Today has been a long and exhausting day, so the blog will be short. Sunrise is about 6:20 here, and I was on the sidewalk alongside Copacabana to enjoy it this morning. Here is a photo of one of the sand sculptures you see along the way. Also, the huge, two-level temporary Broadcast Center for the World Cup. It is built right over Atlantic Ave. You are looking at the back of the broadcasters; behind them will be a view of the entire stretch of the Copa.
We went directly to a favela today. This one was ‘pacified’ four years ago, and it is very close to the CIEE study center. I’ll explain more about the pacification process tomorrow. In these two pictures you see the next-door neighborhood, very expensive, and the rear entrance near the top of the favela. When the favela was still violent there was a huge wall separating the two, and the only way to get to this part of the favela was to hike straight up from about 500 vertical feet below the favela, where the nearest other road is. The CIEE staff here has been working for about two years with the resident leaders of the favelas to develop programs that benefit the residents, especially the children, that also provide educational experiences for the faculty and students who travel here for seminars.
Next you see my photos from within the favela. We spent hours walking around, meeting residents and asking questions of our guides. We met two very talented artists in the favela, and you see the picture of one of these artists and some of her works. Our group bought many pieces, providing hundreds of Reals of income to this elderly woman. This entrepreneurial success moment was the highlight of my day.
Her home was the nicest one we saw in this favela – modern doors and windows, power, TV with cable, a refrigerator and other furniture. We also looked in some homes where we weren’t able to take photos, and some of these looked mostly bare, some were small and odd-sized. Most had power and water. Right inside the favela we found a store with cold beverages and basic food stuffs. This is poverty, but not misery.
We had some downtime this afternoon, then back to the study center for a lecture on the history of the favelas. We didn’t finish there until almost 10pm. There was lots and lots of info about the dynamics of the relationships between the favelas, the city, the government, and all of the changes brought by the World Cup (2 weeks away) and the 2016 Olympics. I’ll need some time to think it all through before deciding what to write about it.
Tomorrow we go on a tour of the typical tourist attractions, including the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado. I’m sure we’ll all talk about what we heard tonight, and I’ll write about it tomorrow.
Good night, and God bless,