Another day went past yesterday when I didn’t manage to make it to the Jardim Botanico. Still feeling confused about the time, I went for lunch and caught a bit of the Portugal game. Then the news came on(“RJ”), showing people all over the city in huge traffic jams heading for Copacabana beach, where some almighty screens and a stage were set up to watch the game. Fuelled by my can of Bohemia lager, I decided to head down there. I fell in with a group of lads who had obviously decided the same thing. “Argentina! Argentina to win the World Cup!” One of them kept shouting. I put this down to the kind of japes young men anticipating watching the game tend to get up to, until I realised I had made the error of wearing a white T-shirt and sky blue shorts. There was only one thing for it: half an hour later I had purchased a Brazil shirt from a street vendor and joined the sea of yellow-clad folks heading for the beach.
By this point, it was not even 3pm, but the crowds were so overwhelming, and I started to realise it was going to be like the crush at the front of an Iron Maiden concert. I went to grab a taxi to meet my friends. Cue more efforts at Portuguese. The sighting of a dog, resplendent like its owner in the familiar yellow jersey, drew an excited attempt from me to explain to the driver what I had just seen. Thinking this was an important detail about the location I wanted, and failing to understand my faltering Portuguese, the driver called his daughter, who then explained what I was trying to say. How we laughed.
A circuitous route saw me watch half of the game at Academia de Cachaca and another half in the Bier Park, both in the fashionable Leblon area. Bianca, a Brazilian who works with my friend here, echoed the thoughts of most of the crowd, that Brazil really ought to have performed better in the match despite beating North Korea 2-1. Cue yet more pessimistic predictions from the fanatical supporters.
The party finally ended in the gay street where I’m staying, dancing and drinking caipirinhas. I got chatted up by a man who claimed to be a racing driver. Although as with the man who told me the lady who let me join her party at Academia de Cachaca owned the place, I am beginning to realise that not everything is as perfect and beautiful as it seems on the surface here.