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July 13, 2003

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Rio is divided into a zona norte (northern zone) and a zona sul (southern zone) by the Serra da Carioca, steep mountains that are part of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. Many people live in the favelas (shanty towns) that huddle along the Serra de Carioca. Much of Rio's maligned reputation comes from the prostitution, police corruption, and violence that surrounds the poorer districts. It's not a unique situation, and in Rio's case, these problems haven't ruined the city's charm. Rio's reputation as a violent city scares us but we're probably no more at risk here than any other large city.
Backpacker fashion on the beach: Ipanema beach, where the rich and chic hang out, which is why we didn't spend much time here.