Last few days in Rio de Janeiro

My 2011 South American Pink Caravan Adventure has come to an end and I’m back home in looking at the snow and thinking about where to travel next.

The last four days in Rio has been wonderful. Nice hotel at the middle of Copacabana. Sun, fun and relaxing.

The first day was spent walking on Copacabana trying to figure out what to do for the next days and soaking up the people and sights. Quite a few of the people I travelled with wanted to go hang-gliding in Rio, but the wind Gods didn’t seem to like the idea and it wasn’t until the last whole day that someone actually was able to go.

Later the same day we went to the Samba drome and had a look at the “Carnival”  in Rio. One of the biggest and best samba schools, people from the favelas, had their practice  run leading up to the real carnival in a few weeks. Not a lot do fancy dress up except for some of the lead dancers who looked dashing. But people were dancing and the music was playing. And the stands were filled with fans. Going to these practices are free for everyone to attend so I guess a lot of locals take the opportunity since I guess getting a seat for the real carnival must be expensive.

The second day we went on a tour of two favelas. A trip that wasn’t quite as expected. I’ve seen mentioned that the favelas in Rio are slums, with no running water, electricity or proper buildings. But the favelas we visited, Rocinha and Vila Canoas, was not like that at all. The last few years the government has done a lot to get water and electricity into the favelas. And the buildings seems to be in decent conditions. People in the favelas seem to take pride in the houses they have built and whenever there is extra money they modernise and upgrade.

Both the favelas we visited had no visible clues to any drug trafficking either. Rocinha has recreantly been cleaned out by large forces of police and military to try to get rid of the drug dealers, a program that has lasted a few years and seem to work so far.

Our guide told us that only a few months ago you would be able to see the dealing of drugs in Rocinha and you couldn’t take any photos because then you might have gotten shot. When we were there we had no problem doing photography.

The second favela we visited have never had any drug related issues, it’s small with only 2000 people living there and with only two exits into the main road it was not a place for criminals to hide and escape. And the narrow “streets” going up and down around the houses was nice and clean. And there was a lot of music being played.

All this actually leave me with a very good feeling about the places we visited. Of course the people living there is the poor  part of the population, but still it seems a quite happy life.

After the trip we got the driver to drop us of at the hippie market on Ipanema where we had a look around before going up to Santa Teresa, the old part of town. Here you have the oldest buildings and some nice small cafés.

In the afternoon we had our end of trip celebration dinner and ended up at a bar on the beach afterwards.

The third day was out last whole day in Rio and I started out by visiting Corcovado and the statue of Christ The Redeemer. When we started out on the train toward the top it was actually covered in clouds but it cleared by the time we got up there. But still the view was hazy. After taking in the views and a few photos we went back down and had lunch in Lapa. The people I was with hadn’t been to Santa Teresa so we went there for a coffee before going back to the hotel.

I had planned to be on the Sugar Loaf hill to watch the sunset but as we drove toward it it started raining and heavy fog rolled in, but some of us still decided to go up there. Now and then we were able to see parts of the town but mostly we were shrouded in thick fog. Some gave up and went back down.

The few who was left was greeted with some nice views as the fog suddenly lifted right around sunset. So all in all it was an success.

Yesterday I spent a few hour on the beach before we had to get our packs and head for the airport.

This has been an incredible nine weeks on the road and I really looking forward to my next trip.

Better start planning and saving.

The last post in this travel diary will be the one where I link to some of the many images taken during this trip. And one day I’ll go back and add some to some of my blog posts.

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