Friday, 4 January 2008

Utopia or Nightmare

I broke my rule! I had planned for this journey only to takes flights to and from the islands off the South American continent. But on Christmas day I flew from Manaus to the capital Brasilia. I had to! Getting out of Manaus by land is not possible and I really didn't relish the thought of four days on a crowded boat following the Amazon down to it's mouth. Brazil is also huge, the 5th largest country in the world, and I needed to head south fast.

Brasilia was only begun in the 1950's and is a completely planned city, stuffed full of futuristic 20th century architecture. At first I hated it. Everything was "zoned": the shops here, the banks there, hotels in that section. It was a city without a heart, without a human presence and certainly not built for walking. But after a while I appreciated it for its dfference, its bold attempt to plan and build a functioning city. And it does function, so I guess it works. It has rapidly expanded, its still the seat of government, and was the catalyst for economic growth inland from the coast. Plus there are some wonderful examples of what a concrete mixer can produce!