My sister and I arrived smoothly in Porto Alegre. Everyone said it would be freezing here because winters are cold in the South, but once I saw it would be between 50s and 60s, I was doubtful. That’s the t-shirt weather of early NJ springs. What no one explained was that the houses are made of cement or brick, so it’s even colder than being outside. And there’s no hot water. It’s seriously cold. Good thing Rio doesn’t really drop in temperature.
My dad has a nice house, but from the view of the window we can see poverty in the distance. My sister from the US insists that there are no favelas in Porto Alegre, but she hasn’t been around for a while. My brother jokes that we’re achieving danger at a level close to Rio’s. The economy is broken throughout.
My brother described how the head of the favela behind our house was put out, and now there are violent fights over control. The drug dealers pick locations they like and kick people out by setting their houses on fire. They somehow solved that problem in our block. He already made clear that he doesn’t think we should be outside at night, even in a car. Many people fear stopping at red lights after dark in fear of their cars being taken by people with guns. Needless to say, they’ve convinced me sufficiently to stay out of danger as much as I can. I learn how to be more careful by just being with them every day. But they do say my contacts in Rio should also warn me of the bad areas to be in.
As a side note, I noticed that there are less beggars here than those trying to sell trinkets, fruit, papers, or anything they can at red lights. I also got to see some workers fixing a stone road today, which was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. Pretty cool.