london to rio

Mark and Jess Simpson. CMS Mission Partners in Rio de Janeiro.

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Estate Agent: The house is near a favela…
Mark: That's exactly where we want to be.
Estate Agent: Are you investors?
Mark: No, we're missionaries.

view from above

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On saturday we walked up the 2 brothers hill(s) that form the iconic backdrop of the classic photos of Ipanema beach. Vidigal favela grows up one side of it and on the other side, swish São Conrado tower blocks rush down to the sea, and further up, Rocinha, a mesmerisingly dense favela, home to 69,161 habitants - or 160,000 plus (depending on whose statistics you prefer) - and larger than 92% of the rest of Brazil’s towns. Rocinha means little farm, a quirky twist in the passing of time, as what likely started as small shacks and farm lots, has now mushroomed to bustling multi-storeyed houses, and little growing space. Rocinha bubbles right over the top of one of the hills that encloses it into the territory of lush and plump Gávea, wider spaces, bigger properties, and the American school. Two worlds juxtaposed. It reminded me of an exploratory rambling walk up through Santa Teresa a few weeks back – the Bohemian haunts had given way to grander and more luxurious pads, when we stumbled upon a whole valley of favelas / communities that are normally quite hidden from view in Santa Teresa. Online maps had indicated a straightforward path home, thanks google, but before we knew it the sun was down and we were heading down countless windy steps into Morro do Fallet, turning corners looking obviously disoriented. Of course despite the rudeness of just turning up uninvited into such a close community (I think the equivalent in the UK would be similar to traipsing through lots of front gardens!), a few neighbours happily shouted out instructions to correct us as we took wrong turns. By the time we got down to the main road, it was dark and we looked up at the now-dotted-lights heights from which we’d descended and were grateful we weren’t having to do the journey in reverse

I know it’s the same the world over that rich and poor neighbourhoods live right next to each other, but the disparity never ceases to shock.  

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