Thursday, June 26, 2014

Porto Alegre

I had felt something on the sole of my right foot over the last few days, at first it felt like a heat spot, itchy. Now on the bus I decided to have a closer look ... it looks like I have a couple of blisters forming. (You may have noticed I don't do photos of myself so I'll spare you from the evidence at this stage!)

Footsie

Took Adidas trainer off at night and found in the morning that my foot had swollen up.

Thinking ahead, in Curitiba (now two days away) I have 45 minutes to get from the stadium to the bus station to catch an overnight bus ... distance around 4km, easy to do with a quick exit and jog back with my bag which now weighs much less and so is no trouble.

Juliana in Rio, expressed surprise when she realised that I had been out from early morning until around 8p.m. I thought about it, it's just what I do. Constantly on the go, in a country new to me with so many things to see, there is always something to go and see. Brazilian maps don't help, they do not believe in showing the scale of the map, and things are always further away than you think.

Arriving in Porto Alegre I loosened my shoelace and shoehorned my foot back into my Adidas (looking for sponsors) trainers.

Camila, (I met in Zagreb last December I carried her bag to the bus station and she invited me to Porto Alegre) was waiting patiently as the bus arrived one hour late mainly due to a police security check when they boarded the bus and collected everyone's passports.

She gave me a quick guided tour of the city centre and confessed that there was nothing here.

Porto Alegre is another huge city home to 4 million. It sits on the shores of Lake GuaĆ­ba which is polluted. Government programmes have been put in place to start to clean the lake but in Brazil they like to start new projects not finish old ones.

We took the bus to her family house in the south of the city. A one hour ride in, at times, heavily congested traffic, part of the reason for this is the mass of Argentinians arriving in town (so far estimated at 100,000). We passed a short stretch of monorail (another unfinished project) and she showed me a favela that the foreigners were not meant to see. In all the cities the police cleared the favelas that were near the stadiums so there would be no unfavourable comments.

Camila's family house (with security by Ken Bates ...live, yes an electric fence) is beautiful. I had her brother's bedroom and bathroom. Found there were four bathrooms inside and one outside.

Pizza ice cream


We went for Pizza Brazilian style, where for a set price you could eat as much as you wanted. The waiters come round and offer you a slice, from a variety of different flavours - all very nice. Then when you are ready for dessert they swop your plate and do the same but this time the choice of pizza toppings were chocolate with either ice cream, strawberries or bananas. Not sure it will catch on back home, but I enjoyed it and Camila's company as she told me more about life in Brazil.

I found that Brazil had banned alcohol in stadiums some time ago in a measure to combat hooliganism, but for the World Cup it was on sale. FIFA insisted. This was a sensible government initiative, overturned for FIFA's commercial gain.

Also learnt that the government had cancelled all armed forces and police leave enabling a high visibility of security (Fortaleza?) during the World Cup. Also that the government had asked the drug dealers to be calm during the World Cup. Once the World Cup is over there will be a high number of security personnel on holiday and the drug dealers will be back on the streets.

Camila told me that she had joined in the protests last year when they called for health and social reforms. She explained that within a week the chanting turned to overthrowing the government and reinstating the military dictatorship. Camila did not protest again.

The government has started projects to encourage students to go abroad to study, so they are trying and there have been years of neglect.

Back home I met Camila's Mum, Dad, brother (sporting an Arsenal shirt) I know the majority of the household support Gremio (4-1 only mum supports Internacional).

Porto Alegre Central Market, Brazil


Her brother tried to improve his English by drinking Caipirinha, no matter how much he drank it didn't seem to work.

They then took an interest in my foot which was by now even more swollen. They asked if I was in pain! I acknowledged "A little". Those of you who know me will understand that means I would not be available for football this particular Thursday night. Mum (in one of her three jobs) is a nurse and had a look. She thinks it is a bite. She asked if I had been on the beach... I had but not with my shoes off. She then thought there must be something in my shoe, so she got my Adidas trainer and bravely put her in hand.... out dropped a piece of fluff. Nothing else.

We agreed to review the situation in the morning. I went to bed with three pillows at the bottom of the bed to help keep my foot elevated, and woke to find the swelling had thankfully gone down.

Breakfast was great. Warm milk with honey, and a range of different spreads laid out, amongst them dulce de leche... no need for pills or medication if I have this.

A morning resting, and tasting Camila's home made Brigadeirio (delicious sweet and sticky chocolate) before heading for the stadium where my first task was to get a Brahma cup with Argentina v Nigeria on it. (The things I do!!!).

Once I completed this task I headed for first aid. I explained, and they had a look. They did some tests and recorded the details, they could not say what has happened but said I could watch the match and gave me a prescription... didn't see dulce de leche or Bramha on it though.

Nigeria v Argentina, Porto Alegre


Back in 2005 I attended the U20 World Cup final played between (you guessed) Nigeria and Argentina.

Argentina won 2-1 thanks to two penalties thanks to a man we now know as Argentina's No10. But the most memorable thing about the day was the winning celebrations. Argentina were booed as they went round the pitch as the crowd felt that Argentina had been outplayed and that Nigeria were the better team.

Looking through the line ups for that game you would recognise Argentinians (Messi, Aguero, Zabaletta and Gago) the only Nigerian recognisable was John Obi Mickel.

So a chance for revenge for Nigeria!

The 3rd place game played before featured Brazil, not one of the players that played that day made it into their 2014 World Cup squad, when they managed to turn around an 88th minute deficit into a 2-1 win against Morocco.

You could, if you wanted, count the number of Nigerians. On percentage of capacity this was the largest following. Strict policing on the way in meant I did not find out about the black market for this one.

The game itself had similarities to the one nine years ago. Argentina won by one goal, Messi scored twice. The Brazilians in the crowd jeered the Argentinian win.

Next stop Curitiba.

© Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

No comments: