Rio de Janeiro

Rose’s mum’s cousin Vik has lived in Rio de Janeiro since the 70s. She rents a couple of rooms through Airbnb so we decided to rent one of her rooms and catch up with her!

Rio from start to end was stunning: the city is incredible, the mountains, the sea and the many vistas made every venture out of the house beautiful. The weather was lovely on our first day so we decided to head up to see Christ the Redeemer, having spotted him numerous times from afar looking over the city.

We got the tram up to the top of Corcovado mountain. As we approached the summit we excitedly looked up to get a glimpse of the iconic statue up close; however, all we saw were clouds! We later found out that this is a regular occurrence at the peak of the mountain, so we waited it out in the hope the cloud would move on. Luckily it did and the cloud actually broke through Christ the Redeemer, therefore creating a cross-like cloud formation as a backdrop. We also visited Sugarloaf mountain, named due to its resemblance to the cones of sugar the country used to produce.

We were then struck by some of the worst weather we have had while travelling, raining for around 48 hours non stop with a heavy, rainforest-type rain. Luckily Vik organised a lovely Sunday lunch with her family and us.

We thought we had to check out Copacabana, due to it being so well known and its reference in numerous songs and films, despite the insistence from many people it was not worth visiting. Arriving on the long stretch of beach you can probably imagine what it was like: absolutely teaming with people and a current so strong you cannot even swim. Not to mention the fact that the water is supposed to be so polluted that swimming isn’t advised.

We absolutely loved our time in Rio, it’s an infectious city and probably out favourite so far. The best thing we probably did was visit Santa Marta Favela. We went on a tour run by Vik’s friend, Thiago, an ex-dancer who lives there. It was such an insightful experience, everyone we met inside the favela was friendly and welcoming, we were even invited for coffee in someone’s house. Santa Marta is a pacified favela, which means the police have reclaimed it from drug dealers and are stationed inside in an attempt to reduce crime. Theoretically there are no drug dealers living there anymore. This does not mean, however, that the people who live there like the police, and it can be hostile between the people and the police. The people are pretty open about preferring living in favelas run by drug dealers than the police as they feel safer. The new issues between the people living in the favelas and the government is that they pay taxes, the same amount that people in proper houses pay. This is contentious, they regularly get power cuts and they have dirty sewage water running through the favela uncovered. It’s sad that the stigma attached to the favelas are so negative, we had a wonderful time there and found the experience enlightening.

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