HOW TO ENJOY RIO DE JANEIRO WHEN YOU ARE BROKE AF

A few months ago when I was still in Mexico, I had this conversation with an Italian long term traveler about keeping up the finances while on the road. While I was doing my first volunteer job at the hostel, she’s been to tons of odd jobs. After I released a sigh of surrender on the uncertainty of survival, she exclaimed, ‘I haven’t really met any traveler who has completely ran out of money. It is very easy to find a job on this continent. The jobs are just everywhere.’

Fast forward to present, I am now down to my last $50, still have 6 weeks to go before my scheduled return trip home and roaming around the expensive Rio de Janeiro. Aside from the hostel volunteer job that is keeping me fed in the morning and allowing me to get a bed at night, the closest possibility I have on getting cash inflow is by selling ice candy at the beach. Up to now, I am still contemplating on the idea.

While the struggle is real in stretching every penny that I have before I succumbed to starvation, I find it sacrilegious not to enjoy my time while in the beautiful Rio de Janeiro. This city, after all, is in several people’s dream destination list. So this is how I’ve been pulling it off so far:
1) GET A VOLUNTEER JOB IN A HOSTEL NEAR THE BEACH. The first thing I did when I arrived in Rio is ask the reception in the hostel I was checked in if they are looking for a volunteer. I got lucky. Now I am assured of a breakfast and a bed everyday, and a few rounds of caipirinhas 4 days a week.

2) LEVEL UP YOUR SOCIALIZING POWER AND DRAG EVERYONE FOR A NIGHT OUT. Most of the hostels here in Rio are partnering with party organizers. The deal is that the hostel staff (including the volunteers) can get in the sponsored parties for free and get free drinks if they can drag along with them a few guests from the hostel. Some parties would even give you a VIP treatment. Not a bad deal. It helped that there’s a couple of clubs which are walking distance away from our hostel because I am too broke I can’t even afford an Uber ride even if it is a shared one.

3) LAY DOWN ON THE BEACH AND WORSHIP THE SUN, EVERYDAY. The hostel I worked in is just 3 blocks away from Copacabana beach and 20 minutes walk away from Ipanema. Going to the beach is for free. The sun is up in most days even though winter season is approaching. No need to rent a sun bed. And the R$1.85 bottle of water I bought from the supermarket keeps me away from ordering those delicious looking fruit drinks paraded across the beach.

4) PUT ON YOUR SNEAKERS AND DO SOME EXERCISE, EVERYDAY. Living in Copacabana area, it is very easy to get intimidated or inspired. The Cariocas (locals of Rio de Janeiro) love to show off their body. And man, they do get some bodies to show off! Getting a membership in the nearby gym is not an option. Lucky for me, the long stretch of Copacabana is fitted with a beautifully designed sidewalk with ample space for pedestrians and joggers. The five prefeitura-stretch of Copacabana is long enough to burst your lungs and burn enough calories. The area even have a bike lane which the joggers can also utilize if they don’t feel like running alongside the tourists taking selfies all the time. Further, a few workout stations are built also along the sidewalk. The stations have enough pull-up bars to get those upper shoulder and back muscles stretched.

5) FEAST YOUR EYES ON FOOTVOLLEY GAMES. Aside from obsession with football, the people of Rio seems to be obsessing also on another game involving their feet — the footvolley. Footvolley is basically just beach volleyball for football players. Watching the locals watch this game is perfect if you do not like the sun and get your pale skin stained. Every late afternoon, the beach is packed with shirtless sunga-clad locals kicking some balls with their well-sculptured thighs. The game is actually pretty entertaining. I’ve been thinking of learning how to play it.
6) PACK SOME PROTEINS FROM THE MARKET. In connection with getting that Adonis-like body that almost every Cariocas are sporting on, one needs to get his diet straight. In general, items in the supermarket here in Rio are expensive. But their meat seems to be on the lower end of the price range. I can easily get a 200-gram beef from the supermarket for $1.20. I’ve been told that the feria livre (open market) even have some cheaper ones. Vegetables are a little steep in price though. But for a cauliflower with $2 price tag, you can get 2 servings already. Then enjoy your time cooking at the kitchen. Not that bad at all.

BONUS: Watch out for some nifty promotion at the Pao do Acucar supermarket. I few weeks ago, a 500 ml bottle of Erdinger (German beer) went from R$15 to R$2.35. Boom!

NOTE: As I said I am too broke to take an Uber ride or even take the bus or metro, so I intentionally skipped the free things you do at the Centro, namely, the free walking tours and the free museums. I’m sure all of them are worth checking.

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