By  on October 12, 2012

There is no starker reminder that Brazil is a developing country than the drive into Rio de Janeiro on the Linha Amarela and Linha Vermelha highways. I made that drive in a 20-seat van that was packed with 21 people. The 21st person was a 2-year-old girl who was stumbling freely in the space between the seats and the door as the van navigated traffic at top speeds—not a customary sight in the United States, but not unexpected here.

But it was the sight outside the window that really floored me. Shortly before the van entered a tunnel on the outskirts of Rio, the landscape was filled with multilevel houses made of brick, occasionally broken up by fields where boys were playing soccer and flying kites. The walls were graffitied, and trash littered everywhere.

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