Rio de Janeiro, the end of our trip, and thanks to all our readers

After a lazy three days in Parati we board our last bus of the trip bound for Rio de Janeiro – our last long-distance bus of this trip.  A quick taxi ride and we are settled in our apartment, just a block away from Copacabana beach.  The weather is incredibly hot when we arrive so we’re pleased we have aircon, but the next few days are cooler and more to our liking.  We explore the local beaches, watch the volleyball and soccerball (no hands) matches and see the surfers getting mashed by the waves.  This is Ipanema beach, just round the corner from our apartment.
IMG_2215.JPG (640x480 pixels)
Great sand-art, reminding us we’re in the Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvellous City.
IMG_2127.JPG (640x480 pixels)
One of the local soft drinks is coco, coconut milk, best drunk in a beachside bar as here.  Although it’s getting the thumbs up on this occasion, it’s probably a once-only purchase, as it’s a bit too coconutty for us.
IMG_2132.JPG (640x480 pixels)
We take a trip on the metro into the centre of town, to see the set of steps decorated with tiles by the Chilean artist Selaron. He’s been at it since 1990 and regularly changes the tiles.  He says he won’t stop this crazy project until the last day of his life!
IMG_2157.JPG (480x640 pixels)
We take a bus and a tram up the Corcovado hill to visit the famous Christ the Reedeemer statue, huge with magnificent views over the city. Nice place to celebrate a birthday!
IMG_2272.JPG (480x640 pixels)
In the distance below you can see the famous Sugar Loaf and Rio harbour.
IMG_2265.JPG (640x480 pixels)
Beach life wouldn’t be complete without the vendors, selling the usual t-shirts, souvenirs, drinks and in this case every size of bikini top you might need.
IMG_2228.JPG (640x480 pixels)
We also decide to take a trip to a favela, popularly reputed to be full of drugs, drug gangs and so forth.  20% of the population of Rio live in favelas, most of whom work in service industries such as taxi driving, waiting in restaurants and working in hotels, and we were interested to see whether the reality lived up to the myths.  We contact a local guy who organises walking tours in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio.  He meets us in Copacabana and we catch the local bus up to the top of Rocinha: favelas are built on steep slopes, usually the only unbuilt-on land around here.  We’re escorted to a rooftop to look down at close quarters on the dense, simple, housing and our guide talks for a couple of hours about the housing standards, the Residents’ Association, community spirit, schooling and the (recent) police presence.  The latter, he thinks, is not unconnected with the World Cup in Rio in 2014, and the Olympics in Rio in 2016, and he is sceptical about what will happen after that.  The people here own their houses and, since legal changes connected with the Resident’s Associations, cannot be simply kicked out because the government decides so.  Although drug gangs ran the favelas originally, they did so because the government at the time did nothing for favela residents: the gangs stepped into the governmental role and provided transport, schools, sewerage and so forth for the residents.  The government increasingly does this now.
P1060954.JPG (640x480 pixels)
As we walk down the steep hillside through the houses the alleyways are really narrow, and we need to leap out of the way to make way for furniture and other deliveries making their way along.  Mail is only delivered to the single, main street, so residents of the alleys have stuff delivered to shops on the main street, and pick them up there.
IMG_2091.JPG (640x480 pixels)
IMG_2105.JPG (480x640 pixels)
Our guide knows everybody, everybody wishes us good day. The general atmosphere is very normal: although the area is fairly poor, it seems to us much less threatening than, say, parts of Bogota or La Paz.  Eventually, we arrive at the bottom of the district, near the main road, and have lunch in a good por kilo restaurant before catching the bus back to Copacabana.  Rocinha is behind us up the hill in this photograph.
IMG_2115.JPG (800x600 pixels)
Of course, no trip to Rio would be complete without a trip up the Sugar Loaf, so we take the opportunity of a not-too-hazy day to catch the cable car up.  The views from the top are truly excellent, and we amble slowly around the viewing platforms taking it all in.  Here’s a view over towards Copacabana, with Christ the Redeemer just visible on the right of the frame.
IMG_2295.JPG (640x480 pixels)
And that’s it !!  Tonight we board our flight back to the UK, and our trip is over.  We’ve had a fantastic eleven months, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it.  To all of you who’ve been reading and commenting, many, many thanks !
Lots of people have asked us what have been the highlights of the trip, so when we’ve had a chance to unpack we’ll put up a Trip Highlights post.
And watch this space, we think there’ll be more to come from elsewhere in the world in the future J
Thanks again
Diane and Paul

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>