Finally, after years of planning, I woke up this morning in Rio De Janeiro on the morning of the World Cup. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since. It’s hard to put into words how much I’ve looked forward to this day but it suffices to say that all the money and time I’ve spent to get here are completely forgotten.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get too excited just yet, I had to move to my new accommodation. I knew I was staying in a place called Leme, just at the end of Copacabana but apart from that I didn’t have a clue. Needless to say, I was getting twitchy as the directions from random passers by took me into the depths of a Favela. This was my first experience and I was particularly nervous as I had all my valuables and possessions with me. For those unfamiliar with favelas, they are the slums in Brazil and historically are categorised as the most dangerous places for Gringos (tourists) in Brazil. However, a few years ago the government began a campaign to pacify the favelas which has been largely successful and now tourists can enter on tours and even stay in accommodation with relative ease.
My new place is absolutely incredible. It may not be in the quietest of areas, it may not have a thick mattress, it does require a long ass walk up the hill every day, but the whole thing is worth it for the view from the common area. You can see across the whole Favela and down to the coast with the mountains in the background, it’s pretty spectacular. I love the quirkiness of it as well. I’m actually living in the Favela! A place where you could have been shot on sight a few years ago. This probably doesn’t fill the family back home with too much confidence but I assure you its safe as van be.
After dropping my bags we headed to the Fifa Fanfest, an area set up on Copacabana to accommodate the 20,000 fans that head to the beach daily. After a lot of drinking the Brazil game kicked off and the world cup was underway. I was completely shocked to see that having stood for hours of the pre match shows, a huge number of Brazilians sat down to watch the game and shouted at others to do the same. It only lasted twenty minutes before people got fed up and stood up again but when combined with the early goal Brazil conceded, it definitely killed the atmosphere. Obviously Brazil went on to win the match and the celebrations resumed in fairly good style, but definitely not what I’d expected from the local fans.
A little underwhelmed, we headed to Lapa. By now I was travelling with a fairly substantial group although we were staying in various different hostels around the city. Lapa was always going to be the meet up point. The nightlife there is second to none, especially on Friday nights where the street party gathers numbers into the tens of thousands. Today was Thursday but we expected a fairly good crowd to be heading there after the game. We weren’t disappointed when we arrived and ended up joining a live band procession before eventually settling under the Arcos Da Lapa. Suddenly people arrived from every direction carrying the most bizarre assortment of instruments I’ve in one place.
We danced the night away, attempting and failing dramatically to Samba like the locals. Although the alcohol was partly responsible I could definitely feel the sheer bliss of the moment waive any normal inhibitions that I have and it felt completely liberating. I finally had some insight into that part of the Brazilian lifestyle and I absolutely loved it. How could I ever leave this place?