I have a million pics and vids to post, but in the last 24 hours, this one stands out most.
When planning my trip to the Rio Olympics, everything I read about coming to Brazil was about watching my back and not trusting people, the latter part of which has been incredibly frustrating, since most Brazilians are amazing people, and it goes against my nature.
At the top of this INSANE hike up the mountain, when my friend Marcus and I finally got to the top, three guys selling cheap trinkets and snacks were at the top, along with a bunch of non-English speaking teenaged tourists.
As we took pics, I guarded my bag with my life as my cell phone and new camera were in it. I hated that I wouldn’t trust leaving my bag near these three young men (or the other tourists) to go take a picture.
At one point, the heat had REALLY gotten to me and I was dying for a hair elastic. I had none. I looked up and saw the one guy had a ponytail, and figured maybe he had an extra elastic- thinking it was a pretty cheap/reasonable thing to ask for.
Marcus asked the one guy in Portuguese, but he replied back that he didn’t have a second one. I smiled and thanked him anyways and awkwardly shoved my sweaty hair in my hat.
It was at that point that Marcus chatted with them briefly, and they said they lived in the favela below. My heart sunk imagining their living conditions, and thinking of them climbing up this crazy “path” on the mountain everyday to sit in the hot sun trying to sell cheap toys and chips to uninterested tourists.
Marcus and I continued to take pictures, and then returned to the area where the three guys were standing. The guy I had asked for a hair elastic came forward to Marcus and said in Portuguese that he had a piece of string in his bag he could cut and knot to make a second one for himself.
I kept saying “no, no, are you sure?” But he was. He handed me his hair elastic, cut and then tied a few knots in a string he pulled out of his bag, and the two of us stood doing our hair together on the top of this mountain.
For a very brief moment I considered offering him money, but I knew this wasn’t at all about that. It was such a pure and simple moment of humanity & kindness shared by two people from vastly different worlds.
This is why I love traveling.
Took place Sat., Aug. 6, 2016 on a mountain we hiked to from the Vidigal favela, near Ipanema, in Rio de Janeiro.