Well, I went for the bus, waiting where I thought it was going from at the main bus station on the platform as stated on my ticket. With only ten minutes before departure I checked where fellow passengers were going – none were going to Brasilia!
Found someone who worked at the bus station and they confirmed the bus was due to depart from another bus station, they wrote the address down and sent me towards the taxi rank with a bit of paper. (Looks like I might break all the rules on this trip!)
The taxi driver understood I was in a hurry and made his way hastily across town, some 15 minutes later we arrived and my bus had gone. I explained at the ticket office, and they put me on the next bus which departed 20 minutes after mine. They then took me to the bus station I had come from. I was told I should wait here, I was soon joined by 6 others who had also missed the bus!!!
Included in this motley crew were 2 South Koreans who kept our spirits up by sharing their Korean octopus sausage and a Brazilian doctor travelling with his son. He said that if he didn’t know where to catch the bus then no wonder the foreigners had problems.
A bus came in about 20 minutes and the other 6 got on. I was to wait…. and wait.
Whilst waiting I considered my options I could go back to my bar. (It was samba tonight and I knew my friends would be there) that wouldn’t be so bad. Two hours after my scheduled departure time and I was finally on my way. 11 hours later and I was in Brasilia.
I had done my homework as I didn’t have much time here…so here you are.
Brasilia is the only city in the world constructed in the 20th century to have been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The city was built in 41 months, and is considered a masterpiece of modernist architecture.
Juscelino Kubitschek was president of Brazil from 1956 to 1961, this time was unusual as there was a period of political calm. He was responsible for the plan of National Development, which carried the motto “50 years of progress in 5.” (Shame they didn’t bring that one back!)
He transferred the capital of Brazil away from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. The idea of moving the capital to somewhere central had been around since 1891 (possibly after Italian saint Don Bosco had a prophetic dream in 1883 in which he described a futuristic city that roughly fitted Brasilia’s location) but he made it happen. The new modern capital would show the world that Brazil had broken from its colonial past, whilst at the same time boosting industry and initiating major construction projects.
A design competition was arranged for the building of the new city and this was won by Lucio Costa, who enlisted the help of Oscar Niemeyer (whom he had been working with on a new Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janiero collaborating with Le Corbusier).
Kubitschek attracted foreign capital by exempting taxes and had a generous credit policy. Of course he was accused of corruption, mainly around the awarding of construction contracts, but nothing was ever proven. He left office in 1961 with foreign debt having grown from 87 million dollars to 297 million dollars and inflation running at 43%.
When the military seized power in 1964 his political rights were suspended and he went into a self imposed exile. he returned to Brazil in 1967 and was killed in a car crash in 1976. In 2000 Leonel Brizola, the former governor of Rio de Janeiro alleged he was assassinated, this was proven in 2013, but corrected in 2014 to say it was a genuine accident!
So, arriving in Brasilia an hour later than planned at 8a.m. I checked my bag in the left luggage without a problem and collected my bus ticket to Fortaleza which was due to depart at 17.15.
I had read that I needed to get a bus to travel the 7 miles to the centre, but I found a Metro system in operation. You could tell it was new as they had only done the outlines for the graffiti on the front of the building.
Arriving in the centre I headed for Tres Poddres square, where Niemeyer’s National Congress Building was the main show piece.
Niemeyer was certainly ahead of his time in architectural terms, but here in Brasilia it was to be the foundation of a city.
What I found was Milton Keynes with American highways and underpasses instead of roundabouts.
Niemeyer is quoted as saying “It is strange how the power of beauty makes us forget so much injustice,”
I now recognised a familiar police presence outside each Government building. Today I met this lot near the Niemeyer museum. They explained there had been a small and peaceful protest because they were fed up with the Government.
Wish I had asked this lot what they thought of that.
Arrived back at the bus station. in plenty of time, but was getting worried as there was no sign of a bus at the due departure time. We eventually set off 45 minutes late. (Life’s not fair).