Last month I was fortunate enough to travel to one of the most colourful, vibrant, fun-loving countries in the world. A country where the inhabitants find time each day to enjoy the sand, sun and the rhythmic beats of funk music…Brazil. Despite soaking up the sun, sipping caipirinhas at sunset, and dancing to samba in the street, my greatest, and most unexpected, cultural experience was touring through a favela, or slum as it would be translated in English.
Amid the mountainous terrain lining the coast of Rio lays Rochina. Here, juxtaposed between the Atlantic Ocean and affluent neighbourhoods, is an area so densely populated that chaotically-constructed houses are built on top of other houses and uneven dirt roads are sometimes so narrow only one person can pass. This environment dictates the lifestyle of a large number of Brazil’s population. Most amazing were the easy-going, lively people who live here; children running and playing in alleyways, samba-school boys drumming on old tin cans, and the local baker proudly showing me his newspaper clipping of Lenny Kravitz’s visit to the favela. Further, amidst the high congestion, a stunning, new medical facility with freshly painted ambulances and local pharmacies were proud tenures for many residents.