Thursday, January 12, 2012
AOL posted a link to the top ten places you don't want to visit. It's lead photo was one from Rio de Janeiro (BTWs that translates to January River. Pretty right?). Being someone who grew up all over the world, I took one look at that photo and understood immediately why it wasn't a hot spot. It's a favela. Duh, AOL.
Let me explain by way of continuing. I clicked on the link. I went to view these "Do Not Visit Destinations" and I wanted to smack AOL soundly for their article. All ten of the destinations are places of incredible poverty and military unrest.
Among these places they specifically listed a Favela in Rio. Now a Favela is a shanty town, a slum, for lack of a better word. This is where those individuals who can't afford food to eat, live. They may be fortunate to have structures and walls, they may only be lean-tos. But it's the lack of food, water, basic human needs that collects these individuals together for sharing.
Generations may all live in one room together. Fathers or mothers may travel hours on the city bus every day, one way, to work. Some leave the city for weeks at a time and send money back to their homes, just to pay for food, because taking the bus home would defeat the purpose of working.
These Favelas are where Brazilian street dancing began. It's where Carnival blossoms and communities band together to help each other any way they can. Take a valley and throw a million struggling people in there, and yes, you'll have crime, hot tempers, poor sewage, but they are doing everything they can to survive. It's where the servants and maids of the wealthy come from. Which goes to show you how little they are paid, and how much could be paid them.
Would a tourist want to visit there? No. So well done, you, AOL. You weeded out a city that was never on the tourist attraction list anyway. You pointed your snobby nose at a struggling city of workers and said, "Look at them! Look at them! We are so much better." No, you aren't. They are.
(Clearly, I'm pissed. In rereading this, I have a subject switch and am now yelling directly AT AOL instead of ABOUT AOL)
Another city that made your list, AOL? Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. HELLO! EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS, AOL! Tsunami sufferers in our own country aren't even over the devastation of Katrina and we had government funding and donations, media and world sympathy.
Showing readers a picture of a child walking over debris and garbage isn't good journalism. It's sad. "No, tourists, don't go here either! We wouldn't want your traveling wealth to impact an impoverished, destroyed nation! Walk quickly, don't make eye-contact!" To your shallow journalist Justin Delaney, I say shame on you AOL.
How about not listing slums and sites of natural disasters on your lists of possible-NOT! destinations and list them in destinations where help is needed? How about spotlighting the awesome daily struggle, the honor of these families? How about suggesting that not enough has been done to help them, with a rousing reference of gratitude that we (who are on computers), don't have to struggle the way they do? How about some compassion?
Your references of their situations and the seriousness of their lives is horrifically overshadowed by listing them as do-not-zones. It saddens me with its thin veil.
How about if I create a list of servers not to use? Hm? How about that, AOL?