– Tell me something about Lapa, is it really dangerous? – chewing another bite of the juicy papaya, I asked the owner of the comfortable airbnb apartment in Copacabana district. In her opinion, the only places I should visit were the famous beaches, the tourist landmarks and some posh restaurants. – Don’t take any pictures, hide your camera. – she said making a disgusted face and poured a juice into my glass (from a fruit that looks like a nose of the Groke from The Moomins).
I started my walk from the Carioca Aqueduct, one of the symbols of the city. It was built in 1723 and is an impressive example of colonial architecture.
The bohemian neighborhood of Lapa welcomes all the artists. Thanks to its ambiance, it is called the Montmartre of Latin America. It was an upscale district in the 19th century. In the 1950s it became the home to many writers, painters, free thinkers and musicians. – This is a place for me! – I thought. But the first of many beggars I saw on the street made my enthusiasm fade immediately…
The soul of the city
I looked up to the sky and I saw the colorful facades and the elements of colonial architecture. Now, after the years of splendor, the walls hid the brothels, drug dealers, poverty, violence and murders. Now it was me – walking somewhere in between the dark secrets. I kept my backpack close to my stomach, just in case, imagining the stories of the neighborhood, taking pictures quickly with my phone.
Lapa wakes up at night
Passing by the neglected streets and barefoot beggars taken out of The Walking Dead show, I was a bit confused – is it the authentic Rio de Janeiro? It turns out, however, that the real spirit is the nightlife: as long as it gets dark, the clubs wake up with music and the streets get crowded with people dancing samba.