Have you ever envisioned a place for a real long time which you believe is just perfect only to find out the that facade is not quite as you dreamed? Well, that was Rio de Janeiro for me. I really envisioned that it was exotic, modern, active, interesting, unsafe but safe, growing and an exciting beach location. What I found was an absolutely beautiful setting, possibly one of the most stunning natural locations in the world, but peel the skin just one layer and you will find a horribly shattered place who’s economy clearly seems as if it is near bankrupt — seems like many other South American countries. I just thought Brazil was so much richer. I did not see it. I feel sad to say — won’t be going back soon.
A clear example is a famous ghetto with about 30% (or 2 million impoverished people of 6 million residents) of the Rio population living in it. These areas are called Favela’s which loosely does translate into ghetto or shanty-town. Think Harlem, East L.A. or South Florida’s Riviera Beach 20 years ago but times 20. If You look at the picture on the right (click to enlarge), this is just a fraction of the crumbled housing with no windows, no doors, some even no roofs, limited electricity and water scattered everywhere in Rio. Hundreds of communities like the one on the right. it’s just incredible. Again, from afar, the Favela looks beautiful with the colors, but if you get closer, you see the horror with the worst crime and gangs found almost anywhere in the world. We even drove through the middle class or privileged areas and found that they looked like prisons because the wealthy have to put electric and barbed wires 15 feet high surrounding their homes. In the backdrop is an entire favela community overlooking these huge mansions. Nuts. If I did come back for any reason, I would love to spend more time exploring the favela’s. You can go in a protected jeep convoy. You in effect, pay the favela in order to come and take pictures.
We did however visit some touristy places which certainly are incredible. First is the world famous, Christ the Redeemer statue which is at the top of a very high mountain hill inside the city. Check it out on wiki if you are not familiar. It is huge in scale and size and design. Just incredible that they were able to install it on such a high mountain top location in the early 1900’s. You can see this statue from almost anywhere in this large city.
The second famous place we saw was Sugar Loaf Mountain. It’s a tall mountain scene which pops up from within the most beautiful landscape surrounded by the bay which connects to the Atlantic Ocean. You can see it on the right in the left side of the picture. Its the big mountain surrounded by water. We climbed to the top with a couple of cable-cars. Nice views.
Last night we went out for dinner and while I was always conscious of safety and pick pockets (our guide told us to keep safe and not walk at night away from the main street because their are many thief’s who thrive on tourists). Tons of people out with a great vibe. People drinking on the street in local outdoor joints is just fantastic. A feeling of a life’s simple joy. I have to add that the food was great and inexpensive.
Lets go with that theme for all of Rio. Great to see — once.