The postcardlike view is one of the attractions of the hostel run by Bruno and Fernanda on top of the Vidigal favela, south zone of Rio. Whoever stays here is begotten the Brazilian way. Perhaps that is why the hostel, which is less than a year old, has always been fully booked.
Obviously the daily low fare is much of an attraction, but who climbs the hill is in search for something extra -wandering over alleys and lanes, greeting neighbors and feeling as a favela resident.
"An invisile wall is said to be felt though, but it is gradually coming down - fear eventually subsides into friendship after 24 hours. That's the difference.", says Cristiane de Oliveira, owner of the hostel at Chapeu Mangueira Hill, in Leme.
An Austrian guitarist felt fearful at first when he came to the slum. "I saw no keys to the doors here, and was afraid people might barge in, but I never had any problem, and that is really cool," he said.
A survey led by the Ministry of Tourism reveals that 95.7% of foreigners who come to Brazil are willing to return. "There is a considerable number of those who have come, stayed and are now residents and no longer want to go away," according to Cristiane.
Such is the case of Mexican brothers Santiago and Oscar. They planned to spend a month at the Vidigal hostel. Four months have passed by and they already feel like Cariocas. "We feel like family here in Rio," they say.
SOURCE: JORNAL HOJE
LINKS: FAVELA DO CANTAGALO Ever growing tourism (in Portuguese)
FAVELA CHAPEU MANGUEIRA
FAVELA DO VIDIGAL