Today I saw a football game at the Maracaná.
I still don’t really realise it. The entire first half, all I did was being amazed by what was happening. Me. In Maracaná. The most legendary football stadium in the world in my opinion (on the same level as the old and no longer existing Wembley).
We had to be at the DeVillage’s front desk at 7am. Eleven buses were filled with Belgian supporters. We all went to Botafogo, passing the beautiful lagoon again on the way. This city really is a beauty. In Botafogo we got on the subway, heading for the place where the magic would happen.
The gates to the stadium wouldn’t open until 10am, so we had to wait half an hour to get in, but after that, the path to the temple was cleared! Well, except for the security checks of course. A security check where I even had to throw away a pen. Apparantly that’s also considered a dangerous weapon nowadays… “Mightier than the sword” is taken quite literally here?
Anyway, I first went to the official FIFA World Cup fan shop to buy some t-shirts and refrigerator magnets for me and my family. Then I followed the other Belgians to the Coca-Cola stand first and the Budweiser stand next to it afterwards. That’s where the party really got going. We got in and joined the Budweiser party. Even me. Dancing and drinking a beer. Am I not myself or am I becoming myself? I sometimes don’t know, but at least I’m having fun. And no, I’m not becoming an alcoholic. I never will. Many thanks to Gabi and the House of Switzerland though. That’s where I learnt to stop caring and just have fun.
Little by little we were joined by more Belgians on that top deck of the Budweiser stand. The music went from Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ to some new R’n’B-ish version of Guns ’n Roses’s ‘Paradise City’ to Pharrell Williams’s ‘Happy’. It’s funny how this last one no longer gets on my nerves, but has become part of the fact that I’m having a good time… Also the guys from Black Box Revelation and Belgian comedians Philippe Geubels and Bart Cannaerts joined us. Pictures (I’m sorry, also some selfies) were taken, videos were made. After a while, I was walking around with a Fellaini-wig in the colours of the Belgian flag. Got it from another supporter. Good times.
Around midday, about one hour before kick-off, we walked to our seats in the stadium. Entering Maracanã, needing one hour to realise it. I don’t remember much from the first half. Not because of the booze, but because I was to busy taking it all in. I really wanted to ‘see’ all of this, to realise it, to know what was happening and to make sure I wouldn’t forget it. At the same time I took some pictures as well of course, just in case I would forget it someday… Maracanã… The FIFA World Cup… 73.800 people…
Belgium won the game and the Belgians went completely nuts. I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed this kind of atmosphere. Absolutely epic. I went to another part of the stadiums where there were more Belgian supporters and where others had gone to as well as the atmosphere was best over there. Everybody was singing, dancing, jumping, high-fiving, waving flags. One hit after the other was sung. “Laaa la la lalala laaa, lalala laaa, Belgium” (based on “Hey Jude”), “Here’s to you, Vincent Kompany, …”, “Brasiiiiil lalalala”, et cetera. The party went on when we were getting forced to leave the stadium by the stewards. We just continued singing and dancing on the stairs and the walkways that we took to get out.
The same again when we got back on the subway. We were joined there by some Amercan Elvis impersonators who would even join us when we sung classics such as ‘Country roads’, ‘You’ll never walk alone’ or ‘Always look on the bright side of life’.
After getting out of the metro in Botafogo, the plan was to take the bus. That bus would drop us of at either Copacabana (for those who wanted to continue partying) or at the DeVillage. Almost everyone agreed: let’s go to Copacabana! So that’s what I was about to do as well. I got off the metro, went to the bus and then noticed that there were only 10-12 of us there. Where were the others? I later heard that they had stayed in the subway station to take another metro to Copacabana… So again, I was on my own at Copacabana…
I didn’t really care though. For a moment I tried to find the other Belgians, but that was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I bought some souvenirs, but still haven’t found any for my parents yet… Have to get that sorted asap! I hope I will find the time for that, but I’m not sure as we still don’t know what will happen to us when the camping closes on the 26th of June. Can I stay longer? Do I have to move to Sao Paulo and work on the Oranjecamping? Do I have to go back to Belgium? Will I have another day off at some point? No clue. We’ll see I guess…