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4 Things You Need, From Salvador to Fortaleza

With Chikungunya becoming a big problem, it's wise to carry mosquito repellent in Brazil.

With Chikungunya becoming a big problem, it's wise to carry mosquito repellent in Brazil.

Every trip brings something unique. Sure, some will remind you of others, either through common needs, a second encounter with familiar people or a specific feature shared among different landscapes, something.

But as I thought about the four things you need, from Salvador to Fortaleza, the journey I just made, I kept coming back to what you will read about below.

1. Patience

Patience easily is No. 1.

This region of Brazil moves at a slower pace, and trying to hasten the lifestyle to move like New York is a Sisyphean task.

When you find yourself waiting longer than necessary, take a deep breath. You’re on vacation after all.

If you miss your bus, as I did one day in Recife, just politely explain why to the friendly person at the ticket window of your bus company. They’ll understand more than anyone. They live here.

They put me on the next bus to Natal, no extra charge necessary, and the bus was full so that probably meant someone in line with me was not allowed to buy a ticket.

As my friend David Binns said, “It’s what makes the culture so beautiful and frustrating at the same time. But more beautiful.”

2. Mosquito Repellent

What isn’t beautiful is the number of mosquitos in some coastal cities, making bug repellent a must.

I brought this stuff I bought in Colombia, a small cream-colored cube that melts away with a bit of water, creating a cream you put on your skin. It’s called Nopikex and I think I paid only 5,000 pesos (about $2.50) for it at a Colombian pharmacy. 

It was especially handy in Recife, probably because the city is split in two by a wide river that serves as a great breeding ground for mosquitos.

You'll need an electrical adapter in most parts of Brazil.

You'll need an electrical adapter in most parts of Brazil.

3. Electrical Adapter

Recife is also where I bought my electrical adapter.

In Salvador, I didn’t need one because there were wall outlets that work for both 160 and 220-volt devices. It’s a touristy city and is prepared for visitors.

That was not the case in Maceió, which is popular mainly with Brazilians, and my cell phone and laptop slowly began to lose battery power.

How would I keep in touch with Marília if I suddenly could not get on Facebook, either on my computer or my phone?

I was lucky that one of the Brazilians staying at the hostel had an extra adapter and let me borrow it, and that kept me digitally connected until Recife when I needed to make a trip to the mall.

I paid 5 reals ($2) for my adapter.

4. Sunscreen

That’s cheaper than what I would have paid for sunblock. It’s expensive in Latin America, about $9 for a small tube in Colombia, where I live, and about the same in Brazil, but you need it here if you’re going to the beaches on the northeast coast.

The sun bears down on you, hard. I recommend, if your skin is of the fairer shade like me (thanks to my light-skinned mother), at least SPF 45. I brought SPF 30, put it on several times one day, and still got a little burnt.

On the bright side, all I needed was some skin moisturizer and rejuvenator and it turned that red to brown, the benefit of having a dark-skinned father.

Maybe I’ll just stick with the SPF 30.

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