Murder, fireworks and shooting apps

When you move to a country with over 64,000 murders per year, your perspective on crime starts to change. Before living in Brazil, murder was something that happened in the news, in books and on Netflix. Now, I hear that one in every ten murders in the world happens in Brazil.

It’s easy to forget this in day-to-day life, especially because it doesn’t happen out in the open and we don’t have a TV (so no news). Brazilians are friendly, open and warm people, who like to hang out and celebrate. At least I thought so, until a friend explained to me that the frequent fireworks are really signals to indicate the arrival of different substances.  There is a good reason why some parts of São Paulo are a ‘no go’ zone, including an area charmingly referred to as ‘Cracolândia’ (Crackland).

 Crack, it’s possible to beat it

Crack, it’s possible to beat it

A few weeks ago my husband and I spent a weekend in Rio de Janeiro, a city known for beaches, music and, well, armed violence. We came for the first two. Then, an acquaintance casually asked if we had heard any shots. We hadn’t. Since there’s an app for checking that, we did and it turned out the shooting had indeed happened. It was just around the corner from a bar where at the time of the shooting, we were stuffing our faces with fried fish and local beer. We’re lucky to be living in a safe area of São Paulo.

 Shooting app for Rio de Janeiro

Shooting app for Rio de Janeiro

 Innocent looking hills of Rio de Janeiro

Innocent looking hills of Rio de Janeiro

All this also made me think about a debate at the last CrimeFest, where authors would talk about why people are so fascinated with crime. One of the main conclusions was that it’s because it’s a ‘safe’ way to experience it and because, at the end, the bad guys get what they deserve. It could be that a part of the fascination also comes from the fact that there’s less crime in Europe than in Brazil.

Real life is, as always, a completely different beast.