Part 3 & concluding part of my favela tales…
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the quest to go and get my bean chopped as the homie has his own barbers spot. I knew of the general location of this piece but when I got to where I thought it would be, it wasn’t. I thought I would just go further in, it was pretty scary at this point anyway as it was fully favela deep. I peeped a group of dudes a little way away and my spider sense is like ‘you shouldn’t be up in this mutha-fucker’. I immediately turned around the opposite corner but they started to shout after me, I was seriously nervous at this point. By the time one of the dudes runs up on me and starts pointing his trigger fingers at my swede I was fully expecting to get popped and for some reason all I can think of to do is to put my hands up. Homeboy has his fingers pointed at me and I react like it is a full on stick up! Lucky for me there was an old couple having a chat on the nearby stoop and they explained to him that I was a gringo, which breaks down to oblivious idiot. Dude then gave me a pound, a quick ‘Valeu’ and boom he was out. I thanked my elderly saviours and I hauled ass, I can wait until get home to have a haircut without having to change my bockers. I find out later this area is called ‘The Gaza Strip’ as it is one of the most dangerous spots in the whole favela!
Props to the homegirl for this info as I would have never been unable to uncover this without getting trigger fingers pointed all up in my grill. The drug traffickers and lookouts who are all usually teenage males with seemingly one exception a gender confused female are paid a flat rate of 300 reals a week. This is a pretty sweet wage here and far more than the monthly minimum wage which is a low as 678 reals per month. However, for this scrilla you have to work 12 hour shifts, seven days a week. The issue, I guess is when would you have time to spend this money when you are working all the time. Doing this job also reduces your life expectancy rather substantially from the dangers of rival traffickers, the policia or harsh justice from your own people’s if you happen to get greedy and start pocketing products or profit for yourself. Aside from this, the job looks dry as hell, I walk past dudes everyday just sitting in the same spots looking out at the same points, you can’t even get away with sitting listening to your Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast as you have to be alert at all times. Apparently you do get a certain amount of that free greeny to use as you see fit each day so I guess there are some perks.
This particular incident happened within a couple of weeks of moving into the favela, I was walking up the hill to grab my Gi before training. As I turned the corner I was presented with a rather unusual site, the street was covered in flames. Huge skips and bins had been emptied everywhere and their contents had been set alight. I was forced to walk in-between flames to get back to my gaff. Everyone seemed to be out, stood on either side of the street just watching as it burned. I was seemingly the only person trying to make my way through it, much to the amusement of those watching, I could see the ‘why is this dumb-ass gringo trying to walk though fire’ look in their eyes, I shot them the ‘I need to get to Jiu-Jitsu biatch’ look straight back. Thankfully Terere’s pops spotted me and escorted me safely around the flames. As it turned out earlier in the morning, the policia had come and shot a couple of the trafficking teens and this had led the favela’s children to respond by emptying trash from everywhere and lighting that business up. During all of this I witnessed something that will live vividly with me forever, there was obviously crazy amounts of human waste amongst all this rubbish, this led to shit running down hill. There was literally flaming feces making its way downhill, it looked like of an image from Pompeii but smelled like a million unwashed asses.
There is an abundance of fireworks popping off in the favela, cats don’t need any excuse, doesn’t even matter if it is the middle of the day. The World Cup was the absolute worst, on the days Brazil would play they would be on-blast the entire day and night, there was even a huge display after they drew 0-0 with Mexico to my confusion. The little guys get in on the party too, they have obviously not been inflicted with those horrific videos that used to be shown once a year at junior school where Bobby would blow off 3 of his fingers or Susan would lose an eye. From the age they can walk, kids have access to fireworks and they are not afraid to use them. You can literally buy them cheaply from vendors in the streets. The kids pretty much light them and throw those bad-boys where ever, they even throw them at each other just for kicks. If you are unlucky enough to be in close proximity to these little dudes and their total disregard for your safety then you have to jump like The Hulk or get your foot blown off.