We went for a tour of one of the favelas this morning. There are many favelas (communities) in Rio but The one we went into was Rocinha which is the largest of the favelas in Rio and second largest in Latin America with 200,000 people living there in an area we would estimate to be maybe 5kms by 5kms.
We thought the tour was going to be just driving around but we actually did all of the tour on foot. Our guide Sergio took us to all the different areas within the favela. Even in the slums there are rich areas and poor areas.
The police were cast in a bit of a bad light by Sergio. His opinion was that the community was functioning fine by itself with the drug dealer gangs running it but then the police came in and then there was conflict. But we were under the impression that the police have made them more safe not less with their Project Policia Pacificadoras which has allowed people like us to go into the communities. Along with stopping a lot of the drug crime. I suppose it all comes down to which side of the fence you sat/sit on. We did see quite a few police and they had the biggest guns I have ever seen! And we had been told that they may shoot first and ask questions later. We were warned not to stand too close to the police as they were targets for the gangs.
The atmosphere was amazing throughout the whole place. People were very friendly and although you could tell it was a poor area it still seemed like people were trying to make a go of it. There were little shops selling everything from groceries to clothes to nightclubs and bars. There were also taxi drivers but on motorbikes instead of cars as the roads are so narrow and steep. Apparently they even have 4 banks within the community as well. So it really is a city inside a city.
Without Sergio we would have been lost in about 2 mins, even with Tim’s (who was being called Chin the whole time 😂) ability for directions.
We had such an amazing time of it and even got to sample some of the local eats. A popular drink is pressed sugar cane with ice. I thought it would be very sweet but it was really refreshing. We got the feeling that we could have gone in by ourselves and not been harassed but I still think there were some no go areas that we skirted around and Sergio seemed to discretely pay a few people along the way to keep them happy. The colors, sights and sounds of the favela were definitely a highlight of the trip! S
The man was the keeper of the roof. The view was the shot previously. We were told we had to give him a few dollars which we gladly did.
You can see the motor bike taxis working here
Tim was very amused with the electrics of the place!
These food packages are made up for people who might be struggling and they pay a cheap price for them.
Most of the streets which are really walkways are enclosed as over the years homes have been built on top
In certain areas the buildings are all painted different colours which gives it a really happy vibe