Hamburger Hill


A room with a view

The two sides of Rio

The two sides of Rio

Literally just put this bad-boy together as it was happening, hadn’t planned on dropping this, hence its slight rushed nature.

A couple of weeks ago I moved into Cantagalo favela. This favela is home to legend of Jiu-Jitsu Fernando Terere, who happens to live just down the road from me, it has also produced other Jiu-Jitsu greats such as Jackson Sousa, Alan ‘Finfou’ do Nascimento and the homie Rodrigo, “Aquiles” Conceição. The decision to move into the favela was an easy one, the gym is 2 minutes from the gaff and all my friends from the academy live here. From what I had seen so far I had come to the understanding that favela life is real life in Rio, this is where 22% of the population of Rio, 1.4 million people live and I totally wanted to experience that.

Training hasn’t resumed full time after the Easter holiday, so with the Arnold classic this Saturday and the Brazilian Nationals to compete in the week after, I begrudgingly decided to go to the beach to do some sprints. I had my kicks on ready to bounce out the door when their was a massive explosion, the lookouts usually set off fireworks when the police are coming to let the dealers know they are here. But this explosion was much louder than usual, loud enough to bring everyone out of their houses. Smoke started to billow above the favela and hang in the evening air, after 3 more of these explosions I figured that sprints on the beach probably wasn’t the most sensible plan. As I was later informed this all began at the bottom of the hill which I have to walk down to reach the beach, I would have walked directly through what turned into a raging gun battle.

Whilst watching events occur out of my bedroom window, police helicopters appeared in the sky as the explosions continued. There was babies crying, hundreds of dogs barking and smoke everywhere. It had began to look like some straight up war-zone. At this point I noticed 5 children on their roof flying their kites without a care in the world, this was obviously nothing new to them.

I joined everyone else outside at the front of the gaff. The police station is about 50 feet from us and there were a group of police with automatic weapons drawn outside of it, they were pointing said weapons at people appearing in the windows. People began to pelt them with missiles which sounded like glass as they hit the floor, laughter and cheering broke out and the police searched for cover.  Then there was a full on ‘HOLY SHIT’ moment when the police retaliated by opening fire, I sprawled like I was Hector Lombard and hit the deck. There was crazy amounts of glass breaking and people screaming as the police continued to fire. I don’t know if anyone was hit or whether it was warning shots fired but it was full on brown trousers time as I crawled back into the safety of the gaff.

I’m now thinking things cannot get any crazier and then all the electricity was cut in the favela, hundreds and thousands of lights vanished in an instant. This made things super creepy, low hanging smoke-filled the air and the shadows reflecting off the flames dancing in the dark sky.

From my the view in the bedroom window I can see outside the favela, I began to look at the apartment block opposite and this really brought it home to me the inequality of life in Rio. I could see directly into these people’s gaffs, they were just getting on with their evening as normal, families eating meals, couples watching T.V. All this whilst fully fledged battles between armed police and dealers was going on in such a close proximity.

A final act of crazy shit, the police cars outside the station were torched and exploded, all this whilst people looked on and cheered. The Sounds of automatic gunfire carried on for the next hour and then everything went quiet, the quiet was only broken when the lights came back on about three hours later to the sounds of cheering. What has without doubt been the craziest experience of my life, appears nothing out of the ordinary for those who live here.

I really hate doing sprints anyway.

My man Caranguejo dropping more Jiu-Jitsu knowledge, an awesome sequence from the closed guard



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