Once in a while I have great tours with guests from South Africa and I had the honor to welcome simply NINE PEOPLE plus one SUPER GREAT KIWI FRIEND Katya that join our ZA Group that we fondly named her as KIWI.
I am always a great fan of South Africa, since Mandela's time I was interested about the country and all its beauties.d Cape Town has lots of stories about myself...it is natural copy of RIO DE JANEIRO, but we have much more in common...the fascinating mix of our people and the big variety of so many cultures!!!
It is cool to welcome South Africa people because I have always reasons and facts to compare with their cities. Johannesburg very simular to São Paulo. Cape Town and Rio...Pretoria with its gardens reminds me Curitiba, the Wetlands of Santa Lucia with our marshy land of Pantanal and finally Durban that has something of Rio and something of our Nordeste, specially Maceió or Natal.
Our tour was more cultural than "beach tour", they were concerned about experience the "soul of the city" so nothing better than visiting one character that tells alot about the OPEN HEART OF RIO DE JANEIRO THAT WELCOMES PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.
One good example is our chilean artist Selaron that changed the history of two very traditional neighborhoods...Santa Tereza with its fantastic portuguese heritage, lots of incredible barroc architecture, lots of great local restaurants and bars; cobbled stones streets; and LAPA...super bohemian district with a lot of Samba Houses like CARIOCA DA GEMA and RIO SCENARIUM....
Santa Tereza and Lapa altogether tells to every visitor a informal history of Rio.
And my south african family organized by my good friend Nitasha, the one who wrote to me requesting a tour with her friends, and thanks to her I got more friends in the RAINBOW country!!!
Another good way to understand about Rio's reality is to witness how we are all reacting against CRIME provinding a lot of social projects and security to our poorest neighborhood. And now it is possible to visit the various Favelas in Rio de Janeiro where we get to know colorful people, we really see how people from many different backgrounds live in Brazil.
THE REAL THING IN RIO IS GETTING TO KNOW PEOPLE and this is what I do everytime I take my people to see so many communities...
Favela is too much connected with crime, unfortunately, but you must remember that FAVELA GIVES US THE SAMBA CULTURE, THE FAVELA GIVES US INCREDIBLE FOOTBALL PLAYERS and the views from our Favelas in the Hills are unique!!!!
So either in Santa Marta or Khayelitsha in Cape Town; either in Rocinha or in Soweto near JOBURG we will find wonderful people there.
Right now there is a wonderful project going on in Cape Town, in the so called "townships", and a special one is called YOUTH FOR CHANGE - I am a big fun of this documentary that you can see on YOUTUBE - here is the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkp5Tjr6G-E
Obama, the US PRESIDENT had the chance to visit Khayelitsha when he was a senator running for the ellections that he won and it is very interesting also to see this video! Here is the link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_YbLKguDqk&feature=related
Also very recently in March, the same Obama visited one FAVELA of Rio, the distant poor community in the West of the city famous for the movie CITY OF GOD but our present time Cidade de Deus is a good example of WORK AND SOCIAL PROJECTS with good results and crime is loosing space in a place that once was the most dangerous place in Rio de Janeiro, please check the video of Obama's visit in our FAVELA - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0Euvu1ePUI&feature=related - it is all in portuguese but the images shows how successful and very important this visit mean to us. I am just sorry not to be Obama's Guide in Rio, I would have better ideas for him to visit.
And RAFA will be here to show you the best of Rio to tall my South African Friends and all my good friends all over the World.
Ishshah is my new friend from South Africa that I had pleasure to welcome!!! She has the smile of the magic of Africa and she came to Rio to make the city even more beautiful. And we took this picture thanks to our other Family Members in a very interesting market in Humaitá, near Botafogo, the famous COBAL where we can find excellent food!!! Incredible place to buy food and also to hang out at night, it is one of our night life most famous spots!
Well, NOW YOU KNOW THAT SOUTH AFRICA HAS TO ADD BRAZIL IN THEIR TRAVEL PLANS...OUR BROTHERHOOD IS VERY DEEP AND DIVERSE.
Thank you very much,
Rafael Torres Lopes
Tour Guide and Travel Planner
A friend of Africa