Last December to January, I visited Brazil for the very first time and I was amazed. It was my very first trip outside of Europe and it was a huge lesson for me to see how society can be different, but still work. I was always quite persuaded that Europe is the place to be and that it can get nowhere better, but meeting Brazilians and getting into their hearts because it was the first time they met a Czech girl (and they even knew where the Czech Republic is) was an experience worth taking home with me.
It is Brazil, where you can play football anywhere, where you have small kids with no shoes playing with a half empty ball and it is also a place where almost everywhere you have a football pitch and regardless of who you are, you can join and play with the others.
When I was sitting in the taxi from the airport to Rio’s trendy quarter Lapa, the taxi driver was telling me in a very bad English (he said he is grateful to talk with me as he is attending a language course to get ready for the World Cup) everything about Maracanã (he has a season ticket), Christ the Redeemer (I did not see him until my third day because of the clouds) and other attractions. You could see from his enthusiasm that this is far not the first time and for sure not the last one when he is trying to impress the travelers with what his home country has to offer.
I must admit that it was him and his nice speech that made me go for a tour of Maracanã and I don’t regret it. We had a wonderful guide, who is going to have a shift at the Final tomorrow btw. she was taking us from the journalist booths through VIP and normal stalls up to the Brazilian cabin and through the tunnel to the field. And although her dream final between Brazil and Uruguay tomorrow would not happen, she managed to raise the spirit of the World Cup with literally every visitor. She was truly a nation’s ambassador. Her assistant Christian was on the contrary sharing with us that it is his child dream come true to work at Maracanã, which is not hard to believe if Czech kids have a dream of becoming a dust bin men, then naturally Brazilian kids need to become if not football players than at least having a job that has to do something with football is a must.
When I was coming from Jericoacora, I had to stay for a day in Fortaleza, place about which my friend František Kalenda, ibero-american expert, was saying that it is the sole place of Brazil, where he managed to get robbed. it made me alert, especially when I arrived to the hostel and they were giving me a map of the surroundings witch huge red circles saying “No go!” and only little green circle by the seaside promenade. I actually enjoyed my stay in Fortaleza a lot. Only then after I found out that some World Cup matches would be played there and was thinking whether Fortaleza would become a little less No go and a bit more of safe green circles. I don’t know. I hope for the locals that it had some positive impacts.
I spent the New Year’s Eve in São Paolo, the Paulista’s all wore white T-shirts (and I was too, although it was unintentional as I did not know about their colour fetish), I had a great time at the Avenida Paulista that is normally a veeeery busy 8-lane road, which was closed just for this occasion. The whole road was framed by policemen, I actually never saw so many policemen on one spot at a time. This made me realize that actually World Cup visitors would be in good hands. What actually stroke me the most was the lack of enthusiasm that the Paulista’s were sharing for the amazing Midnight fireworks set from the sky scrapers and for the change of the year too. As if they were not appreciating it, as if it was nothing special, only then I realized that it is hard to satisfy them. When Brazil lost to Germany, it was not a huge surprise for me that there were riots in São Paolo and buses on fire. It just brings a lot of frustration to watch your team lose so greatly, especially when the championship takes place at your home country, you have a great team and all the fans are on your side hoping to see them lift the ugly trophy above their heads at Maracanã and knowing that it would not happen, because the odds simply were not in their favour.
Therefore today, it is a different match, yet the fans have still high expectation and although they might set buses on fire again (be it out of happiness or sadness from the result), they deserve to get a great match, see goals and cheer for one of the last times for the home team, their team.