Ivan and I left the house at 1 pm on December 28, 2012. Lil Dave went to meet up with his long lost monkey cousin who’s a gangster – he’s going to show him around his favela.
Ivan and I grabbed some snacks at the Hotel Marina Palace. We were picked up for the Favela Tour at 2 pm. Our guide was a man named Everaldo. The bus was filled with English, American and Dutch people.
The first favela we went to was Rochina (pronounced ho-sin-ya). This is Rio’s largest favela with a population of 250,000 people. It has the good and the bad with the most expensive street in a Rio favela and poor sewage which means unsanitary conditions where lots of people get tuberculosis. Everaldo introduced us to some of the artists and shops owners in the favela.
There was a great view of the Rio from this spot. We had ten minutes to browse the shops.
The group went back on the van and went to a house in the favela. On the balcony, we had a great view of the colorful buildings of Rochina which is situated in the hillside.
The group piled back on the van. Everaldo knew a lot about the favelas. There are 950 favelas in Rio. 20% of the population in Rio de Janeiro live there – not all the residents are poor with doctors and lawyers living here. Communities are formed in the favelas to build associations to get services like sewer, garbage disposal, water and electricity. That’s why you see lots of trash on the streets. There are gangs and drugs in the favela, but for the most part the favelas are a safer place to live probably since there’s no police here. Police visit once a year and they will announce the time and date of their visit. I still noticed two policemen who patrol the area with big machine guns.
Our next stop was Para Ti community school. A percentage of the money raised from the Favela Tour is donated to this school. We didn’t get to see any students since it’s Christmas break. Kids ages 5 to 15 attend this school. From the second floor, we saw a nice view of the Villa Canoas favela which was the next place the group was headed to.
The group got back in the van and we drove to Villa Canoas. We stopped at a bar where we could buy drinks or a caipirinha. Everaldo asked that we don’t take any pictures for privacy reasons since we were walking right in the alleys of the homes. This favela is a lot smaller with 2,500 residents. We walked through the narrow alleyways. Villa Canoas is a lot nicer than Rochina with a better sewage system.
Everaldo told us that in the 1800’s, 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought back from a war against the Canudos and had no place to live. They decided to build houses in the hillside. Somebody found favela beans in the hills and that’s how the name was coined. Although, I was looking at favela on Wikipedia and it says differently.. it says that it had to do with Canudos’s Favela Hill — a name referring to favela, a skin-irritating tree in the spurge family indigenous to Bahia.
The Favela Tour was great to learn more about the favelas and actually be able to walk around two of the them.
Afterwards, everybody was taken back to their hotel. We got dropped off at Ipanema beach and we walked to a square.
Ivan and I went to a grocery store and picked up toothpaste and razors. I got some lozenges for my sore throat at a pharamacy.
Ivan was hungry since we didn’t have a proper lunch, so we stopped at Koni Store for a snack. Ivan and I shared a shrimp yakisoba and a salmon sushi.
We wanted to try a caipirinha, so we walked to the beach and found a stall selling the drink for R$10. Ivan and I each got one and sat on plastic chairs on the beach.
My caipirinha was salty and sweet at first, but then the salty flavor went away. It was quite strong and tasty.
Ivan and I got the 354 bus back to the house and we arrived shortly before 8:30 pm.
Later that night, we went to the Italian restaurant Cozzi Restaurante for dinner. It’s a mile away from the house. Ivan and I shared a white fish with shrimp on top and a penne with shrimp and a great arrabiata sauce. The dishes were pricey (about $20 USD each), but they were a decent portion and tasted great.