Monday, April 19, 2010

News about Favela Adventures

The foto on the top left is Dan Robertson on top of my roof in Rocinha. he came on a tour and a baile funk party here in Rocinha. Please, checkout his blog at

The foto on the top right is two guests on top of my friends roof in Rua 1 at the top of the hill.

Living in Rocinha, I have great opportunities to meet many people from all over the world. I have the best work in that I get to help people understand the place that I live. The media destroyed the image of the favelas a long time ago. Interesting that Brazilians have fears of favelas but foreigners come here with the open mind and no fears. We welcome foreigners becase after visiting here they can tell people about the realities of life here. Living here in a favela is not as bad as the news says. It is not easy either but not impossible. I would rather have my friends than money.

I meet people who come to see my community. I guess everybody has their own reasons for coming here. Some are curios about the way the community functions outside of government control. Some of corse want to understand the role of the drug lords. We are a community of survivors who have managed to do for ourselves becase we have no choice. I call our favela one of organized caos, becase to the outsider the favela looks like a bunch of houses smashed together without direction.

One of my favorite guests were a couple from Angola who wanted to film everyday life in Rocinha. Everything from walking in a barbershop to riding on the back of a motobike up the hill. I gave them more access than a regular visit becase their interest was to go back to the slums in Angola and show our everyday life here. They made a film to educate their comunities. This was only the second group visit where I spoke Portugues the whole time. This is rare becase Brazilians who are not from favelas, do not make visits to favelas. So speaking Portugues is not common. The first was a couple from Minas Gerais who I later found out were the owners of “Havianas”, the sandals most commonly worn in Brazil. I guess they were doing business research as everybody in favelas wear havianas. We have a population of about 300.000 people and everybody has at least one pair of havianas, so that’s a lot of sandals. In Rocinha there are more stores who have these sandals for sale.

Although many favelas get a bad reputation becase of the news, there is so much more here than the drug trade. I think we can all agree that drugs are everywhere and problems exist with this. In the poor areas of the North America and Europe, there is this same problem of desperate people who have little opportunity taking what they can to survive. I am not making apology for this. But this is just the way it is.

We have the formal and informal sectors of work. The person who works in a restarant or in a hotel works in the formal section and you need get your work card signed by the person who employs you. The guy who sells you water on the beach or rents you a beach chair, works in the informal sector. All of the people working in the informal sector live in favelas. They do this type of work becase they probly do not have the education to work in the formal sector. If you do not have education, working in the informal sector is better than selling drugs. At least it is honest work. I work in the informal sector becase I can not find a job in the formal sector. I prefer to work in my community, I like being here. I feel uncomfortable and do not like leaving the favela My favela needs help and if I can I try to help.

I have two new tour guides that I have hired to work with me in showing our comunity to the world. Vinicius "Maka" Basilio and Rodrigo "Miyague" Zambianchi, both live in the favela. Maka lives in Rua 1 which is where I was raised as a kid. And Miyague lives in Rua 2. I tend to hang out more with Miyague as he lives very close and is not working very much. Maka works another job with his month making fod deliveries outside the favela. I hope as business goes I can give more people jobs as this is what the purpose of what we do here. People living here need to be making the tours.

Recently, many visitors have come here to the favela to write about their experiences. Below are some of the articles written about our work here. Please take the time to see what people are writing about us.

If you have questions about the article or the work we do, please write to me. I will do my best to answer all your questions.