In the Ipanema / Leblon region of Rio de Janeiro the streets are lined with large trees. During the different ‘seasons’ in Rio these trees bloom, fruit and have subtle changes in leaf colors that lends a park like feeling on the very streets where you walk. There are also praças (plaza or parks) large and small, some take up complete city blocks and others fit snuggly into street crossings and unused, hidden corners. About 10 years ago, a few of the larger praças were enclosed in high fences that are closed at night keeping out the homeless and other unpleasant activities, and leaving these areas (relatively) clean and accessible to the locals for sitting in the sun, playing chess or just enjoying the feel of natural surroundings during the day.
On the north side of the Lagoa is a small but interesting park called the Parque da Catacumba. Once a favela that wound itself up the hills, spilling over into Botafogo – the home of thousands that supplied labor in the expensive high-rise buildings sprouting along the beach and around the lagoa. The name of the parque comes from the Indian burial grounds that lie beneath the remnants of the favela.
By tearing down the slum and moving all the families to city built housing on the outskirts of the city, the Prefecture has made the area a beautiful place to walk (easy climb) the quiet trails. [the sentence left unsaid – leaving the area nice for the rich – yes I think this drastic and unfair, but can’t help enjoying the park nonetheless.] Once you enter the park and start the climb to the top, you become surrounded by natural vegetation and only at one point can you look out and see the area of Ipanema crowding the shore on the other side of the Lagoa.