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On my first—and, I certainly hope, not last—trip to Rio de Janeiro, I gave its legendary favelas, those sprawling shanty towns that one sees clinging precariously to the hillsides, the miss. It may have had something to do with the drug lords who controlled vast swathes of these forbidden-to- tourists worlds. Though they looked intriguing, even attractive, something I read about the strong possibility of casual encounters with machine guns put the final nail in the coffin of any curiosity I might have had. While none of this is an exaggeration, a favela is still a real place with real people with real lives. So I brought a piece of it back. The historic Santa Teresa Tram, which has been taking passengers up to the eponymous neighbourhood since 1877, deposited us in front of what must be the best souvenir shop in Rio. At La Vereda, there was none of the usual tourist tat. Instead, I found a treasure trove of artisanal collectibles. Of course, I headed straight for this colourful fridge magnet. It cheered me up immensely. After all, it was the closest I had gotten to a favela.
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