BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF might have said the country’s ready “to host the Cup of all Cups,” but not all Brazilians are partaking in the World Cup frenzy. This is what I think every gringo should know before making the trip this summer.
1. Workers have died at World Cup construction sites.
A 55-year-old Portuguese man died earlier this year during the construction of the World Cup stadium in Manaus. He’s not the first: Two men died before him at the same site. There have also been deaths at the future Itaquerão stadium, in São Paulo, when a roof collapsed.
2. There are no express trains / subways from the main airports to city centers.
Yes, there’s a plan to build a train connecting Guarulhos International Airport to São Paulo, but it’s not happening this year. The date’s been pushed to 2015 — just in time for the 2016 Olympics that will be held…in Rio. Great timing, Governor!
3. The stadiums are either unfinished or plagued with problems.
As I’m writing this, only half of the 12 stadiums have been completed. The others have had their opening dates postponed, and one may not get finished at all. Of course, Brazil has demanded more money in order to complete construction. A lot more, in fact: The previously approved budget of $2.8 billion has been raised 285% — which means the 2014 World Cup stadiums alone will cost more than $8 billion.
4. Taxi drivers don’t speak English, or Spanish.
Public transportation is a problem all over the country. Trying to get from point A to B is an everyday problem in most big Brazilian cities. The best way to get around is by taxi, but you’d be surprised how drivers aren’t ready to deal with foreign-language passengers. So learn a few Portuguese sentences and hope for the best — Brazilian people in general are much more honest and eager to help then their governments.
5. Brazil is one of the most expensive countries on Earth.
Really. People are obsessed with making money here.
6. Fireworks turn deadly.
It happened last week and is all over the news: A cameraman was shot in the head by a rocket know as a rojão. It’s not the first and most likely won’t be the last time something similar happens. It’s a dangerous form of entertainment people seem to enjoy. You’ve been warned.
7. Brazilian torcidas are among the most violent in the world.
Heard of the British hooligans? Well, their cousins are alive and well fed in Brazil.
8. Crime rates keep rising.
There’s little an unprepared and ill-equipped police force can do when prisons are already filled beyond capacity. Crime rates in Rio, for instance, just keep going up. And then, as if the situation weren’t dangerous enough, ordinary people are taking up the banner of ‘vigilante justice’ — with tragic results.