Just a short walk from Copacabana was Parque Natural Municipal da Catacumba.
On the surface the park provided a rich mix of public art sculptures, a hiking track, and an adventure ropes course.
I hiked the lone track which was a steep ascent to vistas of the harbor and Corcovado Mountain. There were interesting marmosets and wildlife to see along the way.
The history of the park was equally as interesting. While some placards told of ancient history of the area, others spoke of more recent times.
The history of the Catacumbra Farm is not much known. The property belonged to Baroness “Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas” after her death, after that, she left it to her slaves who considered themselves owners of the land. In 1925, the state subdivided it into smaller properties that were sold. A long legal process has begun when the heirs of the Baroness pleaded the repossession of the land. The first hut appeared in the 30s, but the real growth of the slums happened in 1942, with the arrival of emigrants from “Maranhao”. The slum, which looked like a uniform mass to the observers, was actually divided into three parts. The area closest to Ipanema was called the “Passarinheiro”, the middle was known as “maranhao” and the third area, along the “Curva do Calombo”, was called “Cafe Globo”. The access to the Catacumbra slum could be made from on of its 15 entries that led to their 1500 homes, which 79% were wood made. -placard inside park
At some point this hill was covered with plantations, and then shacks. The shacks were razed when the park was created. Evidence of their existence could be seen everywhere. Old terra cotta tile and cement and even plateware could be seen along the trail and in the forest. The city made a commitment to “quality of life” issues by opening green space for the “health and welfare” of Rio’s community. As a consequence all the people who lived here were displaced, their homes destroyed. Beautiful sculptures were erected. The forest had time to recover and birds, mammals, and reptiles have started to return.
As I walked along the path looking at some amazing views of the harbor I reflected on the juxtaposition of what it will take to save earth for future generations. It meant here, as it meant in many other places I had travelled in the last 9 months. The displacement of people from that area. The restriction of activities in that area. This usually means rangering or patrols. And most importantly, give mother nature time to recover. Mother nature can be a self righting ship if given time and space. From areas like Chernobyl (Click Here) to the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea (Click Here), nature is making a comeback. As the coronavirus keeps people indoors, in Venice the waters have started to clear and become magnificent again (Click Here). Throughout our travels we have seen nature make a comeback. Rinca Island in Komodo, Kinabatangan River in Borneo, Ranthambore, Chitwan, and Imire.
Nature needs time and space. Unfortunately, it is usually the impoverished and indigenous communities that pay the price for that time and space.