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Do you really know Rio?– HOOKED UP with Kylie Flavell – Episode 7

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Published on Mar 23, 2016

In this episode, Kylie travels to Rio de Janeiro to stay in an Airbnb owned by Theresa, a half-American, half-Brazilian single mom and head of an NGO. Tucked away from the touristy beaches of Copacabana, in a leafy and vibrant area, Kylie gets an authentic feel for the heart and philosophy of the effervescent city.

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Kylie is Australian but has lived all over the world as a journalist and filmmaker. She makes food and travel TV shows such as When Patrick Met Kylie, The Dolce Vita Diary, When in Rome, When in Florence and Amore Al Dente, which air on TLN Canada, Discovery TLC Asia, TLC Australia, TLC Latin America, Fox Life India, TV2 Norway and other networks in 68 countries. 

Arriving in sunny Rio after a long flight and 48 hours of no sleep, Kylie’s tiredness is soon exchanged with excitement as she is welcomed by a little party in the courtyard of her Airbnb in Santa Teresa. Curious at the chance to explore her new neighbourhood, Kylie quickly agrees to have breakfast with her host’s friend Julie the next morning. Julie is involved in Red Light Rio (www.facebook.com/redlightrioproject), an interview project with women involved in Rio's sex industry, which follows them through the city's efforts to clean-up for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. On Kylie’s outing with Julie, she notices the difference between the tourist areas like Copacabana and Ipanema, and the quieter neighbourhoods that are full of real life and a sense of community. She relishes in the vibrant colors, diverse textures and lush tropical trees whilst watching locals take part in everyday activities – walking their children to school and drinking coffee in cafes.

In Hollywood blockbusters such as the City of God and in news headlines of Rio’s Olympic bid, the city is often portrayed in two extremes – the extravagant parties, carnival parades, sambas, beaches and everlasting sunshine versus the crime, violence and dark side of the Favelas. However, Kylie’s host Theresa explains that many positive aspects of Brazilian culture rely on the middle ground between these two extremes. She tells Kylie that although a handful of unsavoury areas generate a negative stigma in the media, there are many welcoming cultural characteristics that originate in the favelas and spread through society. Although there may be limited opportunities for many people in the poorer areas of Rio, Theresa explains how people create their own happiness by focusing on achieving happiness now and making people smile, rather than worrying about the future. She tells Kylie how she has devoted her life to improving the city through her NGO (Catalytic Communities: http://catcomm.org) whilst raising her children, which would be impossible without the supplementary money she receives from hosting through Airbnb. It is this realisation that shows us how important visiting a new city and learning about a new culture can be.

Although it may be fun to drink pina coladas on Copacabana beach, it is only when you live everyday life in the friendly, local neighbourhoods that you are able to understand the beautiful culture that is thriving in Rio. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway, a gap year, a backpacking holiday, a road trip, a sabbatical, a summer vacation or just the adventure of a lifetime, the best way to experience a foreign country is to push your comfort zone and experience life like a local, breathing in the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of a country that lie buried beneath the surface. Only then will you get a true insight into the soul of the city.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Kylie!

Special thanks to Airbnb Inc. for helping make Kylie's latest adventure possible.

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