How to Be a Carioca

Priscilla Ann Goslin

How to Be a Carioca

The Alternative Guide for the Tourist in Rio

To the hard-working Carioca whose sense of humor makes Rio such a delight

Critical acclaim for How to Be a Carioca

«For visitors, figuring out how to relax and fit into this languorous city can provoke anxiety. Now there is an amusing guidebook from a U.S.-born writer based in Rio that helps ease the strain. How to Be a Carioca… is as much a compendium of tongue-in-cheek observations about her adopted hometown as it is a handbook for the newcomer.»


«A funny, smart guide that captures the Carioca mentality perfectly.»

Travel & Leisure

«… essential reading if you want to fit into the landscape [in Rio].»

The Financial Post

«Author of the hilarious book How to be a Carioca… Priscilla attempts to unravel the mystery of the jeito Carioca…»


«Priscilla invented a genre and the result is very maneiro… The book exposes Carioca whims through subtly accurate observations… Carioca humor at its best.»

Veja Rio

«Marvelous… A masterpiece… The best of humor.»

Jâ Soares, humorist, talk-show host, and best-selling author

«How to Be a Carioca has become a best seller among the tourists who arrive in Rio thinking they are going to encounter parrots and sombreros in profusion…»

Jornal do Brasil

More praise for How to Be a Carioca

«Complete with hilarious observations, How to Be a Carioca is pleasing the tourists as well as the Cariocas, surprised by the precise observations of their habits on the part of a foreigner.»

O Estado de São Paulo

«A sociological treatment about Rio de Janeiro has just been published and nobody realized it! No maps, no tourist routes. Instead, a commentary about the most incoherent city in the Milky Way galaxy. A bestseller has been born.»

O Globo

«For the majority of tourists, visiting Rio without calling attention to themselves is almost a mission impossible. But now they can count on a priceless manual: How to Be a Carioca.»

Jornal do Commercio

«The book of the moment…. A result of well-humored, sociological observations, the book deciphers, in detail, Carioca behavior for the benefit of unwitting foreign tourists.»

Hotel News

«Priscilla… paints a well-humored picture of the city to help her fellow countrymen get around in Rio.»


«A SUCCESS… Much commented on… a manual of tips for the foreign tourist who falls in love with the city and wants to better integrate with the Carioca way of being.»


«In love with Rio, Priscilla Ann Goslin has written a guide that bridges the gap between the tourist and the Carioca.»

Mulher de Hoje


The information expressed in this book is based on the author’s personal experience. Neither the publisher nor the author will be liable for any adopted habits or idiosyncrasies acquired from reading this book including (but not limited to) honking when the light turns green; applauding the sunset at Ipanema beach; addressing everyone as cara; eating pizza with catsup; attempting to grease palms; doing the samba at the drop of a beat; liking showers; and beginning all conversations with Olha só. While the lessons presenting in this book are based on years of study and experience, always exercise good judgment when being a Carioca.

A dictionary definition

CARIOCA [kah rree ’aw kuh] mf/adj native of, pertaining to, the city of Rio de Janeiro. Nickname given by the Tupi-Guarani Indians to the first white men who came to live in Rio de Janeiro: CARI («white man») + OCA («home»).

Foreword by the Author

So, you’re flying down to Rio de Janeiro, right? Great! Being the sophisticated, self-confident traveler you are, you’ll have the time of your life in the capital of fun in the sun. But whether you’re flying in from New York, London, or anywhere else in the world, you won’t want to act like a fool or a bumbling yokel from some unsophisticated foreign land where you get here, or people will stare at you and call you «gringo.» Even worse, they might point and call you a tourist. Being the adventurous traveler you are, when in Rio, you’ll want to blend in with the locals. You’ll want to be a Carioca!

Whether you’re a tourist or a local, it’s no secret that all major cities have their problems. Recently, for example, while trying to hail a cab on a street corner in an obscure section of New York, a very friendly sort of fellow approached me and said, «Hey, d’ya wanna buy a watch?» Seeing as they were real nice looking timepieces, I said, «Sure!»

The next thing I knew, he and my wallet were hightailing it down some dark alley. Talk about feeling like a fool.

For some reason, though, in spite of all its glory and splendor, Rio seems to be getting the short end of the stick. To make my point, consider this story I heard awhile back.

Three men were in an airplane: a New Yorker, a Parisienne, and a Carioca. The New Yorker put his hand out the window of the plane and said, «Ah, we are flying over New York.»

The others asked, «How do you know?»

«I just touched the Statue of Liberty!»

A little while later the Parisienne put his hand out the window and sighed, «Ah, we are flying over Paris.»

The others asked, «How do you know?»

«I just touched zee Eiffel Tower!»

A little while later the Carioca put his hand out the window and said, «Ah, we are flying over Rio.»

The others asked, «How do you know?»

«Someone just stole my watch!»

Now a Carioca will be the first to laugh at himself, but this story is bad press in my book. Besides, I heard it from a Paulista — that’s a local from São Paulo, the sprawling megalopolis an hour away as the crow flies, where loosening up and having a good time means sitting in traffic wearing a suit while passing out business cards to the other motorists stuck in their cars.

Anyway, you are about to visit, or are visiting, the most beautiful city in the world — theCidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) — with its gorgeous beaches, breathtaking scenery, and above all, Cariocas, those stunning women and virile men who are lucky enough to reside in paradise. Which reminds me of a conversation between a Gaúcho — a local from Rio Grande do Sul — and a Carioca I overheard recently while having a few beers at a boteco, one of those charming little bars you find on most street corners in Rio. It went something like this.

«In the South,» began the Gaúcho, «they say that if there were a fight involving a Gaúcho, a Paulista, a Mineiro (a local from Minas Gerais), and a Carioca, the Gaúcho would fight, the Paulista would get beaten up, and the Mineiro would try to separate the two.»

«What about the Carioca?»

«He would have run away long before!»

I know it was in poor taste, but like I said, this one came from a Gaúcho, one of those Brazilian men from the South whose favorite pastime is sitting around sipping tea from a gourd while boasting about his machismo. No Carioca macho I know would sit around sipping tea, that’s for sure.

Well, you might be asking yourself by now, «Why do these otherwise worthy Brazilians feel the need to make stabbing jokes about the Carioca?» Well, that’s obvious. They are all jealous — and I mean really jealous. Who could blame them? Cariocas have it all. They are witty, well-informed, playful, great looking, friendly, and sincere. Why, meet any Carioca and he’ll say, «Aparece lá em casa» («Come around to my place»), even if he hardly knows you. To top it all, aside from having the wildest Carnaval, Rio is home to the best soccer teams in the world. Ask any Carioca, and he’ll agree with me on that.

So if you are visiting Rio, but don’t want to stick out like a pair of wing-tipped, lace-up shoes in a room full of rubber sandals, read How to Be a Carioca. Just a week or two of study and people will think you’ve lived in Rio all your life — and so will you. Soon you, too, will be feeling the joys of being a true Carioca. And remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate — «Aparece lá em casa.»

Preface by the Illustrator

In attempting to create a c ...

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