Monday, June 26, 2017

SA Wardega & Crew from Poland comes to Rocinha

I have always enjoyed pranks. Wether it be Canal Boom, Sylvio Santos “Pegadinhas” or 
SA Wardega and his unique scary type pranks. I love them all.

I first received an email from Pawel from Poland about a month ago about interest to come to Rocinha to film. I have had many filmmakers come in to the favela in the past 10 years so this is nothing new. They wanted good things to film about favelas. Pawel told me that he had some friends that would come with him to film. We set the plan in motion.

So Pawel came with 3 others. The crew consisted of Sylwester Adam Wardega,  Monica Kolakowska and Daniel Rusin. A little background on the three filmmakers, they all have youtube channels. Sylwester’s focuses on pranks, Daniel on social experiments, and Monica on fitness.  Sylwester is best known for his "Spider Dog" prank that has got almost 170 million views on youtube.
They originally booked for Friday at 1:00pm. We met at the metro. As we took the van to the top it was obvious that the weather was not that great and within 10 minutes of getting out of the van, it started to rain. We waited about 15 minutes but things just got worse, so we took the van back down the hill and stopped in Trapia Restaurant to talk about Plan B. They decided they would contact me about booking another day.

Last night (Saturday June 24th) Sylwester contacted me to set the time for today. The crew met me at 11:30am at the Metro Station. Because of the timing, I thought it best to set the filming to start at the bottom of Rocinha.

Every Sunday we have the open street markets on Caminho do Boiadeiro. Vendors from Outside and inside Rocinha set up booth spaces and sell their wares. You can find anything from food, clothing, tools, spices from the Northeast of Brazil and much more. Everyone goes to the street markets to either but or socialize. So, we started there first.
Here is a video of the street fair in Rocinha. 

     Foto: Rocinha em Foco 

The first vendor the crew took interest in was a man making teas with natural plants. He was from the Northeast of Brazil (Paraiba) and has a microphone attached to his neck so his hands were free to mix his concoctions of healthy teas. I asked him about energy teas and his assistant handed me a plastic baggie with a flyer attached with the words “Sexual Energy”. This wasn’t quite what I was looking for but it was funny. We all had a good laugh.

 As we moved up the hill, the crew filmed the crowds and various different stalls of meat, chicken and fish vendors. Many of the locals called out to me asking who the crew was and what kind of film they were doing. I reiterated each time that this crew from Poland wanted to show the positive things in the favela.

We met a man who lives in Lapa who sells clothing and running shoes. He is originally from Senegal and spoke decent English. He asked me about interest in buying his wares but then he took one look at what I was wearing and said, “You got the real thing”. I’m not sure what that meant but I think most of what he was selling, were knock off brands. I wished him best of luck throughout the day. We moved on to walk further up the hill. I tried to stay out of their way but be close enough if they needed a translator for their interactions with the locals.

I noticed Sylwester had a bag with footballs. He had mentioned before about wanting to film kids playing football. I suggested that its best if you contribute something so footballs are perfect. We walked back down the hill and before arriving at the Football pitch, The crew motioned to me. They saw the Famous “Chiquinho” The king of Sao Conrado Beach. His owner Alexandre Goulart, a resident of Rocinha, rides him around on his moto bike, dressed up with hat and sunglasses. He is a celebrity in Rocinha. We all know “Chiquinho”.  The took some photos and asked about this 10 kilo Garfield look a like. This cat has been featured in the media many times.

     Sylwester & Alexandre with "Chiquinho"   Foto: SA Wardega & Crew

We arrived at the Football pitch to see there were kids already playing. Football rules in Brazil. So, the crew wanted to film but they wants to give a ball to the kids. I called out to the kids and we met in the middle of the pitch. I explained about the crew wanting to film and that they had to play really good football if they wanted to keep the ball.  It was like receiving gold. Their step picked up and the kids were all smiles about getting a brand new ball to play with. After the crew filmed, I called the kids back to the center and we took a group photo. I was able to get the kids contacts so we could send them the photos we took.

 Time for lunch. We were hungry so we returned to Trapia where we ate on Friday. Monica is vegetarian so this is a perfect place for everybody’s liking. Around 2:30 we decided to head to the top. One of the amazing things about living in Rocinha, is the top hill views. We took the vans to the very top to Laboriaux. I knew some great filming spots. They wanted sun set filming and photos.

We made a few stops at some openings between some of the houses where we could see the north side views of the Christ Statue, Sugar Loaf, The Lagoa, The Jockey Club and the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. It was a clear day so they got some awesome shots. We made our first stop by Favela Verde's office where there was an area that they could set up the drone to fly. 

As we made our way down Sylwester caught a few kids playing checkers on a homemade checker board. Apparently the board was made by the environmental project called Favela Verde, which operates in Laboriaux.

As the sun was starting to set, I advised them that the best view of the favela was to come. There is a rooftop, which is used as a tourist point but it offers some of the best views in Rocinha. We arrived at the rooftop and they immediately set up a tripod with camera for time lapse filming. The camera clicks every 5 seconds. They had this camera go on its own, then, started to set up to fly a drone. This time they filmed the favela side.

I advised them where to fly and where not to fly. They had the hand held Mavic DjI. With a small remote attached with their cell phone used as a viewer, they had the drone up in the air in a matter of minutes. Its amazing how fast drone technology has advanced in the last 5 years.  We caught the sun setting then decided to descend.

As we were coming down Laboraiux, I heard kids yelling. So we checked out the quadra where lots of activities go on. I saw that there were kids playing football. They wanted to film more kids playing football so we went inside. Sylwester had one more football to give away. He proposed an idea. He would play in goal and the challenge to the kids, were that they could take 5 shots. If any of the kids scored, they could keep the ball. This brought lots of excitement to the group. The ball was set.

The kids organized their group and chose 5 to take the shots. 

Sylwester took his place in the goal.

Finally they took their 5 shots and one of them scored so they got to keep the ball. After the challenge the kids went back to playing with their new ball. A group photo for the memory and new friends were made.

 Daniel had caught a cold a few days after taking a helicopter ride and then being exposed to the rain and wasn’t feeling very well. It was now about 5:00pm so the group wanted to return back to Copacabana. We walked down the hill. They stopped a few times to film some street scenes and by 5:30, they were back in the metro. It was a productive day for the crew and they have a lot of editing to do. I look forward to seeing their footage and complete film!

If you have interest to make a project, volunteer or want to film here in Rocinha, contact us at: 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hot Spots in Rocinha

I have always wanted to showcase the good things about the favela. The media tends to only focus on the negative but these communities are so much more than drug dealers and poverty. In Rocinha there are over 6,500 businesses here. With a population of about 300,000, the people here want their own restaurants, stores and other places to shop. The biggest pride one can have living in the favela is to be able to control your own destiny and future, that is having your own business.

A couple of months ago I received visitors who were doing research about restaurants and night life in favelas. I decided to take them on a walking tour showing them the places where residents go to eat drink and hang out. We did kind of a "Pub Crawl" checking out drinks and the finger foods. We started half way up the hill and I proceeded to show them some of the most popular hot spots in Rocinha.

The first stop was BARRACO, a English Styled Pub. The decor is very modern and its obvious that the owners invested a lot to make this place top notch. They have been open since 2013. Very nice inside and you don't feel like you are in a favela. The Pub is attached to a hotel and bakery. Right outside the front door is a bus and van stop. The environment is calm not very rowdy. In Rocinha, this place is considered upscale. The prices are a little higher for food and drinks than some of the other places but the inside of this place is clean and fresh with nicely styled wooden tables and chairs. There are 3 big flat screens and 2 pool tables as the back of the pub. We stopped by for about 40 minutes and we were able to check on the party scene as the place was busy without being over crowded. Service was good. The chicken pieces with sauce were very good. The music was a slower version of Samba music with many people dancing. This place also had security at the door. I think because they are connected to the hotel, that their guests safety is their priority, which is understandable.

I had a chance to chat with the manager Luiz. They have two favorite drinks that sell very well, "Caipirinhas" and "Capivodka".  Prices are 10 reais for the Caipirinha and 12 reais for the Capivodka. There is a warm friendly vibe to this place.

Their hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday 6:00pm until 4:30am. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6:00pm until 1:00am. As far as live Music, Monday is "Forro" night. Friday, Saturday & Sunday is a mix of a live band with Dj's during the breaks. They have free WiFi for those who want to stay connected to friends.

We walked down the hill about 80 meters we stopped at ROCINHA 40 GRAUS which I just featured in the previous blog post. A quick stop there to have a quick drink and check out the ambiance. This was more like a mini street party. For music there was a dj playing. See previous post for details on when they have a live band. They had drink specials and finger foods. They have free WiFi. Rocinha 40 Grau is open from 10:30am until 3-5am depending on the night. Thursday-Sunday there is always some form of entertainment with live bands or Dj's or both. Friday and Saturday they are open until 5:00am.

We moved on a little bit further down the street where there was a live Forro Band playing in a place called PIZZA LIT. Pizza Lit has been around for about 30 years. Serving some of the best pizza in Rocinha. They have hosted many cultural events there and now are jumping on the music scene to attract more people to their establishment.  Every Friday and Sunday they have live music which starts from 7:00pm until about 4:00am. Saturday Nights is UFC night or if UFC is not showing, there is always an interested football match up. We grabbed a drink and then a friend of mine caught my attention and joined our group. He advised us to check out a new place close by.

So after paying our tab at Pizza Lit, we walked not even 1 minute down the road and saw this new place called TAMU JUNTO. The place was definately new. Music was playing in the background and there was a huge big screen tv playing football. They have been only open for about 1 month and will be adding live bands and Dj's to their establishment. Staff was friendly and started to get crowded as we arrived. Looks like this will be one of the hot spots. They had drink specials and finger foods to start. The owner Douglas told me that eventually they plan to open for lunch time and offer full menu. They have free WiFi. Right now their hours are 7:00pm until 2:00am week nights and 7:00pm until 4:00am weekends. I wanted to show my guest other places so we continued to walk down the hill.

I wanted to show my guest best "por kilo" restaurant in Rocinha. I have always liked the food here at TRAPIA SOCIAL as there is plenty of choice and its not just finger foods or some meat with rice and beans. For guests who don't feel comfortable ordering off a menu, this is a great alternative. Price is by weight. Put what you want and the amount on your plate and you pay according to what your plate weighs. Vegetarians love this place as there is plenty of salads, vegetables, different kinds of beans and pastas. Their por kilo is open from 11:30am until about 6:00pm. After 6 they have full menu. Because we arrived after the por kilo we just had drinks. They have a fully stocked bar and their specialty drinks like the "Capivodka" are tops. The guests enjoy Caipirinhas and Capivodkas. They offer drink specials as well and on selected evenings have a live band. When its summer there is air conditioning and they have free WiFi. Best thing about Trapia is that there is plenty of seating for up to about 100 guests and it's open 24 hours.

We were close to ending our night tour but I had to end off with showing them one of the newer place called Esquina da Noite or Night on the Corner. It's is a small place but a outdoor place covered by a roof. When the crowd grows they spread tables and chairs on the street. Ivan, the owner says business is good. They are open from 5:00pm until 7:00am. Because of where they are located in the Via Apia, they get a lot of foot traffic. This is more of a meeting spot. There's music in the background but seems like a nice place to go after the parties. Good choice of drinks and finger foods. They don't have WiFi but my phone was picking up a free WiFi connection.

We spent about 7 hours in total checking out these various places. We started at 8:00pm and ended around 4:00am. It's awesome to see just how Rocinha is developing with all of these new businesses by locals. Night life and socializing is vital in Rocinha and for the last couple of years there were only 2 or 3 places where people would go but now there's new opportunities. New jobs being developed and the younger generation creating fun things to do. Most of the owners who I spoke to were mid to late 20's or early 30's. I had a great time showing my guests the night life in Rocinha. I hope more people come to check out what's going on here with the bars and night clubs.

Pub Crawl & Tour Experience
1.) Barraca
2.) Rocinha 40 Graus
3.) Pizza Lit
4.) Tamu Junto
5.) Trapia
6.) Esquina da Noite

If you want try out this kind of Favela Pub Crawl contact us at:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

New Nightlife in Rocinha

Rocinha has opened up new bars and clubs to cater to the interest of more people wanting to socialize.   Just up the street from my house a place called "Rocinha 40 Graus" or Rocinha 40 Degrees has opened and now has variety nights. We welcome visitors who want to party with us!

Here is what is going on weekly.

Wednesday - Every Wednesday is football night and theres a usually a Flamengo game going on. Flamengo is the team of Rocinha and the place is usually packed.
Depending on when the game starts, usually its around 7:00pm people start to gather. To get a seat, you ned to arrive about 30 minutes before game time.
Thursday - Thursday is Pagode Night with a live band. The activities start at 10:00pm and end around 3-3:30am.

Friday & Saturday - are Dj's night where the top Dj's in Rocinha come to spin a variety of music styles from Funk, Hip Hop, Charme (R&B) and other styles. This kicks off at 10:00pm until about 5:00am. ****Saturday is also fight night when the UFC is on tv. So, its a combination of UFC and dj's.

Sunday - is a mix of live Pagode and Dj's spinning tunes. Festivities start at 7:00pm until 2:00am. **** At times Flamengo football team is playing a big game which would be fit into the schedule.

Below some photos of the activities:

If you would like to come in Rocinha and be part of one of these nights, contact us at