31) RIO DE JANEIRO: ROCINHA AND THE LAST DAYS (27 July to 19 August 2016)

Rio de Janeiro isn’t only Centro, the Olympics, the viewpoints and the beaches. It’s also all the favelas. In the State of Rio, there are about 600 favelas. We can see some from the train to the Olympic Stadium:The largest one is Rocinha, in which nearly 250,000 people live. Out of the 600 favelas, 43 have been pacified in the last 10 years. When the Government decides to pacify a favela, a 2 weeks notice is given to the drug dealers who control the area, and they can either give themselves in or move to another favela before the police ‘cleans’ the streets. New apartments and schools, water supply and internet access are provided and Rocinha is today a touristic place with hotels. It is possible to go there alone, but not recommended. With Mouna, a French Moroccan met at the hostel, we paid for a guide who is known and accepted by the locals.The tour starts from the top: a view on Rio. An inaccessible dream from most of Rocinha residents.And here is the favela we are going to walk through. The Square Mountain at the back is Pedra da Gavea, climbed in article 28.Electricians must be some of the best in the World:Our guide asked us not to take pictures in some areas:The names of the football World Champions players:We also saw a fantastic demonstration of Capoiera, and received our first lesson:And the favela viewed from the bottom:The favela was my last visit. After the farewell party in Lapa described in the previous article, I took the bus to Sao Paulo for some new adventures. That concludes my stay in Rio: 24 fantastic days of visits, hikes, sport, parties, beaches. I was staying at the Discovery Hostel, located 50m from the Metro (Station Gloria), which is very handy to get around, to Centro or Ipanema. I have seen many hostels in my travelling life, and this is possibly the best I have stayed at. There is an atmosphere like nowhere else: everyone sits together on the big table for breakfast or diner, goes to the beach or to an Olympic event. It felt like family! And everyone I know who had to move to another place kept coming back for the parties at night. I met countless people from all around the World and I know the next weeks and months of my travels will not be the same. www.discoveryhostel.com4am, Yohana prepares the breakfast.The reason I stayed at Discover and the reason this place is so great is the same: my good friend Enrique I had met years ago in Australia. So good to see his face! Enrique opened the Discovery 3 years ago with 2 partners.With the same partners, he was just about to open another business, a hotel/restaurant in San Teresa: . I helped him with the painting and the cleaning for the last touches. The place looks absolutely marvelous, perfect for a romantic stay: www.discoverysuitesrio.comI also stayed at Enrique and Oceane’s place. Oceane is Enrique’s girlfriend, and we went to a few Olympic events together. I miss them, but I am planning to be back in Rio in a couple of months.I absolutely loved Rio. I could definitely live there: people, sceneries, beaches, climate, parties… On the downside, it is quite unsafe. Even so bad things are unlikely to happen, it is a bit annoying to have to be constantly careful with belongings. I heard a few stories that happened at the people at the hostel (mugged, robbed). In a busy street in the middle of the afternoon, a kid tried to steal the chain I had around my neck, fortunately without success.

Unlike some of the people I met who were participating into their 5th of 6th Summer Olympics (!), it was a first for me. So I can’t really compare, but what I know is that I had a great time and I’ll definitely do my best to be at Tokyo 2020. I would however regret:

  • the bad tickets organisation: too expensive for a lot of Brasilians to attend. Some of them bought a lot of tickets hoping they could sell them higher to tourists. But there were so many tickets available on the street that we could find some much cheaper than on the official website. For example, I went to the finale of the gymnastic for 100usd instead of 225usd on the website. Maybe this is the result of the media bashing in the previous months (zika virus, dirty sea and beaches, etc…). Maybe they made an effort for the Olympics, but to be honest, I found the city and the beaches very clean.
  • Also, Visa was the official sponsor of the event, and MasterCard was not allowed anywhere on the Olympic sites. I could not even withdraw cash, how stupid is that!
  • Finally, there have been polemics about the comportment of some Brasilians in the stadium. Like football supporters, they like to boo and insult the athletes they are not supporting. Even though I don’t speak Portuguese, I know I have been insulted sometimes for supporting the French.

But anyway, these are just comments, not complains. The main idea does not change at all: always keep positive. See you soon in Sao Paulo 😉

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