On a recent trip to Brazil to represent Badoo at São Paulo Social Media Week, I found myself doing what foreigners, or “gringos” as they are affectionately known, usually do, stare at all the Motels. When I was growing up in Brazil they were just a taken-for-granted part of the landscape, but after 10 years abroad, the sheer number of such establishments dotted through São Paulo was very interesting to me. From an outsider’s perspective, I could see how having hundreds of Motels selling rooms by the 4, 8 or 12 hour period (depending on your stamina I suppose) can make people think that Brazil as a nation is slightly obsessed with sex.
On the other hand, being Brazilian myself, and seeing how millions of people use Badoo in Brazil to find new friends every month (Brazil is our biggest market) I can tell you that this is not really true. It is more a matter of being really relaxed and open about it, and seeing sex as a part of everyday life rather than a taboo.
The rooms themselves are nothing short of incredible. It is not unusual to have large swimming pools inside your suite, and large Jacuzzi tubs usually come as standard (as do large round beds, mirrors on the ceiling and water mattresses).
While in other countries such establishments would be relegated to a certain part of the city or ignored by decent citizens altogether, in Brazil people openly talk about them and genuinely think there is nothing wrong with the concept whatsoever. In fact when I wanted to take a few pictures for this article I asked my Brazilian grandparents to drive me around São Paulo to photograph a few of them and they did not even bat an eyelid…
Another particularly Brazilian invention when it comes to hooking up is the “Drive-in,” where people park their cars and either have curtains drawn around the vehicles for privacy or (in the more chic versions) one can drive into a type of garage that is equipped with aforementioned Jacuzzi tubs and round beds.
What I could not help thinking about as I snapped pictures on my phone like some sort of strange tourist was how confusing it must all be for Americans who visit Brazil… Being used to staying in Motels when travelling, surely many would have tried to book in for a few nights, only to be confronted by a puzzled receptionist questioning why they would possibly need the room for THAT long. As for Drive-ins, I can only imagine the puzzlement of a couple expecting to watch a movie as the curtains are drawn around them!
Japanese love hotels, Brazillian motels, Mexican "hoteles de paso" … Do you have any funny cultural experiences to share with us? If so then get in touch, we’d love to hear about them!