Thursday, 27 March 2014

VIDEO: Dancing on a longboard

Today free style skater, Victor Freitas, shows us how to dance on a longboard in Villa Lobos Park, São Paulo.

I´m sure this is harder than it looks.

Check out the video:

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The tender nobody wants to touch: Why the Rio to São Paulo bullet train still isn’t built

What the train could look like (if it were built..)
Talk about a rail link between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo is not new. And it’s not hard to see why people get excited about it. São Paulo– Rio de Janeiro is the busiest air route in the world with 1,130 commercial flights a week.

No two airports in the world has more aircraft movements and part of the reason is the lack of adequate alternatives. Taking a bus takes 6-7 hours if you are lucky enough to avoid heavy traffic and there is no train service, nevermind a bullet train.

Why then is not built already? The answer is not so much in the politic will, Dilma Rousseff actually went as far as promising it would be built in time for the 2014 world cup which is obviously not going to happen. The fact the project has vanished into thin air means she has actually been accused by some of using it only as an election tool.

The other reasons lie in cost, expertise and corruption. The cost of operating the line would be R$35.6bn (US$15.2bn) and the tender was already  launched back in 2010. The problem turned out to be that no capable company was interested in bidding for it. The submission date was moved from April 29th to July 29th 2011 in an effort to attract more companies but again not a single company showed any interest.

An infographic of the tender process
To attract more bids, it was decided the total cost would be split into two separate areas, operability and construction, which could receive individual bids. One tender would be for the actual construction and infrastructure project and the other for the operational and technological running of the line.

The phase 1 tender (construction) was set for December 2012 and again not a single construction company in the world found it attractive.

Alstom, the only bidder, is marred in accustions of corruption 

Finally in August last year Alstom, a company involved in other transport projects in Brazil (such as the metro in São Paulo), participated in the tender. However hopes were immediately dashed due to separate allegations of cartel forming. Until the investigation against Alstom has been resolved, there will presumably not be any further bids and therefore no further advancement in the much talked about Rio-São Paulo bullet train link.

Transport minister César Borges puts it the following deliberately vague way that only politicians truly manage: “In 2014, I do not expect a tender launch until after the October election. Otherwise, it should occur the following year,"

In Brazil there’s always tomorrow, if indeed the intention to build the bullet train is actually genuine..

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

VIDEO: Cars swept away by heavy rains in São Paulo

Anyone living in São Paulo will have noticed the sudden downpour of rain yesterday afternoon. Hopefully none of you were unlucky enough to park their cars in the Vila Madalena district.

Check out the video below of what happened to some cars that did.

Video of the rains on Rua Harmonia:

The moral of the story, park at the top of the hill next time! ;)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

VIDEO: Bicycles in São Paulo

Here's a cute little animation called Bicicletas em São Paulo or Bicycles in São Paulo.

It's a pro-bike, utopic and slightly political statement on traffic in São Paulo. It's also very neatly produced.

 Hope you like it!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Snake Island: the most dangerous island in the world

Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island off the coast of São Paulo but you won’t hear of anyone going there for a holiday.  

Its name in Portuguese implies the land was once cleared by bonfires, probably to establish banana plantations but the plan never became a reality and it is currently uninhabited.

However, it also has another name which gives us a strong clue as to why nobody lives there. It goes by the name of Snake Island (a ilha das cobras) and according to the most conservative estimate, there is the equivalent of one snake per every square metre. 

Others claim there are as many as 5 snakes per square metre which would be in excess of 2 million individual snakes.

More terrifying still, the snakes are not ordinary snakes, they are Golden Lancehead Vipers (Bothrops insularis), one of the most venomous species in the world. Known locally as the Jaraca its bite is so powerful it melts the flesh around the wound and its mainland cousins are responsible for 90% of all Brazilian snake bite deaths.

No surprise then that for their own safety the Brazilian Navy bans civilians from the island.

Isolated for over 100,000 years from the mainland, the vipers have developed the ability to climb trees and attack passing birds. In fact there is no other way to survive as there are no other mammals on the island. Unless somebody fancies making a visit..

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