Paraty, Brazil


Paraty, Brazil

Paraty, Brazil

This is the colonial Portuguese port town of Paraty, Brazil.


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Favela Rocinha


A few years ago I had the rare opportunity to visit Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela.  Favelas are shanty towns in and around Brazilian cities that are usually controlled by a resident drug lord.  It was a bit unnerving as we entered Rocinha, passing by some scary looking dudes with automatic weapons.  I asked our guide if it was OK to take pictures.  She said yes, I would be fine, as long as I didn’t point the camera at the scary looking dudes with automatic weapons.  Needless to say, I heeded that advice very closely.  Ironically, it turns out that an outsider is much safer inside the favela than, say, walking down Ipanema beach.  You see, the drug lords like to keep a low profile and not draw any heat from the police, so they keep the favela’s inhabitants in line by way of fear.  Basically, if you’re going to commit a crime, don’t do it in your own neighborhood (unless you’re one of the drug dealers, of course).  My experience in the favela was that of contrasting images.  I saw some of the poorest, most squalid living conditions one can imagine, offset by a vibrant and colorful street market full of smiling faces.  One man said to me, “We are poor here but not unhappy.”

 

Rocinha Street Market


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