Went around a Favela this morning on an organised tour. Quite amazing seeing slums where over 300,000 people live (the largest of over 500 in Rio), and feeling unbelievably safe with our guide. Some of the cash we paid goes towards helping the locals, so they were all extremely pleased to see us, but not sure we would get out alive if we went on our own. Having driven to the foot of the hill, we each got on the back of a random motorbike for 25p and were taken for 5 minutes to the top of the hill without any helmets through a busy street (not sure the travel insurance would have covered us).
Our only instructions were to feel safe and take as many photos as we wanted, but not of any people holding guns, and not to buy any drugs !! Sure enough, we saw a couple of teenagers wandering along with shooters but they just passed by with a smile and minded their own business. We were told that this particular fevela is run by a 24 year old who is making about 4 million dollars a month from drugs and girls. Clearly he needs to protect his business, even though he can never leave the fevela at risk of police and rival gangs (seems he spends most of his cash on more drugs, guns & girls which is nice).
It was quite nice to see that lots of the houses (a very loose word for piles of breeze blocks) actually had people surfing the internet, so a bit worrying that he might be reading this blog.
Went up to the Christ statue this afternoon and saw the sun-set and then had a walk around Ipanema. Heading off tomorrow morning to Iguazo Falls on the Argentina border, a nice short bus trip of about 1,000 miles that should take about 22 hours.
Very sad to be leaving Rio, this place is brilliant !!
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