I'm going on my first favela tour tomorrow. In all my years in Rio de Janeiro I have never been on one.
Many would initially think it is because my Brazilian husband wouldn't let me. First off, when did I start listening to my husband? Secondly, that couldn't be further from the truth. Mr. Rant has nothing against the favelas, but did have something against tours that showcased the residents of favelas as if they are animals at a zoo, at the same time giving money to the drug lords.
The truth is, I have always been disgusted with the tours that drive foreigners through on jeeps, close enough to take pictures but far enough away to be removed. There is something to be said about seeing a new neighborhood. We all love it. Hell, I can't get enough of walking around Santa Teresa and taking pictures.
What you can't deny is that there is an international stigma against favelas. The truth is that some of the most honest people of Brazil live in them, just living their lives just like the rest of us. I have been waiting for someone to show me that tour of the neighborhood of Rocinha, and I have found him. Someone to give us not a tour but a personalized visit.
Tomorrow my parents and I will be meeting up with Zezinho of Life in Rocinha. He will be showing us his neighborhood. There is no better way to see a new place than with a local who loves his spot on this planet.
I am excited for tomorrow as I will see Rocinha through the eyes of one of their many good people. I will get to know the neighborhood from a local's perspective. It will not be a "favela tour" but a friend showing me around their home. Someone giving me a cultural experience that I have yet to have. I can't wait to tell you about it!
If you would like Zezinho to share his love for Rocinha with you, you can contact him here at his Facebook page: Deejay Zezinho