Justin Cook’s World Cup Diary - Day 2
The bus ride into São Paulo took four hours to cover 17km from the airport.
The whole journey was very surreal as I was watching the bus TV that showed the local news channel's eye in the sky helicopter report on the traffic chaos down below from São Paulo airport all the way into the city, showing - I think - our bus in the snaking queue.
I was watching out of the bus window down below on the next highway where there was about 300 people blocking the road demonstrating against the World Cup with the riot police chasing them down the road with tear gas and pepper spray, then looking on the bus TV showing the same thing live.
The thought that went through my head is this must be the feeling you get heading into a war zone and knowing you are soon to be on the ground.
The Metro strike was suspended late Monday afternoon until Thursday (opening game between Brazil and Croatia) and if the unions don't get the extra four percent pay rise they are looking for the Metro will come to a grinding halt again.
I think they need to take a leaf out of Bob Crow’s book on this one and agree a deal that works for everyone as the world is watching and it would be better to vote this government out in November rather than damage Brazil's image internationally and risk the IOC taking the Olympics away.
I awoke this morning to the beautiful news that my bags had been delivered outside my door. I showered and changed out of my transatlantic smelly clothes ready to grab some food and hit the the street to gauge the vibe.
The thing about São Paulo is that the gap between rich and poor is immense and is illustrated on every street corner. The pace of growth in Brazil is incredible, with all the new condos going up all over the place.
Although a BRIC country I fear all is not well with this economy, for instance the Real (Brazil’s currency) has lost 25 percent of its value over the last two years. When last in Brazil two years ago it was three reals to the pound and now it is four to the pound. Good for export, I suppose, but bad for living standards.
The people on the street are very kind and warm to the tourist attending the World Cup and I think all is good for the travelling fans as long as they show respect and humility. A large number of the residents I have spoken to are not intending to even watch the World Cup, but maybe that will change once it begins.
The police however are quite up tight and not very friendly. I would say São Paulo is on a knife edge right now and if the unthinkable happened with Brazil loosing to Croatia on Thursday, coupled with the metro continuing its strike on Thursday, it could get quite manic and then things could change, but of now the vibe is light.