Rio de Janeiro

When we visited Rio in 2006 it was notorious for violent robberies. While traveling we usually wander around towns with ease. In Rio we decided to play it safe and do all our sightseeing with tour guides. The two memorable trips we took were to Rochina (a favela) and a day tour called a “Carioca Tour” around Rio.

Our day started with pickup from our hostel and we first stopped at the famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Yes it is as cool as it looks in photos and you can get some great views from up there.

We then stopped at a national park and got a glimpse of a nice little water fall.

Another highlight of the tour is that we got to see the famous Selaron tiles in Rio.

He happened to be working that day and we were able to snap a photo with him. We were supposed send him tiles from Florida to help with his art but we never did. It makes me sad to discover he died in January 2013.

Finally we went to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain) to watch the sunset.

At some point in the tour we stopped a beach. It was July and winter there. A few are playing sports but the beaches are pretty much a ghost town. However if I remember correctly it probably was at least in the 70’s Fahrenheit. Cariocas have low tolerance for cool weather.

We had a safe and memorable visit to Rio.
The hostel we stayed at was Rio Backpackers.

Rocinha

In July of 2006 we were those tourists. We had seen favelas on tv and knew that they were dangerous but still we were intrigued. While visiting Rio de Janeiro we happened upon a favela tour of Rocinha. So for the day, we treated other’s lifestyle as a tourist attraction. I am glad we went; it was eye opening. Our tour guide was very informative and we eased our guilt by learning that profits from the tour are used to help develop schools in the favela.
Our tour starts at the bottom of the hill. The tour guide hires numerous men on motorbikes to take us up to the top of the hill of the town. From the top we begin our descent down.
The first thing we notice is the power wires. This cluster is a result of generations of power “borrowing” from the utilities.

As you walk down through the favela you will notice normal people, with most of life’s luxuries. They all had tvs. They all had phones. They just lived in much smaller and more rundown houses than us.

 

 It wasn’t until later on that I notice the awkardness of this photo. We are capturing the intimate moment of a family on their back porch. They have a great view but there isn’t much privacy here.

 

  Further down the hill conditions deteriorate. The sewage flows down the hill. It is less clean. There is noticeably more trash lying around.

 

 I asked these ladies if they would mind if I took their picture and they were more than happy to pose for me.

Something striking about favelas in 2006 is that they are secured by the gangs that run them. Young men with guns (even teen boys) patrol the favela and keep the peace. The goal is to keep the police out so business is good. At first is was a bit intimidating but in realty I felt the safest there in all of Rio.