Gringolado POV: Anwar Boyce
City of God, with all of it’s violence and profanity, and crude imagery was all I needed to inspire me to visit the favelas. After seeing that “wonderful” movie I made it my priority to go to Brazil and work in the favelas. In 2006, I made my first step in a favela called Parada de Lucas. My initial thought was fear. I saw the movies, and hear horrible stories, but I knew I had to go to a favela and see it for myself. I stayed in Parada de Lucas for a month working with an english class, and helping out with day care. It was definitely a culture shock. At the entrance there were guys carrying Ak’s and I remember seeing a few kids walking around with hand guns. Also I had to get adjusted to the fireworks going off all the time. I’m still not sure of exactly what it signified. Either drugs entering the favela or police entering, I heard different explanations regarding that. My whole time in Parada de Lucas I never really was fearful, except for the police which thought I was a drug dealer and tried to steal my camera. But, I actually fell in love with the favela. There was always music being played (baile funk music, which sucks!) kids everywhere, and they were playing football (soccer), flying kites, and anything else to enjoy themselves. There were carnivals, they had grocery stores, video rental stores, everything it was like a little city. I really loved everybody’s friendliness and the strong sense of community. Parada de Lucas sealed my love for the favela.
Since PLucas, I have visited other favelas and realized that each favela is different and distinct. I stayed in Chapeu Mangeiras which was 2 blocks from the Copacobana beach. Chapeu is occupied by police so there are no drug dealers, well there are but not with guns. It’s a very safe favela, and even before the police occupation there was really no big problems. Plus Camila Pitanga (a hotttt brazilian actress) lived there at one time.
Chapeu had great views of the beach and amazing trails overlooking all of Rio. Also I would feed the little monkeys every morning, can’t beat that.
I also visited the larger favelas like Vidigal, and Rocinha (the largest favela in all Latin America). All though each favela was different they all had a strong culture filled with music and community involvement. I met many other foreigners living or visiting the favelas as well and they all had a similar love and passion for the favela. It was amazing to see this common love because most of the Brazilians I met never have stepped foot inside of a favela and always discourage me from going, while there are all these “gringos” living and loving the favela.
I can’t help it but I’m a favelado!!!