I just finished my surf session at the beach near Rio. I ordered a risotto with shrimps at the “bar da praia” while enjoying the beautiful view. What a difference from my previous sights I’m thinking as I realize I haven’t seen that many beaches before arriving to Rio. Though since I’ve been here I haven’t only seen beaches, which reminds me of my visit to the Rocinha favela. I went their with a local guide and for me it was truly a new world to be able to literately walk through. Let me show you!
A favela walking tour
Early in the morning the local guide, Wilson, picks me up in Copacabana with a minivan. Four girls from Israel and a guy from Switzerland (who I had also met a day before at the beach!) are already on the bus and during the ride some cool Brazilian funk music breaks the ice for us strangers.
We’re on our way to Rocinha, the biggest favela in South-America.
Arrival by motor taxi
The minivan goes up to the “entrance” of the favela and from there we have to continue by motor taxi. All of the motor taxis are waiting at the street corner and one of the guys hands me a helmet. I jump behind him on the motorcycle and he quickly takes off to the highest point of the favela. After a couple of bumps on the road I finally get comfortable and realize this taxi system is quite handy. I think we should get that back home too!
Where we get off the motor we might just get the most beautiful viewpoint of Rio de Janeiro.
Safely walking around
A tree gives a lot of shade and the Corcovado statue (which literally means the back of a camel) together with the Ipanema beach (which apparently means disgusting smell?!) are on my panoramic view.
A group of school children passes us and they can’t help but stare. Of course us being tourists with our big cameras, different skin tones and different clothes are quite the attraction for these kids.
We start walking through the favela and reach what seems to be the center of the place. Many people are walking around, buying fruits, talking to each other on the streets and again many people stare at us. What catches my attention are the electricity wires which seem to be everywhere. The electricity poles are full of attached systems that can provide electricity non-legally. People here seem to be not used to paying for these services so they found a way to receive the service anyway.
Garbage, garbage, garbage and again Garbage. What a smell! We know favelas ain’t luxurious places nor a place that has clean streets and a nice smell, but it actually smells really bad kind of everywhere and it has a lot of dirty places. The locals throw their garbage wherever they want and a tiny garbage belt can be found at nearly every street corner. But, even with all these dirty places the favela people created a trend. I didn’t like it that much to walk around in the favela with my flip-flops due to the dirty streets, but did you know the Hawaiana flip-flop originates from the favelas? It was a sandal purchased exclusively by the lower classes of Brazil. Nowadays everybody loves Hawaianas and I’m quite sure that you have a pair at home. If not, then you should buy a pair whilst visiting the favela!
A huge contrast
Walk around at Rocinha and you’ll notice that it has many different kind of places. Some parts of the favela look extremely poor, while some houses seem like amazing villa’s. There is a huge contrast between one building and the other. Every street is different. The best part is that the people who live in the favela don’t pay any rent, nor electricity bills or anything. So why would they ever move away? Whenever they are getting a bit more wealthy they will just live a better live, still, at the favela. It can be a nice community which you wouldn’t want to leave. What can also be a really good advantage for the locals at the favela is that they have free access to many places such as the amazing swimming pools of the surrounding richer places. They can get free swimming lessons if they behave well and show up at every appointment.
An Acai break
Did you ever try Acai? It’s a Brazilian delicatessen that can’t be forgotten to try when visiting the country. At the favela they sell this cup of a fruity snack too and you can add some cereals or such if you please. During the favela walking tour you can try an Acai and I highly recommend you to.
Time for a visit?
The biggest concern most of us have, when we start thinking about a holiday to Rio de Janeiro, is the safety. It’s definitely not a bad thing to think about and you should definitely pay attention all the time once your in Rio, but it’s an amazing place that can be fun for anyone. Through my personal experience on walking through a favela (even with my big photo camera hanging around my neck) I saw that it’s okay to be a tourist in Rio and to do your touristy things. Just take care of your personal belongings as you should anywhere in the world. Have fun, take care and enjoy 🙂 It’s amazing over here! Come and experience Brazil, but most of all, come and see local places and get to know the favelas by feet!
Latest posts by Renate Rigters | That Wanderlust (see all)
- 7 reasons why not to wear make-up - 03/01/2018
- Scuba Diving in Huatulco – the marine life of Oaxaca - 08/12/2017
- Getting ready for a year of diving in the Maldives - 27/11/2017