A rewarding way to learn about your home city is to explain it to a guest, to think about it in terms of something to be experienced by someone with a range of interests and limited time. Guests push us to do things that we’ve long taken for granted, their naive questions push us out of our comfort zone, if only we entertain them.
This is more true in Rio (and other Brazilian cities) than many other parts of the world, not least because with the hundreds of favelas the line between “where I go” and “where I haven’t been” is that much starker – the incumbent power structure, the militias, gangs are highly motivated (by profit, by wanting to stay alive) to make the distinction between insiders and outsiders.
Pacification appears to have changed this, at least on the surface, and with it our well-travelled fixer, a cariocas to the core, is also experiencing parts of the city for the first time.
In Rio for a week’s research that includes some of the more interesting neighbourhoods and corners of the city (a journey that starts, today at least with an innocent enough morning walk along the beach).