Brasilia Day 3

I have taken an afternoon break and joined a guided tour. This is I admit, a variation of a travel rort.

Uniquely the whole city of Brasilia is a UN World Heritage site. Over the last few days and with this guided tour, I have come to appreciate the concept and design.

The JK memorial as it is known fondly in Brasilia goes not refer to the American President, but the Brazilian President! Another creation in cement beneath which he is buried and with such a load on top of him, never to rise from the dead!

Our Lady of Fatima is a quaint local church, one of the first buildings constructed in Brasilia in 1958 – designed by Niemeyer. It has a small roof sail like and peaked to evoke the hats of the nuns of the St Vincent’s Order. I recall it was the same thing that Julie Andrews wore in the Sound of Music?

Another church The Dom Bosco Sanctuary surely was inspired by Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona ? Built in 1970 it has an amazing intense blue light from floor to ceiling stained glass.

The Museum Honestino Guimaraes is a white cement dome graceful in its simplicity.

The Cathedral is also a rather unexpected architectural creation which I suspect provokes division amongst observers given its ribbed lightshade appearance.

What is really marvelous in the literal sense is that all of the Niemeyer creations in cement,outwardly robust rather than delicate, are remarkable from the inside, creating a sense of softness, light and space.

A significant number of the major buildings are undergoing renovations and a huge new football stadium is being constructed, all in preparation for World Cup Soccer in two years.

I explained previously that Brasilia was a cross between Canberra and Alice Springs. After 3 days here, I would like to add any third world tropical city to the mix! Each afternoon huge dark grey cumulous clouds build up, threatening a tropical downpour, which if it does happen passes in 20 minutes and the sun reappears. The huge expanses of natural space are covered in either fine dusty red soil or that very characteristic broad leaf, coarse buffalo grass that grows so prolifically and ubiquitously in the tropics (and Sydney)!

The third world feel comes about because of the overall sense that public infrastructure is always behind in terms of maintenance. So roads, kerbs, gutters, paths and parks that from creation in 1960 would have been spotless and perfect, show multiple minor signs of age. Potholes, loose or missing paving, collapsed kerbs combined with a mix of significant graffiti and the discarded rubbish of our take-away world.

Whereas the threat of litigation in Australia, means that potholes, loose paving, cracked kerbs, fallen suburban trees or branches are, relatively speaking, rectified quickly.

I was about to write – Not a single cyclist sighted. “Motor cars rule, OK? Cyclists ride, KO”! However within a few seconds, TWO zipped past me on the main thoroughfare. There is no such thing as a cycle lane. It was dusk and the first, on a hybrid, had no helmet, no lighting and travelled at the general speed of the traffic anyway! The second was on a road bike with bright blue lights attached to the spokes of both wheels! Looked like a catherine-wheel. Effective and not something I have seen before. It still would not get me on a cycle in Brazil. Suffice it to say, I have not seen anymore cyclists since!

Two differing eating experiences-

The Bar Bierut – Lebanese food the menu described several dishes including “worn out meat” and “mussarela cheese”. The meaning of the latter is obvious, the former I reckon is their translation of “aged beef”.

The second was so totally different and decadent. A smorgasbord of BBQ meat and salads. Handsome young men dressed like Spanish cowboys with black pantaloons, black riding boots, shirt and red bandana, pranced amongst the tables each carrying a huge skewer of a particular “cut” of meat. Your drink coaster served as a signal to these macho waiters: coloured green indicated “give me more, yes please”, turn it over, to show red – “no thanks had enough at present” … how much meat can a man handle?

Given my bird like eating habits and propensity to “graze” , it was eat as much as you like for about $75 – they made a huge profit out of me that night!

It’s 3 weeks till I arrive home, I am meeting Osley at the airport tomorrow and I shall spend the last weeks travelling with him. Weird and wonderful places without Internet I suspect! We start in the Pantanal region.

Oh God have just read that Yellow Fever is endemic there!