“In Rio, it feels like everything was prepared in haste"
My plans were somewhat upset because I was supposed to come with a friend who was unable to get a visa for Brazil in the end. So I’ll admit that at first, I was a little bored, but I’m starting to meet people.In Rio, everything and everyone is frenzied. You can see workers everywhere in the streets or on construction sites. Moreover, for a country so infatuated with football, Brazil is falling short of the ambiance I was expecting. There are certainly some posters in the streets, but there’s less emphasis on football than I was anticipating. The Brazilians I’ve met are not very enthusiastic. Many think the authorities really don’t have the right priorities.“Very few people speak English”I don’t want to be negative because I’m having a good time, but I can’t help but notice that very few people speak English, even in stores. For instance, it took a ridiculous amount of time to be able to communicate which SIM card I wanted in a store selling mobile phones. They really need to get ready for a lot more visitors coming here, because there are the Olympic Games after the World Cup.A beach in Rio.From a security standpoint, we’ve been warned so much about Brazil that I was really on edge when I arrived. After several days here, though, I already feel far more at ease. Part of that is because there are policemen on every street corner.I also spent two days in Sao Paulo. But the city was so backed up due to traffic jams that I wasn’t able to see much.
Sao Paulo and its traffic jams
“In Manaus, it’s really hot, but the atmosphere is increasingly festive”
I took a flight from England to Georgetown in Guyana. From there, I took a bus to the city of Manaus. The trip lasted 18 hours and everything went smoothly. It’s very hot [between 30 and 33 °C this week] and humid, but I already had the time to do a little jungle tour and to see gorgeous waterfalls.Traffic is pretty bad, but the city seems ready. There are flags everywhere. The atmosphere is increasingly festive. On Saturday, I'm going to watch my first game at the stadium. In the meantime, I’m planning on taking a 7-hour boat trip on the Amazon.”
“In Fortaleza, theft and murder is getting worse”
I paid 200 euros for a ticket to attend a match on June 29 at the Castelao Stadium, but I don’t think I will go in the end. I am too worried about my security. The Brazil that we imagine and the Brazil that actually exists are worlds apart. I’m staying100 metres from the beach in a fairly upscale neighbourhood, but I never go to the beach because I’m scared of being attacked. Due to the recent police strikes, theft and murders are increasingly common. Every day, there’s a new story. Barely a week ago, I was sitting at a restaurant with a friend, and a man was shot right in front of me. Recently, several bus drivers were murdered, and strikes have been called. Traffic has become extremely hairy.A beach in Fortaleza. Photo by David Ollie.For all these reasons, going to the stadium just seems too risky, even if there are tons of police checkpoints. My Brazilian friends and I would rather stay at home in front of the TV. You can look out my window onto the street for 30 minutes, and you still won’t see anyone walking around. People are too afraid to walk alone outside.I advise visitors to remain in the touristy areas. They need to be aware that people are dying like flies here. No good will come from venturing off the beaten path. And I’m not counting on the tourist police to help them, because they generally speak neither English nor French. Foreign tourists have no idea what they're up against here.Surfers in Fortaleza. Photo by David Ollie.