Two Days in Rio

After 24 hours of car to plane to plane to car traveling, my family and I arrived at a small hotel right on the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My Uncle Larry allowed us a 3 hour nap before taking us to see the sites.

With six million people, Rio de Janeiro is a rather impressive city. It’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed inside of it. Cradling the city are huge, humped mountains that are even more impressive then the buildings they surround. Our first day in town, Uncle Larry took us up to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city. The statue was ok, but the view was awesome! Being on top of the mountain was exhilarating. From there I could see the whole city (but not all at once because it was still too big for my eyes). I could have stayed up there all day.

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Built inside the city are shanty towns called favelas. The people there come from all over Brazil to find work, but they have no place to live. Over the years they have built their own city within a city. Even though they do not legally live on the land, the government has not been able to move them. Drug lords have taken control of the areas and keep police out. Recently, the government has taken more aggressive actions to try and reclaim control. Firefights have broken out between the gangs and police. But still, the police are barely inching their way into the favelas.

I was not able to go into the favelas because of how dangerous it is, but I did get to go over them. the government has just built a gondola connecting several of the favelas to the main city. The idea was to give the people of the favelas cheap transportation in and out of the area (since roads in the favelas are close to nonexistant). The gondola works equally well for people like me who are interested to see what it’s like inside the favelas. From up above, I was able to see children flying kites (I’ve been told it’s one of their favorite things to do), men walking to the local food stores, and women hanging up clothes on the porches that they’ve built for themselves.

Seeing all this made a huge impact on me. I can’t quite put words to it..

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After two days in Rio, my family and I boarded a plane to Sao Paulo (nearly twice the population of Rio) then to Campo Grande in the interior. Giant cities fell away to giant empty land. The weather turned shivering cold. This is a Brazilian winter—not freezing, but not comfortable.

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