The city has a tendency to be loud, overwhelming, rude, and abrasive, but through all of that there are glimpses of what Rio may have been in the past, as well as what Rio still is when you rise above the city and overlook the complex maze of streets, encapsulating islands of water and earth. On the way into Rocinha, which is becoming a daily journey, as we begin moving into our new apartment, we pass young boys fumbling large black machine guns, some with big smiles on their faces as they may feel a newfound sense of importance in their lives, and some with a look of stone as if they´ve been doing this their whole lives--their broad shoulders blocking the small alleyway, their hands wrapped around their chosen weapon with confidence and determination. You get used to seeing this, but each time it makes my heart beat a little faster as I pass them in the streets.
On the way to the institute the other day we passed two little boys with perfectly crafted and assembled machine guns made out of plastic tubing. They were screaming and running through the small alley as their parents and neighbors looked on with disinterest or a vague smile. I was astonished at the accuracy that they had built these little plastic models as well as their battle, which most likely mimicks what that they have witnessed between gang members and the police force. The traffickers represent a very small portion of the people that live in Rocinha, but their presence dictates more than I can understand at this point. They are the law in this lawless place. While this isn't the representative of everyone living in this place, it is something that is impossible to ignore.
Trying to wade through the difficulties and joys of traveling with another human being is something I haven´t ever had to do before on such grand a scale. On top of that, dealing with the photographic concepts that are running through my head, living in a favela, and you´ve got an interesting balance that has a tendency to come crashing down late at night. Today marks a little over one month that Terry and I have been in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While I have been focusing more on getting settled than taking pictures last week I hope some leads I have will be coming into action soon.