I recently vacationed in Brazil. Whenever I’m abroad, I always keep my eyes out for things that may be of interest to you fellow preppers. Brazil presented a lot of opportunities for this. I do like theoretical discussions, but I really like to see how people in the real world cope with problems and issues that we may have in the future. Looking at these real world examples can greatly help out own plans and preparedness.
Although a fairly developed country, Brazil does have a larger economic disparity than the US, especially in the larger cities like Rio de Janiero and São Paulo. There are a lot of homeless folks visible in the larger cities, especially compared to the larger places that I’ve lived In the US, such as Chicago. There are areas that are basically shanty towns, rife with the poor, crime, and where the drug dealers operate out of.
Because of high unemployment rates, many of the Brazilians have turned into finding resourceful ways to make money. I spotted very few beggars, but instead saw many people selling things at stoplights (water, candy, or towels – mostly buying wholesale and selling retail) or selling objects from blankets near high traffic areas such as outdoor markets, tourist attractions, or beaches. Others turned to running parking schemes in crowded areas, such as monuments or beaches, where they would manipulate parking spaces on the city streets and charge you for making the space to park.
Improvised Home Security
Near areas of high crime or where lots of homeless people gather, homeowners have taken extensive precautions. This often includes some sort of a wall or tall fence around the perimeter of the property. These walls or fences are often approximately six to ten feet tall and topped with razor wire, motion sensors, electric fencing, nails, or broken glass cemented to the top. In addition to this, some residences have grates or security bars covering windows or patios on the ground floor and sometimes up to the second or third stories. Looking at the prevalence and location of graffiti on residences and public structures, this is a necessary precaution for security.
Many of these walls include a security system with either a numeric code pad, a wireless camera doorbell, or a doorman for larger apartments. It was usually supervised by the number of doormen for the apartments versus a coded keypad for entry. Keypads were more numerous vs. the doormen in other cities that I visited.
For areas that were closer to sketchy areas or to the shanty towns, security was tighter. Not only were there doormen, but also armed (rifle, knives, and pistol), bulletproof vest-wearing security operatives. In Rio de Janiero, I was led to believe that there were three levels of police operating there, due to the high level of crime. There were local police, state police, and a national force, due to large number of violent incidents. Many citizens also turned in their firearms.
Water from the tap throughout Brazil is not purified. Most houses have one water filter in the house. This lack of purified tap water extends to restaurants too, with people needing to purchase bottled water at restaurants while out. There were only a few drinking fountains that I spotted, mostly at the airports.
Water issues are prevalent, especially in the smaller cities. Hot water isn’t always available, especially in the mornings. Cabo Frio, for example, is a vacation resort. When the population swells due to a holiday like Carnival or New Years, water from the tap is scarce and isn’t always available. Possibly compounding this was a trucking strike earlier in the year, I’m not sure what type of shipments are were delayed, but that seems like a bad combination to me. In order to counteract the periodic water shortages, some people have purchased additional reservoirs for water and place them on the top of their homes. Some people also choose to divert rainwater for gardening or other plants.
Traffic and parking situations were tight, especially in the big cities. In order to cope, many people took to scooters, motorcycles, or bikes, in addition to walking. The bikes would ride between the lanes of traffic, honking constantly. Scooters and motorcycles were able to weave through the congested traffic at a much greater speed, leaving the busses and cars far behind. This gave them a lot more convenience and mobility.
Overall, it was really an eye-opening to travel to somewhere else where there was a little more social disorder and see how people coped, but kept on living their lives.