Where did you go?
I travelled around various cities in Brazil in 2010 for 2 months and 2014 for 6 months, and most during a flare.
I visited various cities, beaches, small towns:
– Rio de Janeiro (Chist the Redeemer, Copacabana, Ipanema major tourist spots)
– Sao Paulo (airport)
– Belo Horizonte
– Salvador (and much more)
Were there any language barriers?
Yes. Brazilians speak Portuguese and apart from the real tourist spots, not many people speak English.
I learnt to say “Onde esta o banheiro” pretty quickly! (where is the bathroom – “bun-yeah-roh”)
What tourist attractions did you visit?
I always joked that Brazilians love queues, but they also seem to have more toilets available – I found them in most banks, petrol stations, supermarkets, even hardware stores plus usual areas – restaurants, pubs, roadhouses, etc.
Most of the public places (eg beaches) and tourist areas you will need to pay to use the bathroom so bring plenty of coins.
They will let pregnant woman or older people have priority in queues.
A lot of bathrooms will have a full time cleaner on hand to keep the facilities looking fresh.
Did your IBD cause you any issues on this trip?
Yes, I had a consistent flare during 4-5 months and in the last month of my stay I had the worst flare of my life; I caught scabies and the medication I took from that (possibly combined with food poisoning) wrecked havoc with my UC. (bathroom 20+ a day, pain, bleeding, exhaustion).
Was there anything out of the ordinary that stressed you out, or could potentially stress out someone with IBD?
The longer periods of travel without knowing where the bathroom is, or getting stuck in traffic.
Rio has horrible traffic jams. We got stuck in traffic for 2 hours, and you can’t just get out in some areas because you have favelas (and criminals) on either side of the road. It was mind of matter during these moments!
I also always carried spare toilet paper, plastic bags (“emergency portable toilets”) and hand spray, around just in case. This did ease my mind during longer journeys.
Can you recommend how many days/weeks is a good time to visit this location?
I’ve spent 2 and 6 months there on separate trips and still would love to go back and explore more!
Can you tell us what the food and cuisine is like?
Brazilians love MEAT – churrasco BBQ is very popular. Other staples include: black beans, beef, chicken, rice, cheese bread, salsa/salad, veggies, fruit – there’s a pretty wide variety of stuff available but it was challenging for me because I’m gluten free, don’t eat red meat and follow FODMAPs.
Try the all you can eat buffet places, or the weigh-your-plate restaurants.
Did you ever need medical attention? What did you do?
Yes, I needed to see a doctor regarding a case of scabies (that I thought was a skin allergy). In Brazil you can go straight to a specialist rather than a doctor first. Fortunately my husband came with me to the appointment and translated.
I considered going to hospital during my flare, but instead self medicated with high dose Prednisone, I brought with me, codeine (which is only available through doctors in Brazil), and fresh ginger tea. Decided to wait until I got back to Sydney to see my regular specialist.
You don’t flush toilet paper in Brazil – there’s a bin next to the toilet for that. Despite this, the toilets are quite clean (better than some parts of Europe!). Only 5% were really bad (in pubs).
In Valencia (small town south of Rio), the whole town ran out of water, so we couldn’t even flush the toilet! I learned how to “flush” when you don’t have running water. Interesting experience during my horrible flare!
Do you recommend any hospitals or a GP that people with IBD could potentially use?
If you need the hospital you could be waiting hours in the Public hospitals. Go private with your health insurance.
It might help to talk to a Pharmacist and see what they recommend.
On a scale of 1-5 how much does your IBD affect you?
(1 being in remission and 5 being in a flare)
On a scale of 1-5, how difficult was it to manage your IBD while on this trip?
(1 being no issues and 5 being very difficult to manage)
I tried not to let colitis ruin it, and still enjoyed myself on my travels. Just needed more time for rest. When I had extreme flare it was quite unbearable, but I managed.
Were there any activities which challenged your IBD management?
Anything that would mean standing in a queue for hours. Or food that would trigger a bad reaction.
Would you recommend this place for people who have IBD?
For sure, there’s plenty of toilets, food is quite good in most places, plus Brazilians are such friendly and welcoming people, the weather is amazing and so much to see. Great place to travel.
They have quite different over-the-counter meds in Brazil, so for pain it’s not your usual panadol or nurofen plus. You can’t drink the tap water too!