Favelas & Sambadrome!

Trip Start Feb 08, 2013
Trip End May 16, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Riazor

Flag of Brazil  , Rio de Janeiro,
Sunday, February 10, 2013

Before I came I was undecided about visiting a favela, unsure how touristy it would be. It was the best thing so far. We visited the largest favela in Rio, with over 69,000 resident. This favea, like all others, has been previously ruled by drug lords (A.D.A group), with their stamp evident throughout. But pacification & consistent police involvement has nearly eradicated this. 
The pacification has also brought free education, healthcare, libraries &day centres to benefit the community.
Whilst the 'streets' are full of trash & unsightlysmells you can't help but feel excited by the vibrant coloured buildings all interlinled with winding paths, steps & rubble in between! It's no wonder drug lords were hard to capture with so many small passages leading off in every direction.

The favela was built on a hillside so many houses too high have collapsed. Along the way we met a local artist, children dancing to Samba, bracelet sellers & visited a home-made food store. I grabbed a cold drink for a much needed refreshment. Had not thought about how hot it would be when I left, but definitely into the 30s. Although the benefit is its acceptable to walk around in a bikini, so can keep a bit more cool.
Popped to an internet cafe for an hour to blog/talk to the parents, although the computer was slow & lacking Skype! Got back to the hotel for a quick nap/rest before heading off to the Rio Carnival.

Went on a very crowded Metro, but still had to walk for ages to get to the Sambadrome. When we arrived it was surprisingly empty & the seating 
was like a massive staircase. The first samba school didn't start until 9pm & it took a whole 40 minutes for them to pass down in front of our seating area, sector 13. It was fantastic! The detail of the costumes & make-up, the floats, the sheer number of dancers & the repetitive samba school specific song. Bow I understand why Rio is famous for it! Each school takes an hour to progress down the Sambadrome, so there is a large wait between each school. We only stayed for 3 schools, taking us to 1.30am.
The 3rd school was my favourite as the floats were very elaborate & bright. The first theme of the 3rd group was the press/cameras so they had wheelchair users in star shapes as camera flashes. The whole carnival feel seem  inclusive of everyone, with many dancers being from favelas. Also loved the popping up mushrooms float with the amazing tree costumes & the water slide float! How cool would it be to be on that in front of thousands of  people? Got plenty of videos to upload somewhere..
Getting back was an interesting story; many roads had been closed so we could'nt find the Metro but instead found our tour guide... a 'little' drunk with part of a samba costume on. Also to note he was dressed as a woman as it's customary to dress up at carnival - seen some very INTERESTING costumes about.
Anyway our tour guide was convinced he knew where the Metro was so he ran off ahead & we followed... Miles later we caught up with him & he asked "Where do you want to go?". At that point we grabbed a taxi with him in tow, although the taxi driver seemed uncertain about where our hotel was so it seemed a miracle we arrived back safely.
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Hazel on

I can see you as a pop up mushroom and hope you sang and danced along!
Missing you but so exciting reading your travels

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