Amethyst Necklace: Best Thing I Bought All Month
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit Brasil and split my time between watching FIFA futbol matches, meeting other international travelers, and visiting tourist attractions. Though I’m sad to have left, I’m glad I walked away from Brasil with a place to stay if I’m ever in Holland, a new obsession with futbol, and this amazing Amethyst necklace.
While in Rio de Janeiro I was adamant about taking their favela tour – a guided tour through the city’s slums – to learn more about Brasilian culture. When I travel I love seeing attractions but I really make it a point to learn as much as I can about the everyday culture of the city – what do the locals wear, eat, and do for fun?
Favela tour started in 1992 by Marcelo Armstrong, a Rio local who felt the cities slums were too often ignored by the government, and by tourists as well. Brazilan slums have a reputation of being riddled with gang violence and drugs, but Marcelo wanted to give tourists “a whole new understanding about different aspects of Brazilian society”. The tour not only explains the history of the favelas but makes several stops so that you can actually interact with the people who live there. Don’t worry, you’re not invading their space or staring at them like zoo animals, they actually enjoy meeting and chatting with tourists!! Just be sure to speak Portuguese – they don’t take kindly to people who don’t at least try and no, Spanish won’t cut it!
One of the stops on our tour bus was to a road where local vendors sold original goods such as art and little trinkets. I picked up this Amethyst necklace from a local woman who designs her own jewelry mainly using stones native to Brazil. The necklace cost me $30 reals (about $15 US) but I think it was worth every penny to support local business!
I know what you’re thinking – $15 is a lot of money for something Forever 21 probably sells for $6.50, but I felt like after bringing my American self to an impoverished region and spending so much on attraction fees and restaurants, this was not the time to haggle. From what I understand, my presence as a FIFA tourist displaced many, so though I’m having a good time, it surely came at the expense of others. After inconveniencing people and taking advantage of their amazing views I figured the least I could do is support their business and pay the full $15.
If you ever get the chance to visit Rio de Janeiro I highly suggest you take the favela tour. Many people, including the people I traveled with, are wary because they think a) they’re oogling at poor people or b) they might be in danger but neither is true. A lot of the crime has been cleared in these slums, and the people aren’t any more violent than anywhere else – they just generally have lower incomes. I learned more about Brasilian history on that tour than at any other point during my trip and I’m glad to have had that experience!!