I worked on this building site once, and one of the rules was that you had to wear protective goggles at all times.
You only really need protective goggles if something is going to hit your eyes. Like, for examples, if you’re doing something overhead. They’re also a pain because they steam up, and I had to wear them over my normal glasses.
The thing was that the job was based in a health and safety company, and the managers working there had a pesky habit of sticking their heads around the door and making sure everyone was wearing the goggles.
Nobody in Brazil has ever run into this dilemma.
The main thing that has hit me since leaving Europe is the drop off in health and safety standards.
I find myself thinking ‘he should be wearing a high-vis’ and ‘why are they not using D10 to wipe down the tables?’
I know the whole favela thing is cultural, but a house up near where my dad lived fell into the street. If that happened to one of these, they’d be (excuse my French) completely fucked:
It is the gringo in me talking here.
I fully admit this definitely says a lot more about how cosy my life has been than lax health and safety standards in non-European countries.
To be fair Brazil isn’t all that bad. Some telephone wires hang low enough that you could walk into them in the street and I was in a taxi today with no seatbelts – but they’re hardly deal breakers.
Casablanca on the other hand – where I had a layover on the way here – was something else. It was like the opening scene in Aladdin (a reference I make because of the similar style of dress and my mild post-colonial bigotry).
The old bit of Casablanca next to the train station is a labyrinth of streets that, although very pretty in their own right, make it a bit tricky for tourists to get about.
I left the hotel I was in at around 7pm to try and get some food and pretty much immediately a man in Arab dress with all his teeth missing came up to me and asked if I would like to get something to eat.
After telling him I don’t eat meat, he weighed this up for a second, decided such a thing was possible, and then collected his coffee from a 10-year-old who seemed to be holding it for him just left of screen.
He went flying off through this really overcrowded, intense market that seemed to still be in full swing even at that time of the night. Struggling to keep up with him, we made it out onto this main street in Casablanca – and it was like Priory Hall had somehow morphed into a Godzilla-esque character and had taken over a Moroccan city.
Boys were flying around on motorbikes with no lights, there was no footpath on parts of a main shopping street with six lanes of traffic, and what appeared to be electrical cables were exposed with no barrier around them where they were doing roadworks.
My internal jobs-worth aside, the fella who took me to get the food was a nice guy and was only looking for €5. And Morocco’s probably a nice place if you give it a chance.