quiggsy on tour
The sun is finally shining in Rio, woohoo!! But I did manage to do some touristy stuff while it was raining... Went to a street party in one of the neighbourhoods in Rio which was fun, although I had some weird indigestion thing which meant I couldn't really eat or drink anything - I seem to be over that now, I think it might have been a result of one too many all-you-can-eat places..... I also went on a tour of Rocinha, which is the largest favela (shanty town) in South America. It was really amazing to see how people live there. It wasn't as squalid as I imagined, in fact there was a lot of commercial activity going on, lots of shops and bars and so forth (although not really like the ones we are used to). All the favelas are built on hills because this land belongs to the state and is therefore not taxed (in effect they are trespassing but the police can do little to stop people living there) so it is cheap to live there. The houses are all built on top of each other and there are tiny little streets which run, in some cases, through the houses. We started at the bottom of the hill and got motorbike taxis to the top of the hill - so much fun! Although overtaking buses on a single lane winding road was a little disconcerting but my driver was very good and we all got to the top in one piece. There is only really one proper street which runs through Rocinha and all the others lead off into the maze of buildings on the hillside. We followed one of them with our guide, who seemed to know everyone in the favela (including all the drug dealers with guns who he pointed out at every opportunity), but who is obviously well respected there - I felt safer than ever there! We stopped at an artists studio who paints pictures of the favela and also does really amazing graffiti art. They also teach kids to paint so that they have stuff to sell to tourists to make a bit of money instead of just asking people for money. We also visited a daycare centre which the tours support so that parents can go and work and leave their kids during the day. Although it was much more commercially developed than I had thought there is little in the way of sanitation (flip flops were advised against but I wore them anyway.....!) so the smell is not so nice. However, there is a 'free'supply of electricity, courtesy of the state (some ingenius chaps have tapped into it so that the whole neighbourhood can use it without paying!). It was a really interesting experience though, especially when you see the contrast with the affluent areas of Rio. We also took a tram ride up to another area called Santa Teresa which was very pretty. Other than that we have mostly been sunbathing and mooching around various markets in Copacobana and Ipanema (lovely leather handbags..... o dear). Unfortunately the tourist tat here is much more expensive than in Peru and Bolivia so I am having to limit the amount I eat! More big news on the personal front - I went for a run!! Yes, I am on 'holiday'and did exercise. I managed 5km which I was very impressed with until Shauna and Faye got back from their 9km run. Still I was planning on going with them again tomorrow until I got up today and couldn't walk down the stairs. We'll see. Maybe I will just sunbathe instead! Only a couple more days left in Rio - I will be very sad to leave, it's an amazing city - so much going on, but Ilha Grande is supposed to be beautiful, and the weather is apparently going to stay nice for the next week so should be a tanned Faithy winging her way back to the UK next week!!