The never ending stadium hunt.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
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Flag of Brazil  ,
Monday, November 21, 2005

My brother was deeply shocked. More than one year in Latin America without having managed to drag my ass to a football match. How is it even possible? I guess he got the right to be shocked. I have been close many times, but usually stopped by a lazy syndrome called hangover (or a hot babe not enjoying football, ehh well).

But now I am back in Rio (not the worst place to enjoy a game of football), and also got my brother to help me out of the bed. Rio got four teams in the top league; Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama. Only Botafogo and Vasco were playing at home this Sunday, so we decided on Botafogo versus Cruzeiro. We managed to look up the time of the game, but not the location and exact name of the stadium. How hard can it be, we thought, as Botafogo is the next neighborhood to Copacabana. And all Brazilian men are crazy about football, especially taxi drivers. Lets just grab a taxi, it's probably not more than a few blocks from here. How wrong we were...

"Futebol, Botafogo versus Cruzeiro, que Estádio? Es cerca?"

"Pais?"

"Noruega."

"Bacalao!!!"

"Si, mucho bacalao."

"Futebol, Botafogo versus Cruzeiro, que Estádio? Es cerca?"

"Hoy?"

"Si, today."

"Hmm."

"Que Estádio?"

"Something, something."

"Futebol brasileiro, Botafogo versus Cruzeiro???"

"Noruega, frio?"

"Si, bastante frio."

"Que Estádio?"

"Hmm."

And that's pretty much how it continued. Luckily we set off a few hours before game start. The taxi driver finally understood that we wanted to go to a football game, but of course he didn't know the stadium. He mentioned a name of a stadium, but wasn't sure, so he stopped by pretty much every shop or taxi along the road to ask. Nobody knew. We were in the middle of Botafogo, in the middle of Rio, in the middle of football crazy Brazil, but nobody had even the faintest idea. "Botafogo, are they playing today?" But discuss they did, curious old men stopping by to contribute. "Botafogo, no they are not playing today. Who are they playing?, Cruzeiro? No, there's no Cruzeiro game today." The taximeter was running, and the discussions grew longer. Of course including finger pointing in all possible directions, and small kids running off to check with someone inside a building, usually living somewhere on the top floor. Small kids returning...

"Yes, Botafogo is playing Cruzeiro today. My dad said so."

"We knew that, what about the stadium?"

"Stadium, hmm."

Back inside the taxi we enjoyed many more stops and discussions, but we were no closer to locate the stadium. After a few more spins around Botafogo we found a traffic police. We stopped and the cop went off to check on the police radio. A few minutes later he was back.

"Botafogo versus Cruzeiro, hmm, they are not sure. I think it's maybe... hmm, no I'm not sure. Sorry. Hey wait, I got the newspaper in my car."

He went off again, and after another ten minutes discussion with the taxi driver, they managed to find the name of the stadium in the football section of the newspaper. Estádio Luso-Brasileiro. Luso-Brasileiro was the name of the stadium my brother and I found on the Internet, but it meant nothing to the taxi driver when we tried to pronounce it at the start of our journey. Ok, so now the taxi driver also knew the name of the stadium (not just us). It should have been a piece of cake from there, if the taxi driver had just known where the stadium was located. Of course he didn't. So we drove further and further out of town, as the cop hinted about it being close to the international airport (light years from Botafogo and in a totally different neighborhood, if not planet). Once getting closer, the stops and discussions started again. "I think you take the second right, noooo, maybe it's the third. Hmm, I'm not sure." Finally we stopped by a taxi driver who knew the exact location, and he agreed to escort our taxi to the stadium. The final bill for our sightseeing around Rio was of course much higher than two tickets (the most expensive ones) to watch the game itself.

And what about the match you say? Well, Botafogo won 2-1 after scoring their victory goal in the 92nd minute. It was a good game and the Brazilian supporters were as crazy as I expected (the stadium was far from full due to the poor weather, but it still had a great atmosphere).

"It's about time returing home, how about we grab a taxi bro?"

Will he ever learn??? (tanke-boble).
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