The Americas Revisted travel blog

High hopes for today but the weather is not good. Still 25C but very overcast, low cloud and some spots of rain. At 9am we have a favella tour. We go to the district of Saint Theresa where the yellow tolley cars ferry reisdents around. We are met by two guides who live in the favella and will show us around. We are taken to a hostel where we get a view of the city. Million dollar views from a very poor area. Then we are taken to another hostel for the same view. We are just wandering around the narrow walkways, we don't see many other people, not much sign of life, not a 'community' as we expected. Then we stop at a restaurant for the same view. No-one in it though. Then we see Project Morrinho (little hill) a social and cultural initiative that started in this community back in 1998. The project started as nothing more than child’s play, an attempt to escape from the realities of violence and corruption in the favelas across Brazil. With the help of some bricks, toy cars, Lego pieces, and other recycled materials, a few of the favella kids constructed a replica of the favela complete with people, cars, and colourful buildings. Over the years, the model increased in size to occupy over 320m², growing to represent many other favelas in the city. The favella guide shows us how they used to 'play' and we also watch a video of when the group of kids (8) went to Barcelona along with 13,000 bricks to showcase their form of art. It was something special back then that favella kids would ever get a chance to go overseas. This part of the tour was interesting but it was back in 1998 so they are trading on their small window of fame. Kids in the favella now do not 'play' here, they use their mobile phones! Then we walk down a few more narrow pathways and the tour is over. That was US$50 each. Rip off and not very good.

We continue on our city tour. This is not a good tour either. We are not having a good day. We stop for a look at Ipanema beach, cloudy and grey, we stop at the ugliest church ever, at sugarloaf mountain from a distance, then the Escadaria Selarón, also known as the Selaron Steps, which is a set of world-famous steps by the Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as "my tribute to the Brazilian people". There are 215 steps measuring 125 metres long which are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. We see a liitle bit of home, a tile from Australia and one of the artist amongst the thousands. Selarón lived in a house next to the steps and he claimed to have sold over 25,000 portraits, all featuring the same pregnant woman to fund his lifestyle. The next stop is Sugarloaf Mountain. We go up in the cable car, a 3 minute ride and get out at th first level, We can see a bit here but it is very overcast and low cloud. We then go up to the top but you can't see a thing so we go back down and wait at the first level for the others. Then down to the bottom and back to the Hotel.

We meet Sarah at 7pm and go the square about 15 minutes walk from the Hotel. We find an italian restaurant and have a simple meal, Phil Pizza, Sarah gnochi and me a bowl of soup. A disappointing day. I let Diego know the favella tour was terrible and I regretted not going to Christ the Redeemer the Tuesday we arrived. T thought of it and in fact Diego should have suggested it. Poor on his part I think because he would have known our chances were slim over the next few days.

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