Traveling Rio De Janeiro
The San Diego Entertainer Magazine is proud to announce collaboration with a new writer, Vanessa Prendergast. Vanessa has flown to all corners of the globe, wandering and blogging her way around this wonderful world. Vanessa will share stories of her past travels and her upcoming adventures. First, she takes us to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
For as far back as I can remember, travel has always been something I’ve loved. I knew once I’d graduated from University at home in Ireland, wanderlust would take over and it wouldn’t be long before I’d take to the skies. I decided I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to travel to every corner of the globe, with eyes wide open and experience cultures very foreign to my own. I wanted to dip my toes in Oceans near and far and I was more than willing to ‘work for travel’. It wasn’t long until I found myself working for an International Airline based in London, England. I get to fly around the world and call it my job. I’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the most interesting people around the world and we are gifted opportunities that I personally would have only ever dreamt about. I’ve worked hard and I’ve been blessed with some amazing opportunities. I’ve experienced so much of this wonderful world in so little time and plan on experiencing so much more.
The Favela’s, Rio De Janeiro
In light of the upcoming 2016 summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro I’ve decided to write about my time spent in this beautiful Latin American city. Steeped in culture and history Rio is the second largest city in Brazil. I’ve done quite a few trips to Rio with work and one thing I loved about this particular destination is that there was always something to do or see. It’s natural Scenery is like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else.
A Favela is a word used to describe a Brazilian slum or Shanty town. Rio De Janeiro is home to the largest, most photographed and more famous of the Favelas’ in Brazil, “Favela de Rocinha”. I was lucky that I got to spend time in this particular favela which homes over 200,000 people…. it was a truly amazing, surreal and a once in a lifetime experience that will never forget and was by far one of the most cultured experiences I’ve ever had on my travels.
Our tour guide picked us up early from our hotel on the first morning. We drove along the beautiful coastline into the heart of Rio de Janeiro . On our way to the Favela we stopped off to take a few photographs on the world famous Selaron steps. It’s hard to get a picture in front of any tourist spot nowadays without being photobombed, but we did try.
Once leaving the steps our tour guide then drove us into the heart of Rocinha stopping the jeep in the middle of a steep hill, right in the center of this massive Brazilian Slum. Not only that but we were now getting out of the jeep and we were walking through this Favela. We were well and truly out of our comfort zone…
I remember standing on the busy path in the middle of the locals and admired the amazing view. It was so beautiful, and for a few seconds we had forgotten where we were. When we turned back around, our tour guide was nowhere to be seen. That’s when the panic set in and all four of us had fully believed we’d been abandoned, All eyes were on us as we stood out like sore thumbs. It was a case of spot the tourists. We didn’t have to say a word to each other but we knew we were all thinking the same thing. Which way was out? Who was to take the lead? Or who could we even ask for help?
After about 5 minutes of pure panic, we started to move forward up the hill and spotted this yellow t-shirt up a bit from where we were stood. It was our tour guide, as we got closer he told us we needed to keep up as he carried on walking ahead. He wasn’t slowing down for us, we’d only just begun our tour of the favelas and I was already asking him when we were leaving, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. It was clear after a few minutes that he knew quite a few of the local’s very well. He brought us into their shops, told us lots of little facts about where we were, about all their little businesses and how they earn their money, etc. He joked around with the fact that people look up while on the street because bullets usually fly down. And how the Sky is the limit as these people literally build their homes and business’ up and up and up. He made a quick phone call and before we knew it we were racing again to keep up with him. We were following him down through alleyways, in between cracks in the buildings, behind a wall and down a steep set of concrete steps before he disappeared out of sight again. We stopped for a second and pondered the idea of following this man we had only just met. But the alternative was stay outside alone, so naturally we followed him.
As we made our way deeper into the Favelas’ we heard “Òla” and a head popped out from a random doorway. It was a little Brazilian man, and we came to know him as Joanas. He welcomed us with open arms into his home; he introduced us to his daughter who helped to translate between us. They both showed us around their home and asked us to follow them to the rooftop.
When we came out onto the roof the view had us in absolute awe. I had goosebumps it was so amazing.
Our tour guide gave us a brief history about the Favelas and the troubles these people face from day to day. Simple things like clean running water, something that we take for granted every day.
Joanas was one of the sweetest people I’ve met on my travels, he gave us a souvenir of Favela da Rocinha, and it wasn’t long before he took out a selfie stick, put on some Samba music and literally started to dance, as if not a care in the world.
Once we left his home we made our way back down through the Favela, We Stopped off to take some pictures where the “Fast Five” Favela chase scenes were filmed back in 2011.
On the journey back to our hotel we couldn’t stop talking about the time we had just spent in the favela, it’s hard to write down exactly how you felt at particular moment in time, but it was a feeling I will never forget.
This trip really was a once in a lifetime experience that took us right outside of our comfort zone, And to me this is what wanderlust is all about……being in the centre of a culture that is very different to your own, Spending time with the locals, eating their food and listening to their stories. Our guide told us that in a few years the rooftop where we stood will start to close in as the locals build upwards anywhere they can.
If you’re planning a trip to Rio for the Olympics or on holiday I would highly recommend doing a tour of the Favela’s, most hotels can organize it for their guests. If you would like to follow Joanas on Facebook for favela updates or if you want to visit his home too here is a link to his facebook.