One Night in the Favelas – Part I

It was a hazy, hot evening sometime in the middle of July in the year 2013. The sun set was  revealing a cluster of pink and violett ​​clouds.

Rio de Janeiro presented itself once again, even in winter time, from its exotic side. 7 o’clock PM and there was no cooling. As we three, we a Carioca, a Maneiro and a German, also many others dared to climb up at these temperatures. Climp up – which means going into the favelas. Because way above the white sanded beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema there is a much different, a much harder life. Away from mass tourism and the beautiful appearance. Hardly any Carioca, who doesn’t reside there, has ever set foot in there. But among tourists a visit of the favelas is absolute in trend. I was one of them. And this night should be memorable.

Händler arm
Poor street seller in Paraty

Just getting into the favela was spectacular. With a small taxi we drove up the narrow streets, which became smaller and smaller. Meter by meter we approached our destination. My tension grew more and more. You couldn’t feel or see any violence, drug abuse and weapon deals. Rather, I saw small, half-naked children playing on the streets. With their bright brown eyes, they stared hopefully at our taxi. The adults talked with each other, came back home from their 16-hour shift or cleaned their houses. Houses that were mud and stone buildings that were even equipped with electricity and running water. Not quite legally and far from professional, but it worked. Some of the houses were small, others larger. And somehow they seemed as each of them has its own character, reflects its residents.

Favela von obene
Favela from the top

After a thirty minute drive, we arrived at our destination. An open space in the middle of the favela, located on a cobbled main street. From then on, we were completely on our own. On foot, we walked through narrow streets and past dark house entrances. The houses were less than one meter apart. Privacy wasn’t existing here. You could even look literally on the dining table of your neighbours. And in other ways as well there was no place for intimacy or clearance. Only the many locks on the doors and the bars on the windows seemed to keep out all the evil, all the violence. At nightfall more and more people fled into their homes, or to their neighbours’ homes. It was eerie. We also went quickly inside one of those houses, or more precisely in an empty favela house, where our party should take place at that night.

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