This photo is totally irrelevant to what I am about to write about but it was the only photo from my Brazil trip photo album that depicted people crossing the street! Haha. So here we go!
A friend and I were in Rio de Janeiro working on a personal creative project when we discovered a travel tip that really made us feel like sh*t after the fact.
So she and I were standing on the street corner watching cars go by as we waited for the crossing light to appear. All of a sudden a man asked us in Brazilian Portuguese something along the lines if something “was fine” or “was good”. My friend kinda ran from him because she thought he was going to jack her (I know I know haha) due to the stories so many people had told us about tourists getting robbed due to the high poverty rate in Brazil…well in Rio de Janeiro at least.
On my end, I kind of just smiled at him and responded in my broken Portuguese that we were okay. I mean, what a super friendly old man right? He was all nice, trying to talk to us! Aw…I noticed though… He had some odd looking eyes..looked as if he was blind too…but I wasn’t sure.
The crossing light finally turned on and my friend and I went on our merry little way! As we were crossing the street we turned back (don’t really know why but we both had the hunch to do so). We went and saw the guy crossing the street….being escorted across the street by what seemed to be a complete stranger! The stranger was a middle-aged man who was seriously looking at me and my friend as if we deserved to die. He had looks that could kill, man!
We were confused…until we realized…HE *WAS* BLIND! It all made sense! In Rio, the crossing lights are NOT accompanied by audio signals to let visually impaired people know when it is okay and not okay to walk!
So that whole time he was talking to us he was probably asking us if it was okay to cross (to which we didn’t respond to) if we could help him cross the street (to which we also didn’t even respond to). So no, he didn’t see my friendly smile. No he didn’t know we were tourists that had no idea what was going on. He probably thought we were fellow citizens who were disrespectful and did not want to help!
No wonder that man helping him stared us down. Even though we were tourists, we should’ve used common sense. But honestly, that was NOT something we ever would’ve thought of and believe me we both (especially my friend who went out and bought a book on top of getting travel tips from friends) tried to learn about the customs. I guess it’s one of those things you kind of just learn once you’re there.
But yes…travel tip: IF YOU ARE IN BRAZIL (SPECIFICALLY IN RIO) AND A BLIND PERSON IS AT THE CROSSWALK, ESCORT THEM ACROSS THE STREET!
For the record, we felt like shit for the rest of the day. Because we don’t like dissin old people. And for someone to be visually impaired AND old? Oh man…we’d be even more careful and and helpful to that person. But…not that it’s okay to make mistakes like these…we definitely paid for our unintentional wrongdoing by our guilt!