How's tricks? Hope you are all well.
Since the last blog we've been up to a fair few things. We (James) successfully navigated our way on the Rio underground to the city centre where we popped in on a cathedral - there are places like these all over the place what with Brazil being a pretty religious country, but this was one of the major ones. It didnt look a typical cathedral from the outside but it made up for it on the inside with these massive stained glass windows up the length of the building.
We then got lost a bit and managed to get on a tram that took us up into the mountains to a small town called Santa Teresa where we soaked up the views at sunset. This place was once where Ronnie Biggs, the great train robber, hid out apparently. Well he picked a good spot anyway as it´s remote and a w*** to get to if it weren't for that tram!
Our next big venture was to visit the outstanding Christo Redentor or Christ Redeemer at the top of Corcovada hill, if my memory serves me well. We bussed it to the site and got a train up to the top. Not only have you got one of the most impressive and famous statues in the world, but the panoramic views were amazing too. Good job we went on a nice day as one guy from our hostel got there one day and couldn´t even see the head of the big man himself!
Our final must see for Rio was a favela, of which there are 900 across the city. The one we visited was home to around 300,000 people, so as the pictures show there wasn't many places with room for a nice flowerbed and water feature! Speaking of water features.....this favela was based in a hilly valley, which if you walk up it would be a fair old climb. Luckily we got taken up on the back of motorbikes which was a good laugh. Smole was gripping the driver a little too tightly if you ask me! Anyway i digress, all the waste and garbage builds up so these places are pretty messy, and when it rains all the waste and sewage runs down the hill, so there were streams of dirty water and god knows what all over the place. Of course half the group including us were wearing flip flops so that wasn't so good, especially when Smole started panicking about getting gangrene! So, the more expensive places to rent are at the top of the hill!
These favelas are home to big drug lords, who deal in weapons and unsurprisingly drugs! Apparently the gang leader makes 4 million US dollars a month, so not surprisingly a lot of people are working for this gang including kids, whether it be selling drugs, or as spotters that watch all the tourists that pass through the favela. Police just keep away from these places and leave them to it, which is a bit bizzare! The gang is called the ADA which translates to friend of a friend (amigo de amigo) - it was all pretty interesting stuff seeing how these places work.
Of course a lot of the residences are rather poor, so they nab free electricity by wiring up their internet and cable TV's themselves so there are masses of wires everywhere you look! In some cases its cheaper to build your own house, but as there's no space left in this valley they're now stacking houses on top of each other and selling their roof space for around 2,000 Reais (about 700 pounds) to the next person. The buildings looked well dodgy and a lot of times we saw ruins and dodgy foundations where buildings have just collapsed!
The tour guide asked us not to buy drugs and gave a special mention to Smole because he looked dodgy! I realised why when she said the word drugs again and a grin appeared on his face. (Smole: I have never taken, nor plan to take a drug of any kind in my life! Nor have a even smoked a cigarette)
We didn't see anyone with guns or explosives but apparently they're common and don't appreciate their picture being taken. So unfortunately we wouldn't have been able to put up a photo like that for you anyway as we'd probably be dead!
As you no doubt noticed I harped on and on about the favela but it really was amazing to see and behold. I hope the pictures and story will give you an idea of what a typical favela is like.
Anyway I´ll shut up now and leave you alone
Bye for now