Shannon Cole:What’s gone wrong in Brazil and why I refuse to complain
What's gone wrong?
AFTER finally finding a decent cup of coffee, I smashed it across the cafe floor when a bee landed on my wife’s waffle with honey.
ASKED a shopkeeper to place my sandwiches in my pocket.
ORDERED a brunette-flavoured yoghurt.
RUSHED ourselves and spent less than one hour at the beautiful Ipanema beach in order to get to the famous Copacabana, but once we arrived it was so grossly overcrowded and disappointing that I couldn’t get away quick enough. I forced myself to lie on the beach and appreciate where I was, but such was the density of the crowd I couldn’t see a speck of water from my place in the sand.
HAD the workout of a lifetime trying to stand still on a jam packed bus as I held my wife with one hand in the hope she wouldn’t be squished by the crowd.
KICKED a large rock off the footpath to help others taking the path after me, the rock exploded all over my fluro yellow Nikes... it was dog poo... fresh dog poo.
MY host in Rio told me that our area was “too safe”, his literal translation for “very safe” as his neighbourhood is completely secured by armed guards and the residence overlooks the beach. The next morning, his gf’s car had been broken into, her spare tyre stolen along with a bag of her clothes and his phone. We went straight to the bank on our way to run some errands, but the bank was closed because thieves had robbed it the night before. We couldn’t help but laugh.
“MI avisa quando nós chegamos na minha pareda por favor”. This means please let me know when we arrive at my stop. On three occasions I have asked a bus driver this. Each time he has said, “Sim, não problema.” Yes no problem. Each time I had to rush off well down the road because he had forgotten to tell me.
MISSED my flight from Rio to Porto Alegre after an airport mix up and the worst bus driver of the lot
SPENT $700AU to get another flight after airports closed in Rio due to fog.
So there’s been a handful of occasions that have threatened to ruin the travel bug, but my wife and I refuse to let them get us down. Here’s a few reasons why:
First, we are in Brazil during the World Cup. So far, this Copa has been one of the most entertaining in history and we are lucky enough to be right in the thick of it. That alone is good enough - there should be no cause for complaint.
Second, the positive experiences we have had in Brazil far outweigh any of the trivial issues mentioned above. I love this country. The people, the language, the culture, they are different to anywhere I’ve witnessed.
A waiter at an airport restaurant pinched a size 1 football from a group of American tourists. In his black, leather work shoes he juggled the tiny ball then balanced it with ease on each foot before playing it back to them... only in Brazil.
As well as this, workers all over the country have tiny antennae attached to their smart phones that allow them to watch the games live while they work.
Along with the awe-inspiring moments we have been blessed with, a couple of things have helped us stay positive by putting things in perspective:
After leaving a restaurant at half time of USA v Ghana, my wife spotted a teenage boy hiding in the shadows beneath a tree by the footpath. This observation might sound a little threatening but he wasn’t looking for trouble, he was trying to stay hidden while he did his best to watch one of the seven... yep SEVEN flat screen TV’s showing the game inside the restaurant.
I wanted to help but, not for the first time, I wasn’t brave enough to break the rules for foreigners travelling to Brazil. Instead of offering to buy him a drink so that he could watch the game, I walked away toward our complex hoping he might see some inspiring football from between the leaves.
So that made me appreciate everything I’ve been able to do here.
As for the stress created by transport hiccups... there were tonnes of people stranded as more and more flights were cancelled. For us it sucked, but for some others it was far worse.
For many, it was their only chance to see the Brazilian Selecão in World Cup action. Their hearts must have sunk when they looked out their window at a blanket of fog across the city. Their sunken hearts surely broke when the screens at the airport were showered with the words “FLIGHT CANCELLED”.
Months’ worth of savings spent on a ticket to see Brazil play Mexico and even more spent on a flight from Rio to Fortaleza all wasted. People who literally live in summer for 12 months of the year, cruelly let down by some fog.