It’s easy to be a Gringo in Rio de Janeiro. Scores of European tourists flock there for the wonderful beaches, spectacular landscape, and the crazy nightlife. Thanks to Marcio and Luiz, it’s also easy to “Be a Local”. The two started a tour company offering a real look at Rio life through the eyes of a local, with big experiences, and little gloss.
Motivated by complaints that tourists were seeing the Favelas (townships) from the back for a Jeep, Be a Local chose a more immersive approach, taking tours through the Favelas, meeting people, and shattering any preconceptions that outsiders may have about what goes on. Marcio explains “the idea was, taking people to walk through the Favela, visiting and watching the real life inside, talking with people and checking the lifestyle.”
“We show the city in a different way, opening people´s mind and showing that even with lack of money, you can be happy, nice and have a great family and life.”
Be a Local offer tours to local football matches, extensive Favela tours on foot, and huge Favela parties. From personal experience, I can say with certainty that during the many visits I made, I never felt remotely threatened. However, when the paramilitary police enter the warrenous (and drug gang controlled) Favelas, the result can be potentially dangerous for inhabitants and tourists alike. Marcio recounts – “A few years ago, I was inside the Favela with the group and the police came inside. It´s not the best place to be in Rio, but with the knowledge that we have inside, I could manage to get my way out of the Favela without any trouble.”
Beneficial for both tourists and locals, Be a Local is socially responsible in a very real way, without ever feeling patronising. “For the tourists, it’s one way of seeing something different from things that people just hear from the news or on the movies. For the locals, it’s an opportunity to benefit and get to meet with people from all over the world.”