When Kira Davson visited the Rocina favela (a slum in Rio) she admits it was both a sobering but memorable experience. Today she shares why it left an impression on her, and why you should visit a favela community for yourself:
With only a short period of time on my hands in Brazil, there are a few highlights that I did not want to miss out on seeing while travelling through Brazil. Visiting the Pantanal, Iguassu Falls, Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and Christo The Redeemer to name just a few of the must sees in this country.
However, one of the the experiences I hold close to my heart was visiting the Rocina favela in Rio. These are considered shanty towns or slums. A place where people who have virtually nothing, can set up a place to call home. These are mostly situated on the hillsides of Brazil with very poor infrastructure. Favelas tend to be operated by drug lords. It was hard to believe that at least 20% of Brazil’s population lived in Favelas being that Brazil is one of the fastest growing major economies.
Despite all of this, they vibe when we toured the favelas was one of perseverance. People passing by would always be greeted with a warm smile or wave. The children played freely in the narrow, almost non existent passages. We paid motorcycle taxi’s two rial’s in order to take us to the very top of the favela. One by one, we went up the winding roads until we all arrived in tact to begin our tour with Intrepid Travel.
Accompanied by our local guide, we strolled the narrow alleys, meet some of the locals, learned about local life and dispelled some of the myths about these vibrant communities.
This experience gave us a behind the scenes look as to how people live in the favelas. During our tour, we had the opportunity to visit an art shop where they had paintings from the locals available for purchase. This was the most honest, and real depiction of how they live and what a favela really is. Vibrant arrays of colour, narrow passageways, and crowded streets.
While we walked through the favela’s there were certain houses marked with big red x’s. These houses are marked by the government in order to be torn down and clean up the crowded favela’s. Because the 2014 World Cup & Olympics in 2016, the government is trying to give Brazil a better more appealing appearance to make it more tourist friendly.
If you’re planning to visit Rio, this is an experience I would recommend you try with a guided tour with Intrepid Travel.
For more information on travelling in Brazil, contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert by visiting your closest store, or calling 1-877-967-5302.