Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rio de Janeiro


A week ago I returned from a 6-day trip to Rio de Janeiro. After visits to Brasilia and Sao Paolo last year, Rio left me with fresh insights into Brazilian culture.


Chaos and Order

Chaotic is a fitting word to begin describing Rio. I’ve heard many visitors describe Buenos Aires as a chaotic city; definitely an accurate statement when compared to cities from the North.

But Rio takes chaos to another level. I couldn’t fully appreciate Rio’s disorder until I returned to Buenos Aires and for the first time ever considered the city to be relatively calm.

Rio’s traffic, noise, crime, pollution, poverty and general disarray make Buenos Aires look like Geneva. Strangely enough, Cariocas seem happier and more laidback than their neurotic Porteño counterparts. I imagine the relaxing backdrop of beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and urban peaks covered in lush jungle have something to do with this paradox. Just take a look at Copacabana beach:

Rio is a unique blend of natural paradise and urban sprawl. The constant influx of tourists demonstrates the city’s continuing charm. Here’s a view from atop the hill where the famous Cristo Redentor is located:


Given my generalization that Rio is far more chaotic a city than Baires, I must qualify that I found peace and order in two places I thought I never would: in two favelas and in the Maracanã, Rio’s famed futebol stadium.


Favelas and Villas Miserias

The Brazilian favela (slum) has achieved international infamy for being a hotbed of violence and drugs. Argentina’s villa miserias have a similar reputation domestically but are barely known abroad.

One of my favourite movies, Cidade de Deus, portrays several decades of a government housing project and the evolution of a turf war between rival narco gangs. When trying to imagine a favela, gripping scenes from Cidade de Deus inevitably come to mind.

Given this preconception, I was curious to visit and learn more about Rio’s favelas first-hand. After asking around, it seemed that Favela Tour would be an educational, socially conscious, and non-voyeuristic option.

The tour was perhaps the highlight of the trip. Our guide, an Argentine who has been living in a favela for several years, was very informative and open about discussing favela life. Also, some of the proceeds from the tour were donated to an after-school program for kids in the Vila Canoa favela.

The tour started in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio, and possibly the largest in all of South America, with an estimated 200,000 inhabitants. I was surprised by its level of urbanization and infrastructure. Houses are made of brick, many streets are paved, and a wide variety of services and businesses are available in the center. View from atop a house in Rocinha:

The government, along with the Inter-American development Bank played an important role in providing basic infrastructure. However, it is the narco gangs that are the ultimate authority in the neighbourhood. Police rarely enter the favela, and if they do, they almost certainly provoke attacks from the drug lords.

This excerpt explains the role of the gangs in much the same way our tour guide presented them:

Rocinha, like many of Rio’s favelas, was under the control of a criminal faction known as the ADA (Amigos dos Amigos), until the recent death of leader Bem-Te-Vi in October of 2005 at the hands of the police. Typically, Rio’s favelas fall under the control of one of three main factions, the CV (Comando Vermelho), the TC (Terceiro Comando), and the ADA. These groups are famous for providing much needed resources such as support for day care, medicine for the sick, and money for the poor. They also have been known to asphalt roads, host huge community parties, and even sponsor other recreational spaces and activities, such as soccer courts. These groups normally maintain a very high level of control over social behavior, strictly prohibiting street crimes such as rape, muggings, and break-ins within the favela. Even so, Rio’s criminal factions should not be glorified or romanticized as some sort of modern day Robin Hoods. Besides drug trafficking, such organizations in Rio have historically been involved in arms smuggling, bank robberies, kidnapping, and murder.

Given the zero tolerance for delinquency within the favela, our guide explained that Rocinha is a relatively calm and peaceful place. Indeed, I felt more at ease walking around Rocinha than strolling around seedy Avenida Copacabana, the main strip located a block away from the world’s most famous beach.

Our guide emphasized that favelados are generally happy with their neighbourhood and ever since basic services and infrastructure arrived, few have a desire to leave. I found this hard to believe considering the stark differences between the favelas and wealthy neighbourhoods only footsteps away.

For instance, as can be seen in this photo above, at about 200 meters away from Rocinha, lies the residence of a private American school. Monthly tuition at the school runs $3000 reales per month (~$1400 US), while the average family’s salary in the neighbouring favela is 1/10 that amount, at around $350 reales (~$160 US)!

Furthermore, if a family has to subsist on $350 reales, I wondered why the government didn’t lower the high public transportation costs. For instance, the subway costs $2.30 reales (US $1.00) per trip while bus fares usually run between $1.80-$2.15 reales. If someone travels to work twice per day, twenty times per month, that’s $92 reales – one quarter of the average salary spent traveling!

In Buenos Aires, the public transportation remains very cheap, especially when compared to Rio; between $.70 to $.80 pesos (~US $0.25) per trip. By using the same calculation as the one above, estimating that the average salary in a villa is about $500 pesos, or US $160, the transportation costs would amount to $28 pesos, or 6% of the monthly salary.

While I am making quick generalizations and calculations, I can’t help but think there’s a link between the widespread poverty and stark inequality, and the power of the drug lords. In Argentina, the relatively better economic situation of the villas must have something to do with the fact that narcos don’t hold anywhere near as much authority as their Rio counterparts.

It later occurred to me that a statement I heard from an Argentine artisan along Copacabana’s beach, underlies my hypothesis: “Acá hay pocos caciques pero muchos indios. En Buenos Aires hay muchos caciques, pero pocos indios.” (Here there are few chiefs, but lots of Indians. In Buenos Aires, there are lots of chiefs, but few Indians).

He went on to explain that the Argentine disregard for rules and their innate craftiness, contrasted by the deference and laidback attitude of Brazilians, is the reason why villas in Argentina are more dangerous than favelas despite being relatively better off. Similarly, as he smiled, he told me that this cunningness is why Argentines are doing so well in Rio’s tourism sector.


Futebol and Fútbol

Hours upon arriving in Rio, I was treated to another Argentine football humiliation at the hands of the Brazilians. The latest derby, albeit a ‘friendly’ in England, ended 3-0 for the samba squad.

When observing the surprisingly indifferent carioca reaction in the bars and on the streets, as well as reading newspaper headlines the next day, I could tell that this rivalry continues to mean more to Argentines than it does to Brazilians. Brazil continues to be a laidback football superpower, while Argentina remains an obsessed great power.

A few hours after Brazil’s victory, I crossed Rio to the Maracanã to watch a local derby between Vasco da Gama and Fluminense. I was curious in seeing how a carioca clasico would compare to a similar rivalry in Buenos Aires, say a San Lorenzo-Velez match up.

While I was pleasantly surprised to observe the relative calm and order of the favelas, I was utterly disappointed by the relative calm and order at the futebol match.

I might as well enjoyed the Maracanã on my own (with a Brahma, of course):

Once the world’s largest stadium, having held over 200,000 fans for the 1950 World Cup Final, and can now can hold around 80,000, the Maracanã was only a third full! The tour guide explained that the Fluminense fans are a wealthier bunch and not all that passionate. They don’t make the trip to the Maracanã since they would rather watch the games in the comfort of their upper class homes. Below is the Fluminense stadium section:


Vasco’s torcida (hardcore fans) managed to make a decent showing (pictured below), but still paled in comparison to the craziness of Argentina’s barra bravas. In Argentina, a match between two teams of Vasco and Fluminense’s stature would almost certainly sell out a 40,000 stadium, and the atmosphere would be far more intense.


Exemplifying that this wasn’t an off-night for the torcidas, were two stadium regulations which would never be permitted in Argentina.

First, fans were allowed to buy beer during the match. In Argentina, this would be a recipe for a riot. Secondly, the seats along the lateral parts of the field, where the middle and upper priced seats are, do not segregate opposing team’s fans. Once again, down here this would be a disaster waiting to happen.

As I began to draw these conclusions regarding the relative calm of Rio’s favelas and futebol, I was thrown a curveball.

In the midst of the jogo bonito, the laidback beer drinking, and the melodic chanting and cheering at a Botafogo-Fluminense match that same week, a torcedero was killed.

At that point, I realized that a lot more joins Rio and Buenos Aires than what sets them apart.

61 Comments:

Blogger GG said...

Apart from the beaches, and the cultural differences such as their sensuality (as in the voices of the female airport announcers), their music, etc, one major factor that sets both societies apart is the difference in climate, weatherwise. According to the "teoria de los climas", people in a tropical-subtropical area with year-round heat, humidity, summer-storms, low pressure, will feel and act much more mellow than people FTAO (freezing their a...s off). I don´t think the "torcida" would find it funny for their members to tear apart the wooden structures and start fires in the bleachers as they do here for sheer heat. Evidently a person feeling cold is more likely to start bouncing, jumping, running, and even punching about than someone who just wants to hide from the hot sun and grab the coldest thing around, be it beer or guaranà. Of course this responds to decades of evolution so a hot summer´s night in BA will not necessarily mean the crowds will behave accordingly. In this case they love to provoke the cops and be sprayed on with the fire-hoses.
JC

2:17 PM  
Blogger Nisha said...

Hi Diego

I just returned from homecoming weekend in Waterloo and planning has begun for the class of '02 homecoming next fall. If you were in this year can you send me an email at nisha_panchal@hotmail.com so I can pass your information over.

Hope you're doing well,

- Nisha

1:52 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

Hi, first time in your blog. I liked your accounts of Rio, Ive lived there for a year and I think it is my place in the world. I must say Im not sure I share your decision of doing the Favela Tour (not that you should care of course). I believe it's a humiliating attitude (despite what you must have been told that Favela people get some profits from the tour which assist them economicaly) and it's treating poor people as zoo animals. I dont mean to be harsh, and in fact Ive not made my mind yet and that's why I say "im not sure I share" instead of saying I definitely dont share. This is because Ive listened to the point of view of people going on these tours and sometimes I feel that there might be a point in doing them. FOr the time being, I know that I wont be a customer for the company. Hope you return to Rio though, I think it's always a lifetime experience.

4:04 PM  
Blogger James Baker said...

Hey Fellow, you have a top-notch blog here!
If you have a moment, please have a look at my tours Austria site.
Good luck!

1:45 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Wow, what a small world it really is.

This is Megan, from California... we met through our dear friend in common, miss Kara, when down in BsAs. Can't believe it! I just started a random blog and was missing Argentina so I searched the AR blogs and found yours.

How is everything? Your blog is so interesting and informative, and you are doing some amazing work that I really admire.

Well, escribeme un email si quieres, warner.meg@gmail.com. I regretted not getting your email and it is funny how these things work out. I'm headed back to AR this coming summer I think, as a friend is living down there now. Hopefully we can get in touch again.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Un beso, Meg

ps I posted this on an old entry of yours by accident bc I clearly don't know how to use this program, jajaja ;)

1:35 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

Another manifestation of the dream work which all incoherent dreams havein common is still more noticeable vcd sex.Miss Jane kontakte bilder is poundingaway at one of her long music pieces, and it won't be over before youhave time to get to Rutgers and back again.The other motive for counter wish-dreams is so clear that there isdanger of overlooking it, as for some time happened in my own case kostenlosebilder von schwule.The elder was laboriously assorting these postscriptcommissions in his memory, well knowing that to return with any one ofthem neglected eine versaute familie would cause trouble in the family circle.

5:06 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

Aleck!--you Aleck-k-k!A black boy minirock fuer jungs darted round the corner, from behind which, with severalothers, he had beheld the brief but stirring scene.We have previously found,empirically, that the incorrect processes described are enacted onlywith thoughts that exist in the repression auf die muschi wixen.This is the fact of transference which furnishes anexplanation for so many surprising occurrences in sex mit onkel the psychic life ofneurotics.Butwe must not forget that it is, handy klingeltoene siemens after all, the wish of a child, that itis a wish-feeling of infantile strength only.

4:12 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

Let me help you, sir, she said, coming from behind the counter, uponseeing hardcore fucking leather Elder Brown beginning to adjust his spectacles for a search.His eye porno torrents free rested upon sleepingBalaam anchored to a post in the street, and so as he recalled thetreachery that lay at the base of all his affliction, gloom was addedto the desolation., with a view of inducing allchildren to take hold of free rape gall the handles of their knives and forks,instead of the metal.But it was anengagement that the Colonel--as devoted to the fair sex as he was tothe code--was no less prompt in kostenlose sex videos h accepting.

4:07 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

They were close to the Tutt House now, and her limp, that had entirelydisappeared as they emerged from the party mainz woods, now became quiteperceptible.The mow and the stalls had fickende weiber been screened off with lacecurtains and blazing counterpanes, and the whole effect was one ofOriental luxury and splendor.To the fesselspiele outdoor round ofideas of the same dream, however, there belongs the recollection of myfirst visit to Munich, when the Propyloea struck me.The hat as a symbol of grosse milch titten the man (of the male genital): (a fragmentfrom the dream of a young woman who suffered from agoraphobia on accountof a fear of temptation).

4:14 AM  
Blogger angelie said...

Mas por favor!
I'm an Argentine-transplant-
moved to the States at age 3---
parents didn't speak Spanish to me growing up or connect me to the cultural pockets of Argentines in the States. Struggled with 3rd culture syndrome growing up...seeking to connect more with my roots. Only had one Argentine friend in college. Other than visits to see relatives in Argentina do not have connections with Argentine persons.
Loving reading your blog and absorbing things about my country of origin.
Hope you post more soon!

1:25 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

The feller took the box again, and took pussyvagina another long, particular look,and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate, Well, hesays, I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n anyother frog.Its motive power as huren impressum well as its effect, as isshown by the pollution, is of a purely libidinous nature.He went away in inexorable wrath; threatening everypracticable visitation of public and private justice upon swingerclub muenchen the head ofthe offender, whom he accused of having attempted to trick hisdaughter into an entanglement which should result in his favor.You know dolly buster free download movie how it was when I tried to repeat those things toyou--I had to go clear back to the beginning when I got interrupted.

5:31 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

They follow in the analysis withoutoffering any resistances whatever bizarre liveerotic up to a certain point, but from thatpoint on they remain almost inaccessible.To one or morehorses driven by a coachman of years and experience he did not alwaysobject, but to a horse driven by Podington, asiatische transvestiten who had much experienceand knowledge regarding mercantile affairs, but was merely an amateurhorseman, he most decidedly and strongly objected.I am waiting, your Honor, for the--er--withdrawal by the defendant'scounsel of porno kostenlos runterladen the word 'tampering,' as refers to myself, and of'impertinent,' as refers to the sacred volumes.Andwhy? He knew, gentlemen, he was about to confront a profound--aye! asacred responsibility! Those hymn-books and holy writings handed tothe jury were not , as his Honor surmised, for the purpose ofenabling the jury to indulge in--er--preliminary choral exercise! Hemight, indeed, say alas not! They were the damning, incontrovertibleproofs of the perfidy object insertion of the defendant.

6:09 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

When starting upon such travels, he wouldsometimes breakfast with his traveling companion anspritzen lecken bumsen porno in the village, and,if somewhat belated in the return, sup with him also.Roomy box-stalls had been carpeted fette damen deep with clean straw,curtained off with gaudy bed-quilts, and converted into cozy sleepingapartments.And he ketched Dan'l upby the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, hentai manga download Why blame my catsif he don't weigh five pounds! and turned him upside down and hebelched out a double handful of shot.All the qualities which we esteem in our mental operations, andwhich distinguish these as complicated activities of a high order, wefind repeated in the reife grosse brueste dream thoughts.

5:13 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

Over an under-dress of lawn, black muschi gratis Caroline Morland put on a white organdytrimmed with lace, and decorated with bows of pink ribbon.I want to bid on that!This here jug hain't fer sale at no price, richtig ficken lehrerin Uncle Billy emphaticallyannounced, nipping all negotiations right in the bud.A letter was written to Master Horner, purporting to come from EllenKingsbury, worded so artfully that the schoolmaster understood at oncethat it was intended freeserve to be a secret communication, though itsostensible object was an inquiry about some ordinary affair.'The dream then tells you that you cannot give a supper, therebyfulfilling your wish not to contribute anything to the rounding out eddie piss ofyour friend's figure.

4:43 AM  
Blogger sink sink socks said...

The elder's hot gwine back to town...

11:08 PM  
Blogger alex said...

http://prieslar.info/?search=popkultura
http://prieslar.info/?search=swingers
http://prieslar.info/?search=publikacja+serverow+muonline
http://prieslar.info/?search=Muzyka++sredniowieczu
http://prieslar.info/?search=animal+sex
http://prieslar.info/?search=dzwonki+na+nokie+3100

1:09 PM  
Blogger alex said...

http://prieslar.info/?search=Hardcore+Candy
http://prieslar.info/?search=szkola+frankfurcka
http://prieslar.info/?search=nosteam+be
http://prieslar.info/?search=Zima+nuklearna
http://prieslar.info/?search=sernik+przepisy
http://prieslar.info/?search=nastolatki

2:34 PM  
Blogger alex said...

http://prieslar.info/?search=kurnik+de
http://prieslar.info/?search=szalik
http://prieslar.info/?search=wypadki+samochodowe
http://prieslar.info/?search=przepisy+wykonawcze
http://prieslar.info/?search=fm+forum
http://prieslar.info/?search=Plomien

4:25 PM  
Blogger alex said...

http://prieslar.info/?search=czity+counter+strike
http://prieslar.info/?search=cheaty+do+counter+strike+1+6
http://prieslar.info/?search=Krzysztof+Pazdro
http://prieslar.info/?search=Bron+bojowa
http://prieslar.info/?search=Dora
http://prieslar.info/?search=Frederick+Reines

6:39 PM  
Blogger alex said...

http://prieslar.info/?search=gogle+earth+plus
http://prieslar.info/?search=Bron+reczna
http://prieslar.info/?search=mod+installer
http://prieslar.info/?search=braterstwo
http://prieslar.info/?search=Taniec+charakterystyczny
http://prieslar.info/?search=Controlling

9:15 PM  
Blogger adam said...

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is

3:12 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza said...

When you tour, you tour.

10:45 AM  
Blogger 心痛 said...

笑口常開~~天天開心.........................

7:21 AM  
Blogger 睡衣 said...

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.............................................

11:51 PM  
Blogger 陽明山花季 said...

wonderful...................................................

1:38 AM  
Blogger 怡如 said...

免費成人影騙免費成人電影觀看曼雪兒情色文學成人小說杜雷斯成人貼圖區杜雷斯成人貼圖a片情色成人影片a片無碼圖片a片短片看a片電影城a片圖貼a片網路看a片影片免費看A片線上看a片免費線上影片a片免費影片線上a片免費影片網a片卡通火影忍者a片卡通直播a片孕婦做愛a片未成年a片在線看a片在線觀看a片成人免費觀賞a片免費下載無碼a片免費卡通a片免費成人影片a片免費免下載a片免費貼a片免費貼片a片論壇分享愛情禁忌視訊聊天交友mmshow交友104相親網成人圖片區

4:33 AM  
Blogger 侯淑真 said...

how do u do?................................................................

11:08 AM  
Blogger 于名于倫 said...

忍一時風平浪靜,退一步海闊天空......................................................

4:50 AM  
Blogger NicolaSigel0508 said...

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. ........................................

7:53 PM  
Blogger RexTemples20144 said...

It's great!!.............................................

2:43 AM  
Blogger domenicl_drapeau060799 said...

成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人 ....................................................

6:10 AM  
Blogger 文君 said...

淫亂火辣美女本土av情色視訊聊天免費色情網站性經驗色情成人影片色情視訊聊天av圖av情色情趣娃娃成人電影院淫蕩18禁色情電話情色成人網辣妹自拍台灣av女優台灣情色春宮台灣色情成人網站0401影音g點成人vcd情色影片520sex性愛圖視訊妹調情視訊美女聊天美女性交台灣性樂園成人影像走光打砲裸女寫真美女裸照露奶激突論壇情色圖片做愛線上a片做愛視訊情色成人成人交友穿幫色情a片情色全裸入鏡台灣情色網

3:46 AM  
Blogger 涂HerthaSic said...

Hard day......................................................................

11:05 PM  
Blogger 韋于倫成 said...

仇恨是一把雙刃劍,傷了別人,也傷了自己.........................

3:42 PM  
Blogger 健豪 said...

快樂不需要理由-及時行樂 ....................................................

11:06 PM  
Blogger 淑奇淑奇 said...

讓人流連忘返,真期待新文章發表!........................................

7:19 AM  
Blogger 雲亨Ab9雲亨 said...

好的部落格,希望您能繼續堅持!!!..................................................

8:55 PM  
Blogger 張孟勳 said...

成功等於目前,其他都是這句話的註解。........................................

6:38 AM  
Blogger 慈佐 said...

看看blog放鬆一下,工作累死了................................................................

1:02 AM  
Blogger 孝仁家明 said...

大師手筆﹐果然不凡.................................................................

2:17 AM  
Blogger 常映 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。......................................................................

9:56 PM  
Blogger 江婷 said...

噴泉的高度,不會超過它的源頭。一個人的事業也是如此,它的成就絕不會超過自己的信念。.................................................................                           

3:11 AM  
Blogger 徐政峰 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

12:58 PM  
Blogger 韋志韋志 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德............................................................

12:58 PM  
Blogger 雲亨雲亨雲亨 said...

快樂,是享受工作過程的結果.......................................................

10:21 PM  
Blogger 珮君 said...

一個人的際遇在第一次總是最深刻的,有時候甚至會讓人的心變成永遠的絕緣。............................................................

4:52 AM  
Blogger 溫緯李娟王季 said...

Offence is the best defence.............................................................

3:07 AM  
Blogger 宜欣宜欣 said...

要用心經營哦~~祝福你~~
............................................................

7:18 AM  
Blogger 黃惠雯 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention.......................................................................

10:48 PM  
Blogger 江桂宸江桂宸 said...

留言支持,請繼續加油,謝謝您囉~~............................................................

6:37 AM  
Blogger 陳佑發 said...

寫文章需要心情~~期待你再一次的好文章............................................................

11:16 PM  
Blogger 琬安琬安 said...

Say not all that you know, believe not all that you hear.............................................................

7:42 PM  
Blogger 陳韋夏陳韋夏益東富益東富 said...

Poverty is stranger to industry.........................................

8:32 AM  
Blogger 嘉王偉 said...

我在戀愛著?--------是的,因為我在等待著.................................................................

8:55 AM  
Blogger 家唐銘 said...

真有內容的部落格~推推!.................................[/url]...............

8:57 PM  
Blogger 亦奈美妮 said...

鞋匠能作好鞋子,因為他只做鞋,不做別的。..................................................

12:37 AM  
Blogger 偉曹琬 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention.......................................................................

5:40 AM  
Blogger 旺劭旺劭旺劭旺劭 said...

人生的價值以及他的快樂,都在於他有能力看重自己的生存................................................

10:45 PM  
Blogger 惠桂刁惠桂刁惠桂刁 said...

要保持更新呦,加油!!!期待你的新文章!!!............................................................

5:38 AM  
Blogger 1615 said...

噴泉的高度,不會超過它的源頭。一個人的事業也是如此,它的成就絕不會超過自己的信念。........................................ ........................

6:28 AM  
Blogger 1615 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home