Pedro Ávila

Wholly uninspired by the affluence of this place, I am forced to explain how blasé it can be.

Despite the amazing amounts of papaya and mangoes and various other fruits and juices with which I am not presently equipped with names, despite the copious amounts of all things good like pão de queijo and coffee that doesn’t taste like ass, despite the 12th floor balcony overlooking one of the world’s largest metropoli — it’s all little more than a Marriott with a nice facade; a bed & breakfast with too much space and little charm. Really. People, in general, have no concept of real luxury. It’s incredible how far a little gold trim goes for some people.

And for what? $450 a night? More? It’s unreasonable, and spectacularly so at that. If it weren’t for fiscally irresponsible clients, I don’t see how a place like this could even exist.

Moreover, there is scum in this place who think this is great, or worse, who think this is normal. These are the same jerks and idiots who don’t notice the favela across the street. These are the same assholes who will return to their respective foreign nations without their laptops or wristwatches and a tell a tall tale of how they were brutally robbed by a street kid. These same fat men in cheap suits with matching mustaches and large expense accounts will describe the beautiful women they watched dancing (if they were cultured enough to go out) and the delicious food that later gave them the runs that can make a educated man learn to pray.


There is, of course, a whole other perspective on the favelas that I don’t share, either because I’ve been too far from these shores for too long or because I’m just not that obtuse. Maybe both.

In any case, most people are disgusted by the presence of the favelas in the cities. Some are even in search of a solution, a method to get the people out of there (for better or for worse, and mostly for worse). I find it interesting that few, if any, are in search of a way to stop people from getting into that state of necessity and desperation in the first place. Interesting that for all the compassion people have for the poor, it doesn’t translate if the poor are in favelas.

Maybe that’s not fair, and maybe it is. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Since when have people as a whole had enough forward-thinking vision to solve problems instead of symptoms, right? Even the favela folk are guilty of that.

Let’s back up a step. For those not in the know, a favela is an area (usually a few blocks or more) in which haphazard, incomplete, illegal construction has been erected, residences established and a community formed. Often these were people that came down south from the northeast of Brazil for construction jobs and other such political wash basins. Electrical wires are spliced and electricity is stolen from the municipality. Streams are rerouted and water is stolen as well. Some abodes are worse than others, made of wood and cardboard while others have brick and mortar that depict an ongoing construction, sometimes for decades, perhaps.

They build over themselves, because unless they’re on the fringe of the city swallowing other satellites there is no where to go but up. At least two things they all share are clothes hanging out to dry in the hot, muggy air, and extreme poverty, the likes of which I wouldn’t dare describe here beyond being terribly immense and fantastically immeasurable.

This would be, of course, a natural segway point into the obvious discussion of the drug trafficking and the opportunity for organized crime that such an environment harbors and fosters but I just don’t have the strength to go into that mess right now.

In any case, I feel I should note (since no one else has) that the people who live in favelas are just that: people. And it’s amazing what little influence or effect that fact has on perspectives of these places. They are so blind to their anger and hate of the em>favela, so lacking in their compassion for the people that the fact is almost nullified, almost ceases to be a fact.

And maybe sometimes it does, a little.

Fucking people, man.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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