Thursday, March 3, 2011


I guess you really should experience a visit to a local community in Rio specially in places where there are a lot of social projects going on. Those poor communities are the so called FAVELAS...some years ago strongly connected with violence, drug dealing and all sort of crime. This is the sad side of some favelas of Rio de Janeiro but this wonderful people reacted against this sad taboo and changed completely life in these poor places...

First...FAVELA WAS AND STILL IS A PLACE OF WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO STRIVE HARD FOR LIFE...They are poor but their lives are deeply decent...The views of some favelas are absolutely stunning and one more reason...favelas are the birth of Samba...

If you come to Rio to experience the real life of our city then you should include a visit in places where very few visitors go and be part of our daily life. AND FAVELAS ARE REALLY A LIVELY SIDE OF RIO THAT WILL CHANGE THE WAY OF THINKING THAT MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEFORE COMING TO RIO CONNECTING OUR REALITY WITH CRIME.

Yes, we still have problems, but who don't??? People are reacting and fighting to make Rio a fascinating place for you to enjoy your holiday and come back over and over again.

First you can see different perspectives of Rio just by visiting one favela, and the places I usually go is the Community of Santa Marta. It is an experience of a life time, great for people watching, great to see what's going on in very different ways of life in Rio. A visit to Santa Marta will be a chance to be close to the main attractions of Rio, the Sugar Loaf and the Christ.

Standing right below the foot of morning in Dona Marta will show all the grace of Carioca People...where despite of the social condition you will always get a generous smile from a child, you will walk in the alleys where very few people dare to visit by themselves. I think that visiting a favela is the best way for you to understand life in Rio no matter which social level you belong!

There were one visitor that came here and had a great time...Michael Jackson...In 1996 the video clip THEY DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT US (see on youtube - was filmed in Salvador, Bahia State and here in Rio de Janeiro right in the community where I am always happy to show you. He left lots of funny and important stories for this people and Michael lives in every person's mind in the community of Dona Marta. The viewpoint where he dances is now a LANDMARK with a beautiful mural made by our famous painter Brito and there is also a statue where Michael is pointing the way to see beautiful things: RIO!!!!

For photography lovers it is the right spot for PEOPLE'S PHOTO...and through our lens we can translate to the World the simply life people take in so many poor communities of Rio...Poor, yes they are, but they are happy and they simply have a normal life and it is great to see it closer.
I love photography and I love to exercise my hobby in every little corner of Rio, and Santa Marta is for sure one of them!!!

In my tours we can really go far in the journey of all social levels of Rio de Janeiro...In Niteroi there is a fascinating fishing village called Jurujuba where people live with simplicity, where pace of life is slow like a turtle and the views are breathtaking and we can learn more about life in some unknow corners of Rio de Janeiro. In this case a visit to the fishing village is almost all the time included when I speak about TOUR IN NITEROI.
For the record, Niteroi is the second most important city of the State and once it was the capital of Rio de Janeiro State.
Once I went there with my friends and guests from Mexico, Eduardo and Maribel...and we had a blast!

Since our security forces establish an occupation programmes in the Favelas, these places became a source of fun for our own people and also for many visitors. The first time I went to a Favela after this new period of peace in many communities in Rio de Janeiro, I did not need to go so far, here in Copacabana, a few blocks from my apartment, me and my great friend Luis (who is also used to visit all the slums in Caracas where he does a wonderful social work teaching portuguese to poor people) decided to spend one afternoon in a favela called CHAPEU DA MANGUEIRA. This is where we have lots of samba parties not only during Carnaval but all year round.
Luis was born in Brazil but he lives in Venezuela for a long time when his father immigrated tom Caracas when in that time they really believed in the future. Now he is one of the people who are resisting in Venezuela trying to live his life in a normal way. As you know, people are living in Venezuela with a lot of difficulties, but one thing is the Government another COMPLETELY different thing is the people who are WONDERFUL. Luis comes every year to see his own land and live the free life of Samba.
He is a great Brazil lover and always help me to find some new secrets of Rio that I am always ready to take you!!!
Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner

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