Rio de Janeiro is the world’s most alluring hot mess. It’s everything you expect it to be: edgy, stratified, stiflingly humid, crowded, exhilarating. But it’s also everything you don’t expect it to be: friendly, relaxing, accessible, human, bucolic even.
That’s what makes it such a special place – the contrasts that are a microcosm of what makes Brazil tick: poverty and great wealth; forest and city; savage and sophisticate; old world and new. After all, Rio de Janeiro was the only city in the western hemisphere to have been home to a monarchy (albeit for only a little more than a decade) and now the first city in South America to host the Olympic Games.
But the question I always get asked when I come back is, “but is it safe?” And while I often scoff at the a priori “dangerous” classifications of other Latin American cities, with…
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