Memories from the flight start rushing back, memories of when I pictured Rio de Janeiro as a fun, full-of-life, exciting city, whereeach person lives in a constant good mood thanks to the never-dying sun and the dreamy beaches. But here I am, approximately 20km from the city’s center, standing in front of a steep, endless hill whereshacks, which I can hardly distinguish from stables, overlap one another, actually hiding what is considered to be the ‘main road’ crossing the village.
I manage to find my way in the Shanty Town,and I think to myself how the word ‘town’ doesn’t quite reflect appropriately the enormous dimensions of the hill on which the slums rely. Shanty City or even Shanty Metropolis would surely be moreadequate.
As I proceed along the ‘main road’, air seems to diminish, since it can’t penetrate the dense ‘network’ of huts. The filth which covers the habitations, added to the sense of suffocation,makes me itch. My imagination begins to picture how this massive hill must have been before it had been invaded by men. The image of a forested land appears in my mind, filled with wonderful, exoticGuarana trees, bamboo plants and many other forms of vegetation, inhabited by an unimaginable variety of creatures.
However, the massive hill is now the home of almost half a million alienated people,without hope or dreams, who simply live with the goal of survival. Vegetation is overtaken by mud, animals dens are replaced by poorly constructed barracks. Even shadows seem to impose over the sunlightas the village becomes more and more compacted.
My climbing continues, and I arrive to what I believe should be the landfill. A two-meter high accumulation of sewage mixed with trash and dust andactual carcasses of dogs and cats, surrounded by filthy rats anxious to receive their portion of diner. I can tell all the garbage has been here for over a few months because it’s issuing a greenish...