Sunday, July 19, 2009

Awesome Aussies!

Ok, I have to admit I love bringing people to Rocinha. I know that most people on the outside see favelas as misery and poverty and all things bad. Yes we have good and bad here like any place. But, I prefer to show people the side they rarely hear about, the good things going on here.

foto #1 Courtney, Tania and me on top of Carlinos' Roof Rua 1

foto #2 Eat out in Rocinha group

On Friday July 3, I had the oportunity to bring a group of 13 people here just for a short visit to "Eat out In Rocinha". The idea is to break down images that favelas are no go zones full of evil stuff. So I put a advertisement on website and invited all there to Rocinha to get a taste of the food we have here. I really want to change the image that the press gives about us who live in favelas. My group was a mix of all types of people which I love becase this is what is represented in Rocinha too.

I met everybody at the Samba School Academicos da Rocinha, just outside of the favela at 1 in the afternoon. Everybody arrived and we all walked over the pasarella where everybody can get a good view of the comunity. Some fotos were taken and as we walked into the comunity, I was able to explain a bit about Rocinha and the types of food we have here.

We all made out way up to the Pizza Lit restaurant which is celebrating 10 years of history in Rocinha. It is the most famous place that everybody goes and is open until 5 in the morning. We all shared some awesome food and after made our way down to the Valao as some of the guests wanted desert. There is a nice place that has tastey pastries and cakes in the Valao. So, off we went. Most of the guests had either acai or chocolate cake of some kind. After our little tour, I escourted everybody to the buses and Kombis so they could get home safely.

After the "Eat out In Rocinha", I was contacted by one of the guests about wanting to come back for a real visit. Courtney wanted to come back on the 9 of July, so I set aside time to show her around. Courtney is from Australia and is on a six month travels around the world.

She emailed and we met in from of the samba school at 10 in the morning, but this time she brought two of her friends, Gosia and Tania as well both from Australia. They came prepared with water, confortable clothes and tenis shoes. I told them that the tour would be about 5 hours but I never stick to a definate schedule.

All I can say is that I, the "tour guide" had such a great time with these three women. We entered the favela and the first thing they wanted to do was grab some food, so we eat some pastels. We proceeded to take the mototaxis to the Visual in Laboriaux. I could see that they enjoyed the view and felt confortable being with me. Sometimes with other visitors, I can see that they are aprehensive and not sure how to "act" in the comunity.

They took plenty of fotos in the right places and we leisurely made our way down the hill. Courtney had a request that I thought was interesting. Everywhere she travels, she likes to jump rope. Something about this, just made me smile because it is simple rituals like this that breed great ideas (more about this later). I chose Carlinhos' roof (he is a friend of mine) at Rua 1 for her perfect setting to jump rope. I thought the view and location were perfect in the favela. Too bad the whole comunity could not see her jumping rope.

It was all fun until she asked me to join in. I am not the jump rope kind of person but I was ok with it and decided I would go along. The thing is she wanted to film both her and I jumping rope. Well, I suck at jumping rope but still was a good sport about it. I have to admit it was fun.
I was able to also get some fotos of her and Gosia jumping rope on the roof too! They also got fotos of them jumping catching the shots of them in the air.

We made our way down the area where I live in Dioneia. We visited my best friends and my neighbors and hung out talking, and went up on their roof for a difeerent view. My friends really liked the girls and said if they ever come back, to visit! I never saw my guests without smiles on their faces.

After a while they started to get hungry so I had to cut out some parts of the tour that I usually show. We went to Trapia a por kilo place in the Via Apia. It is one of my most favorite places becase the choises of food you can get there are many.

After, we made our way to visit one of my good friend who runs an art studio in the Valao. His name is Tio Lino and he is a retired man who volunteers his time to teach kids to make art using recyclable materials. He is a great guy and has saved many kids from the streets and getting into troubles. The girls were impressed with him and we chatted and Tio showed them the art the kids had made on display in the studio. It was not getting late around 7 pm, and everybody was getting tired.

The tour began at 10 in the morning and was supposed to be only 5 hours but turned out to last 9 after all the visiting with people and hanging out with friends. The idea was born that I know Jump rope is not that expensive and it is something you can do alone. In Rocinha I rarely see anybody jumping rope. I want to start a program for girls where they can learn how to jump rope, maybe even Double Dutch. I think this would be a great self esteem builder for the girls in the comunity, it does not cost a lot and its FUN!

I want to thank Gosia, Tania and Courtney for reminding me why I love my work so much!

I made anothe "Eat out in Rocinha" on july 11 and was surprised when Courtney showed up with a bag full of Art supplies for the kids!. I am so happy becase I know Tio Lino needs this kind of help for the kids. Courtney could not stay and just dropped off the bag to me to deliver. Nothing can express the big smile from Tio's face when I gave him that bag of art supplies. Thank you again Courtney!