RIO - The Verdict...
I feel like now we have been here a few days (which in a big city like this feels alot longer) we can sum up some of the experiences we have had here, so sit back, i hope you enjoy the read (spellings will be atroucious, dont judge!! keyboard is back to front and here, sat at this internet, time is money!)
Rio is an amazing city, squashed between mountains and coastlines its buildings and views are jaw dropping. You have colonial buildings with such intricate carvings next to ugly concrete buildings next to modern glass skyscrappers, its mad, most of the colonial buildings are in a bad state of repair and so the community paint the front with beautiful colours or amazing graffiti art in order to jazz things up.
Both ourselves and other travelers we meet all find Rio expensive, for an eve meal you are looking at on average 13 pound and thats for a bog standard pizza, however the Brazzillian food (if your brave, shut your eyes and point) is really very nice. We all went out for a meal the other evening and after hours of searching for a resturant with reasonable prices we sat down and noone spoke English nor was the menu kitted out for such therefor Dean and Stephen interogated the menu and ordered Cheeseburger and pizza, myslf and Jen (even though very hungry) closed our eyes and picked, when it came out we broke down, Dean and Stephens was small, didnt look appitising and apparently tasted awful, mine and Jens n the other hand was a huge plate full of different meats, huge platter of rice and a huge platter of chips - brilloiant - 1-0 to the girls!
Its really suprised me the lack of English speaking Brazillians, that may sound really ignorant of us but having travelled to south east asia and struggled with the language barrier at times, Brazil blows Thailand out of the water. WE have probably encounteres since being here. 5 Brazziliians who can speak any amount of English (most of these are from the hostel and one helpful guy at a kiosk) so very quickly we have realised if you want to get by or in fact make the most out of this spectacular city you have to get with the lingo. With this in mind Dean has progressed from his English language but spoken in the portuguese tone and i actually witnessed the most amazing thing yesturday where he approached a local and carried ou a full blown conversation in Portuguese asking him where you can get a sim card, how you can top up the credit, what network and how much, the guy spoke back in Portuguese and there was actually a fully understood (by both parties) conversation. This is the moment i rewalised i love love love Rio, the people are friendly, the city is vast, the music that rings in your ears whilst walking down a street is unforgetable and although the weather hasnt been quite good enough for us to enjoy, the beaches still look awsome, and all of a suddern we feel at home here!
The Favela tour
the definition of a favela is a slum, its inhabitants are underprivilidged and almost 90% of the goings on within the crowded neighbourhood are illegal. Its a very dangerous place to be and you can only visit with a tour group who basically pay the drug lord for your protection whilst there. sorry Mum, sorry Maxine but it really was the most unforgetable experiance.
On arriving in Rochina (the biggest favela in Brazil and second only to Mumbai in the world) we were given very strict instruction of what to do and what not to do, with adreniline running high, we all individually boarded the back of a motorbike and made our way up the windy road on the edge of the favela. The journey in itself was amazing, but very scary also, Dean was unhappy with his little 125cc and got left behind whilst my driver seemed to live by the rule ´scream if you want to go faster´
Once at the top of the favela the poverty, prostitutes and general smell hit you, this apparently was the best place to live, the higher the better, the less sewerage! locals walked past and eyeballed you and generally made you feel very uncomfortable however once entering the favela and walking through the tight little walkways with living areas laid out in every spare inch of space the locals became different people, smiling and saying hello. You still realised who were gang members or shady characters quite quickly but had no choice but to accept there way of life.
morally i wasnt sure i could go through with the trip and its taken me a while to be able to verbalise our experiance walking from top to bottom of the biggest slum in Brazil, watching drug dealers walkie talkie one another to record our every move however some of the money and certainly the money spent by us buying local bracelets and art5 work goes directly to the community so i have to find some peace with that and try to accept this is there way of life and they know no different.
A group of children did a dance with drums for us that was unforgetable, i bought a pocket ful of sweets which in turn ment cheeky children on there way home from school shouting Hello Gringo (meaning hello foreigner) were swarming us, just wonderful. THe thing that shocked me most wasnt the fact that people slept on floors in such squaler, that sewerage was eunning down the tiny walkways, it wasnt even the smell that stung your nostrils it was the fact that the children laughed and giggled and shrieked in a way i havent heard a group of English children do maybe ever.
The smiles were just unforgetable, the trip will take some time to fully reflect on, maybe we never will fully digest what we witnessed yesturday but boy does it leave you with a sense of appreciation for what we were lucky enough to have around us.
Off to sugar loaf mountain and christ the Reedemer in the next day of two, then we leave this big city and head to Vitoria to meet some very special ppl! eeeek
LOve to all, wish you were here xxx