Reviews of my favorite books written by expatriates, journalists, and diplomats on what it's really like to live abroad

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Review: How to Be a Carioca by Priscilla Ann Goslin

An absolute Must Read before you go to Rio. And luckily it's small and light enough you can carry it around in your purse when you get there. (The vocab list of ubiquitous slang you'll never find in a formal dictionary is funny and helpful - example: "dancar" 'to dance' which actually means to get caught by the police doing something you're not supposed to do; when "see you" actually means "I never want to see you again"; explanations of local body language; and when the word for dental floss actually refers to a string bikini.)

Speaking of which, this book features a very helpful guide on exactly how to act on the beach, with separate instructions for men versus women, including how to get the beer guy to set up a weekly tab, how to go for a swim without looking like an idiot gringo, and when is the appropriate time to leave.

My personal favorite chapters are 'Cariocas on Wheels' without which I don't think any American could possibly figure out how to park in Rio (hint: one wheel on the sidewalk), and of course, 'Eating Out in Rio" which decodes boteca menus for you (hint: the pizza will be lukewarm and soggy.) There's also a helpful section on dealing with the police and how often and where you're supposed to kiss your acquaintances whenever you see them. I don't know about you, but the kissing thing always throws me. Also, the sample DMV (department of motor vehicles) test can't be missed,

This very funny yet insightful book, now in its third edition and umpteenth printing, is great for:

- Anyone visiting Rio, and even probably Brazil as a whole.

- People who live in cities with a lot of Brazilian immigrants (most of the taxi drivers in San Francisco these days seem to be from Brazil.)

- People with a good sense of humor.

- Fans of 'The Girl (or boy) from Ipanema'

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