Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rio de Janeiro & Santa Teresa

Here we are in Rio de Janeiro - and we stayed in its' most bohemian hood, complete with cobbled stoned streets, quaint little shops, restaurants and gorgeous little music venues which was just so perfect as it was right up our street, so to speak. Only problem is that it is not the safest of areas but then we are in Rio. However we managed to keep it together in the week we were there, so thankfully we were spared any run ins.

We found this cool bed and brekkie network that places you in houses owned by artistic/bohemian people of Santa Teresa, we got to choose which house and so we were in this fabulous old mansion house owned by a youngish artist and his family including two adorable dogs (one is a puppy!!) and two cats. The hood is on a hill overlooking the north side of Rio, and the view from our open air living room was breathtaking both at day and at night. It is incredibly quiet except for the planes roaring above us as they fly low into the domestic airport nearby, it is quite a sight and only happens while we have breakfast so it doesnt bother us!

It is also the only part of Rio still serviced by the tram car which is a fascinating little contraption, costs only R$0.60 for a ride down to the town or if you hang off the side of it (as we did when short of change) you ride for free - just have to make sure you keep the arms and legs in.
The amazing thing bout this area is that it houses two of Rio's most notorious drug trafficking gangs, in the favelas down below us. They are in extreme competiton with each other and weirdly do not bother or harm the general public. Last night we woke up to what sounded like incessant rifle gunfire and rushed out to see from our hill top view, only to find it was a crazy fireworks display.

Eric (our artist host) explained that each gang had decided to fire as many skyrockets into the sky to show their network of supporters and power, so red was for the Red Command and green for the Third Command. And sure enough as we watched, the two different colours exploded into the night sky all over Rio. The Red Command clearly had more supporters. And we found out later, that they use this fireworks system to tell their contacts that deliveries have come in and so on. Its incredibly fascinating since they obviously dont care about the law enforcement!

In Rio so far we have seen the awesome Red Bull Air Race which to be honest can only be explained if you click on the link and see for yourself - the coolest thing is that we were there! Go straight to Lee's blog to see the video we took of some cool stunts these daredevil pilots were doing.

We have visited the world famous statue of Christ the Redeemer - the view from up there was incredible and slightly vertigo inspiring. Kind of gave you a sense of warmth and amazement at the idea that Christ was watching over Rio with all its' colour, vibrancy and dark corners.

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