The World Cup’s Host Cities Series arrives at the hottest Brazilian capital, Cuiabá. Guest writer Patricia Sanches talks about food, Pantanal and patriotism.
Euphoria, hope, disappointment and patriotism are feelings that became part of the Cuiabanos life since the announcement that the hottest of Brazil’s capital was chosen as one of the host cities of the World Cup back in 2009.
The voices celebrating in the streets all said one thing: suck it Campo Grande! (There was a dispute between Cuiabá and Campo Grande, which is the capital of the neighbour state, to host the World Cup matches). The victory was widely celebrated, after all, there is a historic dispute between the states that used to be one and only got separated in the 60’s.
Everybody hoped that Varzea Grande and Cuiabá would be taken by workers to recover years of neglect and lack of investment. There were a lot of promises made. However, as it was expected, only part of those promises were fulfilled.
Since then, what we saw were some things done right, but many missteps, exposing the lack of preparation for doing so many works simultaneously. We were patient. We supported the chaotic traffic, potholes and delays, dreaming of the transformation of the cities into metropolises. In the end, the result wasn’t the expected. Only 22 out of the 56 promised interventions were delivered and the rest are partially ready.
Among the works that have changed the face of the city are the Viaduto do Despraiado, UFMT (The Federal University), SEFAZ and the Arena Pantanal, a modern stadium that runs the risk of becoming a white elephant, unless investments are made towards the local football clubs.
But patriotism, this doesn’t die. A feeling that takes over Brazilians’ blood and move the country especially during a World Cup. The Cuiabanos, despite the disappointment with the government, are known for their responsiveness and I’m sure that, once again, will be great hosts.
The Capital is known for its bohemian culture and cuisine. While in Cuiabá I highly recommend to watch the Cururu and Siriri performances and to taste typical dishes like “paçoca de pilão”, “Maria Izabel”, “farofa de banana”, “mojica de pintado” and the “bolo de arroz.”
Then, just drive a few miles to find three natural paradises: Pantanal, Chapada dos Guimarães and Nobres. The Pantanal is where you can find stunning flora and fauna, pay attention to the Tuiuiú, alligators and the dreaded jaguar. In the other two places you will find breathtaking waterfalls, trails, cliffs and crystal clear lagoons.