You might have seen Fernando Meirelles’ movie ‘City of God’. It has been a while since I last saw it, but a few impressions I still recall vividly. One was the all present joy of people in their daily life. No matter how difficult one’s circumstances, people would take it with a broad smile. I took that as one of the typical white lies a movie shows us. I mean, nobody could really be that happy…
The second thing I remember of the movie was the extreme violence in the favelas. I remember a scene in which a maybe 6 year old boy shot another kid.
Now that I have been to Rio I can say that the joy of life is visible everywhere. I cannot remember having been surrounded by such a positiv attitude in a long time. Wherever I went people were laughing, singing, playing instruments or passionately following a soccer game. And somehow everybody was wearing at least a hint of a smile all day
Unfortunately the violence portrayed in the movie must still be very present. More than once I saw the police driving around with their guns hanging out the window, one hand next to the trigger. Fortunately enough I never had to witness it.
On one of my days off I had decided to enter a favela. Thanks to the advise from a local I knew that the favela I was to explore had been pacified a few month back. It was a very intense experience: the narrow streets, the all brick buildings, power and phone cables hanging everywhere. I felt a little bit like an intruder watching kids that could not even afford shoes playing soccer and trying to glimpse into the houses to understand what life in a favela was like. I was surprised by the contrasts I found: Some tenants had their own chickens and grew some vegetables and lived in tiny rooms, while other had giant flat screen TV and satellite dishes.
I decided not to post any pictures of it. It just doesn’t feel right. But of all the rest I have a small selection for you. Enjoy!