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Connection Rio: The changing landscape of Rio de Janeiro

Since arriving here in Rio de Janeiro nearly a decade ago I have personally seen many changes in the city. In fact, my first year here it was legal to smoke in public places, including the shopping malls; there was no law against drinking and driving; there was no helmet law for motor cycles; it was common to drive along the beach of Copacabana after dark and see prostitutes showing their ‘goods’ to the passersby. Many other things have changed since my arrival.

Coming from the city of Los Angeles and it’s First World efficiency, this all left me feeling anxious to say the least. I remember my first time in a grocery store line, it lasting over an hour as the clerks scanned items at a snail’s pace, occasionally leaving their seat to do something else they deemed more important than the job at hand, even entering in conversation with another employee about life outside of work while completely ignoring the paying customers.

I remember my first experience of waiting in line at the bank for more than forty-five minutes on average, as employees talked on cellphones and lackadaisically fumbled through the bare minimum of their daily requirements for work. I also remember very well seeing many children – young children – living on the street.

Today in Rio de Janeiro there is no smoking allowed in public places; drinking and driving is now against the law (although there is a Twitter account that announces all of the checkpoints for drivers throughout the city and for the most part how to avoid passing through them).

Grocery store checkout lines have substantially improved efficiency; and the banks are, well… a little better. Most importantly, with every year there are fewer and fewer children who call the streets of Rio their home.

But two of the largest challenges for the city of Rio to overcome is corruption and disorganization, which lead to lack of prioritization in government infrastructure.

A primary example of this is shown here in this video of a gas explosion that took the lives of several unsuspecting victims. The restaurant was in operation without a license to use natural gas, leading to a major accident directly related operation without proper permits.

Not only was the restaurant operating without the proper permits, but the fire department had been alerted and multiple complaints had been made about improper storage of gas cylinders located next to the stove, inside the building.

It was very fortunate that this explosion took place outside of operational hours, during a holiday. The accident took place this last week, take a look at the magnitude of this explosion:

(footage from city of Rio public security camera, Praca 15, Rio city center)

This will be one of Brazil’s largest obstacles to overcome en route to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Although my perception of what appeared to be true freedom in a sense in Brazil on arrival to the country has been altered through experiences, it is clear that the good qualities of life here outweigh those things that are negative.

It is difficult to avoid seeing what a great place Rio de Janeiro is to visit or live when walking along the beaches or interacting with the warm public under the Summer sun.

Upcoming jiu-jitsu Championship with Cash payout

There is a great opportunity for any and all competitors to put themselves to the test. Roberto Atalla is hosting the ARENA BUZIOS jiu-jitsu championship early 2012 with cash prizes worth over R$15,000. To anyone who has yet to visit Buzios it is a great place to go on weekends, for an escape from the city of Rio and with an excuse to compete at the same time why not make the trip.

Keep an eye on the Connection Rio facebook page for updates on this event and best means of transportation to Arena Buzios.

Jungle fight in City of God this weekend

This Saturday October 22nd marks the date for Wallid Ismail promoted Jungle Fight promotion’s first event to be held in the infamous City of God.

Connection Rio is anxiously awaiting the event and will be accompanied by Real Rio Show, shooting the upcoming season of the show. This episode will air as one of Real Rio Show’s first episodes of season two. For more information see the Jungle Fight Official Site.

Thank you for making time to read this fifth edition of the Connection Rio blog. Be sure to watch the latest Connection Rio vlog on the Connection Rio YouTube channel and subscribe for all the latest news and techniques.

Until next week, Live your Dreams!

- Dennis Asche

Dennis Asche is ProMMAnow.com‘s direct connection to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As an American living in the birthplace of modern MMA, and as a BJJ black belt training and teaching in Rio, Dennis has his hand on the pulse of the MMA and BJJ scene in Brazil. Tune in each week as Dennis keeps us informed through his Connection Rio blog. Follow Dennis on Twitter @ConnectionRio.

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