As I sit here at my hostel in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reflecting on my time spent in Rio de Janeiro, or should I call it the gated city or fenced-in city, I’ll always remember the lifestyle. Everywhere in Rio, the Cariocas (locals) live hidden behind large gates with private security forces patrolling their properties, yet stroll the beach without a care in the world. This harsh reality was completely shocking to me, mainly because I’m Canadian and haven’t seen anything like that before in my life. Of course the Cariocas have to live surrounded by favelas (ghetto/slum neighbourhoods) where street kids migrate toward the wealthier parts to steal and rob to make money, so that makes you think no matter where you go in the city you’re at risk of being held-up for anything you’ve got on you.
However, I walked around Rio unfazed by any of this. I read in my guidebook not to take public transit, and I should know this after seeing the Brazilian documentary film ‘Bus 174‘, nor to walk alone at night on the streets and through tunnels. But I did all these things nonetheless, just so I could experience life as a real Carioca. Some highlights of Rio are: the soccer match I checked out ‘Flamengo vs. Sao Paolo’ at Maracana football stadium (largest in the world), street kids trying to pickpocket me at the Lapa street party, Centro, Castelo, Lapa, Gloria, Flamengo, Botafogo, Leblon and most importantly the beautiful women on Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Muito obrigado Rio, tchau.