Rio: Discovering the crowded streets and cramped alleys of Rocinha

Rio: Discovering the crowded streets and cramped alleys of Rocinha

Rio is a city of marked highs and lows; mountains and cliffs soar over smooth beaches, cool winters follow scalding summers, and the wealthy live alongside the poor.

Amidst the generally cheery dispositions of cariocas, there runs the bitter undercurrent of a drastic income divide.

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Rio de Janeiro, like all Latin American cities, has a less glamorous side

Nowhere is the disparity more apparent than in Rio’s western reaches, in the valley between the Morro Dois Irmãos and Pedra da Gávea mountains. Comprising a few unremarkable high-rises on the secluded waterfront, the neighborhood of São Conrado is home to some of Rio’s richest. Further inland is the vast expanse of Rocinha, the largest favela, or slum, in Brazil.

Since many of Rocinha’s inhabitants aren’t officially documented, the government’s official count of about 70,000 runs much lower than common estimates of over 200,000. But as I stand at the base of the hill (by the same name) on which Rocinha rests, I get the feeling that this not merely another favela but a city in its own right, an urban jungle nearly as grand as Rio itself. Continue reading “Rio: Discovering the crowded streets and cramped alleys of Rocinha”

Rio de Janeiro: One Day in Santa Teresa

Rio de Janeiro: One Day in Santa Teresa

The word “Rio” conjures up an image that is something like this:

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Cue the Samba music (Courtesy of http://natgeotravel.tumblr.com/ )

And that’s all good fun, of course, but it’s not the full picture. Rio de Janeiro, in its entirety, is a city with much more richness and depth than its glamorous coast might suggest. Heading inland, away from the famed beaches of Leblon and Ipanema, I discovered a much different Rio.

Not a beachgoer in sight
Not a beachgoer in sight

This is the real Rio – a packed city, functional and full of urban beauty.

Far enough inland, and far enough uphill, and we found ourselves in Santa Teresa. Named after the hill
it’s perched atop, Santa Teresa is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio, and it used to be one of the richest.

Continue reading “Rio de Janeiro: One Day in Santa Teresa”

Rio! (a flight review, the Brazilian visa nightmare, and a few other things)

Rio! (a flight review, the Brazilian visa nightmare, and a few other things)

I’m back from 2 weeks in Rio de Janeiro!

Rio is an incredible town – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much variation in a city before. It’s a hodgepodge metropolis, each neighborhood with its own distinct personality. Being in Rio de Janeiro is like being in a world of its own.

Today, I’m going to talk about how I got there. And if you’re an American, getting to Rio is a lot harder than it might sound. Continue reading “Rio! (a flight review, the Brazilian visa nightmare, and a few other things)”