Mas or menos

"I'm going to need a smaller bikini next time" was the first thing that came to mind.

If it was anywhere else in the world with beach sand so fine  and white, where huge granite slabs meet the ocean and jungle-green vegetation hugs the city, I'd probably be thinking how beautiful the scenery is.  But I'm at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, humming that famous song and suddenly feeling very  conspicuous wearing a 'full' bikini bottom. Regulation-size bikinis on this beach seem to come in two sizes only - 'barely there' or 'dental floss' varieties. Next time...

 

But there is a different side to Rio - the favelas. Perched up the hillsides surrounding the city, these informal communities, originally housing its poor, now number over 600 and are an integral part of the city's personality and culture.  On a walking tour through Favela Santa Marta, on the hill behind the famous Copacabana Beach, the brightly-painted exteriors hide the broader infrastructure problems including lack of sewerage system or waste removal.

This favela was made famous by a visit by Michael Jackson who filmed the clip "They don't really care about us", 

 

After awe-inspiring sunset scenery from the iconic high point, Christo Redentor, am reminded of one of my favourite sayings in Spanish - mas or menos (meaning more or less).

Both residents and visitors of this amazing city seem to be surrounded by both more AND less.

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 Early morning on Ipanema Beach

Early morning on Ipanema Beach

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 Favela Santa Marta

Favela Santa Marta

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