Trip Start Apr 05, 2008
12Trip End Jul 19, 2008
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Favelas do not help Rio's reputation for being dangerous. It's dangerous. Damn dangerous. That's what everyone will tell you. Don't draw any attention to yourself. Don't do anything that will make you stnad out. If you do, you're fucked. As good as dead. Dog meat. Six feet under. Pushing up daisies. All that shit. That's what everyone will tell ya. Wander around Copacabana at night and you'll get mugged for sure. No doubt. The criminals from the favelas will come down and sweep the streets of Rio at night with raids of death, taking everything and anything, of value or otherwise. That's what we have heard. Rio comes with a steep reputation for danger. It would probably say that 'danger' is its middle name. And, although Rio far from lives up to its dangerous reputation, favelas included, there is, no doubt, a certain atmosphere that pervades on the streets of every Barro - a feeling as though you are being watched, monitored, as a potential victim of petty crime. It keeps you on edge to an ever greater extent than general travel in South America, and brings into question judgment call after judgment call - do we continue to ascent to the magnificent Convent of Santa Teresa with those didgy guys around?, is Botofogobeach the safest place to be right now? Tio can be a pretty scary place, the general atmoshpere and its reputation combining to ensure that I always carried a spare pair of underwear in my bag in case of an emergency
Rio's reputation for being dangerous is outdone only by its reputation for being utterly, magnificently beautiful. I've talked about it before. THis second visit to this spectacular city has confirmed its position, in my mind, as one of the world's most visually stunning cities. Its beauty is everywhere you care to look - in the overwhelmed crescents of Ipanema and Copcabana beach; in the dramatic cista from Corcovado and the Sugar Loaf; on the banks of the Lago de Freitas; in the charming, winding cobbles of Santa Teresa Hill; though the smoke of the flares in the Maracana stadium; in the crumbling disrepair and the slow rejuvination of Lapa. And from all of thoese points, and indeed almost everywhere in the city, Jesus observes from above, arms outstretched, forgiving all that is observed? Perhaps. This is, of course, as the movie describes it, the City of God.
Rio is, no doubt, a visually immaculate city. But on this visit, I have been far more captivated by the myriad issues and questions behind its superficial perfection, making this city stimulating so far beyond what can be experiecned on the face of a postcard...
So, to the Top 5. Fashion and style is a funny thing in Rio. Somehow, the residents of Rio have cultivated a reputation as all being beautiful, sexy and immacuately presented in every way
5. Clear high heels: the women of Rio, in particular, are known for being feminine, spectacular and sexy. But what of their choice of footwear? On general examinationm, it appeared that high heels were extremely popular. But not just any heels - clear, transparent heels, often with things inside. Inside. Madness. Clear heels? Not cool. Especially if you are not employed in the world's oldest profession.
4. Body hair: It's not called the Brazilian for nothing. Surely it comes from Brazil. Strangely enough, despite this reputation, hair removal does not seem to be practised in Berazil. Of particular note were many of the women, potentially of african descent, who had blonde body hair? And a lot of it? What the fuck? Bleaching or natural? Either way. Way too much. And way too blonde for a black woman. 'What the fuck'?
3. Paunches of death: the man paunch is alive and well in Brazil. Indeed, some of the finest in the world are on display here. Brilliant enough, in fact, to have some of our paunchiest union leaders envious with the amount of overhang on display. The finest example? A guy working at the tram station, sitting, wearing a T-shirt with a massive smiley face on it which perfectly covered his enormous, probably deadly, paunch. Brilliant...
2. Cockjocks: On the first day we arrived in Brazil, we went to a petshop and happened tom come across quite a few budgerigars
1. Cockjocks with sneakers: Cockjokcs are one thing. On the beach, having a swim, is alsmost acceptable. But Braziliands seem to have a philosophy that if I'm within a kilometre of a beach (which you always are in Rio), it is perfectly acceptable to wear bathers. And it is perfectly accetpable to wear your bathers during exercise as well. And so produces the finest 'what the fuck' look of Rio. Cockjocks with sneakers. Running along the beach, or down the the backstreets of Copacabana, or maybe down the main drag of Leblon, or in front of the metro at Botafogo, they are there. Socks pulled up. Shiny white runners on. Speedos. Nothing else. A good look. Not wait - a great look...
To 4000m above sea elvel. La Paz, Bolivia...