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Rio de Janeiro: Rocinha

I have been there in 2006, but I will never forget it.Rocinha is one of the biggest 'favelas' in South America. It counts up to 200.000 inhabitants in the size of a few soccer fields. People live very near to each other, even though the reputation of the place makes it a hard neighourhood to live in. Despite this, some amazing kids have worked to improve cultural awareness and a bit of sensibility. I passed by this place many times during my stay in Rio de Janeiro, it's difficult not to be afraid to enter, if you're a gringo, but once you find the good contact, it will make you feel real good.Now, most tourists visit favelas on organised tours, like going on a safari spotting the wild tigers. I don't like that, they might be useful tours to see the sights and get the adrenaline up, but experience tells me behind any major touristic attraction there is some mafia making much more money than necessary. If you think the dangerous people are those who live in the favela, you will end up following advice from those who either don't know what they're talking about, or know too much.The favela is a normal place, with very welcoming people and warm hearted new friends. Only, don't show off, and don't try to be like them, like the people you meet. Be yourself and remember that you come from the Primeiro Mundo. If they had a chance to be in your shoes, with a happy picture on the passport and a round ticket, well they would probably grow as old as the average in your quiet town.Rocinha is one of those places where kids rule through the sale of drugs and the corruption of the police. But it's also a too famous example to talk about. Favelas are everywhere, they call them slums, but the people in them are often better than the people who live in our most respected surroundings. It's a place like any other, except you will never forget it.psif you like to read more, and you can understand italian, i wrote a book about Brasil, i can send it to you. In any case, boa sorte e boa viajem.

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