SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) --Bay Area soccer fans headed to Brazil for the World Cup are already seeing some of the issues related to the host country's last-minute preparations. Many of them are having to get creative just to find someplace to stay.
The party streamers are still up at the Cabrera family house in San Leandro. The celebrations started early for their trip to Brazil. It's a dream come true. "This is the first time, as a family, that we're going to a soccer event like this. It's really a pivotal point in our soccer religion, you can say," Sebastian Cabrera said laughingly.
They have their game tickets and their bags are all packed, but they've had to get creative about booking places to stay. They quickly ran into snags caused by Brazil's lack of preparation in the run up to the games. "Cuiaba is about 12 hours driving from Brasilia, the capital. There's like two hotels. There's a campsite that charges $800 per tent," Sebastian told ABC7 News.
For months, World Cup officials have been sounding alarms about so many projects that are still not complete throughout the country. "Looking at it from afar, you see a lot of stadiums not ready, hotels not built, restaurants not quite done. But on the ground, people are making do in some highly innovative ways," says Harley Shaiken, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley.
Cabrera says they couldn't find rooms at hotels, so they had to book rooms in peoples' homes through Airbnb. According to Airbnb figures, they've brokered rooms for about 40,000 U.S. travelers headed to Brazil.
"We made sure that my mom had a place to stay while she was there. There was no way we were going to risk it," Sebastian said. His parents will be there for two weeks, but he'll be there with his younger brother for five. So, he's taking along an air mattress -- because he hasn't figured out where they'll stay for the final rounds of the games.