One of the reasons for my blog not being written as regularly as I’d like is because I was promoted back in August. Obviously, this is mint, unfortunately it has meant that my relationship with Rio’s public transport has taken on a far more intimate role. And although I approach my bus journeys as a bit of a novelty and an adventure to be enjoyed, they are certainly eye-opening and, in many respects, canny shocking, like.
I live in Barra da Tijuca (pron. ‘ba-ha da tee-joo-ka) which is in the West Zone of Rio, zona oeste. It’s an affluent neighbourhood but is seen as being a bit ‘naff’ in comparison to the more fashionable South Zone, zona sul, it’s also where the majority of the Olympic Games will be held so you’re going to be hearing a lot about the area as we approach 2016. Unfortunately for me, my new job is in Gávea which is in the South Zone. Thankfully, it is the first neighbourhood that I come to when travelling from Barra which means if there is little or no traffic my journey can be as little as a 40 minute drive, with traffic that can extend up to anywhere between 1 hour 40mins and 2 hours. Never let me hear you complain about the Coast Road again.
Being an environmentally conscience (and skint) family, we are a one car family, and as both my wife and I work and study as well as having a wee rug-rat to taxi around I’ve had to embrace the joy that is the Rio Bus ‘Service’.
The buses themselves are huge, lumbering single deckers. Seeing them on the roads is like seeing a whale trying to maneuver itself up the Tyne. Ideally, double-deckers would help alleviate the usual crush that the passengers’ experience, but Rio’s many tunnels make them impractical – the city is squeezed between ocean and mountains, meaning most routes will take you through the heart of a mountain at some point.
If you’re lucky enough for the bus to actually stop for you (oh aye) and if there is actually room for you to get onboard, you find yourself faced with something you’d more associate with SJP than a bus – a bloody turnstyle! As soon as you’re onboard the doors are slammed shut behind you and the bus is lurching off up the road as the driver seems determined to get up through the gears quicker than Vettel with Webber on his tale. Once you’ve scraped yourself off the windscreen (or in some cases, the driver’s lap) it’s time to tackle the ‘pay the conductor–pocket your change-get through the turnstyle–find a seat without seriously damaging yourself or your fellow passengers-whilst travelling at high velocity over bumpy, winding roads’ assault course.
This is hard enough for me to accomplish – imagine your nan trying it!
Rush hour here is 07:30 – 10:00 and 17:00 – 19:30 from Monday to Thursday and on a Friday it is 07:00 – 23:00 (without a hint of exaggeration). Good luck finding a seat during these times. In fact, good luck finding a bus which is not full to bursting. Fridays are soul destroying for me as my wife has the car and I know that no matter how early or late I leave work I have nothing to look forward to other than an hour and a half stood on a jammed bus with my face stuck in a labourer’s armpit and the physical effort of stopping my groin from slamming into the face of a middle aged housemaid every time the driver slams the bus into a tighter-than-required right turn, having mistaken the bloated jellyfish of a bus he’s driving for a tightened European hot hatch. The git.
It’s during these times that you will experience the best and the worst of the Carioca. On the downside, you’ll notice with a twang of disappointment as kids and young men ignore the middle aged women, with armfuls of shopping, being thrown up and down the aisle thanks to the driver’s erratic acceleration and subsequent heavy breaking. But every now and then something happens to give you a smile.
Last week, while I was standing and clinging on for dear life, I heard a voice ask me to hand over my bag. Looking over to the speaker with a feeling of dread and apprehension, I discovered that it wasn’t a micey looking kid looking for an easy target, it was in fact a lovely middle aged woman asking me if she could hold my bag for me! This, I remembered, is a fantastic piece of ‘bus etiquette’: if you’re standing and holding a bag, those lucky enough to be seated will often offer to take the weight for you. I gladly accepted her request and before long she was holding 3 bags in total, which made for a lovely pillow for her to rest her head on while she took a well-deserved 40 winks. Magic.
Since I last wrote Botafogo’s credible title-challenge has slipped away somewhat. Leaders, Cruzeiro, were held to a 0-0 draw with Corinthians, only for ‘Fogo to slip up with a shock 2-1 home defeat to mid-table wonders, Bahia (sound familiar?). Cruzeiro’s lead has increased to 8 points with 14 games to go. Luckily for ‘Fogo, Grêmio also slipped up, unluckily for ‘Fogo Atlético Paranaense has put a wee run together jumping to 3rd spot and 1 point behind our black ‘n’ white brethren.
Hypothetically, Botafogo have a winnable home game against Ponte Preta whilst Cruzeiro have a tough away game at Internacional in the south, but ´Fogo appear to have an NUFC-esque ability to throw obstructions into their own path. Let’s see what happens.
The last round was a disappointment for all 4 of Rio’s clubs, with Vasco also losing 2-1 away to Ronaldinho’s Atlético Mineiro while Fluminense and Flamengo both earned 0-0 draws to Coritiba and Nautico respectively.
Flamengo’s current state is a bit worrying. Their manager, ex-Brazil coach Mano Menezes quit last week after a home 4-2 spanking at the hands of Atlético Paranaense. Normally after a coach quits the players pull a win out of the bag (see SAFC) but Fla could only manage a 0-0 draw with the league’s whipping boys. Dark times indeed for the Flamenguestas.
And the lads. Fox Sports were showed the Hull match on VT a couple hours after the match finished, but it was on when I wasn’t able to watch it. Expecting a very comfortable home win (I’d predicted 2-0 and Remy to get off the mark… Half reet, then) I set the timer and recorded before closing down all internet access. I arrived home with the last 5 minutes of the match being played but the box had been switched off! Small mercies, eh? I quickly turned the telly on, saw the score, decided I didn’t want to see Brucey’s gloating face so switched off and tried to forget about it.
I did manage to see the Leeds match on a dodgy stream whilst sat at my desk during work hours (sshhh) and although we didn’t set the night alight it was certainly the type of response I wanted after the humiliation (and it was a humiliation, by the way) of Saturday. I thought Dummet was terrific, Sammy showed flashes of what he can do and Marveaux was, well, Marveaux…
It’s nice to have two home draws on the trot in the competition, so maybe this will be our year after all!
Although it’s always pleasant to see our Red & White friends own the road in turmoil, continuing their hire a manager – buy a new team – fire the manager merry-go-round (and this last one was particularly hilarious) let’s not allow it to take our minds off our own club.
Apparently the cups aren’t a priority, which leaves us looking to win the Premier League, I guess. Someone best tell Mike it’ll take a bit more than a loan signing every summer to achieve that goal. The Director of Football has gone to ground and will only resurface in January in his ‘Operation Human Shield’ role of protecting the owner from any blame during another disastrous transfer window. The manager has actually dabbled in a proven, previously highly successful 4-3-3 formation, but is still prone to dodgy subs (Tiote while chasing the game, anyone?) and is stifled by a lack of a Plan B. And I have no idea where our chief scout is or what he’s thinking.
Yes, have a laugh at them, but currently we are little better run than they are and it’d do us all well not to forget that.
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