Traveling to Brazil by martin bennie

I travel to work, or do i work to travel?

My life seems to give me what i need and I’m still confused on why its always so good this way, but fails in many other different ways. Not many people have a life such as mine, where i travel so much and visit many countries and even get paid to sit around in the sun all day, yet I always seem to be alone. I’ve yet to learn what that lesson is all about, but i know, that being alone doesn’t always mean I’m lonely. Sometimes yes I am, but others not so much. Perhaps this is the payoff for having a traveling lifestyle and I’m ok with it for now.

I started a new job in Brazil recently and as i said, they pay me for doing very little. Though before embarking onto the ship, i had 10 days doing courses, before i went offshore and was lucky to have stayed in Rio De Janeiro, so took my little Leica along, as i thought it safer. Once it was taped up with black tape, it looked old and shoddy and i felt comfortable with it out in plain sight of all the would be robbers. It was the week before carnival and for the first time in my life, I signed up for a city tour on Trip Adviser as i felt it safer, seeing as I’d read so many bad things about Brazil and especially Rio.

Having completed my course, I had the full weekend off and on Saturday morning, i headed into Rio to meet the guide outside the Belmond Copacabana Palace, one of the most famous hotels, enjoyed by famous people, politicians and rich buggers that could afford a 500 pound a day fee. I did saunter in, with the air of looking like i was meant to be there, as i needed a piss and the door man never gave me a second look. I wondered through the breakfast area, out by the pool and into the most fabulous toilets and then I sauntered back out, stopping only to exchange pleasantries with the door man. I belonged there in that hotel and i knew it, but just couldn’t afford it for now.

I was first there to meet the wonderful guide Juliana Mathos and as usual, I’m always first there in plenty of time. I just hate being late, so tend to stand around 30 mins before I’m due, just so im not late waiting for everyone else.

Not long after, an older German woman turned up, looking like you’d expect an older German woman to look like, closely followed by a Black America guy, the size of a small house, who i had an instant connection with, as he was both a photographer and a preacher and just one of these damn happy smiling people who exude good energy. Then an old frail looking man, with white hair and baseball cap, who happened to be 71 and who was a retired doctor and just off off the cruise ship nearby. He was followed by an English plumber and his wife, who were on the same cruise ship tour, who again i had an instant connection with and felt like long term friends a few hours later. All in all, it would seem the type of people who like to explore strange cities, are the same type of people as me and friendships come so easily.

So our happy gang set off for the subway under the close eye of the guide. I forget the American guys name, but like me, he had a camera, which looked more shiny than mine, Seeing as it was a Fuji film X2, with zoom lenses and the look of lots of money. Remember, he was a giant and you just knew no one would take anything from him, so i stayed nearby and lurked in his shadow, clicking as much as he did.

We were heading for Santa Teresa, a street full of life, seeing as practice for the carnival was on and gangs of young people marched up and down the streets banging drums and looking fabulous, sexy and semi naked.

Santa Teresa is a hilltop district with a charming, village-like vibe. Steep, winding streets are lined with elegant old mansions, many housing chic boutique hotels, quirky cocktail bars or romantic restaurants with bay views and today it was full of colorfully dressed women and men dressed colorfully as women too. The bars were full and everyone was happy and not once in my day did i feel threatened. I’d have loved to have stayed and drunk the locals beer, but we moved through art shops and stopped to talk and on occasions, we were fed some Cachaca, which is the base for Caipirinha the famous Brazilian cocktail. I stopped many times to photograph these shop owners and all were just so friendly. Perhaps there are robbers and thief’s around the Favelas, but on this day, they must have been resting, as i came home with my money still in my underpants, albeit a bit soggy.

I did the Christ the redeemer statue after this and once again a famous landmark you see in photos, doesn’t really live up to what you think, as thousands of people stand there and imitate the stance of the statue and it kind of ruins the moment. The views are outstanding and perhaps as you look at the photo of the view i took, you will think, wow, thats fabulous, but you should know, i faught my way into that position and was pushed out just after i pressed the shutter.

At the end of the tour, there was only the guide, me and the old man left and we wondered over to sit at Copacabana beach to watch the world go by as we drank some beer and acted like we had been friends for many years.

I love my job, because it allows me to travel and meet fabulous people who i perhaps will never meet again, but for that moment in time, all was well in our world, as we viewed the strange city, with the same wonder. I have lots of people i have met like this on face book and for a small moment in time, we all became friends and laughed and joked with each other and some days i miss these one day friends.

Would i advise you to go to Rio?…………oh you better believe it as it is a city that just jumps straight into your heart and as a photographer, is one of the best places i have ever seen to do street photography in.

Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.