Chicken Ass on a Stick. Ever had it? Well I hadn´t either until I moved to Taiwan in 1996. If you want to read more about this delicacy, check out the latest issue of XI Quarterly. If you follow this link you´ll get a snippet of the article. Follow this link for an interview I did with the XI Quarterly editors. Sadly, I didn't make their list of best-ever American midfielders abroad.
In Rio, there's no chicken ass on a stick, but there are frangos a-plenty. It is nearly impossible to find a decent game of pick-up football, and extremely difficult to find public transporation that doesn´t kill you or test the limits of human endurance. To solve the former, I am starting a weekly pelada on the Aterro do Flamengo, Campo 1, at 6pm on Wednesdays. To solve the latter, well...there appears to be no hope.
Check out this video (warning, facebook link) to see how the security agents of the Metrô push people into the cars at rush hour. Remember, these are the cars that took two years to get here from China, arrived rusted, and when put on the tracks, were several cm higher than the platforms, making impossible their access by wheelchair.
I suggest that all Cariocas go to work in their swimwear, bring a can of olive oil and grease up before getting on public transport.
The "super-modern BRT system" that the mayor calls a "transportation revolution", turns out to be merely revolting. Less than six months after its hurried inaguration, there are a half-dozen stations that have not been opened, yet have televisions turned on all the time and appear to be functional, the final stretch of the BRT has no exclusive lane putting more buses on the city streets, and along a major part of the line, the buses can no longer run because of the immense potholes. These buses are also already stuffed to capacity. In addition to the poor planning, poor execution and hurried implementation, pieces of the new tunnel have started to fall off. The BRT also can´t operate when it rains too much.
When I last visited the BRT Transoeste in December, I could not buy a ticket at the Salvador Allende station because the ticket booth did not open until 2pm. All of the morning functionaries had been fired - no replacements. The machines for recharging tickets were not working. The security guard, who worked for an outsourced firm, was obliged to open the gates to let everyone on for free. As Woody Allen once said, "It´s a joke of a ruse of a farse of a travesty", but in Rio, it´s business as usual.
Is there another major city in the world that does not have a map of the bus system or in which city buses regularly flip over, run red lights or crash into each other? The buses are expensive, disorganized, uncomfortable, have no schedule and treat their users like animals. The bus drivers, in general, have the ghost of Ayrton Senna in their right foot. The salary for a bus driver is around R$1700 a month. 10 hours a day in Rio's traffic is enough to make anyone furious, but with that salary, ten tons of metal becomes a tool for revenge.
The title of this blog is a useful phrase for visitors and locals alike: tá de brincadeira = you´ve got to be kidding me.
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