More than a year ago, I remember my husband handing me over few dollars each month to save towards the trip we had planned to Brazil for watching the World Cup. I never encouraged him since I thought he is just being crazy and this is just a phase and it will pass. Well his persistence paid off. My husband is a crazy soccer(football as we call it) fanatic. I was not too enthusiastic about the World Cup but somehow while planning the trip I was reminded of how being in Southampton we had missed the opportunity of going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United play or take a guided tour just because I wanted to go to London instead and had disappointed my then best friend. I decided to play along. Time passed quickly and I also started to get excited and curious to be in an exotic country of what I had heard Brazil was. Honestly, I would have loved to travel around the Amazon and see the raw, historic Brazil instead of all the regular ‘tourist’ places or ‘must see’ cities. However, circumstances, budget and paid leaves for my husband constricted our travel only to the famous cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza. We had managed to buy tickets for one game that was Germany vs. Ghana since my husband had no experience of buying tickets for the matches. Well now he knows, so next time I am sure he will manage to get tickets to watch his favorite teams play. He is a huge fan of Messi and loves the team(Argentina) and also is fond of Van Persie(Holland) and he also plays for my husband’s most favorite team Manchester United (English professional football club).
I was researching about almost everything because it wasn’t just another city in the U.S, or just another state in India, it was a whole other country. We obviously wanted to know what the weather was like, what people wear, what is the local food, etc etc. The internet was full of beautiful pictures of the beaches, the attractions, esp. the Christ Redeemer statue and football was everywhere but then there were so many caution signs and warnings. Do not carry branded shoes, watches or jewelry, do not mention if you come from the U.S. Do not carry too much cash. Do not carry expensive cameras. Do not wear branded clothes, do not travel by local buses, you might be robbed, do not walk at nights alone. Crime rate is high in so and so parts. Oh gosh! We were excited and now we were also nervous.
We first landed in Sao Paulo, and we didn’t expect what was about to happen. As soon as we stepped out, no one absolutely no one spoke in English, not even the cops. They were trying to understand but oh how we struggled to explain where we want to go, what mode of transport we want to take, where we need to stop. Thank God I had downloaded an app just for basic question and answers in Portuguese. I did not have internet connection but I had an offline mode where I had saved some stuff. It helped. Something is definitely better than nothing. Everywhere we traveled we faced the language barrier. Even the hotel staff in Fortaleza could not speak English. Well, we managed somehow by enacting, by pointing, by gestures. It was hilarious. We experimented by ordering food and knew Frango was Chicken, Carne was meat, Peixe was fish, agua was water. The food was amazing. A must try is the Caipirinha cocktail and Mandioca frita(yucca fries). We were sorted! During the entire journey we did not face any problems. Thankfully there was a lot of police patrolling.
Our host in Rio(BnB) luckily spoke English and was so kind and generous. I observed that people did not have a problem with other people. They just had a problem with their Government which each and every country does. We blended right in. Until we opened our mouths to speak but by then some or the other local was so kind to always help. We had the advantage, we were brown in Brazil.
The main attraction was definitely watching a World Cup match and I have always supported Germany through the years, how lucky was I to watch the players play right in front of my eyes….Klose, Götze, Schweinsteiger! Indeed a dream come true and the Christ Redeemer was magnificent. So were the beaches, I liked Ipanema more than the crowded Copacabana and I thoroughly enjoyed the Fan Fest, the Estadio Municipal Football museum(pic above) in Sao Paulo was filled with history and legends of football. I saw passionate fans from all over the world in such a short span of time, beautiful people everywhere. I would love to mention how we planned the trip and all its intricacies but then this will be one heck of a long post to read. I would call it one smooth vacation but there has to be a twist in the tale somewhere right. The only hiccup was the flight while coming back from Brazil in Belem, the flight goes over the Atlantic Ocean and during the 6 hour flight, we had almost 4 hours of turbulence. That was like the biggest adventurous ride in my life! I have never prayed so hard in my life! I will definitely count it as an experience, never over the ocean ever! Ha ha! Other than that they were beautiful and memorable 10 days we spent in Brazil.