27 März 2014

The other side of Rio

I don´t know how many times Ive soared above the rock you see in the picture, looking down, catching the thermal rising from the hot air above one of Rio´s biggest slums. This time the weather was not flyable at all, first a strong, turbulent west wind which made launching impossible, the next day just rain.
In the morning, Konrad told me they are flying in Sao Conrado, so I jumped into a taxi with the Captain of my crew who wanted to try a tandem flight, packed my harness, and it took us about 20 minutes to get to Praia do Pepino. Unfortunately, the wind direction had changed already, and it was obvious that we would not fly for a while. At midday, I met a journalist from one of Germany´s biggest newspapers who also wanted to experience hang gliding in Rio. I took the guys up to the ramp at take off and explained the area and the normal launch procedure.
It is a beautiful view and a magical place even if it is not flyable, so we had a good time anyway, went back down to the beach and sat down at Carlinhos´ Cabana for more coconut water. Luizinho had already said hello, Mosquito, Rui and Konrad also stopped to say hi - and "no flying today, come back on Monday!"
Suddenly a Brazilian guy talked to us in German, saying that his father (who had emigrated to Brazil from Germany) had helped to install the Zeppelin connection between Europe and Brazil in the 1930´s. The three of us were listening with open mouths and big, fascinated eyes. Was this guy aware of having met the most appreciative audience in the whole of Brazil for his story about aviation history?
Turned out that he is working as a tour guide in Rio, and when he asked us if we wanted to see Roçinha, we all nodded quietly and got into his car, as he really seemed to know the area well and seemed to know what he was doing. After many years of travelling in Brazil, I finally went through one of the biggest favelas of the country, that I only knew from the air so far! It was impressive to see the density of the 150.000 people nestled on the pass between Sao Conrado and Ipanema.
Sure it is just normal everyday life there, with shops, kids in the streets, intense smells here and there, yet we all had a lot of respect, as there are many stories about crime and drugs. As there was a traffic jam on the road through Roçinha, we had a chance to have a close look at it, before our tour guide invited us for a drink to the German Club of Rio on the other side - what a huge contrast of surrounding, just within barely a kilometer of range. Sure the waiter who works in the club lives next door in Roçinha!
Thanks to Dieter the tour guide, we had a great day even without the flying, but I sure hope that I will be back soon and visit Roçinha from above again!

Keine Kommentare: