So onwards with the journey and education through South America’s largest favela, the neighbourhood of Rocinha, and where Part I ended with me and Carlos approaching the bikers, and Part II will continue with the adventure…
Carlos began speaking Portuguese with the bikers who were all stood around chatting with their helmets on, then Carlos turned to me and said “okay, you go with this guy, and I will see you at the top” in his Snoop Dogg sounding voice (to me anyway) and so this guy handed me a helmet (so there is some thought of Health & Safety here) and I jumped on the back excited!
I must say that this trip up these steep twisting winding roads, overtaking and undertaking cars, bikes, people, buses, animals and even heading towards oncoming trucks and nipping back in before hitting the front, created an experience far more exciting than any roller coaster, and literally cost barely anything?! I loved it but it was time to be more serious and follow Carlos down into the alleyways of a mostly residential section, though that was hard to tell.
As you can see from the picture above, it isn’t exactly your normal english middle-class avenue…..and yes, they are actually front doors to some of the houses.
If you have been following my blog and previous posts on Rio de Janeiro, think of the difference between the photo above, and how the rest of Rio has looked. It’s a great example of how this nation of Brazil currently holds the largest gap between the rich and the poor.
Despite the rumours of that if I entered a Favela I would be mugged or shot, absolutely none of this occurred and I never even felt slightly threatened….. ok, true some of this could have been that I was with favela legend Carlos, but there must have been some kind of respect.
Wandering through these backstreets and then through tiny alleyways which seem to run straight through someone’s house, literally being in the front room with the family as we were passing! All saying hello to me… ‘hello’ in english in fact and then laughing or hiding. It was crazy and they were so friendly!
On passing through, we also bumped into two guys who were installing cables for internet…..so at least there is some modernisation, but internet is something the majority of people take for granted as a normal thing to have like water and electric now.
It made me think of, just how could somewhere spend so much on huge worldwide sporting events, but almost a quarter of a million people just in this favela alone, are living like this?! And Carlos made this situation known to me and I could sense his passion for the place and its people. Not even with the fact of that he travelled for the first time out of the country to Sweden to a conference on the subject.
Many of you may have recognised Rocinha from movies, video games or music videos. Such a colourful and vibrant place and despite its reputation, has been a great place for filming safely. The music video of Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” features Rocinha heavily as you can see below:
Blockbuster movies such as ‘Fast and the Furious Five’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk II’ have used Rocinha as a location for filming and even have left their mark as you can see in the picture below:
I honestly really enjoyed my experience in the favela and it may have been only a full day here but it was great to travel through it whether on bike or on foot, and speak with the people, eat the food and drink a Caipirinha at the end before heading back to the bus to head back into Copacabana, where I would feel a very rich boy, and very lucky with the start in life I was gifted back in the UK.