So many people ask me to tell them tails of my travels. I could spend hours on end recalling my experiences. There really isn’t enough time for all the colourful stories so I have decided to recite some of my old journal entries from past travels.
I will however be writing current journal entries once I am on the road again but here is a little to wet your whistle.
Nicole and I woke early, excited for our day ahead. We had an awesome 3 part, fully loaded 24hrs planned. It was just the two of today as the rest of the guys had had a rather large night previous and couldnt face getting up early. More fool them!
Part 1: We thought we would go and experience the other side to Rio. We had been staying in Copacabana a fully developed part of town. Mc Donalds on the corner and a shopping Mall down the road. We thought we should visit a favelas and learn a bit about the drug scene.
We arranged a tour through the hostel we we re staying in, Mellow Yellow ( a great place to stay, well recommended). 65 R, pretty expensive but later proved to be well worth it. We were picked up at 10am and were driven by our guide Daniella to the foot of Hasianda, the largest favelas in South America. And possibly the biggest in the world. As we drew near the surroundings changed drastically from plush tree lines boulevards to run down shack lines dusty, over populated streets.
We were met buy a motorbike and a driver each. No helmets provided, we hopped onto the back of our bikes and sped up the hillside dodging dogs and kid as we went. A few minutes later we arrived at the entrance to the favelas. A quick head count and we were passing the checkpoint into a different world. The checkpoint was guarded by an intimidating man who was sporting possibly the buffest muscles I have seen in a long time. Everyone who enters Hasianda is monitored and checked. If Mr Muscle didnt like the look of you, you were not permitted to enter. Simple as that.
We walked deep in to the favelas, down winding, dusty un-named streets, too narrow for cars. Houses were piled on top of each other and sewerage was running the pathways. At 1st I thought this was a truly terrible way to exist, but as I looked closer and learnt more my perceptions changed.
Every house hold seemed to have a huge TV bigger than mine, a Hi-Fi which was often heard blasting out music from the Brazilian rap and R & B scene, and everyone was dressed in the latest gear. All the kids had football shirts.There were many shops, even a Mc Donalds (they get everywhere).
The adults all have regular jobs, granted not professional but a job never the less. Many of them earn a decent wage in the city sweeping roads, driving taxi’s and cleaning. The average wage is 700R ( £175) per month. This doesnt sound like much to live on. However: they all cheat the system… All electricity cables are plugged straight into the pylon, bypassing the meters and water is stolen from nearby systems and piped into huge blue tankers. The only money anyone in a favelas needs to spend is on food. They pay no rent or tax. If you can find a space, build on it and it’s yours.
Daniella was very informative and told us about the hierarchy of Hasianda. It was under the management of ADA (a drug mafia). Their tag was sprayed on every available wall throughout the favelas. These managers can earn millions or Reals a week on drug trafficking. They sell their drugs at the foot of the favela to people living in Rio, often to professional, well suited and booted people. The police are around but there is an unwritten agreement… The police turn a blind eye and receive coke as payment. Everyone is corrupt. Little is done about it.
On 25th October 2005 ( the previous year to my visit), the main man about town was killed by an undercover police man who had been living and breathing the favelas life for 3 months undetected. The man who rented the house out to the policeman was quickly seen hanged. He had been butchered by the boss men. (He was unaware of the policeman’s identity)
We visited a daycare centre for young children. teetering on the hill-side it looked rather like any nursery you would find in england. A diningroom was set out with tiny places ready for dinner, bedrooms were tastefully decorated but the playroom had very few toys. The children were sleeping so we didnt stay long.
Further down the sewer lines paths after passing a guy with a pistol strapped to his leg, we stumbles across a cake shop. The smell of home cooked,fresh cakes was an inviting one. We stopped for a while and got chatting to the local teenagers who were all looking forward to tonight’s football game Flamengo’s v’s Vasco.
Soon we were at the foot of the favelas and passing the notorious drug exchange. Over weight police men were sat basking in the sun playing checkers, not battering an eyelash at what was going on right under their noses. Very surreal.