Rocinha – the favela

The last day in Rio I spent, in another favela. My plan was to do a lazy day on the beach however when the suggestion about taking a favela tour came up I simple joined. There is a high risk that I would only be bored at the beach.

We visited the Rocinha favela which is one of the bigger with its population of 160 000. Thank god we took the car to the top and then walked down, through the narrow streets, alleys and sometimes pretty weird streets while our local guide explained the history but most interesting, hows the life in a favela. It is always good to have a local guide and since I had plans of buying a house I could resist to ask for the price. For €10 000 you get a house and that means no involvement of estate brokers, banks or papers, you simple pay the previous owner and get the keys. If there will be any issues with the transaction you simple bring it up with the local drug lord and he will fix the issue.

Rocinha is probably one of the safest favelas and it doesn’t not meet the expectations that our press spreads. It even exists banks here and while I was visiting I saw armor car transporting money to/from the banks, this would not be possible in any of the more poor, mostly located in north favelas or here for 15-20 years ago. The architecture is still the same though, each house is a small block randomly places, also often on top of each other which creates these narrow streets and tiny staircases. The power grid would give any certified engineer nightmares but Im still most impressed that its actually work.

Before the tour I was a bit afraid that the tour would feel like exploiting poor people but it didn’t feel like that at all. Instead it was more any ordinary city tour in any given city, safe, secure and I must admit I feel a bit disappointed.

we finished the tour on a local bar and I just had to ask the guide about the favela I’m staying in. I didn’t really get any straight away answer, instead it was more like yea, its semi-safe and most likely there will be no shooting which means its just like back home in Sweden. Either way I will pack my bag and continue my trip west, next stop Peru.