“Did you see the Pope’s bathroom?”asks the chef and owner of Bar La Biennale, from the kitchen, seen between a green wall and an old, giant and cold coffee machine.
The film by César Charlone and Enrique Fernández –which portrayed the disappointment of an entire town that he had been excited and prepared to host tens of thousands of visitors who They never arrived– It is at this time a reference to which several workers from Montevideo come to illustrate their fear that the announced income of more than 60,000 people to attend the finals of South American Cup and Libertadores does not meet expectations and becomes A disappointment.
Although it was foreseeable that the final of the South American, to be played this Saturday, it would suppose a call much smaller than the one of the Libertadores, a week later, the low numbers of Brazilians passing through these days raised anxiety in people who, like the owner of the bar located in Plaza Cagancha, a good part of the season is played during these November sporting events.
Thursday, November 18, seems like any other Thursday on Avenida 18 de Julio. The only difference is made by two or three groups of Brazilian fans from Athletico Paranaense, and some fans of Red Bull Bragantino, who walked in their jerseys two days before the first final at the Centenario Stadium.
After almost 20 months without tourism, the $ 500 per person which, according to the government, is expected to be spent by foreign visitors, they are a more than precious booty and longed for by private operators, eager to finally see a re-flourishing of the activity and their income.
“Did you see The Pope’s Bathroom?”
The Facal Bar at the beginning of the pandemic; for the finals he put a new goat with the shield of each team on the card
The Facal Bar, in July 18 and Yi, is the first place in which a couple of Bragantino fans ventures. Federico, owner of the premises, watches the scene from one of the tables in the back, hoping to reverse the slump. “We were devastated. There were times when it was so bad that I didn’t even look at the billing for ten days. When there is nothing or there is very little you can do, it is difficult ”, he tells The Observer, without stopping looking at the cell phone or checking the computer sideways.
In Facal they created four goats, one for each Brazilian team that will arrive in the country, with a club flag included. The goats are from bondiola, chicken and fish, a rarity for a traditional bar.
When five boys with the Paranaense shirt pass by the side of the street, the owner of the premises send a waiter to the rush to offer them to enter. Anxiety prevails. They hope that it stops Wednesday “explode”.
In San José and Yaguarón, a couple of Americans wait for the elevator in the Hotel Klee. A receptionist agrees to speak only if the hotel is named. They are packed. “If you ask me for a room now, I don’t have”, it states. Until the 28th they will be at that rate. In August they already had everything reserved for these dates. “We are working as if we were normal”Says the receptionist, delighted by the demand.
“They’re still long”
Camilo dos Santos
Prospects in Ciudad Vieja are not encouraging since the opening of borders
In front of the Plaza Independencia is the Tourist House. It is run by Florencia together with her parents, the only employees of the trade after a pandemic that took away tourism. Even though they welcome tourists “With open arms” and on “red carpet”, they are “afraid” because what they come is “Big swollen”, like Palmeiras and Flamengo, the two teams that will play in the final of the Libertadores. Some time ago Florence “Looted” one of his local fans of the Colo Colo from Chile, and you don’t want it to happen again.
In Ciudad Vieja, in the second block of Peatonal Sarandí from the Puerta de la Ciudadela, a trade without a name It shows off a myriad of mattes and light bulbs in its window. She attends Lourdes and her outlook is bleak: “No one has come, this area is dead”, laments the worker. According to account The Observer, the trade is 60 years old and gives loss every month. Explain that Ciudad Vieja suffered in this pandemic because tourism stopped coming, the economy fell, but rents didn’t go down.
In front of Plaza Matriz, three merchants speak behind their street stalls. Among the objects for sale are souvenirs carved in wood, as well as anklets from Nacional and Peñarol. Brazilian t-shirts go through there but “They are still long”. The men behind the posts are already letting themselves be overcome by pessimism and dispute the figures published in the news.
“Do you think they are going to spend $ 500?”asks one of them. With regret, they agree that the 60,000 Brazilians “They are more smoke than anything else”.
Several shops in the Mercado del Puerto are still closed to this day
The Port MarketOn the outside, always picturesque and surrounded by tables, it seems to have remained in time indoors. The Choppería Mastra and the restaurant L’Amitie They are for rent, and several souvenir markets are unopened. The bars that are open only have Brazilian Paranaense fans as clients. The boys, almost all leaning on the counter.
The Port Farm, full of soccer team banners, was closed for nine months, from December 2020 to September 2021. Some days they have 30 “covers”, other days 50, and in the best days of the last two months they reached 100. Thus counts the number of daily customers Javier, one of the people in charge of the restaurant. They heard they come 5,000 fans from the neighboring country, 4,500 from Paranaense, 500 from Bragantino. The owner confesses that he is worried about the fact that the 6 thousand tourists that they expected from the main cruise ships, MSC and Costa.
For Victoria, who sells T-shirts, mates, and other souvenirs in the store Market Sales, this arrival of Brazilian fans “It’s like reviving” after 20 months closing, from March 13, 2020 to November 1. Seconded by her mother, she explains that tourism in the capital “was greatly affected” because domestic tourism existed, but it was mostly “From Montevideo out”. That is why he has hopes pinned on the final of the Libertadores next weekend. Heard they were coming “60 planes from Europe”, and notes that Palmeiras is “a team from San Pablo”, and that the “Paulistas” have “More purchasing power”. These days it seems like a warm-up, a way to kill anxiety. For the merchants, its true end is that of Saturday the 27th.