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A great day trip, or half-day trip, to do in Rio de Janeiro is a Favela Tour.
Surely there are good ones and not so good ones, depending on the tour operator, such tours can be seen as zoological and explorative by the residents of the favelas. This is why it is important to do a tour with someone who is local from the area and knows most of the residents. In general one can say that one only understands favela and can tell reality if he/she lives in a favela.
Favela tours can be very enriching, both for the visitors and for the residents of the respective community. A great tour is the tour by the Museu de Favela in Cantagalo. The Favela Museum is an NGO, it is a grassroots organization, created by residents, trying to better living conditions and recovering culture in the community. www.museudefavela.org; http://lemebabilonia.multiply.com. There is a multilingual guide called Isabell, speaking English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese and articulated residents organizing everything from lunch and kite building classes to percussion and capoeira workshops, in case there is interest.
You will get a thorrough inside about the very particular way of live in a favela and get an understanding of the difficulties, problems, benefits and joys of living in a community.
You will see open air graffity art galleries, you will see serious kite competitions by adolecents and adults, you will see kids playing on the streets, you will listen to music coming out of the windows of the houses, the smell of good home-made cooking, you will be able to interact and thereby leave a rememberance to the residents and you will also be able to acquire souvenirs and take fotos to remember your visit.
The tour of the Favela Museum brings mutual enrichments both to residents and to visitors as it approaches cultures and explains customs.