Day One

We’ve survived the first actual day at the Forum.

First impressions are that it’s much more chaotic and less well organised than Porto Alegré 2005, though it’s possible we missed some things. The Forum is split between two university campuses, UFPA and UFRA, with UFPA being a more dense, built-up site and UPRA a huge sprawling tract of land that seems to take an hour to walk across. Combine that with 30-degree heat, the afternoon paper-eating rain (though The Big Rain seemed to play truant today and we only got a few minor showers around 2pm), lots of shouting people with a stage and a loudspeaker, apparently far fewer international and English-speaking exhibitors, and 100,000 visitors, and it’s a recipe for exhaustion.

Of the two, UFPA now seems more liveable. Looking at the map it seems like there may be some collections of small organisations that we missed; I hope so because otherwise the collection of groups we’ve encountered so far seems very disappointing. Several banks, governmental agencies, political parties (of the loud red-flag-waving type… come to think of it, I thought one of the Forum ground rules was ‘no political parties or armed struggle groups’, but that one always seems to have ignored), a Cuba tent, lots of Amazonian indigenous groups, and a couple of others (the Sister Dorothy movement seems somewhat interesting) – but so far, nothing like the vast international spectrum of causes and activists present in 2005. I can only hope they’re hiding somewhere.

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