And just this afternoon we took this photo:
Look familiar? I doubt it, unless you have previously visited or even passed through - as we did, courtesy of a wonderful taxi driver who provided us with an inpromptu and insightful detour - the infamous Rocinha favela.
The photo does not do the conditions justice, but suffice to state this:
- all the buildings are 'illegal' and by and large have no proper foundations, sanitation, or other basic facilities and are home to over 250,000 people
- the electricity is syphoned off the mains - again, illegally - via live wires that criss-cross the roads and dwellings (you can see these if you look closely enough)
- there is little or no education on offer, thus severely limiting the opportunities for young people to escape the cycle of poverty, and ensuring the drug warlords maintain their grip on power (so much so the police do not venture on site)
- the recent rains (the worst in 44 years, talk about great timing with our visit) are a favela's biggest threat as they literaly cling to the mountainside and risk being washed away when the ground beneath shifts due to saturation.
So - ugly? Yes. But sobering for those of us who have the good fortune to live elsewhere, in safer and sounder surroundings.