When we visited Rio, we knew that we wanted to take a tour of a favela, where a large percent of Rio residents live. There are 900+ favelas in Rio, the largest of which is Rocinha, home to an estimated 60,000-150,000 people – though some estimates put the figure as high as 300-400,000 residents. The favelas are built into the hills above Rio de Janeiro, and many of them border some of the most expensive beach areas in Rio; many of the towns are controlled by drug gangs, and a large joint police effort is underway to “pacify” the favelas prior to the World Cup in 2014. We made sure to take our tour through a local company headed by Marcelo Armstrong, who has been giving in-depth, personal tours of his hometown of Rocinha since 1992. The economic disparity between some of the more developed areas in Rio and the favelas was staggering, but both towns were full of amazing art, warm and friendly people, and a wealth of culture.
We visited a school called Para Ti, where the kids had made Christmas decorations and other crafts from bottles and recycled materials.
We bought a few of these bowls – pretty rad.
A bus that drives up daily, selling fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of my favorite photos from the trip – this gentleman couldn’t have been happier when I asked to take his photo.
The view from the top of Rocinha over the favela, with Leblon & Dois Irmãos in the background.