Pilar's Feed
Jun 2, 2014
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Down and dirty English

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WARNING: SEXUAL CONTENT

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

As I went chasing after “ladies of the night” (who sometimes work in the daytime too) I discovered that some of them are proud to be sex workers, almost too proud to be bothered by someone like me – a photographer looking for a good story.

I was on an assignment to take pictures of a group of prostitutes who are taking English classes once a week in preparation for the World Cup. They hope these lessons will help them communicate better with soccer fans who might use their services when they come to Brazil.

Sep 18, 2013
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A streetcar desired

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

“Why is Bonde crying, Mom?” my six-year-old son Caetano asked me. I hadn’t noticed it before but he was right. Bonde, the little streetcar that was retired but is still ever-present in our neighborhood, is depicted as tearful in graffiti, posters, stickers, t-shirts, and souvenirs. The yellow trolley that was part of the old train system for more than 115 years and became an icon of Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Teresa neighborhood, doesn’t circulate anymore. Bonde is crying, and so are the neighbors!

Last August 27th was the two-year anniversary of the great Bonde accident in which six people died, including the conductor, Nelson. That was the day Nelson became a hero when, realizing that the brakes were failing, he began screaming to the passengers to jump as he struggled with the mechanism until the fatal impact. That’s why Nelson appears in Bonde graffiti with a big smile on his face, and shops sell posters with his emblematic face.

Jul 15, 2013
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Slumdog gringos

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

One day I decided to check out rumors that there were gringos living in the famous but feared “favelas” of Rio. I went to the Vidigal favela and asked residents if they knew any foreigners living there, and they confirmed, “This place has been invaded by gringos. Look around a while and you’ll see a parade of them, even Peruvians, Ecuadorians, from everywhere.”

Although the term gringo was originally coined in Mexico to refer to Americans, here it refers to any foreigner, even myself, a gringa from Peru.

Jan 22, 2013
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A living culture in downtown Rio

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Rio de Janiero, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

On the first day I appeared as a stranger, to photograph them without knowing their history or their story. The second day I understood what was going on and was able to talk with them at length about what they were doing. The third day I sat and had coffee with them, laughed with them, and listened to them talk about their villages and how hard it is to be in the city.

They are Indians from Brazil’s most remote corners, about to be evicted from the place where they have lived for over six years, the historic Indian Museum next to the famous Maracana soccer stadium.

Sep 7, 2012
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Rio’s ballerinas

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By Pilar Olivares

When I first reached Ballet Santa Teresa’s school for underprivileged girls and met the students, I didn’t take a single picture. I didn’t dare to. The girls, who are almost all from families living in some form of social risk, approached as if confronting me, dancing and yelling.

For a while I felt like an intruder. They were wearing jeans instead of ballet dresses, and were listening to Rio’s famous funk carioca music. At my home in a mountainous neighborhood of Rio, I hear funk floating towards us from the surrounding shantytowns known the world over as favelas.

    • About Pilar

      "Pilar Olivares was a soccer specialist for a Lima sports magazine before working for Reuters. She began with Reuters in 1996, spending four months covering the hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Lima, and continues with the agency today, covering all type of news and sports in Latin America. Pilar moved to Rio de Janeiro in July, 2012, where she is currently based."
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