Archive for the ‘In the Favelas’ Tag

Rio de Janeiro Favela   Leave a comment

Rio de Janeiro Favela (2001) — Abstract Art by kenne

In the Favelas

‘Slum tourism’
sneered a moralising friend.

I thought of this
as our small group
trekked through alleys,
deep in the favelas,
climbed interminable steep small stairs,
gazed curiously at faces
that stared back indifferently.

Their world, ruled by drug lords,
Crime bosses, poverty and need …
How do these people of Rocinha,
see us, the dilettante tourists,
stepping carefully on broken ground?
Don’t wear your rings or watches!
Leave your wallets back at the hotel!
Cautiously, we pick our way,
cameras snapping at the sight
of tangled wires for stolen power,
of deep canals that take
the sewerage to the sea,
of grinding cycles of a poverty
that no one can escape.

And we who walk among them,
do we have the right to drive away,
return to luxury hotels,
download our photos
for display to friends back home,
while shaking heads in wonder
that anyone can live like this?

My friend was right, for we have been,
to our eternal shame,
‘Slum tourists!’

Valerie Volk

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