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Trip Start Nov 07, 2006
Trip End Apr 26, 2007

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, January 8, 2007

The Christmas/New Year break from our travels lasted until 5th January and it wasn`t a hang over, it was just a bit of bad timing etc.  The journey that I originally planned from Montevideo was to be a 6 day affair of 3 separate coach trips but we were advised to fly because of the holiday rush.
Flew out at 6am (yes it is dawn) on the 6th, airport tax a whacking $29 US per person, the flight which we booked early in October cost just over 100GDP per person, it took 10 hours, 3 separate flights - crazy really, but here we are in Rio at Hotel Turistico, which is great for our purposes. 
Rio is a brash city with sights that you normally see only in rich travel brochures.  It is beautiful and ugly, clean and filthy, it has mountains, lakes, beaches and just about everything.  The striking difference between here and other cities we have visited in South America is that you don`t feel safe because those that live in the favellas (ghettos/slums) have nothing at all and survive however they can.  They scrape, re-cycle anything and try to sell it, they are indeed the desperate ones who often donīt know where to get the next meal.  It reminds me very much of Soweto in Cape Town in the late 60īs and how I felt when I wandered a little too far in the wrong direction.
To see the contrast of the two sides, (those that have and those that have nothing - not even much hope) is almost surreal. When you see the drivers of nice cars ignoring red traffic lights after dark because should they stop they might get a gun held to their heads you know it is bad, or the traffic lights turned to flashing amber after 10pm to save such incidents you know this beautiful city has a huge problem.  We have been advised to do as the locals do after dark, dress like locals, walk purposely, avoid eye contact and only carry essential loose change.
What a shame.  Having talked to Fabio of the Travelers` Worldwide organization I know that both Vera and Lisa have done the right thing in taking voluntary work placements with the poor children.   Oh that I was young and fit enough to help.
This view is after just 30 hours in this fantastic city.  Will I change my views? Will  I get to see the favellas, will I actually be able to help there or am I better engaged in some other way?  Only time will tell.
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