So we left at 7am. Too early for me to be properly awake. I’m not a morning person (unfortunately), though that hasn’t been that much of a problem here in Rio. Maybe because of the time difference, maybe because it all feels like one big holiday.
We went on a seven hour bus ride which went pretty well. Our seven buses (I guess seven is the number of the day?) were even escorted by the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (the federal road police or something like that), so that was a nice experience as well. The fact that our buses started “racing” amongst themselves made it quite fun as well. Though the term “racing” is a bit exaggerated of course. Apparently it’s normal here in Brasil to pass other vehicles on either side. So when buses start taking over each other but also normal cars, while definitely driving more than 90 km/h, you get the impression that you’re racing.
Anyway, we saw the Sao Paulo skyline in the distance around noon. Shortly before that, we had passed ‘exit 178’. Exit 178, marked “Ayrton Senna”. The exit to his hometown? To the cemetery where he lies eternally? To a museum? Something else? I don’t know, but I definitely will look it up when I’m back in Belgium.
The skyline of Sao Paulo was surprising in a way. I had already been told that Sao Paulo is a business city full of office buildings, but I had no idea it would be that noticeable. Especially not after having driven through the fantastic South-American landscapes and little villages. Too then all of a sudden see that skyline full of skyscrapers in the distance is a surprising sight. We stopped at the train station in Sao Paulo and headed for the football stadium. Getting out of the train, we still had to walk approximately half an hour to actually get to the stadium. Or more than half an hour even, I don’t know, you lose track of time when you’re walking amongst hundreds of people and their chants.
Outside of the stadium it seemed like the South Korean supporters were a lot more vivid than the Belgian ones. A group of Asian musicians in traditional clothing got a lot of attention and even I – with my Fellaini wig – was asked for a couple of pictures with some Koreans, Brasilians and other football fans.
Once we had passed the security check, it was obvious where we would go to: the Budweiser stand! As we had kept our bracelets from the Budweiser stand at Maracanã, we got in easily and started partying again. It wasn’t the same as at Maracanã though. Because the DJ played the exact same music? Because we had already experienced it? Because Maracanã is different than any other stadium? I have no clue.
The game itself was also the worst of the three games that I saw. For the first one in Belo Horizonte I was still in a “Wow, I’m watching a game at the World Cup!”-mood. At the second one in Rio, I was impressed by pretty much everything and the Maracanã in particular. But this third game in Sao Paulo was… different. Again, the Belgians didn’t play too well, but the supporters were less vivid as well.
On the way back, the bit of good atmosphere that had been there was completely gone. 60 000 people having to get on the train or the metro, that causes frustrations. Not too many frustrations, as you’re still in a festive mood, but when people start pushing to move on, I get nervous.. There’s just no point in stressing, people!
Anyway. Belgium won and thus also won its group. Two out of the seven buses drove all the way back to DeVillage, while the others went straight to the airport. The World Cup adventure is coming to an end for a lot of supporters who only came over for the group stage. For us, the DeVillage-adventure is getting close to the end and we continued breaking down the camping lot today.
“Continued”, because the Dutch volunteers who had not been to the Belgian game in Sao Paulo yesterday, had already started it and done a lot of work. They continued today, together with Gabi, Wim and me. The other Belgian supporters were already flying home or lying on the beach or at Copacabana…
We worked hard again, all the tents have been torn down except for our own so most of the work was done. Around 3.30pm we crossed the street to dive into the waves again. Very refreshing and followed by a game of beachsoccer!
In the meantime, I have also decided about how long I will stay here. I will go back to Belgium on July 2nd, as planned. I will not stay longer. The plan that DeVillage would turn into an international camping from tomorrow onwards, has been cancelled. The international camping will be at the Oranjecamping in Sao Paulo instead. So of course, the Dutch volunteers will be the first in line to get a volunteering job there and the organizers couldn’t tell me yet if I would be needed there and for how long. So it would be impossible for me to change my flight back to Belgium (as I don’t know what day I would go back) and it would also be more difficult as the return flight has to be from Rio, not from Sao Paulo.
So I will stick to the original plan and even if I am going to miss this place, I think it’s for the better. The remaining days off that I’m entitled to at work will not be used for Rio, but in preparation of my trip to Australia. Because after this experience in Brasil, I am 100% sure that I will go to Australia this year. I am so happy to have lived this, to have learnt a lot and to have gained confidence here. I’ve become a bit more social, survived on my own, never had any trouble fitting in.. So Australia will be fine as well!