Michael Palin explores what makes Brazil tick. He journeys to Minas Gerais, the source of Brazil's great mineral wealth, and checks into an infamous 'love hotel'.
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I've been travelling the world for the past 25 years.
I've met so many people in so many countries
that everyone thinks of me as the man who's been everywhere.
But in all these years, there's been one big gap in my passport.
Nothing less than the fifth-largest country on Earth.
A country blessed with a melting pot of people
and an abundance of resources.
A country that's risen almost out of nowhere to become
a 21st-century superpower.
It's the host of the next World Cup and the next Olympic Games.
It's a country whose time has come.
How can I say I've seen the world when I haven't seen Brazil?
OK, waterfall, we defy you!
We defy you!
Modern Brazil was forged in the northeast,
where the huge sugar plantations
created the country's first real wealth.
But by the 18th century, the importance of sugar had declined,
and the balance of power moved south towards the mineral and coffee-rich
state of Minas Gerais and the new capital of Rio de Janeiro.
I'm going to be following this trail from the still immensely rich
mining area of Minas Gerais here,
to what's become one of the most famous cities in the world,
Rio de Janeiro.
Someone once described this mineral-rich area as having
a breast of iron and a heart of gold
and I'm going straight to the heart,
courtesy of a British engine installed in 1825.
It's not so comfortable when you are high, for your legs.
No, I know, exactly. Yeah. Tall miners - no good.
And this looks like you go crash your head, but it's not dangerous.
OK. All right.
Accompanied by Icaro, I'm about to enter a gold mine,
closed recently after 227 years of production.
It was originally worked by slaves,
who'd often secrete gold dust in their hair or clothing
in the hope of using it to buy their freedom.
-So this was dynamited?
-This space was made by explosion?
Yeah, after the explosion they used to work it by hand
-to cut the rocks.
-So this is not a natural cave, then?
-It's not natural.
So you said the English worked this mine for a while?
100 years, from the 1827 to 1927.
-So most of the time, in the life of the mine, the gold...
-was that going straight back to England?
But it's not official how many tons of gold England take from here.
Not official, because nobody knows where it went.
-And what's that little sort of...?
-It's the St Barbara.
What are those there?
They're lipstick, because she is vain.
-Oh, she's vain, so she likes to look good?
So you bring her something to make her look better.
Yeah, yeah. Were the miners, I suppose, very religious?
-Because they were doing a dangerous job...
They had to believe that someone was looking after them.
Yeah, and she works a lot.
In Catholic religion, she is protector of the miners, the storm,
firemen, a lot of jobs she has.
-So St Barbara's got a lot to look after here?
-Where would gold have been found?
-And what kind of...?
The rock that there is gold inside is all rocks near the quartz.
-Yeah, so white quartz.
-Yes. Tourmalinite, the black one.
And some rock is shiny - there is gold. Calcite, call it calcite.
-We don't have gold in nugget, just golden powder.
Later, you do separate.
You've got to pan it. So they don't come out as blocks of gold?
-Yes, just in powder.
-The water there, very clear.
But you cannot drink.
For that is very good to get a bottle for mother-in-law,
because there is arsenic inside.
-Mother-in-law jokes! In a cave in Brazil - that's a first.
It was gold that paid for the handsome buildings
of one of Brazil's most picturesque cities, Ouro Preto,
its streets almost unchanged since the 18th century.
Churches, built in gratitude for nature's bounty,
are everywhere in the town -
standing on conspicuous bluffs, like precious objects set on shelves.
The current mayor is at pains to point out
that the city's air of stability and prosperity was hard won.
Here, among these mountains, would be the worst place to build a city.
Tropical forest, Indians, mountains,
rivers, rains - it was very difficult. A big challenge.
But it was the richest area in black gold...
Because Ouro Preto means black gold enclosed in...
-Enclosed in iron...
-Yes. So there was a gold rush?
Yes, there was a gold rush.
They thought that they were in the El Dorado. So it was the heaven.
It was the paradise.
The city has rebranded itself
as an important cultural and academic centre.
In a country where they're more proud of the present than the past,
Ouro Preto is a dazzling exception.
The precious metals of Minas Gerais
lie beneath outstandingly beautiful countryside,
and there's an ongoing struggle to balance the claims
of the environment and the economy.
My journey takes me
through the Serra do Cipo National Park,
which exists to protect 30,000 square kilometres
of high plateau habitat,
with rare birds, mammals and 2,000 species of plants.
But, as I'm to find out today,
mining is not the only threat to the environment.
The rain belts down as our vehicle slithers along a sodden dirt track.
Yet the trees seem to have been stripped by fire.
A minor cataclysm's happened here, as I discover
when I reach a house that only just survived.
-Flick, is this your house?
-This is my house.
Flick Taylor, a resourceful New Zealander,
has lived in the national park most of her adult life.
She's passionate about nature,
but only a day or two ago it very nearly killed her.
There was four days of fire right around us, and it was, yeah,
I can actually say it was the most frightening experience of my life.
I actually spotted it about 10 kilometres away,
sitting out on my veranda with my computer,
and it was very, very hot, very, very dry -
it hadn't rained for two months, and it just slowly came down.
And so the next morning it was already here at my neighbour's,
and then it jumped the road and it came roaring down -
it was a living hell.
I could see it coming, and what do I do?
So I got my little garden hose out and I'm watering it down
and thinking, going through my mind, "What the hell am I doing?"
You know, I'm playing with fire, basically.
And, you know, the reason I'm here is trying to conserve the nature,
and here I am, a victim of it.
So there were all those questions in my mind.
So you're actually beginning to be a bit sort of defeatist?
You don't look the sort of person who gets easily...
I was those days, but then I thought,
"No, this is... I just love it so much."
Flick first came to Brazil in the 1960s as an exchange student.
She fell in love with the country,
and shipped the family treasures all the way from New Zealand
to create the most elegant of log cabins.
Having survived the fire, she has returned with renewed resolve
to the fight that really matters to her.
Our big problem is the mining here.
They are building the biggest duct in the world.
It goes to the port in Rio,
and they're about to bring 9,000 men
into this little historical city right close.
It's changed everything overnight -
socially, economically, culturally, historically,
because they're pulling down old colonial farms and everything.
Flick has got a battle on her hands.
The gold may have run out, but iron ore,
the black in which the gold was first found,
now underpins Brazil's economic boom.
TRAIN HORN BLASTS
And most of it is here in Minas.
A series of huge, man-made craters
has been scoured out of the surrounding plateau,
like this one, dug by Vale,
the world's second largest iron ore producer.
Everything here is larger than life,
including the trucks that carry the excavated rocks up to the surface.
When I'm in the cab, it's like being on the bridge of a ship.
Dagmar, my driver, brings up 150 tonne-loads of rock each trip.
12 million tonnes of iron ore were produced here last year,
much of it going to China.
At present, production goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
but world demand is beginning to wobble.
Another iron ore train leaves for the coast,
but Brazil's mining industry might soon have to start slowing down.
Away from the mining operations,
the Brazilian outback remains delightfully eccentric.
I've been directed to a small farm in the hills
to see something rather remarkable.
I'm told one of your cows has five legs, is this possible?
-Yes, it has five legs
and two reproductive and digestive systems.
When that calf was born,
all the neighbourhood knew about it.
It became famous. Nobody had ever heard
anything like this in the area. That's why I called her Surprise.
Surprise, oh, yeah.
The ever-cheerful owner of the mutant cow is Josaire Branco.
Born and bred in this remote spot, he is a subsistence farmer,
producing everything he needs - from chickens to coffee to milk and beef.
Yes, my father built the house you see in the back there,
where he then raised his family.
I only built this house ten years ago.
We all grew up in the old house. My father was from a German family
and my mother from an English family.
Did you go to school around here?
Or what sort of education did you have?
I went to the school round here for five years,
but, to be honest, I didn't learn much, and what I learned, I forgot.
I've worked on the farm since I was eight,
working in the fields and stables.
All my life, I've provided for my family by working on the farm.
I was never an employee. I never had a boss and never worked in the city.
I have an OK life now - it's not full of riches, but of tranquillity.
From the simplicity of Josaire's farm,
I'm off to one of the fastest-growing cities in Brazil -
the state capital of Minas, Belo Horizonte.
Reflecting the mineral
and agricultural abundance that surrounds it,
it's grown from provincial backwater
to the sixth-biggest city in the country.
The huge central market is filled
with everything you could ever want, and lots of it.
Lot of cheese shops.
Actually, I have to say, it's not a very interesting observation,
but I've never seen so many cheese shops in one area
in my entire life. There's another one there and there.
It all looks a bit the same, you know,
kind of that rather whitey cheese, but I think they eat it here
with coffee and all sorts of stuff.
Coffee continues to be a big money earner for Brazil.
It's taken so seriously
that this city has its own academy of coffee,
dedicated entirely to its preparation and dispensation.
Its hyperactive owner is Bruno Souza.
And this is from my favourite farm, my dad's farm.
Your dad's farm? Ah, yes.
We only produce 25 bags of this coffee a year.
This is the best, as far as you're concerned,
-not just cos it's your dad's?
-You know what?
This is different. They call this coffee Sweet Tooth.
It's very sweet. My wife hates this coffee.
Hmm. So coffee's really important to Minas still?
Yes. It's the biggest. Only for the iron.
-Oh, right. Only iron ore's bigger?
Now, they are increasing because the prices. It's very high.
I never see coffee this price in all my whole life.
-Really? It's the highest at the moment...?
That it's ever been in the world market?
Can I ask you, Bruno, how many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
Probably one and a half litres a day.
-One and a half litres?
-What, litres? Really?
-Yes. Almost one of those a day.
Plus four or five espressos.
-To get you in the mood for the litre?
Do you sleep well?
Yes, like a baby.
-Yeah, look, look at this.
'Having qualified as a taster, I'm now to be retrained as a barista.'
This is how we call the Ferrari of the espresso machine.
This is an Italian machine.
They have hundreds already.
THEY READ IN ITALIAN
-Made in Florence.
-Made in Florence.
MUSIC: The Coffee Song by Frank Sinatra
# Way down among Brazilians coffee beans grow by the billions
# So they've got to find those extra cups to fill
# They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil
# A politician's daughter was accused of drinking water
# And was fined a great big fifty dollar bill
# They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil... #
This is better, you can see by the colour.
OK. Cheers. Here's to my first proper espresso cup.
Hmm. It's not bad. Not bad.
Oh, yes. A heart.
Not too frothy.
Creamy, adds a little bit of richness to it.
Bit of pomegranate, possibly.
Or is it guava?
I think a hint of guava.
Just got to know the words, that's the thing, got to know the words.
I won't be able to have a coffee anywhere in the world
-apart from this room!
-No, you can't!
Bidding farewell to the streets of Belo Horizonte,
I head south to the one Brazilian city everybody knows.
A city of six and a half million, Rio de Janeiro is celebrated
across the world for the beauty of its setting.
In the early days, the Portuguese narrowly defeated the French
for control of the city.
Their victory paid off.
Boosted by the export of gold from the interior,
Rio grew to become, for 125 years,
one of the great capital cities of the world.
Its wide bays, long beaches and forested slopes
make it a seductive playground,
which its inhabitants, known as Cariocans,
modestly call cidade maravilhosa, the marvellous city.
The classic features of Rio are the granite peaks
that rise from the heart of the city,
too steep and too sheer to build on.
Which is what they thought until 1931,
when one of the most iconic statues in the world was raised
on Corcovado, Hunchback Mountain.
It's known as Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer.
Soon they'll be celebrating the 80th anniversary
of the triumphant unveiling of what has become the symbol of Rio.
I'm meeting up with Bel Noronha, great-granddaughter of the man
in charge of designing and building the statue, Heitor da Silva Costa.
Was he a very religious man, your great-grandfather?
No, no. No, I think he was originally ateu.
By the time he'd done the Cristo Redentor he was a bit...
Not Christian, but by the time of the Cristo Redentor
he was totally Christian, totally. Totally.
We take the train up Corcovado Mountain to see the Redentor
During its five year construction,
all the materials had to be brought up by cog railway.
And this always crowded two-car shuttle is still the quickest
and most spectacular way to get to the top.
It is amazing. It's really simple.
The lines are very clean and clear, aren't they?
Simplicity for me is the most important thing.
But the result is amazing.
And you said that just having the head tilting forward
-cost a lot of extra money?
This is one I really particularly like.
They're just taking the scaffolding down, I presume,
and there's the Christ almost sort of rising out of the scaffold.
-Now what's happening here?
-That's the inauguration.
-Yes, 12th October.
So there you can see a lot of people -
there was the President of Brazil, there was...
Yeah, what did it do for the sort of national spirit?
Was there a national attitude towards it?
-Or was it just Cariocan?
-No, no, national, actually,
because the money to raise the Christ came from all around Brazil.
-So there's people from all around Brazil -
Minas, even the Indians, the Indians gave money for it,
so it was really made by the whole Brazil.
The figure has colossal strength,
but it's a strength that lies in restraint.
With just the fall of the robe,
the tilt of the head, the long, shielding hands,
its makers have created a study of compassion
as both powerful and universal.
The Brazilians have always had a flair for design and decoration,
but I didn't expect to find such an example at a football ground.
Tim Vickery, an English sports journalist, introduces me
to the splendours of one of Rio's most famous clubs - Fluminense.
The rooms inside take the breath away, with 100-year-old ballrooms
and stained glass windows.
So, Tim, how did soccer begin in Brazil?
Well, I think we're standing in it.
We're standing in the history of Brazilian football.
Brazil played their first game here.
-Against Exeter City.
It was the first ever game played by Brazil.
-What was the score?
-2-0 to Brazil.
There are some reports that say Exeter walked off
-because it was too hot.
Was there any technical superiority
that Brazilian players had over others?
Were they just able to kick the ball better?
In Brazil, one of the great things about football is this process
whereby the guy who's been born a pawn, he becomes a king.
He comes up with a little bit of magic.
You've got the ball, you do a little shimmy,
I fall on my backside. You've humiliated me.
In that moment, you're the pawn who becomes king.
That's the moment that the crowd most responds to -
someone who is being humiliated by this piece of individual magic.
I think you can see, you can see these individual skills as almost
a metaphor for the abilities that the poor kid needs to survive.
One distinctive feature of Brazilian football
is the manically excitable commentary
that accompanies every goal.
Tim takes me to a studio
to meet one of its most accomplished practitioners - Andre Henne.
ANDRE SHOUTS IN PORTUGUESE
-This is the way we do it in Brazil.
-We sweat as much as the player. You should try it.
-Yeah. Well, OK.
-Let's do it.
-All right, let's do it.
ANDRE SHOUTS IN PORTUGUESE
-Do I have to hold...? Just do it. OK.
-Yeah, you can...
I might need you to guide me in the first instance.
-This is Neymar.
He's going to receive the ball and he's going to score. He's good.
Oh, Neymar! The ball's gone to Neymar! Neymar got the ball!
He's gone and lofted it over the goalkeeper!
-Oh. I see what you mean. You've got to hit the right pitch.
-It was good.
Spurred on by his compliment,
I rather unwisely challenge Andre to an against-the-clock contest.
Brazil! Brazil! Brazil!
19 seconds. That was just brilliant.
Neymar! He's onside. He's gone through,
and he's lofting it over the goalie!
-Yeah. You're a champ.
You're a champ.
The classic images of Brazil are nearly all the classic images
of Rio - Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Christ statue,
the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.
Am I going to see these images relentlessly replayed
over the next few years as Rio hosts first the World Cup in 2014,
and then the Olympics in 2016?
And the image of Rio as a colourful,
glamorous, fun city, not particularly on a day like today,
they're real enough,
but there's another side to it, and that's the lawlessness
and violence that spills down from some of the favelas,
the shanty towns,
where over a million of the poorest people in Rio live.
The big story in the city at the moment is how to heal the divisions,
how to make the city one, how to wrest power away
from the drug barons in the favelas
and give it back to the people who live there.
If this is successful,
it will have profound implications for the future of the city.
It's a mixture of construction and ruin at the same time, but
every time you come here you see construction being done,
intensively, you know, it looks like...and in Brazil...
'The latest project of Vik Muniz,
'a Brazilian artist with an international reputation,
'is to set up an art school in a beautiful location
'overlooking Ipanema beach.
'But there's a twist to the tale.
'This hillside location is already occupied by a rambling,
'unpacified favela called Vidigal.'
When I started coming to Rio...
..you're, like, in San Tropez
surrounded by Mogadishu from outsides,
and then you really...to be in a place,
you have to be in the city as a whole.
So we're in one of the poorest areas of Rio,
looking down on one of the richest. Usually, it's the other way around.
Yeah, in Rio you have this geographic inversion
where the rich lives on the lower part, you know, near the beach,
and the poor people occupy most of the hills around the city.
It's interesting to think that most people who live in the rich areas,
like Ipanema Lis Blanc,
they've never seen it from here. They've never come up here.
If you go down to the south side and ask the rich people down there
how many times they've been to their maid's house or their nanny's,
they've never done it, you know.
They don't know where they live - they don't know anything about them.
It's completely...it's very dogmatic, how these two...
That's a big thing to break down, though, isn't it?
I mean, that's going to take a long time.
You know, the authorities are rushing
toward some kind of closure about it
because of the Olympics and the World Cup,
but I think what's happening right now in the next six years,
it would have taken 25 years to happen otherwise.
Most of the people who live in the favelas,
they've been stigmatised by the crime and the drug traffic,
you know, the violence. The crime only comes from, like,
a tiny percentage of the people who live here.
It's on the beaches of Rio
where the various sides of the city meet as equals,
where the gap between the favelas and the favoured almost disappears.
We were up there on that little headland under the two peaks,
in the poor looking down on the rich,
and now we're in amongst the rich.
Now, this is the most expensive square metre
in the southern hemisphere,
-is Ipanema here and Lis Blanc, you know.
But interestingly, even though this is the richest area,
it's actually one area where these two worlds collide,
you know, the people come down to the beach
and the beach is like...
Even with cellphones, if you don't come to the beach,
you don't know where to go after, you have to leave the beach,
so the entire... everything that happens
in Rio happens around the concept of where you stay on the beach.
And the beach itself is kind of... I mean,
it's segregated in certain ways, isn't it? Areas of influence?
It has a conventional map that shifts and changes with time,
but here we are, we are at Arpoador,
this part here is mostly visited by...
it's where I go to the beach, it's like artists,
actors, intellectuals and writers, and if you drift a little bit south
you get Posto 9, like communists,
and before that there's the gay area,
and this was the artists' area,
the gay artists stay sort of in between...
Gay artists, intellectual communists can stride the beach.
Oh, yeah, and after that is the really good-looking people,
you know, like teenagers and so on, so every place, you know,
for people to know where you are,
and then if you start a conversation in a bar,
it basically starts like this, "Where do you stay on the beach?"
That is very revealing, you know, it tells a lot about you.
-Oh, that would say everything about you, yeah.
Who decides these things? I mean, how do they do it?
I mean, supposing the communists
wanted to move in on the very, very beautiful people's area?
They will have to change their ideology!
The policy of pacification, designed to wrest control
of the favelas from criminal gangs, is spearheaded
by a crack paramilitary force called BOPE,
a special operations battalion.
They're trained to be very nasty, and such is their reputation
that the drug barons usually disappear rather than take them on.
I'm here at their training base to talk to Captain Melissa Nevez,
one of only six women in the elite squad.
Captain, in the pacification programme,
at what point do BOPE intervene?
-BOPE is the first force to go into the community,
it takes back the neighbourhood and gives it back to the state.
During this process BOPE confiscates drugs and guns
from the gangsters and makes the place free from drug trafficking.
It tries to forge a relationship with the local community.
It listens to the community,
organises events like football competitions
and gets involved with them. We try to make the community free again.
When you go into a favela with BOPE,
how are you received by the people in the favela?
How do they react to you and BOPE?
When they see me and the other women members of BOPE,
people are really surprised.
They think there are no women in BOPE.
It's good to soften the tough,
aggressive image people have of the force. I think it's good for BOPE
to have female members, it conveys a new image to the community.
It shows we work with the community,
we're not just about confronting them.
Also the kids, they come running up to us. It's heartening to see.
So there we are, motto of the special forces, Va E Venca!
Go and win. And that's what I intend to do.
The removal of the drug gangs is only the first step.
What matters most is to stop them returning.
There are many barriers to be broken down
before the people of the favela can feel part of, not apart from,
the rest of the city.
In the favela called Tabajaras, something unusual is happening.
A celebration is being held for the opening of a community centre.
But here's the paradox, the building they're using
was once the centre of the drug barons' operation.
As a symbol of how much has changed,
the police band has turned up to kick off proceedings.
The favelas have a rather forbidding aspect
and they have a fearsome reputation, bad places,
places you don't go to, a distinct feeling of us and them.
People like ourselves wouldn't have been allowed in here
a few years ago, it would just have been out of the question,
far too dangerous, but also to find that the people we've met today
starting these projects, the way they look at the people here
is that as, you know, these are the people who live here.
The people in the favelas are not social problems,
they're human beings, and that must be, you know,
the first step on the way to any reconciliation.
Here in one of the largest favelas in Rio, the Complexo Do Alemao,
were fought the fiercest battles between drug gangs and police.
After pacification, the city poured in funds to improve
the infrastructure, most notably in a cable car system.
This unites the favela and links it to the rest of the city
through colourful, state of the art stations.
Victor, from the mayor's office, takes me for a ride.
How much difference does this make in travel time
-to the people who live up on the hill?
-A huge difference,
because sometimes people could take, like, 40 minutes
-to get to the top of the hill...
-40 minutes just to get...
40 minutes, an hour, depending on the person.
Now it's 10, 15 minutes at most.
The city hall has a huge project in Complexo Do Alemao.
We are building housing, we are bringing asphalt to the streets,
we are bringing business, we are also helping people
to establish new business, of course,
through developing employment here.
Sewage system, water systems, so the idea really
is to integrate the favela,
integrate Complexo Do Alemao to the rest of the city,
because Rio is a marvellous city, but the favelas are not.
So we have to make it as marvellous as the city.
-It's a lot of work to do, isn't it, really?
How much does it cost to use?
People who live in Complexo Do Alemao don't pay anything,
it's free for them, they can use the cable car system
twice a day, but people from...tourists, for example,
have to pay for every trip.
At one of the shiny new stations, Victor introduces me to Raul,
a young man who knew the bad times.
Raul, what was life like in the Complexo Do Alemao before?
-Life before pacification was really hard.
We had to live between the guns, drug dealers and drug consumption.
All this is changing now, which is not saying that things are perfect,
but they seem to be heading in the right direction.
People overall seem happy about these changes,
and the cable car is certainly a welcome bonus for the community.
I asked Raul if he'd ever carried a gun.
I wasn't a member of the gangs proper.
In other words, I wasn't on their payroll,
but I had close friends with whom I hung out who were.
So, for instance, from time to time I would hold their guns for them.
Are there any people here who are frightened of the cable car?
You know, going inside it?
Kids and young people love it,
but older people are a little bit more reluctant.
My mum says she's afraid of it and will never set foot on it,
but I think eventually she'll warm to the idea.
Money's being spent here, and imaginatively too.
But in the shadow of Alemao, another big favela, Complexo Da Mare,
still awaits pacification.
It's dangerous to walk into unpacified favelas
unless you're with someone who knows the place.
Englishman Luke Downy has worked in Mare for years,
pioneering his own special recipe for dealing with the effects
of drugs, poverty and violence.
We still have very active drug gangs here.
We have sort of war-like death statistics in this community.
We've recorded death statistics of up to 600 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Anything over 100 is considered to be a war situation.
It has got better in the last few years,
but it continues to be a major issue.
We have young people as young as 11 and 12
openly armed on the streets here.
It does have a police battalion on the edge of it, behind us,
which I believe is Brazil's only favela
that has a police battalion right on its side.
The presence of the police battalion
means that it's an intensive area in terms of gunfire.
Has it encouraged the violence, in a way,
the presence of the police here,
or changed the way it manifests itself?
I think it might change the way it manifests itself
rather than encourages it. But I think...
So those are fireworks, which means that the police are moving around
and they've been seen by the drug traffickers
and they're letting off fireworks to say,
"We've seen that you're around in the favela here."
So it's an ongoing situation here.
Luke's project in Mare is a boxing club.
He's called it Luta Pela Paz, Fight For Peace.
I boxed when I was younger. I was an amateur boxer.
I certainly wasn't the world champion,
but it meant a lot to me and it was...
You were a light mid-weight champion.
Well, I moved around a bit, only amateur.
Then after a while I had to stop boxing because of an injury
and I found myself back in Brazil. I'd been here before
and I became very concerned with the kids that were openly armed
in the favelas. I was working for
a Brazilian development organisation,
and I saw these kids with guns, and I was kinda like... I didn't get it,
you know, having grown up in quite an affluent part of West London,
I didn't understand how you could have a 12- or 13-year-old
holding a Kalashnikov.
These kids were not going into schools.
For whatever reason they weren't going into social programmes,
so I thought a boxing club would be a great way because I knew
boxing clubs are inherently social programmes.
You'll end up having an amazing relationship
between your coach and the fighter,
and that's quite a special thing when you're growing up,
and it can be life-changing.
They were kind of almost traditional things in London,
weren't they, in the East End of London, you know, boxing clubs,
because it was about using the fighting instincts
but also discipline at the same time?
Very much discipline. You channel your aggression,
you get disciplined, you learn that if you don't put something in
you're not going to get something out.
You learn that hard work will pay
dividends and pay results, and those are all lessons for life.
The success of Fight For Peace -
one of their boys is in the Olympic team -
has attracted international sponsors. This has enabled them
to offer not just boxing and martial arts,
but also a commitment to education.
Luke's colleague Gabriella shows me the new creche
and classrooms attached to the gym.
This happens because we provide formal education for young people
from 16 to 29 years old, and we found out that if we didn't
have someone to watch the kids, they wouldn't be inside the class.
-Ah, they wouldn't go to school.
-So the mothers are really pretty young?
They have been out of school, without work,
so what we do here is provide them with what they need.
Yeah, great. Hi!
Good, carry on. Teach me something. I need to learn.
We started with 75 people. Today we have 275.
-Students studying here.
Yeah, what are they doing today?
-Yeah, that was not my favourite.
-It was not my favourite either, yeah.
A world away from the ramshackle streets of Mare is the cool,
clean, cavernous Rio Metro.
With only 25 stations as opposed to London's 270,
it's being rapidly extended ahead of the 2016 Olympics.
But compared to London, there's still a luxurious feeling of space.
The system, blasted out of granite,
has been built within a series of enormous chambers.
Walking through them is like being in the belly of some great beast.
With the double whammy of the World Cup and Olympics ahead,
running Rio has to be a considerable challenge.
I meet the city mayor, Eduardo Paes,
at a new high-tech control and command centre.
He's just come a bit of a cropper opening a new cycle lane.
You're the mayor, you've got to run Rio. What do you identify
as the kind of the problems that are facing the city?
What are you trying to sort of change?
When you come to a country like Brazil,
when you come to a city like Rio, second-largest in the country,
there is always the issue of social differences.
The social differences brings a lot of problems
in the infrastructure, in health and education,
so I would say that's the main issue that we have to face every day.
But, you know, I think Brazil has done its homework
in the past 20 years. Democracy's consolidated,
institutions are consolidated, I mean, we suffer a lot, but we learn.
Our bank system's much stronger than if you go to European countries
or the United States' system, so we are very proud
of what we've achieved, what we've been doing in the past few years.
We know that it's a long way to go.
I mean, when you talk about a country of 200 million people,
you're saying that 30 million people,
you know, you took from poverty and they became middle class,
I mean, that's something to be proud of.
Sunshine and Rio seem so inextricably linked
in my fantasy world that a series of Atlantic depressions
dumping wind and rain on the city seem almost like a biblical plague.
To try and learn about how bad weather affects the Cariocan psyche,
I've arranged to meet an American who's written a very funny book
called How To Be A Carioca.
She's called Priscilla Ann Goslin,
and she's made Rio her home for more than 30 years.
And today, it's raining, wet everywhere, dripping.
What do Cariocans do when it rains?
What do Cariocas do in the rain?
They usually don't do much of anything, they get, you know,
they will evaporate from the street pretty much.
If you have plans to do something, you usually cancel them if you can.
Do they get depressed?
No, they don't get...no! No!
-Cariocas never get depressed!
-Is that so?
Yes, it's going to be so much better when the rain stops
-and they go back to the beach.
They seem to be very keen here just on good things,
so you've been right, as you say, they all see life as basically
happiness, but how do they deal with the obvious things
that aren't right, like, you know, poverty and all that?
Oh, I think pretty much just ignore... They try to ignore it.
I don't even know if they try to ignore it on a conscious level,
they just don't see it, they don't focus on it.
It's there, it's not good, therefore I won't focus,
and they'll change the subject.
-They'll talk about soccer, the game.
It's remarkable how rare you see an angry face,
you know, there isn't this sort of bottled-up stress which you might
get in certain cities when the trains are running late.
Is that something you'd see?
No, you don't see it, if you go on the metro here, the subway system,
you don't see people that are stressed and unhappy.
But Cariocans aren't always as open as they appear to be.
It looks like a sort of Rio stately home or something,
but actually just something more than that.
Hello, por favor.
It's a love hotel. They're very popular in Brazil.
In fact, I saw one down the street called the Windsor Love Hotel.
And you come here with a friend or friends, for sex,
and I'm going to find out...what happens.
-Are you Hannah?
-Nice to meet you.
How nice of you to welcome me to your presidential suite.
Yes. I'm pleased to meet you.
Oh, we don't normally afford places like this, you know,
not on BBC money!
-You like what you see?
-Two of them.
I should just say at the outset
that this is a wholly professional liaison.
-We're both in the television business.
-You have a show?
I have a show here for almost three years, yes.
-Talking about sex.
Talking very...it's a very open show, me and my three girls,
-and we talk a lot.
-About anything to do with sex?
About anything. We have a theme, every day we have a different theme.
I'm an English innocent, I want to know what...
You're an English innocent?
Why do people come to the love hotel?
People come here to have sex, to have a good time together.
-Have you ever been taken to a love hotel?
Even with boyfriends, many, you don't want to stay home,
you want to go to a different place to have a pool
or something different to do, you know.
When I came in I noticed that all these doors were very,
very sort of hidden, and the doors in front of the car ports
come down to obscure the car and the number and all that.
So is secrecy a very important part of a place like this?
Yeah, yeah. Always, because...
I mean, that's the appeal, you come...
Married, maybe some married guy comes here with a girl,
maybe it's not his wife.
And then if his wife comes with a guy,
if she passes, she doesn't see his car.
-I see that, yes. "He bought that for me last week!"
In contrast to the furtive world of the love hotel is the city's
very open attitude to the rights of sexual minorities.
Marjorie runs an office in the state government dedicated to
defending Rio's transvestites and transsexuals.
Marjorie was born a man, but lives as a woman.
In her office, she explains how she sees herself.
Marjorie, to get it clear,
what's the difference between a transvestite and transsexual?
A travesti sounds bad, but I know what you mean.
Travesti, in England... Travesty means something wrong,
but transvestite, you're travesti.
Before I leave the marvellous city,
I've been invited to a little gathering on Copacabana Beach.
It's the annual Gay Pride parade, and Marjorie has asked me
to join her and her friends
on the transvestites' and transsexuals' bus.
Here, she tells me how things have changed
in little more than 20 years.
So, Marjorie, how many people have turned out for the parade today?
MARJORIE SPEAKS PORTUGUESE
-Two million people?
When did this kind of, you know... You've been
really at the beginning of these things, when did they start?
How long ago was the first march?
-20 years ago.
So people were throwing things at the procession?
I've been told the parade's theme is peace, and I'm to wear all white,
which is why I end up looking like a kidnapped deckchair attendant.
It's a great feeling to be part
of Brazil's new spirit of sexual liberation,
but I have to say, as a 68-year-old British heterosexual
in khaki shorts, I feel, to quote an Eric Idle line -
"Like a lost lamb in an abattoir."
If travel is about looking and learning,
Brazil is not a bad place to start.
There's an impressive tolerance at work here.
Next time, I'll be meeting a lot of people
I feel I've met before in an epic landscape both natural and man-made.
I'll be in Brazil's deep south, where European and Asian immigrants
have created a very different culture
from the rest of the country.
In the third part of his Brazilian odyssey, Michael Palin visits the source of Brazil's great mineral wealth and then travels to one of the world's greatest cities to see how this new-found wealth is being spent, changing the lives of millions of its inhabitants.
Michael starts this leg of the journey in the mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais - General Mines. He visits an old gold mine once owned by the British, before going to see a vast opencast iron ore mine that is such a feature of the Minas landscape. Iron ore deposits are fuelling Brazil's economic miracle but there is always an environmental price to pay, and Michael meets some ordinary Brazilians who are dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the state.
After Minas, it's down to Rio de Janeiro, host to the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup. Rio has always had a reputation as a party town but also has suffered from terrible violence, with heavily armed drug gangs controlling the notorious shanty towns, or favelas, that make up a large part of the city. Now, the authorities have decided to spend some of Brazil's new money on healing the rift between the favelas and the rest of the city. The policy of 'pacification' aims to drive the drug gangs out and fund new infrastructure and social programmes to make the favelas truly part of the city. Michael visits what used to be some of the most violent places on earth to see how lives have been transformed by pacification.
Michael's time in Rio isn't all about what is happening in the favelas. He also finds time to visit some of Rio's best-known locations, learns how to celebrate a goal like a Brazilian radio commentator, and books a room in one of the city's infamous 'love hotels'!