Today we had the true pleasure of exploring Rocinha, South America’s largest favela, with Jody of @favelaphoenix. While the media has done a spectacular job of painting a dark and menacing picture of this place, nothing could be further from the truth. Drug trafficking, shootings and other gang-related occurrences do actually happen here, but that is not the only story, nor is it the whole story. You would be doing yourself a severe disservice by allowing the media to dissuade you from connecting with this part of Rio while in Brasil. It is rich with culture, history, and a sense of community that you won’t find in many other parts of the world. The people are hard working, full of smiles, and more often than not, happy to let you photograph them - like this man (and his cat) right outside of his home in an alleyway. To give a bit of context, there are 26 subdivisions within Rocinha alone, and only 4 of them are considered dangerous. So long as you know what areas to avoid and how to properly pay the locals their due respect (exploring with a local who knows the area and the etiquette is VERY highly suggested), you will feel a sense of welcome, belonging and comradery that is only birthed when a community is forced to rise out of struggle together. // Something also important to note: there was a pretty big shootout in Rocinha today - we heard hundreds of gunshots (including machine guns) and needless to say, it freaked us out. But Jody made us feel safe despite it all, with his extensive knowledge of the favela's current circumstances and of the safe passageways throughout. Knowledge will always be much more powerful than fear.