THE AL GILKES COLUMN: Feeling the feeling in Brazil
Like most people I know, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil has caused me to daily fire de wuk and glue myself to a television screen, mesmerised by the extreme excitement and the Amazon of goals being scored at every jam-packed venue.
If you are not familiar with the geography or you have never visited this massive South American country, you could easily fall into the trap of reducing Brazil to fit into your own perception of size by familiar Barbados as your model. But the three million square miles and more Brazil is no little piece of Barbados rock swimming in an ocean.
Brazil is not only the largest country in South America and indeed the entire Latin America, but also world’s fifth largest country, both by size and its 300 million plus population. Try dividing that 300 000 000 by our 280 000 people and see how much bigger theirs is to ours. Or the 3 000 000 square miles by our peeny 166 and see the difference.
I know this by heart because my first and only visit to Brazil to date took me to the city of Sao Paulo. I flew from Barbados to Miami and then eight long hours from Miami to Sao Paulo. During that time I killed the boredom by occupying my mind with the idea of slipping away from my business responsibilities after a day or two and easing across to Rio. For Rio is where the top dream of every able-bodied man is centred.
That dream is about standing in the middle of the beach with eyes popping out of the sockets at the sight of a mile-long buffet of shapely, full-bubbied, topless women on every cocacola-shaped square inch of sand, some in bikinis of floss barely covering anything and others with nothing and baring everything.
But to my great disappointment, as I got swallowed up among the 11 million odd inhabitants of Sao Paolo it soon dawned on me that such a dream would have to remain a dream until such a time as I could make time to spend some time exclusively in Rio. For Sao Paulo is so large that on any given day I would drive from early morning until mid afternoon to reach an appointment after which it would be until 9 or 10 p.m. before I saw my hotel room again.
However, in that five-star hotel in which I stayed, I discovered an alternative to the beaches of Rio among the variety of information material packed on my bedside tables. Whereas every hotel in which I had stayed up to that time provided a menu of foods and snacks for order by room service after hours, this one also offered a booklet with a menu of the opposite sex that with a call to the reception could be delivered to your room in live and living colour.
Unbelievably, you were allowed to choose by race, colour, nationality or whatever, Black, White, Chinese, Indian, Native American, Venezuelan, Haitian, Columbian or whatever. Like the only race not represented in that booklet were the Inuits from the North Pole.
So did I indulge? I must admit that the temptation to experience the experience, to feel the feeling was present but those tiring, long days in a bus on the road made sleep the best companion every night. So I never did.
Now. Which country will take home the cup on July 13? For sure it cannot be Spain or England. Me, I am favouring one of the South American countries with my money going on the host nation itself – Brazil.
Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email email@example.com