in the largest soccer stadium in the world, Maracanã, in Rio.  In 2014, 200 million Brazilians will be holding their breath, praying that the Brazilian national team or "Seleção Brasileira" will finally celebrate their 6th world championship title at home.

This country wide event will showcase, not only the 2 largest cities in Brazil (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in that order), but also many cities across the North, Northeast, South, Southeast and Central regions. Currently, many of these cities are unknown outside of South America, including the country's capital, Brasília.  

2016 Summer Olympic Games

As opposed to the World Cup, the Olympic Games are hosted by a single city and in 2016, Rio will host the first Olympic Games ever held in South America.  Although this games isn’t without its own speculation and controversy, especially with respect to the preparedness of the facilities, what I can guarantee is that the Cariocas are ready to welcome the world to Rio.

Being a Carioca

Rio is a fascinating city, with its ups and downs (literally). In this series I will recommend how and where to do it like a local in Rio. Also I will answer the most common questions I hear when people find out I am from Rio, including whether it is a safe place to go. 

Cariocas are the people of Rio. They might have been born and raised there - which is my case - or as millions of other people, have adopted Rio as their home.  The word ‘carioca’ which literally means 'white man's house'. It comes from Tupi - one of the many native languages of the Brazilian tribes that inhabited the country long before the Portuguese arrived in the 1500's.

I want people to experience my home town of Rio, as Cariocas, even if it's just for a short while. In order to become a Carioca, the first thing you need to know is how to say 'Eu sou Carioca". This short, simple, yet magic sentence, along with a simple gesture of putting your hand over your heart while you say it, will open smiles and allow you to make many friends while visiting this wonderful city.

So let's practice - Eu sou Carioca

Eu - means 'I' and it's pronounced just like when English speaking people are disgusted about something and say ‘Eww’, just don't extend it for too long.

Sou - means 'am' it's pronounced like the word 'so'.

Carioca - is pronounced ka-di-o-ka, with a very light 'd' sound, like North Americans would pronounce the d in the word 'medical'.

That's it! Eu sou Carioca, or I am Carioca, will mean you love Rio, and you want to be part of it.

There is no better way to visit to this fascinating, multicultural and vibrant place than to be a part of it. Now that you are a Carioca, you just need to go to the right places, enjoy the amazing food and drinks, and most importantly, behave like a local in the most sacred place of all for us Cariocas, the beach.

In this series I will recommend how and where to do it like a local in Rio. Also I will answer the most common questions I hear when people find out I am from Rio, including whether it is a safe place to go.

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