On Sunday, I went to see a football match. I wanted to go to the Maracaná to see Flamengo v Santos but, due to something or other, they were being penalised by having to play the game behind closed doors. So, it had to be Botafogo against the rather vaguely-named Sport (from Recife) at the Engenhão stadium. Like the favela tour I took on Saturday, the trip to the stadium was organised by Be A Local.
The mini bus was full of other backpackers. When I got in, they were already in full backpacker flow, telling each other where they’d been, where they were going, how they’d had an amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing experience in Blah de Blah; all one-upping each other with tales of better, more “real” experiences, longer bus journeys, etc. You get the feeling none of them are interested in what the others are saying, they just wanna tell others how their trip has been more awesome. I kept my mouth shut and just listened. But, I think I’ve got one of those faces that says “don’t talk to me,” anyway, so it was never a problem.
There was one American woman in purple trousers who was particularly annoying. And she, back home, is a teacher. Poor kids. Anyway, I’d seen her on the favela tour, and on the way to the stadium, I heard he saying that it was too expensive, and that it wasn’t “vibrant enough.” If this was a Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, I’d be boring a hole in the back of her head, pushing a horse’s leg through the hole, and climbing on the horse and going for a nice long ride across some fields with her body flapping along behind.
But, a short while later, when we arrived at the stadium and we were handed our tickets, I did begin to wonder if she was right about the price of the favela tour; well not so much the price, just about how much money was trickling down because, for the football trip, we each paid R$70, and the face value of the ticket was R$20. Hmmmm, that’s quite a chunk of money they’re taking for ferrying us to the stadium. Still, it didn’t stop me loathing Purple Trousers Woman (more of which later).
The stadium itself seemed fairly average. Pretty new, and, err, virtually empty. I thought it was the other game that was behind closed doors, not this one…? Where the heck are Botafogo’s fans? The stadium was probably 10% full tops.
So, the Rio de Janeiro football experience was kind of a let down. The game itself was fairly run-of-the-mill, but it was good to see how comfortable Brazilian players are with the ball. The home side won 2-0, but only after we’d had a 20 minute floodlight failure.
The lack of atmosphere, the pedestrian game, the mind-numbing idiots sat around me, and I was kinda just ready to get out of there and get something to eat. I wasn’t really tempted by the hot dogs in plastic bags on sale in the stadium, but it was fun to hear the Brazilian way that “hot dog” is pronounced, like “hotchy doggy.”
The mini bus drooped off a bunch of people at one hostel, and then Purple Trousers Woman commandeered the vehicle as her own personal taxi, asking, rather impolitely and in Spanish, that the driver take her and her drippy boyfriend to a specific part of town. It wasn’t too far away, but the driver didn’t know where they wanted to go, and neither did they. They just wanted to find “some restaurants.” After 10 minutes of to-ing and fro-ing, she deigned to offer an apology to the six of us sat in the back of the bus: “Sorry, you guys!” None of us replied. but the girls who were left in the bus did spend the rest of the journey being nice and bitchy about her once she’d got out.
There are a few strange things I’ve noticed about backpackers. Firstly, they are almost exclusively white. I’ve not seen a single black backpacker on my travels. A handful of British Indians, but that’s about it. And as for the other Brits one encounters, they are almost exclusively southern, with a high proportion of plummy accents. So, okay, you’re in your late teens, it’s probably a lot easier to do this kind of thing if you’ve got rich parents; but it’s odd to me that one hears very few northern, Welsh, Scottish, or Northern Irish accents.
I did manage to talk to one dude, though, on the journey back. A friendly Australian from Sydney who turned to me and said, “Not really that good a game was it?” I agreed. And that was that.