SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 15, August 2016 - Page 60

A Local’s Guide to Rio

By Cris Kang

nce I overheard a friend of mine in an introduction, “Very nice that you come from Paris, I hear it is one of the

most beautiful places built by the hands

of men, but Rio is the most beautiful place built by the hands of God, welcome to my city.” Perhaps this isn't the best translation but it the words ring a certain charm (no matter your beliefs) and “built by the hands of God” always resonated in my mind. Jorge Ben Jor was inspired to say that he lived in a country “Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza” (blessed by God and beautiful by nature). Brazil is truly blessed by its natural world in every sense, but when it comes to Rio, just like other large poorly managed cities, conditions can effect the lives of locals and tourists alike, despite the romanticized picture of the city.

The moment you disembark your airplane at Antonio Carlos Jobim International airport the humidity will smack you in the face, but is nothing compared to the pungent smell on your car ride to the Zona Sul. Some people say it is the swamp next to the airport, I say it is pure negligence from the government and poor urban planning. The ride to the nice area of town of which we call Zona Sul is striking as nearly the entire trip is through an ocean of slums (called favelas).

The best way to navigate the city is by taking taxis, but if you happen to stay in the Orla (beach front) of the Zona Sul, you will find pleasant pedestrian paths next to the beach and the neighborhood streets begin to resemble the local culture with, shops, restaurants, and rhythm. Counting down just a few days, the city will be holding the Olympics and once again all eyes will be in Brazil and wonder, what’s next? The country has been suffering from its worst crisis in national history from a political and economic spectrum, but Rio’s natural beauty and landscapes will hopefully help raise the bar in a way that you can’t help but fall in love with the local culture. Whether it is through food, the beaches, the music, these are the places and the people that stay strong despite these hard times.

The energy and the happiness created by Rio’s natural beauty comes unparalleled on Earth- imagine combining that with one of the most vibrant cultures of humankind. I hope you will get the opportunity to experience the many good sides that Rio still has to offer and that you say “I love Rio” with the same nostalgic feeling that I have.