James & Jasmine here; update from Rio is that we've recently moved a couple of days ago - still in our beloved Santa Teresa neighbourhood, but this time way up in the mountains, on the way to the famous Corcovado - or 'Big J' as we've taken to calling him.
Our move has brought us closer to some favelas; from our bedroom window we have an excellent view of both big J, the mountains, and Prazeres, the closest favela. The first few days we were here were somewhat interesting; lots of intermittent gunshots throughout the morning. Then Tuesday, a whole slew of them. Later, we saw the 'BOPE' (the police force dedicated to infiltrating the favelas) go in, and then go out.
Since then it has been quiet over there, although today is Friday, and we expect to hear some crazy loud Baile funk blasting from there later on tonight! Our housemate Aglaia, tells us that since buying the house, there has been very little disturbance from the favelas until now.
It was later that we started hearing about all the police forces invading the favelas in the north zone of Rio, and the subsequent retaliation by the drug gangs they are trying to drive out of the favelas. Military tanks have been going in, cars and buses have been burnt, highways and major roadways blocked in Vila Cruzeiro which the BOPE is trying to pacify, and a few incidents in the wealthier Zona Sul area, and in the Centro
The tally that they have been reporting is as follows :23 deaths, 96 burnt vehicles and 192 injured 25 dead, and over 100 people arrested. Rest assured friends and fam, besides what's mentioned above, we haven't seen any burnt cars, or been affected by what's been going on - we too are just seeing the images and video on the news. We're safe and sound; and planning to stay that way!
To go back to our new digs, we are very happy about the place - although we are only renting a room only now, we are with a very lovely Brazilian couple, and an equally nice Mexican Photography Student. The house is large, old and charming, and up in the hills with great views, breezes, and with a feel of real-life in Rio. Take a look at the pix below and see for yourself!