How to find Rio Samba Groups

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A project from the Pereira Passos Institute, by Rio’s Secretary of Culture and the NGO Rede Carioca de Rodas de Samba, is trying to measure how many there are, how many people attend and how much money is generated by one of Rio’s main cultural heritage activities: samba groups. An in-depth study has led to the launch of a platform three weeks ago that aims to map them in the city.

Project Site (click “#MapaParticipativoRodas”, then “Explorar o Mapa”)

“Those who get around the city, and who like the samba groups know that these events take place seven days a week, throughout the year. Unlike Carnival, which is seasonal, the samba groups come together all the time. We wanted to understand where the groups are, what their potential and demands are,” explained geographer João Grand Júnior, one of the creators of the system and a student of the subject.

The project began at the end of 2015, with a decree by the City of Rio de Janeiro. The first step was a study that identified 140 to 150 samba groups in the city. The second step is mapping them online. The study was dependent on the event organizations.

“We summon the samba groups to put their information on the map. Previously, we did the survey ourselves but today we invite the samba groups to participate in the survey,” said the geographer.

Currently the site has about 25 samba groups registered, but the idea is that the number increases with the visibility of the platform.

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Economic potential of samba groups

With the slogan “Vive mejor quem samba” (Those who samba, live better), the researcher carried out a study with 25 samba groups from Rio de Janeiro to evaluate the potential of the market. This small sample of the samba groups market in Rio de Janeiro yielded R$1.33 million per month.

The study data shows that 66% of the public consume on average over R$50 a month at this type of event. For 31% of respondents, consumption exceeds R$75.

One of the next steps for the Pereira Passos Institute, Rio’s Secretary of Culture and Rede Carioca de Rodas de Samba is to try to scale the number of professionals who work and depend on the market. From salespeople, to musicians and technicians.

The map of Rio’s samba groups of Rio will remain online indefinitely. The idea is that it’s updated constantly and becomes a medium of reference not only for researchers, but also for the regulars, when choosing the places that they will visit. – Source (PT)

Enjoy a short documentary (PT) on the NGO that made the project

Long Life to Folha Seca!

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A day doesn’t go by without news of the closing of a traditional establishment: a used bookstore that has a particular abundance of French books, a coffeehouse that was always full of people, a hotel that had lodged a world champion team (from Uruguay, in 1950), a newstand that served espressos to clients and even an important store for sports items on the most expensive block in Ipanema. Behind each story is the flight of clientele and money and the [economic] crash that swept the country.

At the same time, one doesn’t hear about the closing of pharmacies, banks, and Evangelic temples, nor of stores dedicated to mattresses, furniture or articles for the home. Incidentally, they occupy the spaces where nice and needed commerce was located up until a short time ago. It’s not that these new, arrogant stores can’t exist. But who needs four pharmacies from the same chain in a single block? In other countries, the government controls this excess.

That’s why when one learns that a bookstore in Rio is celebrating its 19th anniversary, it’s not a case of only blowing out the candles, but of setting off rockets. That’s what’s happening today, the anniversary of Folha Seca, on Ouvidor street, coinciding with Saint Sebastian, patron saint of the city. When Rodrigo Ferrari opened it, in 1998, the idea was audacious: a “Carioca bookstore”, specialized in books about Rio, popular music and football. Since when does a country in eternal crisis behave with such specialization?

But Rodrigo undertook it and his presence injected happiness into that section of Ouvidor, between Primeiro de Março and Travessa do Comércio. Bars, restaurants and samba circles cropped up, making it one of the most pleasant blocks of old Rio.

Rio couldn’t be understood without Folha Seca. A long life to this bookstore, that does the city so well! – Source (PT)


Also, here’s a recent piece (PT) on O Globo about the bookstore

Rio-Niteroi Tunnel – A 1950’s dream

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Revista da Semana
Reporting by Sérgio Andrade
January 23, 1956

The astonishingly dizzying development that has been occurring, during the post-war period, in Rio de Janeiro and Niterói, especially in regards to freight transit (inland from the states to the coast), has been a pivotal problem for which the government is having a lot of trouble finding solutions. In recent years, the number of vehicles from the hinterland has grown alarmingly. Greater ease and safety in locomotion are thus being demanded. Access routes to vital points will soon be insufficient and rare. Two entry super-highways (President Dutra and Amaral Peixoto), which are gathering up and facilitating the extra traffic caused by this brutal flow, are being torn apart.

A consequence of these roads is the greater development in the exportation of products for merchants and industrialists in the hinterland. The cargo overload present in the two cities, heading out to the rest of the country and abroad encounters a gap of natural interconnection – the Guanabara Bay – to be overcome. Due to the topographical condition of the two capitals (embedded in the middle of the Serra da Mar) it is impossible to build bridges, which can only be done on flat terrain.

Formed in 1955, the commission for the drafting of the project already decided that only an underwater tunnel would solve the problem satisfactorily. Complete pessimism. Only here, an initiative of this kind would be thus received. Unfortunately, we have never had experiences of this nature before. Groups of defeatists set out to try to bring down the project, but the commission, without listening to rumors and with the support of then-President Café Filho, started work on the preparation of the bidding notice. Commercial representatives from the United States, Belgium, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and France, technical nations in matters relating to underwater constructions, would be sent copies of the notice, to study and budget. All companies submitted projects – the (French) winner presented an exceptional project, with a base budget of forty-one million dollars.

The definitive route, on the Rio side, will end at Praça Mauá; in Niterói, at Avenida Feliciano Sodré. Djalma Nunes, a journalist and chairman of the Pró-Túnel Committee, who has no technical knowledge, drew a line (the shortest) between Gragoatá and the Airport. Unfortunately it was unpractical, due to the ocean depths found along the route.

Inadequate and insufficient surface transport, which increased in 1950, continues to grow. A submarine tunnel will handle 3,600 vehicles per hour, meaning an advantage of speed (seven minutes for crossing) and safety for both the cargo and people, and accelerating progress in transportation even more.

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The Tunnel has a “long beard”

Truly, the thought of uniting Rio de Janeiro to Niterói through Guanabara is not a recent one. In search of the past, we found the first documents dated to 1878, belonging to the Duke of Caxias’ office. Later that same year, a famous English engineer, passing through Rio, elaborates a plan and sends a letter to the Director of Public Works, provoking surprise in the inhabitants of both capitals, [fazendo os velhos consolheiros cofiarem as barbichas, desconfiados e descrentes…]. With the republic, newspapers, magazines, and groups of anonymous idealists continued, more enthusiastically, to see whether the government was interested in such a construction project. The following lines could constitute a chronological scheme of the tunnel:

1876 — March 4th. In the office of the Duke of Caxias, a document is signed by Tomás Coelho granting to Hamilton Landsay Bucknall the privilege of construction, use and enjoyment of a submarine tunnel, for the term of fifty years, connecting the Court to Niterói.

1876 — November 30th. Peter W. Barlow, a notable engineer of very bold construction projects, writes a letter to the Director of Public Works, expressing his technical opinion of the perfect feasibility of executing an underwater tunnel through Guanabara Bay. The reasons for the construction? Very important ones: The large-scale flow of products from the inland States; ease of driving safety for the inhabitants of the capitals; exchange of small-scale trade. It was just a suggestion …

1920 — In the course of the [presidential] administration of Mr. Epitácio Pessoa, with Carlos Sampaio as mayor of the city, the construction hypothesis is again proposed. The first geological plans of the bay are put together. [Being that it was] a private initiative, lacking know-how at the time, discouragement overcame the ideal.

1932 — Suspension bridges, the great development in engineering, constituted the era. Idealist thought looked again at the solution. Proposals, mostly private, flock to the tiny room where the City Planners operated. As proof, pictures and models of famous bridges around the world accompanied the builders’ plans. They were never studied. The conflicting opinions of the military ministries definitively cut aspirations. Bridges would be the object of easy access from enemy fire in times of war. And in case of damage, the time spent on the repairs would take months, or years, and obstruct navigation.

1950 — With the question raised during the administration of Mr. Getúlio Vargas, enthusiasts and journalists from the two coastal capitals struggled incessantly, hoping that the government would organize a commission in order to carry out the project. [Era contudo, tomado erroneamente o princípio desta grandiosa obra, onde, ao valor industrial e comercial se sobrepunha o puramente turístico.]

1952 — The President of the Republic resolves to create a law, constituting a commission composed of three engineers, designated to study the possibility of doing the project. From the city of Niterói, the engineer Salo Brand, Director of Public Works for the State. From Rio de Janeiro, the engineer Raul Marques de Azevedo, from the City Planning Department. From the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, the engineer Gilberto Canedo de Magalhães, director of the Department of Ports, Rivers and Channels.

1955 — On January 28th, work began, preparing notices for a public bid. They are later sent to the US, France, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Holland.

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What is a Submarine Tunnel

Identical to the other existing types, the Rio-Niterói tunnel, with its characteristics, resembles the most recent one built in the world, the 5,000 meters long Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, the fourth to connect Manhattan to the New York coast. It’s composed of two parallel cylinders, each with two one-way lanes. One of them, at a uniform speed of forty-five miles per hour, is designed for heavy loads. The other is for passenger and collective vehicles, at sixty miles. For the maintenance of this constant and uniform flow, every 200 to 250 meters, police are posted, which, through internal communication and light-signaling, transmit any irregularities to the entrances and exits. The fluorescent lighting gradually increases from the center to the exits, permitting a perfect setting for drivers’ eyes.

The circulation of air is perfect. The pure air, brought by the inflow station towers, is injected by conduits into the curbs. The stale air is sucked up by anemostats cut into the roof of the tunnel, forming vertical air currents, preventing the horizontal expansion of gases or flames. This system, controlled at a distance, and high precision gear, automatically prevent possible accidents. For cleaning, changing parts, washing, etc., the possibility of closing one of the tunnels is being studied. With days and advisories shown,  the traffic starts to flow through one tunnel only. In the interim, shifts of workers perform all the necessary repairs. The administration building, toll booths, machines for drainage of rainwater or debris are located at one of the openings. [As saídas são afloradas em areas livres, distantes do congestionado tráfego, verificando-se rápido desafogo dos veículos pelas estradas elevadas de alta velocidade.]

Three or Four years for construction – Two billion cruzeiros

The tunnel project, in accordance with the results of the competition, should be carried out within a maximum of eight months. It consists of, in general, the geological and geophysical survey of the terrain, traffic statistics, economics, details, technical conditions for construction, inspection and the final draft. Initially budgeted at US$41 million (about Cr$2 billion cruzeiros) the tunnel (of which there are two) will have a cylindrical shape, embedded in granite at the bottom of the bay, with an average diameter of ten meters. The traffic lanes will be 6.5 meters between the curbs. There will be a side walkway for policing and enforcement. The total height will be 4.1 meters. The underwater extension to the outcrops will be 6,000 meters. The maximum depth, 89 meters.

Drilled from the Rio side, construction work will be performed at the openings, at the Morro de São Bento, below ground, passing laterally to the Ministry of the Navy, Rua São Gerardo, formerly Lloyd Brasileiro. From there it will form a large curve, passing close by the lighthouse of the breakwater at the Ilha das Cobras, continuing until meeting up with the excavations from Niterói. These will be started in a straight line, at Avenida Feliciano Sodré, Praia Grande and landfill to be carried out on the border to the state capital. Drilling machines and complete equipment will be used for the continuity of the project.

A maximum of 3,000 Brazilian workers will be used. Only the technical supervision will be foreign. Almost all engineers are Brazilians. The stations for the circulation of air will be located at the lighthouse on Ilha das Cobras, the opening of Praça Mauá, the basin near the Amarração hill, and at the opening at Feliciano Sodré.

The administration buildings, toll booths and repair stations in general, will be located in Niterói (there is no vacant area in Rio), so as not to obstruct the large amount of traffic. The land taken from the neighboring capital will be used as landfill. The problem that has not yet been resolved is where the landfill will be deposited in Rio. After all, if you make a hole, you must know where the dirt will be placed…

Impossibility of accidents

Collisions are non-existent in the records of occurrences for submarine tunnels. The uniform speed of the vehicle in the same direction do not cause head-on collisions. On the sides, on the other hand, they are almost impossible, since a motor vehicle cannot move to another lane when inside the tunnel. Engine problems do not cause difficulties: either the vehicle gets repaired on the spot, or it’s towed outside.

In the United States a truck loaded with explosives caught fire inside the Lincoln Tunnel, causing general panic, and consequent disharmony in the flow of traffic. Immediately the internal phones rang, and traffic was stopped. As the cars were distanced from the scene, the hoses were in action. With the traffic on the other road unobstructed, help came quickly, while people were diverted to the lateral walkways. The ventilation system (vertical currents) prevented the flames from propagating horizontally, at the time they were sucked out by the anemostats in the ceiling. From then on, no more explosive or incendiary cargo traffic was allowed.

Also, in the Rio-Niterói tunnel, the passage of trams, animal-driven trolleys, or caterpillar machines will also not be permitted. Everything is so precisely controlled inside these tunnels, that an occurrence of serious proportions can be remedied within minutes.

500 employed in the tunnel

Divided into administration, tolls, policing, ventilation, repairs and conservation, etc, the tunnel will hold, after it’s complete, 500 employees:

Administration  – 50 people
Tolls – 20 people
Policing – 150 people
Ventilation – 200 people
Repairs – 50 people
Conservation – 30 people

All of these people will be split into work shifts, where rigid schedules and maximum responsibility will constitute the element of continuity for the life of the submarine artery.

The tolls

The criterion adopted from here on will have to be the same used in North American tunnels. By changing the currency and perpetuating the differences in surface transportation, it is possible to fit the price of tolls for various types of existing vehicles into a table. In a few years, when the construction work is done, the prices will undergo small changes:

Passenger cars – Cr$ 20,00
Two-axel trucks – Cr$ 30,00
Three-axel trucks – Cr$ 70,00
Four-axel trucks – Cr$ 90,00
Common Bus – Cr$ 30,00
Cargo Bus – Cr$ 60,0
Special Bus – Cr$ 60,00
Micro-buses – Cr$ 40,00
Motorcycles – Cr$ 15,00

Inevitably, these prices are estimates for the present, but at the same time they are decreasing in direct proportion to the increase of vehicle movement and years elapsed until the moment the invested capital is recovered. On this occasion, transportation will be free.


This is not news to anyone: Rio de Janeiro and Niterói only make people consume merchandise. They don’t even produce them for a strictly needed supply. With the tunnel, the lowering of product prices will become immediate. Ease of transferring goods and people will bring new horizons not only for us but for the rest of the country. The development of the small farmer will be noticeable. The secondary roads along large highways entry points will acquire incredible value. The opportunity to exchange products will grow even more. The international port will benefit enormously, and tourism will be greatly promoted.

Collective transport routes will arise, linking Gragoatá to Copacabana, Tijuca to Icaraí, Leopoldina to Saco de São Francisco, Flamengo to São Gonçalo. For Rio de Janeiro, the Municipality’s Department of Urban Planning foresees the construction of a high-speed lane above Rodrigues Alves Avenue, especially for heavy cargo coming from the tunnel, in the direction of the port and Presidente Dutra Highway. The Praça Mauá, even with the contention of the non-believers, will receive for the first time, a solution capable of dealing with the traffic problem in downtown Rio. It will become a constant traffic funnel, with six rows of vehicles, flowing to Avenida Rodrigues Alves, Rio Branco, Rua Acre Street, Rua Sacaduro Cabral and an interchange for the overpass.

According to calculations, the tunnel will allow 3,600 vehicles per hour. One-thousand, four hundred for cargo and 2,200 passenger cars. In eight consecutive hours, 28,800 vehicles will pass through it, with 11,200 being for cargo. Divided the cargo load into six-ton trucks, we’ll have the traffic of 76,200,000 kilos of Brazilian products in eight hours. Fantastic, is it not? The only hope is that this is not a dream or just rambling.


There were a few sections above that I was hesitant to translate due to not fully grasping parts of certain sentences.

The People’s Pool in Ramos


When most people think of beaches in Rio, images of the beautiful Copacabana or a sunset in Ipanema usually come to mind. But a few miles from these icons of Brazilian landscape sits an artificial lake not far from a polluted beach.

Piscinão de Ramos, or “big pool of Ramos”, is where thousands of people who live in the surrounding favelas, or slums, of Rio choose to go every summer. Julio Bittencourt, a young Brazilian photographer, was fascinated by its uniqueness. Over the last three years, he photographed the beach-goers of Ramos and was received with curious gazes and smiles.

“There are certain things that you only see in beaches in Brazil,” says Bittencourt. “Cariocas (locals of Rio) have a very special humor, very unique. I think all the humor and irony involved in the images are probably the most ‘Rio’ part of the work. It’s there all the time and you’re just struck by it every time you go there.”

The simplicity of life also caught Bittencourt’s attention. “Most of those people live their everyday lives with very little,” he says. But when they’re in Ramos, “they can forget about work and their problems. It makes you think how small your own problems are.” – Source


The Piscinão de Ramos was planned, built and opened under the Anthony Garotinho administration between 2000 and 2001. Despite its name, it actually lies within the neighborhood of Maré.

The swimming pool cost R$18 million, which was paid by Petrobras through a collaboration agreement with the State. It was compensation for the leakage of more than one million liters of oil in the waters of Guanabara Bay, months before, by the state-owned company.

Samba singer Dicró, who died in 2012, starred in an announcement for the State inviting people to the opening, to the sound of his samba. “Sunny Sunday / guess where we’re going / I rented a truck / I’m going to take my mother-in-law to Ramos beach,” he sang.

The idea of ​​using money from environmental compensation to create an area of leisure was questioned. The government argued, claiming that the nearby beaches of Guanabara Bay were polluted. The promise of leisure in a needy area, with a bicycle lane, sports courts and clean water that was replaced every four days, filled the place, which saw more than 50 thousand people going there on sunny Saturdays or Sundays. The attraction appeared in soap operas, served as a place for New Year’s Eve festivities and even inspired, at the time, a similar initiative in São Gonçalo (now closed), in the metropolitan region. – Source (PT)

Note 1: See some of Bittencourt’s photos from his “Ramos” project about the pool, and a video made for an expo about the images.

Note 2: If you want to get the vibe of the place, see this short documentary (PT) from 2014 which features interviews with lots of locals.

Note 3: Piscinão almost inspired a future pool (PT) in the greater São Paulo region.

Note 4: If you open up the Veja Rio piece, you’ll see it’s actually about how Piscinão is rather abandoned due to the State’s economic crisis. Since the start of 2016, the pool at Parque Radical, in Deodoro, has become new spot for Rio suburbanites who don’t want to waste time getting to the beach.


Rio’s 10 secrets not in guidebooks


In these times of low spirits – in Rio, even Carnival is under threat – it’s necessary to look for alternatives, to leave behind routine and, instead of only complaining, to find solutions. That was how, thinking of solutions, I remembered the secrets of Rio. Every city has its secret points, places that are almost never on the tourist routes. Landscapes and buildings, old or new, that sometimes not even Cariocas know. Or they’ve heard of them, but have never been there.

I made a list of ten of these secrets, some very well kept, others not so much: there are those that we always pass through without realizing they are there. Others we know by name, but that’s it. They are places with charm, mystery or history. Or with all of these things combined. And landscapes too, which aren’t lacking in Rio. The secrets of Rio are so great that they were worth making a guide about – “Secret Rio” by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Marcio Roiter and Thomas Jonglez – but I made my own list. And, I repeat, such a list may include places that are right there under our noses, but which we know little or nothing of.

São José Church
Downtown (av. Presidente Antonio Carlos, s/nº)


This church has a secret. Those who enter its central aisle, especially on weekdays, to appreciate the rococo style interior (c. 1842), realize at once a strange ritual. In the hallway to the right, people are waiting, forming a line. One by one, people go up to the altar – while the others keep waiting – and disappear behind it. A few minutes go by. The person who disappeared reappears on the other side, on the left, and only then does the next one in the line go up to the altar, also to disappear.

What is the secret behind Saint Joseph’s altar? It’s an image of the saint, before whom people will pray. Not just any image: it shows a very old Joseph, dying, surrounded, on his deathbed, by Mary and Jesus. Life-size. It’s impressive. I heard that churches for Saint Joseph, all over the world, have an esoteric symbology, a relationship with the Templars. There are temples dedicated to the saint that carry on the walls the symbols of the zodiac, they assured me. I don’t know if there’s anything magical there. But popular wisdom says that whoever enters the Igreja de São José for the first time must go behind the altar and make a request – and their wish will be answered. It doesn’t cost to try.

Belas Artes Portal
Jardim Botânico (rua Jardim Botânico, 1.008)


Those who enter the Botanical Garden through the main gate and go to the end the alleyway lines with imperial palms will pass through a lake and end up in a bamboo grove. There, surrounded by greenery, you will find a two-storey building, consisting of an archway on the ground floor and an upper part with columns.

It looks like the facade of a neoclassical palace, but it’s just a portal, the front part of a building that was, like so many, demolished sometime in the past. This is the portal of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, designed by the French architect Grandjean de Montigny (1776-1850). Granjean de Montigny, as well as the painter Debret, came to Rio in 1816, as part of the so-called French Mission, a team of professionals that the court of Dom João, newly installed in Rio, sent for in Europe in order to start the teaching of arts and architecture in Brazil.

Ten years later, in 1826, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts was inaugurated in a building built from the Montigny project. Brazil’s wrath of demolishments reached it in 1938, so that in its place the Ministry of Finance could be built (which ended up somewhere else). It was a miracle that the architect and urbanist Lúcio Costa (1902-1998), who was then the director of the National School of Fine Arts, had the idea of ​​saving at least the portal of the palace, transporting it, stone by stone, for later reconstruction amid the plants of the Botanical Garden.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room
Downtown (rua Luís de Camões, 30)


See my post

Ladeira da Misericórdia
Downtown (Largo da Misericórdia)


See my post

Nossa Senhora da Cabeça Chapel
Jardim Botânico (rua Faro, 80)


This is actually a secret. There are people who live a lifetime in the Botanical Garden and don’t know that it exists. The Nossa Senhora da Cabeça Chapel is hidden at the top part of this little cross street in the neighborhood and you must ask for permission to enter.

The chapel, built in 1603, sits inside the grounds of a school (and convent) of the Carmelite sisters, the Mello Mattos Maternal House, and is one of the oldest buildings in Rio.

According to the book mentioned at the top, the little church was the private chapel of the Engenho de El Rey, a sugar cane mill that belonged to the governor Martim Correia (1575-1632). It was his family who had brought the image of Nossa Senhora da Cabeça, which gave name to the chapel, from Portugal.

The name of the saint originates from Cerro del Cabezo, in Spain, where an image of the Virgin Mary was hidden during the Muslim occupation. In principle, the nuns allow visitation on weekdays, between 9am and 4pm. But there are exceptions. There have been those who got there and weren’t allowed to enter or photograph the chapel from outside. But if it weren’t like this, it wouldn’t be a secret…

European Institute of Design
Urca (av. João Luis Alves, 13)


See my post (second half)

Bossa Nova Mall
Downtown (av. Almirante Silvio de Noronha, 365)


The Bossa Nova Mall is the obvious and evident thing of which Nelson Rodrigues spoke: like that story about Otto Lara Resende always passing by Sugarloaf, but never noticing it – because it was too obvious. Facing Sugarloaf, on the other side of Botafogo bay, there is now another obvious and evident thing: the Bossa Nova Mall, which for the moment few people, even among Cariocas, know.

Right beside Santos Dumont airport, this space – I would not call it a mall – comprised of hotels, restaurants, food trucks and several stores, occupies what was formerly the headquarters of Varig.

With the end of the airline, the building was closed for years, until it was entirely reformed (retrofit, with the structure maintained). Now it’s open to everyone. The easy way up to the terrace, where the Hotel Prodigy’s restaurant operates, is worth a visit. The view is indescribable. The Bossa Nova Mall is the kind of place that leads us to the question: how come no one has thought of this before?

Joá (rua Paschoal Segreto)


Rio has this unique characteristic: to be a city with millions of inhabitants where, in a few minutes, it’s possible to be in the middle of a forest. Or a secret beach – like Joatinga’s. Among the most hidden beaches in Rio, Joatinga is the most, let’s say, affordable.

Just go down a stepladder. Once down there, you have that feeling of vacationing in some remote place. It’s in Joá, in the west zone (between São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca), in a closed condominium. But anyone can enter.

Once inside the condominium, just look for Rua Sargento José da Silva and on it go down the stairs that leads to the beach. Joatinga is small, it’s about 300 meters long, but, as it’s embedded in the rock wall, it gives one an exclusive, even secret, beach feeling, – that’s its charm. There’s only one problem: at certain times of the year, the wall casts a shadow on the sand and, soon, the sun no longer reaches it. What’s more, during a very high tide, the sea swallows the entire strip of sand and the beach disappears. But these vicissitudes only make Joatinga a rarer place.

Catacumba Lookout
Lagoa (Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, 3,000)


In the 1990s, photographer and psychoanalyst Hugo Denizart (1946 – 2014) took a series of photographs of Catacumba Park, in Lagoa. The photos showed fragments of the recent past, where the Catacomba favela, removed in 1970, had existed. Denizart photographed steps, pieces of cement, remnants of tiles. Testimonies, in his words, of the human life that had existed there.

To this day, climbing the trail that leads to the Sacopã lookout point, you can find these fragments. Some stone steps are still the same ones that had been placed there by the community. Catacumba Park is an ecological reserve, with a beautiful forest (the hillside has been reforested since 1988). It’s also a place for expositions and adventure tourism. But the Sacopã lookout point is still a less sought after place than it should be, although it’s part of the Transcarioca Trail.

The walk is very quiet and can be done in half an hour at most. And the reward up there is total: one of the most beautiful views of Rio, which includes not only the Lagoa but also Pedra da Gávea, Morro Dois Irmãos, Ipanema beach, Corcovado, everything – and from a less traveled angle.

And returning on the way up to the viewpoint: it is curious to imagine that those stones, that tell so many stories, were also trodden more than 50 years ago by a teenager who was always going up the hill, in search of a party or musical partners. A boy who crossed the Lagoa by a little boat to go to Catacumba. His name was Tom Jobim.

Also see my post and this one on its history

Madureira Park
Madureira (Parque Madureira street, s / nº)

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This virtually everyone knows – but usually only by name. Tourists, as well as locals from the Zona Sul, are somewhat lazy to go to the north of the city, which includes Madureira.

Madureira is one of the most traditional and most Carioca neighborhoods in Rio. If it had no other quality, it would already be sensational for its two bonafide samba schools: Portela and Império Serrano (both were champions in the last Carnival, in their respective groups, to the happiness of crowds).

But Madureira has much more. And, five years ago, the neighborhood got a space for leisure and culture called Parque Madureira.

Madureira Park was built on an immense terrain above which electric transmission lines passed. It was public space, but it was invaded, and families had to be removed. With a 2015 expansion, today it’s the third largest park in the city (at 450K sq. meters long), only losing out to Aterro do Flamengo and Quinta da Boa Vista.

In addition to kiosks, picnic lawns, sports courts, bike paths, waterfalls and ponds, the park has one of the most modern skate tracks in Brazil, where parts of the world championship are held. It also houses the Nave de Conhecimento, a public cyber cafe, and a very well-equipped theater, the Fernando Torres Arena. – Source (PT)

Missing Guanabara


Aldir Blanc and Moacyr Luz met in a concert in 1984. On the way out, they got a ride with each other and -holy smokes! -they discovered that, unknowingly, they lived in the same building. These things only happen in Tijuca. The partnership started there. A melody would be sent up to the fourth floor, and lyrics would be sent down to the third.

Alone, Moacyr composed a “no-nonsense” samba and showed it to Beth Carvalho, who praised the melodic line, but suggested the verse change. A job for the man from the apartment above. In a short time, Aldir came down with his eyes glistening: “You can change the living room curtain because we have a hit.”

The second part was still missing. With the excuse of drinking some beers and eating lupin beans and gizzards, Paulo César Pinheiro was called and put his pen to work. Late in the afternoon, Moacyr called Beth: “That samba is going to be called ‘Saudades da Guanabara.'” The singer hurried to learn the new lyrics on the same day.

In 1989, when the song was recorded, Cariocas and Fluminenses also faced a critical situation. One more, of the many that we faced since Estácio de Sá. But nothing that compares to the bottom of the well – worse is that we may not have even reached the bottom of the well – in which that bastard Sérgio Cabral, in promiscuity with entrepreneurs of the likes of Jacob Barata, has us now. It’s necessary to sing in the street at the top of our lungs: “Brazil, your face is still Rio de Janeiro / A three by four photo and your whole body / Needs to regenerate itself.” Or softly, in the corner of the room, in the dark: “Take the arrows out of my patron’s chest / That Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro / Can still be saved.”

As reinforcement, call Paulo César Pinheiro, Aldir Blanc and Moacyr Luz for a new meeting – and don’t forget the lupin beans! – in that Tijuca apartment. Who knows if one more heroic samba can’t help us out of this? – Source (PT)

Eu sei / I know
Que o meu peito é lona armada / That my chest is an armed canvas
Nostalgia não paga entrada / Nostalgia doesn’t pay the entrance fee
Circo vive é de ilusão (eu sei…) / The circus lives on illusion (I know…)

Chorei / I cried
Com saudades da Guanabara / Missing Guanabara
Refulgindo de estrelas claras / The glittering of bright stars
Longe dessa devastação (…e então) / Far from this devastation (…and then)

Armei / I set up
Pic-nic na Mesa do Imperador / A picnic at the Mesa do Imperador
E na Vista Chinesa solucei de dor / And at the Vista Chinesa I sobbed in pain
Pelos crimes que rolam contra a liberdade / For the crimes against freedom that occur

Reguei / I watered
O Salgueiro pra muda pegar outro alento / Salgueiro (willow) so the sapling takes another breath

Plantei novos brotos no Engenho de Dentro / I planted new sprouts in Engenho de Dentro
Pra alma não se atrofiar (Brasil) / So the soul doesn’t atrophy (Brazil)
Brasil, tua cara ainda é o Rio de Janeiro / Brazil, your face is still Rio de Janeiro
Três por quatro da foto e o teu corpo inteiro / A three by four photo and your whole body
Precisa se regenerar / Needs to regenerate itself

Eu sei / I know
Que a cidade hoje está mudada / That the city today is changed
Santa Cruz, Zona Sul, Baixada
Vala negra no coração / A black ditch at heart

Chorei / I cried
Com saudades da Guanabara / Missing Guanabara
Da Lagoa de águas claras /  A clear-watered Lagoa
Fui tomado de compaixão (…e então) / I was filled with compassion (…and then)

Passei / I passed
Pelas praias da Ilha do Governador / By the beaches of Ilha do Governador
E subi São Conrado até o Redentor / And I went up São Conrado to the Redeemer
Lá no morro Encantado eu pedi piedade / There on the Encantado hill I asked for pity

Plantei / I planted
Ramos de Laranjeiras foi meu juramento / Ramos de Laranjeiras (branches of orange trees) was my oath
No Flamengo, Catete, na Lapa e no Centro / In Flamengo, Catete, in Lapa and downtown

Pois é pra gente respirar (Brasil) / Because we’re supposed to breathe (Brazil)
Brasil / Brazil
Tira as flechas do peito do meu Padroeiro / Take the arrows out of my Patron’s chest
Que São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro / Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro
Ainda pode se salvar / Can still be saved

Vila Kennedy officially exists


Created 53 years ago, Vila Kennedy officially became a neighborhood in Rio on July 14th 2017, from a subdivision of Bangu, in the West Zone. The community was born as a housing development, built to house evicted favela residents from various regions of the city. Its name is in honor of the US president John Kennedy, who even donated money for the construction of the first buildings and a replica of the statue of liberty.

The law that makes Vila Kennedy a neighborhood was sanctioned by Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella and brings Rio’s total officially recognized neighborhoods to 162.

The housing complex that gave birth to Vila Kennedy was built in 1964, by determination of governor Carlos Lacerda, to shelter the displaced residents of communities such as Morro do Pasmado in Botafogo. Initially, it had 5,054 dwellings. Today, it has 12.8 thousand homes and 41.5 thousand inhabitants, according to estimates by the Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP).

The construction of the housing complex was part of the Alliance for Progress program launched by JFK in 1961 to finance social projects in Latin American countries with the aim of preventing the advancement of communism. Brazil entered the list of beneficiary countries and the money was applied to the creation of the neighborhood that would take in people coming from favelas. Initially, the place was to be called Vila Esperança, but that changed after the death of the American president. – Source (PT)

The Hermit of Arpoador

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Mr. Pedro Joaquim Lambert, 49 years old, born in Jardim Botânico, the solitary man has been living for close to 5 years in the middle of the rocks on Copacabana. Mr Lambert, as the photo shows, lives alone in this grotto surrounded by objects that serve to maintain his existence; some baskets, fish hooks, a net and his only companion, a little dog. 

One of humanity’s primordial scenes reproduces itself today – a man living in a cave.

Copacabana is where the primitive man appears. In a hidden spot on the penninsula, in which the Nossa Senhora da Copacabana Chapel was erected, Pedro Joaquim Lambert – a  strong, perfect example of a caboclo, somewhere around 45 years old – spends his days calmly fishing.

This creature is a privileged spirit, who never changes, who doesn’t educate himself and faces existence through a rose-colored prism, contemplating nature in the immensity of the seas, enjoying the ocean’s always impressive show, whether at rest or in upheaval.

From rock to rock, jumping, he passes through the vast dominion that no one disputes with him. And, when the night comes, after having contemplated the starry sky mirrored in the calm water of the ocean, he goes to bed on the fine, snowy sand, that extends itself like a carpet under a natural vault of an immense suspended slab, forming the roof of his habitation, in a den where only the murmur of the waves sweetly breaking on the rocks comes!

It’s a perfect grotto, sheltering from bad weather; it is there that for five years, unworried and happy, Lambert lives, after having been discharged from the army, where he served for ten years, in the 39th infantry battalion.

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Lambert is always content; in his retreat there’s everything he needs and for company he only has a small yellow dog. From fishing he gets the resources he needs to maintain himself.

And his biggest pleasure consists, he says, of contemplating the constantly new wonderful things in the immense frame that surrounds him; hearing the delicious concert of the surges that caress him to sleep.

Such is the man that we visited in the pictoresque place in Copacabana, abandoned by those that should take care of those who have served the country, since Lambert fought with courage in Canudos, and chose that retreat to, away from ungrateful men, spend rest of the days that remain to him in this valley.

Revista da Semana
May 28, 1905


It seems he was actually living in Arpoador. See this image from 1905, where the church mentioned at the start of the article was located. Based on the development of Copacabana in the early 1900s, I would suppose his style of life would have been encroached upon quite soon (that is, within 5-7 years) after this article came out. Another thing to keep in mind is he was likely at the end of his life, since he had already surpassed Brazil’s general life expectancy around the early part of the 20th century.

See also: The Hermit of Grumari

Valongo Wharf gets UNESCO status


The Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site, located in the port area of ​​Rio de Janeiro, won UNESCO‘s World Heritage status on Sunday (July 9). The location was the main port of entry for African slaves in Brazil and represents the exploitation and suffering of the people who were forcibly brought to the country until the mid-nineteenth century. The status sheds light on a past of slavery that left behind deep social inequality between whites and blacks and structural racism that’s not always recognized.

“Valongo Wharf is a place of remembrance, which refers to one of the most serious crimes perpetrated against humanity: slavery. Being the landing point for Africans on American soil, the Valongo Wharf symbolically represents slavery and evokes painful memories which many Afro-Brazilians can relate to”, said Itamaraty (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in a statement, which expressed the Brazilian government’s “satisfaction” with the news. Rio’s current Secretary of Culture, Nilcemar Nogueira, wrote on his Facebook that the title is “an essential step for the recognition of a memory that needs to be revealed and, mainly, repaired.” For Nogueira, who was part of the Brazilian delegation that traveled to Poland to defend the nomination, “this moment marks the beginning of a new phase in relation to the recognition of a history that, for many decades, has been kept apart from that which we officially know about our country”. Former Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes also celebrated the news on his Instagram: “May the history of the Black Diaspora always be remembered. May the origins of our country, our formation and our culture be highlighted. May the violence of men always be remembered lest it be repeated.”

Cais do Valongo was discovered in 2011 during excavations made for the port area’s reform. According to anthropologist Milton Duran, its ruins are the only material vestiges of the arrival of Africans in the country. The academic was one of the coordinators for the candidacy, which involved Rio’s City Hall and the Brazil’s National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN), presented at the end of 2015 – Brazil holds the title for another 20 sites, including Brasília and Ouro Preto. “This Archaeological Site is unique because it represents the millions of Africans who were enslaved and who worked to build Brazil as a nation, generating the largest black population in the world, outside of Africa,” said Kátia Bogéa, president of IPHAN. The city government promised an on-site celebration on Monday, starting at 4PM.

Upon being named a World Heritage Site, Valongo Wharf was put on the same level as other UNESCO-recognized locations as being places of memory and suffering, such as a memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, and the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. The appointment requires that Brazilian authorities assume certain responsibilities. “UNESCO recommends that Brazil adopt specific actions for the management of archaeological remains, for the execution of landscaping projects and for visitors to have a holistic view on the Valongo Wharf and what it represents,” said Itamaraty. “These measures, which will contribute to the preservation of this important Brazilian cultural heritage, should be implemented by the federal, state and municipal governments, in coordination with civil society and the communities involved.”

Little Africa

Built at the end of the 18th century, the Valongo Wharf is located in the region known as Pequena África (Little Africa), which is located in Rio’s port area, downtown. Besides being the gateway of millions of Africans in Brazil, the port region was also the meeting point for the black community in the then-capital. With laws signed in the mid-nineteenth century that prohibited human trafficking and the abolition of slavery, signed in 1889, thousands of blacks, many from other parts of the country, settled in the region, in neighborhoods like Gamboa and Saúde, and they spread throughout the region. It was in this same central area of ​​the city that samba was being refined until it became the musical genre known today, according to historians.

The wharf was buried by the early 20th century’s urban reform, as was much of the history of the black community in downtown Rio over time. It was finally rediscovered during the port reform carried out in recent years. With the construction of the Museum of Tomorrow on the Mauá Pier, many demanded that City Hall take advantage of the region’s reform to also safeguard and consider the importance of the history of blacks who’ve been there. In June of this year, Agência Pública launched the Museum of Yesterday app with the purpose of revisiting this past. Under the administration of Marcelo Crivella, City Hall began to debate the construction of a slavery museum in a place near Valongo this year. – Source (PT)


There’s life outside the Zona Sul

(English subtitles available)

Far is a place that doesn’t exist for historian and communicologist Renata Saavedra. During 2 years, while coordinating the project to build the “Culture Map of Rio de Janeiro“, through the State Secretary of Culture, she got her ‘passport’ stamped in territories far beyond the Grajaú-Urca circuit, where she was born and raised. Circling through Nova Iguaçu, Mesquita, Caxias and Méier, among other destinations beyond the tunnel, she discovered a wonderful cultural world, where the only currency, for now, is love. But this creative cauldron, free of charge, made of movies, serenades, capoeira circles and poetry, is still invisible in the eyes of the public and most Cariocas, who remain hostage to the most terrible barriers of the broken city: disinterest in others. On the TEDxRio stage, Renata crosses the city in fractions of a second because she keeps every corner in her heart, making everyone reflect on the question that won’t keep her silent: “What’s far for you?”

Such an important talk. The Rio she mentions throughout her presentation is not a Rio that I know personally, but it’s a Rio that I recognize and love with the same passion. The Rio that I lived during my two years in the city was one of free culture in unlikely places, so I totally get what she’s advocating here. I didn’t have a TED stage to get my own message across but I’d tell (and still tell) anyone that will listen about all the cool stuff that exists in the city, if one has the curiosity and adventurousness to find it.