City of Bars

It turns out that we arrived a couple of days early for the Forum; though registration started yesterday (and the queues were huge), the opening ceremonies aren’t til tomorrow (Tuesday); even then, it looks like the full schedule of morning seminars doesn’t start until Thursday, with Wednesday being ‘Pan-Amazonia Day’ focusing on South and Central America and apparently dominated by performance art.

At least that’s what the programme says, and if 2005 is any guide, the programme can be wildly different from reality.

In the meantime we get to adjust a bit, and walk around the downtown area trying to work out what makes this city tick.

Restaurants – or any kind of eating place above footpath vendors – seem hard to locate. So far the best we’ve found is a deli-type thing in a supermarket, which has both comida á kilo and rolls and cakes. Y.Yamada, which is the most upmarket supermarket, has a single, expensive, comida á kilo establishment, and no food court like the one in Rio or Porto Alegre.

Almost every shop and house has the ubiquitous bars locking out the whole frontage. Last night it was very obvious. Some of the few shopfronts that didn’t were 24-hour funeral parlours with shiny plate-glass windows (and watchful attendants). Avenida Governador Jose Malcher was particularly surreal: first English schools, then funeral parlours, then Evangelical churches packed with earnest, suited people. Then a Bob’s Burger, a Brazilian Burger King type franchise.

Although the city looks wealthy from some angles, the bars make me think this is a place where people live in perpetual fear of the street – of invasion from it, or falling back down into it.

A big stage has been erected in the Praça de Operaria, next to the rodoviário (bus terminal). I think this is where the Forum opening march will end.


One Response to “City of Bars”

  1. W. Says:

    See! Jesus does drive a truck! Actually I thought it was a red pickup truck, but that’s fine too.

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