RIO DE JANEIRO – DAY 1
Kal gives up !! He says the blog is mine again…but he’ll still be my spell-and-grammar checker….OY VAY !! What will I do? I got so used to him writing and all I have to do is either check out what he has written and or add stuff or not. But now I have to go back to writing it all myself !!!! UGH.. I got lazy and spoiled!! But here it goes.
We arrived in RIO at the break of dawn ! Rio is the home of Carnaval. We arrived a week before Carnaval, and many other people were beginning to arrive for it.There were going to be 8 cruise ships in town for Carnaval, and Rio was a huge traffic mess. The city was completely chaotic.
We sailed in under beautiful skies. Rio is one of the most beautiful ports to sail in. (That is what they say, but I believe that Sydney Australia is the most beautiful port there is!! People talk about Hong Kong, but we haven’t been there yet).
The world-famous statue of Christ overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro has become the international symbol of Rio and in 2007 was named one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World (and only God knows why). The first time you see the statue, as you sail into Rio, you can’t believe how small it looks.
The world-famous statue of Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro has become the international symbol of Rio and in 2007 was named one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World (and only God knows why). It stands on the top of a promontory that overlooks all of Rio called Corcovado, which means “hunchback”. (The 360-degree views of Rio from Corcovado are spectacular….) The first time you see the statue, as you sail into Rio, you can’t believe how small it looks.
In every picture you ever saw that shows the statue looking down upon the city (I call them the “glam shots”) the statue seems enormous, but then you realize that these glam shots are taken from a helicopter and using telephoto lenses. Kal was actually at the statue on our 2nd day in Rio and will probably write about it.
Sailing through the bay on which Rio is located and toward the ship’s dock we passed 2 off-shore oil rigs, which are so close to the city.
We were going to spend overnight in Rio and planned excursions. The first excursion was to the favelas which are the slums of Rio (so I guess you could say we went slumming…..). Amazing communities which dot the mountainsides of Rio with colorful homes where the poor live. The infrastructure is almost non-existent in most of the favelas, but the government is trying to clean them up in time for the Olympics in 2016 (I think).
The first favela we went to had over 200K people in it. The people literally live on top of each other.
As you go deeper and higher up and into the favelas, there are no utilities. The residents steal electricity from the city’s main lines. Kal said the jumble of electric lines reminded him of the streets of Delhi. In both places you find these “monkey wires”, as the locals call them, on every electric pole in the favelas.
More difficult to get than electricity in the favelas is water. Those living near the bottoms of the hills are closer to municipal water supplies they can take water from, while those living higher up and farther away from the public roads are also farther away from water sources, places to dump garbage and many other goods and services, both private and municipal, that we take for granted. In the photos blow the large round barrels on the favela rooftops are actually water cisterns for the gathering of rainwater to be used by the family inside the house. You will note that despite their disadvantages, people in the favelas are connected to the outside” via dish network satellite services. (The large building in the center of the 2nd photo below is an elementary school recently built by the municipality for children in this favela.)
Since favelas are traditionally high-crime areas, and the hills are very steep, and the people often without much money, taxis don’t go there. Instead a system of motorcycle taxis has developed, and this is the transportation of choice within the favelas. Favelas have many social problems associated with them, as you can imagine, although the Brazilian government is trying to clean them up – a painfully slow process that will take a couple of generations. A lot of “face lifting” is currently being done because the Olympics are scheduled to come to Rio in 2016.
If anything good can be said of the favelas, it can only be that those located highest up on the hills have some of the best views in Rio. Here we are, standing on a porch attached to a repair garage from where the two previous photos were taken. The large multi-colored building in the center of the photo below is an elementary school recently built by the municipality for children in this favela. You will note that the high-rises in the background are built right up to the favela neighborhood, but the views from the favelas on the mountainsides are better…..
Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about visiting the favelas is that you can see how Brazil’s rich and poor live, literally right next to one another, and the plight of the poor does not seem to bother the wealthy at all. In the main, the favelas hold Brazil’s poorest populations, people from the interior and “the country”. We were told that the average monthly wage of a worker who lives in the favelas is about 650 reals a month ( divide that by 1.6 and you have the current US dollar equivalent). The photo below is located about 200 yards down the road from where the first 3 favela photos above were taken. The green and white multi-level buildings in the photo are of the American School in Rio, where the wealthy send their children. This is not a boarding school but one where the kids come and go every day.
The tuition at the American School is in US dollars and is presently $2,570…..a month! And this only 200 yards from the slums…..The average income of a Brazilian living in the wealthy neighborhoods is 25,000 reals a month, so the families can afford it….
If anything good can be said of the favelas, it can only be that those located highest up on the hills have some of the best views in Rio. Here we are, standing on a porch attached to a repair garage from where the two previous photos were taken.
The second favela that we went to only had 3,000 people, but there were no streets – just a maze of alleyways and stairways to get to the homes. Here I am, hiking through the maze…
More photos from the second favela. Here, as in all of the 950+ favelas in Rio alone, and despite the conditions, daily life goes on…..
There are schools in the favelas for the kids. It is mandatory for kids to go to school and to arrange schooling for all the children, they have 3 sessions a day – 8am to 12pm, 12pm to 4pm and 4pm to 8pm – to allow all the kids to fit school into the schedules they have. For example, if a teenager works to help his family, he will go to school after work at 4. Many of the rich have built schools just for the poor. Favelas are built right near the rich neighborhoods. Most of the people in the favelas work; the jobs are usually babysitting, cleaning and service jobs. Doctors and lawyers sometimes live in the favelas, too. There is a hierarchy to the system. When you arrive from the jungle or other part of the country, you live at the top (where the poorest people live without any utilities). As you advance and get jobs you move down toward the road. So weird that the poorest people have the best views.
We spent most of the day walking around the larger favela, walking the main street, which was lined with stores and restaurants. We returned to the ship after that and just pooped out.. That was our first day in Rio!