On Saturday I ventured out of my hostel for the first time properly, to meet people and see some of this former capital, the third largest city in Brasil, Salvador de Bahia. I was invited to explore the ‘Centro Histórico’ by a wonderful Couch Surfer with spare time and a passion for sharing her town and her time with foreigners.
We ended up at a weekly jazz event housed in the Museum of Modern Art complex, where I met some other CS’ers, and we shared stories of the World Cup.
I have always had a blindly optimistic view of the coming games: S.Africa was dangerous and scary and disorganised too, and yet I spent a wonderful six months there, and safety improved massively during the tournament.
This time, however, things feel a little different.
“There’s going to be a revolution. People are going to die,” one of my new acquaintances firmly announced.
This is the most extreme opinion I have heard so far. People are concerned at the ongoing series of strikes, from the police strikes in Bahia last year which saw dozens killed, (don’t read this, Mum); to the less serious but nonetheless important transport strikes here the day before I arrived; and all the way down to the teachers’ strikes in São Paolo, which another new friend had confirmed over the fretwankery of Salvador’s finest jazz ensemble last night.
But anger over the money invested in the games, (see: in officials’ pockets, it is felt), and not in local infrastructure and real people’s lives, is growing, and led to a protest in Brasilia last week which, bizarrely, saw one policeman shot in the leg…with an arrow!
Other problems include, but are not limited to, (in growing order of seriousness): hundreds of kilos of food past its sell-by date being delivered to international teams; the fact that, after seven years of preparation, some stadia may not be properly ready in time, (including the one here in Salvador!); and an eighth worker dying in May on construction of the stadia.
Not wanting to add to the ‘doom and gloom’ predictions prevalent in the media before every major sporting event, (including and maybe especially London 2012, which eventually proved itself to be The Best Sporting Event In World History Ever™), I will say that there are a million things I am looking forward to here, (and which will no doubt be featured on a subsequent blog, or rather throughout all these blogs).
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