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Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in Mid-October
Old 09-24-2013, 09:36 PM   #1
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Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in Mid-October

Hello:

I will be visiting Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in mid October for 14 days. I have never been to South America before. I will leave from Newark, New Jersey York JFK, New York and start in Buenos Aires and end in Rio de Janeiro. I will spend about 3 days at a hacienda in Uruguay, I think it is a farm-like setting.

Can you recommend what to try and see or do while I am in these three countries. Do you have any particular travel tips for me- like things to remember to bring. Is it better to obtain currencies for Argentine, Uruguay and Brazil here in the US or wait until I am there? Are there any unusual cultural norms? Are there certain types of food I should seek out or avoid while there? The tour that I am going through recommends that we travel lightly, so I am trying to keep that in mind.

Thank you for your advice.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:22 AM   #2
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That's a really nice time of year to be going. You'll probably be eating a lot more meat than you're used to, so enjoy that part. They know what they're doing around a grill!

Since you'll be on an organized tour, it's hard to know what to tell you about places to visit, but you should have a good time. South America is a great destination, but be very careful about petty crime in Rio. Stay in groups if possible and don't stray too far.

There are only a few cultural differences I can think of offhand that you might encounter, but the most common is probably a hand gesture. When you want to say "OK", don't do this:



Instead, do this:
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:41 AM   #3
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Your best way to get local currency is from an ATM with your debit card. Be sure to let your bank know where you are going. I recommend a money belt for your passport, credit/debit cards and extra cash. Only carry what you expect to need in your pockets. For women, I recommend not carrying a purse.

There is no way you won't stand out as a rich American especially on an organized tour. You will be a magnet for every thief within 50 miles. I carry a decoy wallet which has never been taken but there have been a couple of attempts. I've been on tours and it seems that several people on every trip get hit by pickpockets. Purses are the most popular. The inconvenience of losing your ID and credit/debit cards is much higher outside the US. The odds are it won't happen to you but it will be a mess if it does.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:34 AM   #4
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What Brau said.

Some fine eats along that route. Oh boy. Also some quality nightlife. Tango shows in BA and Jazz in Rio are touristy but still worthwhile if you have the opportunity. (Maybe I'm just showing my age). That's a great route for a trip, do enjoy!
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:05 AM   #5
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Ill add: take a couple of different cards that will work at ATMs, and let all your banks know, because you may find a network down for one kind of card, and not another. Also be sure you know which of your cards doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. I use the Charles Schwab debit card as primary and a BofA debit as emergency. I use Chase Sapphire for primary credit, and a Marriott chip/pin for backup, both with no foreign transaction fees. Try to use ATMs at banks, rather than on the street, just so you can put away your money under a security guard's eyes.

We're planning a road trip from USA to the bottom of the PanAmerican Hwy in 2015, so I'm eager to hear of your stories from Argentina, especially. Sounds like a truly awesome trip!

As for packing light, try stuff that quick dries, like Ex Officio underwear, and those lightweight shirts and pants from the camp store. A little clothesline comes in handy. And a foldable hat is good, plus sunscreen.

Oh, and organizing electronics--I like to put each of my items and chargers in separate ziptop bags in my luggage, and use some painters tape (easy to take off) and a marker to ID each cord/charger for what item it belongs to. Trust me, if you have a lot of stuff, it all starts to look alike! And be sure if you need lithium batteries, to stock up before you go! Don't ask me what it's like to drive 6,000 miles, all while searching for the little devils!
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:05 AM   #6
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That should be a great trip. Having been to BA and Rio, I'd say try not to miss the sunset from atop sugarloaf mountain in Rio. Absolutely fabulous view. Plan to get there about an hour before sunset and take the tram to the top. Also, don't miss out on the Acai bowls, they are very prevalent in Rio as they are kinda health crazy down there.

Also a stroll down ipanima and cococabana beach is way cool. And of course, don't miss the trip up to the Christo de Redeemer. On of the modern wonders on the earth.

On the safety end. I was there a couple years ago and myself and two other co-workers used the ATM at the hotel one right after the other. This was at a 4 Star Sheraton, so I didn't suspect any foul play, but all 3 of our cards were compromised and had to be turned off. They found it pretty quickly, but it was still a hassle getting new cards. Be very leery of ATMs, and that was great advice to only use the ones at the Banco.

Finally, I"ll recommend watching "City of God" on netflix for a little taste of the beauty you will see in Rio. One of NYT top ten movies of all times. One of the few movies I've ever enjoyed that I had to watch with english subtitles.

Good luck and have a great time.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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I agree with all the previous posters about security. You simply cannot be too careful. I suggest leaving all your jewelry at home. That includes wedding rings, as thieves have been known to cut fingers off! I too stayed at the Sheraton in Rio and our tour guide warned us against using non-bank ATMs in Rio. Instead, I had my credit card scammed when checking out of Hotel Las Cataratas at Iguazu Falls. I don't know if chip and pin technology has reached South America, but if so it would be helpful in reducing such scams.

I have not been to Uruguay. Highlights of Argentina and Brazil for me were Iguazu Falls in full spring flood (both sides), tango, sightseeing and shopping in Buenos Aires, the Sugarloaf mountain in Rio (it was raining, and the gondola rose above the clouds, so it felt like ascending to heaven!), and the voodoo ceremony I witnessed on Copacobana Beach.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:30 AM   #8
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I 2nd the Iguazu Falls recommendation.

Also, not sure about Argentina. But in Brazil be careful making much of a show of your smart phone. There have been frequent robberies/assaults with folks stealing smart phones from people on streets. Don't want to overblow it. But just be cautious.

Also, in Brazil. Don't make the OK sign with your hand/fingers. Does not mean the same thing there it does here. You will get an unpleasant reaction. Use the thumbs up instead.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:15 PM   #9
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Agree:
1) Thumbs up. (You do not want to know why.)
2) No jewelry.
3) Fake wallet (be clever--put some pesos in it) . Keep a little real $ in your shoe or something. Leave your passport in a safe somewhere--ship, hotel. Make a copy and carry it with you.
4) Forget about getting money from an ATM in Argentina. From what I hear, these days, you get nothing.
5) Stay with the group and watch your back.
6) Do not take anything with you on your person that you could not give up in a robbery. This is a good idea anywhere you go.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:12 PM   #10
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Thank you for the advice. Do any of you remember needing any special vaccinations when you traveled to Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay.

I have already received vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B.

The CDC website mentioned a vaccination for typhoid and yellow fever, depending on where you go in these countries.

I was born in New York and I got all the standard vaccinations as an infant/kid. Would that have included typhoid and yellow fever.

I know that my vaccination against tetanus is current.

Thank you for the advice.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:21 PM   #11
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Peru seems to want the yellow fever one and we got it, but were never asked to show the card. I also got the typhus vaccination.

I'd consider those two, and certainly tetanus which you've got covered, but that's about it if your hep a and b are up to date.

You would not have been given those as a child. Rare in developed world. I'd rather be safe on the vaccinations anyway. Oh and mind that you may get a few symptoms of the fever from the live vaccine for typhus. I did.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:42 PM   #12
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Just be aware that if you visit the jungle (e.g in Brazil) you may be struck off the blood donors' list for 6-12 months.
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:24 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nico08 View Post
Thank you for the advice. Do any of you remember needing any special vaccinations when you traveled to Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay.

I have already received vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B.

The CDC website mentioned a vaccination for typhoid and yellow fever, depending on where you go in these countries.

I was born in New York and I got all the standard vaccinations as an infant/kid. Would that have included typhoid and yellow fever.

I know that my vaccination against tetanus is current.

Thank you for the advice.
You'll be on a farm, so the best thing is to get both typhoid and yellow fever.

If you eat pork, Sunday brunch in Brazil is the feijoada. It is a true feast and not to be missed.
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:22 PM   #14
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I agree with all the previous posters about security. You simply cannot be too careful. I suggest leaving all your jewelry at home. That includes wedding rings, as thieves have been known to cut fingers off! I too stayed at the Sheraton in Rio and our tour guide warned us against using non-bank ATMs in Rio. Instead, I had my credit card scammed when checking out of Hotel Las Cataratas at Iguazu Falls. I don't know if chip and pin technology has reached South America, but if so it would be helpful in reducing such scams.
I am originally from Argentina and can not stress the above advise enough. Be VERY careful and do not show anything off. No jewelry (yes, I agree, that includes rings), no cash if possible, and try to not let them know you speak English (again, if possible). If you are bringing a nice DSLR camera, try to put it in a safe place when not in use.

My opinion is biased, but I have to say that ever since I moved to the US I have never missed South America for a second. Great to visit, sure, but you wouldn't want to live there...
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:57 AM   #15
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Pack some Immodium just in case the need arises. Take a dose at the first hint of trouble.

If you do use ATM machines then only use ones attached to a real bank. Do not use those stand alone ATM's in convenience stores or other public places as they are most often cited for problems like bad exchange rates and/or high fees. They are also more likely to be compromised by hackers/skimmers.

Check with your bank to see if they have partnerships with any banks along your route. If so, you will usually find lower fees and better exchange rates at those banks.

Have a great trip!
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Old 09-27-2013, 08:12 AM   #16
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My opinion is biased, but I have to say that ever since I moved to the US I have never missed South America for a second. Great to visit, sure, but you wouldn't want to live there...
Karloff, that is a very, very interesting statement. I knew a young Brazilian expat in Canada who said exactly the same thing. He was trying to get his retired parents to leave, as well.

As you know from the forums, some of us have considered just that: living in South America or Latin America in general. The more one looks into it, the less attractive it becomes. There are very few places that are left on my list of places-to-visit and even fewer on my list of places-to-consider-staying-for-a-longer-time.

Thank you for your comments. There is no substitute for experience.

Ed
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:00 AM   #17
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Karloff, that is a very, very interesting statement. I knew a young Brazilian expat in Canada who said exactly the same thing. He was trying to get his retired parents to leave, as well.

As you know from the forums, some of us have considered just that: living in South America or Latin America in general. The more one looks into it, the less attractive it becomes. There are very few places that are left on my list of places-to-visit and even fewer on my list of places-to-consider-staying-for-a-longer-time.

Thank you for your comments. There is no substitute for experience.

Ed
Hi Ed, and thank you for your feedback. I can appreciate your comments. I can only speak from experience when it comes to Argentina, but I would be another example of somebody who would get his parents to move over to the US in a heartbeat, if I could... I also know, in fact, a retired US couple who moved from Florida to a very nice and affluent area in Buenos Aires, back around 10 years ago when the currency exchange was definitely in favor of the US dollar. They were making a more than comfortable living simply from their social security checks, investments and savings. The exchange rate back then was around 1 U$S = 4 Argentine Pesos. A couple of thousand dollars a month went a long way back then. Now, they regret their decision. They always have trouble making ends meet. Inflation runs rampant, and even though the exchange rate is still in their favor, prices are always creeping further up. And no, I am not talking about 3 or 5% inflation, the sort that makes people here faint. Try 25% MONTHLY... You can only purchase dollars in the black market, and there are fees on top of fees for everything. Sales tax is 21% (applied to all prices, so at least your sticker shock is not as bad as it could be). Safety and security are also an issue, but luckily these folks speak the language and are of Latin descent. I could tell you a million horror stories but wouldn't want to jeopardize the thread. What one needs to know when it comes to these countries is mostly this: they go through numerous, drastic upswings and downswings. None of them seem to last more than a decade or two, but they are worse than the worst roller-coaster and not for the faint of heart. I left home when I was 23 and never missed it for one day. EVER. And in those 23 years I saw hyperinflation (twice), runs on banks, a military coup, at least 4 currency changes, one financial default, 3 presidents in one week, my parents' savings demolished, etc, etc...

But it's great to visit!
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:36 AM   #18
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I worked with several Argentinians who left during the last economic crisis. They had amazing stories to tell about having to smuggle what they could liquidate of their savings out of the country in their underwear, dealing with furtive middlemen, etc. It was very cloak and dagger. These people were doctors, architects, etc. Despite everything they still missed home.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:43 AM   #19
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Despite everything they still missed home.
I have to say, most do. That is true. Argentinians are irrational and sentimental by nature. How else do you explain Tango? Whenever I meet with other folks from my country, I'm usually the exception. If I didn't have family down there, I would never go back.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:47 AM   #20
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If I didn't have family down there, I would never go back.
Which reminds me of another story, about an Argentinian who left during the 70s. She returned in the 90s to spend time with a dying relative and was detained by the security forces for three weeks, despite the fact that she was a citizen of another country. She never returned again.
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