Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Closed Gardens, Street Art, Favela Rocina

Today was a quieter day.  The family I'm staying with generally doesn't do much for Carnival,  where much of the rest of the city takes its celebrations seriously.  So today we were going to visit a botanical gardens,  and when we got there they were closed.  Normally they'd be open,  but there was a bloco which happened right in front of the gates to the garden,  so they closed for the day.

A bloco, I should explain,  is a roving party.  In addition to the massive sambadrome activities that I saw two nights ago,  there are these roving bands and parties that move down streets.  They're well known,  and published,  and are an important part of Rio's carnival.  I took a look through the guide,  and there are hundreds of these things that happen all week.   We figure that the botanical gardens did not want scantily clad drunk pedestrians wandering through their neatly manicured grounds,  and locked up for the day.  So I took a shot through the gates of some of their palm trees,  photographed a bit of the street art in the area,  and we headed up the nearby mountain to an area called Vista Chinoise.  Rio has fantastic views from nearly everywhere,  and this was no exception.  It was an overcast day though,  and colors weren't really coming out that well,  so I did edit the two photos below and turned them black and white.  From there we could also clearly see the location where hangliders and parasailers take off from,  to land a thousand or more feet below on the beach.  Finally,  on the way home,  I was able to get a shot or two in of Rocina,  Rio's famous slum,  or favela.

One interesting story.  One of the views we stopped for had a guy who had attached climbing gear to the side of a bridge,  and then waited for pedestrians to come along,  and convinced them to snap photos of himself (with his camera) as he jumped off the side of the bridge.  This was pretty entertaining,  as he just sort of casually leapt off the edge of the road,  and if you weren't paying attention to the fact that he was roped in,  it looked pretty freaky. 

OK,  hang on,  another interesting story.  We were not the only ones who were disappointed by the gardens being closed.  There were two girls who also wanted to see it.  They,  unlike us,  took matters into their own hand,  scaled the 10 foot steel fence,  and hopped down into the other side.  The crowd from the bloco which was in the process of breaking up cheered them on (and helped them over the fence as well)  It didn't take too long before a security guard showed up,  and then a second one,  and then the chase was on.  We didn't see the girls at all after that,  but the longer we walked along the edge of the garden the more security showed up.  Eventually a car and a golf cart went roaring down the road just on the inside of the gate,  so we think they were caught,  but it sure was entertaining for a while trying to figure out where they were,  and speculating whether they could escape without getting caught.

Where are the two girls?

Hang gliding off a sheer rock face.  I'd do this,  but I'm over their weight limit.  Boo.

There's a Philip Glass piece called "Days and Nights in Rocina."  which is about this area.  I'll be listening to it again soon while looking through these images.

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