Get ready for Carnival

The Mangueira shantytown, which you’ll see looking up the steep slopes below the Christ the Redeemer statue, isn’t a place you want to be caught walking through. Drug dealers swinging automatic guns are a common sight, for one.

But travelers are already flooding the district, which is in the middle of preparations for Carnival (Feb 3-4). The streets of these slums have been turned pink and green (the colors of Mangueira, one of the most well-known samba groups in town). It seems work has been going on for six months already, and $1 million has been poured into this year’s celebration.

At first glance, you might be thinking, “These people are crazy! They live in shanties, for God’s sake. A million dollars can feed a lot of people!’ But it seems the $1 million also goes to keeping a lot of people employed as construction workers and dancers for the floats. And it does keep drugs off the street.

So you do the math.