Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rambo da Rocinha

Every neighborhood or city has their characters of people the are recognizeable. Rocinha has many people that stand out in the comunity as being different. People consider me a character too because I am the only person in the neighborhood who has the favela tatooed all over their body. So, I am easy recognizeable. The purpose of this post is to let you know about one of my favorites. Rambo da Rocinha!

When you see first him, you think he belongs in a war movie or a jungle. But he lives here in Rocinha. He goes by the name "Rambo". It is common in Brazil for people to have nick names. Mine is Zezinho based of my middle name "Josivaldo". Ronaldinho, famos footballer need I say more..I think you get it..

Many times I had seen him walking through Rocinha but never had time to stop and introduce myself to him. I had heard all sorts of stories about him living in a cave and all..He is always smiling and very friendly. So, this day I made the effort to say hello to him! :)

So, Rambo, whose real name is Marcio, is originally from Minas Gerais. He has lived in Rocinha now for 25 years and loves his life here. I would say that he is probably about 47 years old but keeps in good shape with all his physical work he does.

Rambo walks through the comunity wearing army fatigues for pants and a green army type shirt, with ropes around his neck, and knife in his belt. The only thing missing is a gun. But, I do not think he needs one. He wears this old green hat, like a baseball type cap.

I first met him when I was renting a kitchette (studio type place) in the ponto 7 area of Rocinha, not far from Rua 2 (2nd street). I woke one day to hear loud noises not far from my front door. It is common to hear much noise in the favela becase there is always somebody improving there house and constructions happening. But this noise was like a chainsaw, so I went to the door and saw Rambo high in a tree with ropes around him, probably safety lines so he does not fall. He was cutting branches off a tree in the middle of the favela.

I opened my door and saw him in front of me but of a distance of about 20 meters up in the tree cutting branches. I waved, and then got my camera becase I had heard many stories of Rambo and seen him walking in the streets but never saw him "working" until now. When he saw my camera he posed, no problem.

When he took a break, he came and knocked on my door. I opened it and let him in. I introduced myself and he did the same and we got to thinking ablout old times. We talked about the "old" Rocinha and how it was, about the first "dono do morro" Denis who was loved by all for instituting "A lei da favela" (the law in the favela) here in Rocinha. We had many old stories and memories of happenings in the comunity that we shared. We chatted for about an hour then he had to return to his work.

After that talk it was like, I would see him everyday. So, a couple days after our first meeting I asked him what he does. His work is a mixture of many things, tree cutter, fireman, security for big events in the comunity, trafic control and other odd jobs helping people. A friend of mine told me about how he reduced a huge trafic jam in the favela.

I have also seen the gentler side of Rambo. He loves critters too!! Many times he has snakes or other tropical animals. I have seen him cuddle kittens and even a baby goat. The thing that means the most is the guy helps people and cares for the animals too. I have put some fotos of him here.