Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rio’s heights but Brazil’s depths

On July 8, Sam and Nafisa’s last full day in Rio, we again traveled to one of Rio;s heights, but the day ended with one of Brazil's unhappiest depths.

We left promptly after breakfast to visit another of Rio’s most well-known vista points, the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain).  Brazil would be playing its World Cup semifinal game in the afternoon, so we had to arrive before 2 PM when the attraction would close down as part of the national holiday declared for every game of the home team.  A cab took us quickly to the terminal of the first aerial tram we would be riding upward.  We were worried about crowds, but needlessly: it was a gray day with rain threatening, and unlike the previous day at Cristo Redentor, there was no occasion to look for the preferential line for older folk, in fact there was no line at all to buy tickets.  Also unlike the previous day at Cristo Redentor, our age gave Nancy and me a 50% discount even though we were not Brazilian citizens.

Pão de Açúcar is located at the end of a peninsula extending from the border between Copacabana and Leme to the south and west, and Botafogo and Flamengo to the north.  The trip entails a pair of aerial tram rides, first from street level to an intermediate hill, the Morro da Urta, and then a second ride to the top of  the Sugarloaf.

We walked around on the Morro da Urca; despite the gray skies, and despite even the occasional raindrops, we had a fine view of Rio de Janeiro at our feet, as well as Cristo Redentor in the distance to the west whence we had gazed at Sugarloaf the day before.

There was an obligatory World Cup related photo op, whereby visitors were urged to “get benched” with a cutout of Luis Figo, a star of Cups past; I, however, decided to send him off instead.

Here is a view of Copacabana and Ipanema/Leblon beyond

There were jackfruit growing on a tree along the Morro da Urca walkway

 Then we continued on the second aerial tram, looking back at Morro da Urca

and up to the Pão de Açúcar

On reaching the top, we walked around and saw, straight down, the Fortaleza São João, an old fort containing what a military training center where the England team had held its trainings during the group stages of the Cup

We headed back to Santa Teresa, having our last lunch and planning a big night out on the town in apa after watching Brazil play Germany – we had in mind to go to the Rio Scenarium, another major samba hall.  To make sure we could get admitted, we made dinner reservations at 8 PM, by which time we could be confident the game wold be over even if it went to penalties, and selected Cachaçaria Mangue Seco, a place right across the street (recommended by Lance, of course) to drink and watch the game.

We grabbed a pair of cabs to go down to Lapa, and had another crappy experience – did the cabbie really now know where he was going?  Other cabbies in Rio had asked directions or tried hard to figure out where we needed to go, but this one just dropped the ignorant foreigners off near a large bar where many people had gathered to watch the cup game but which was not even on the right street; it was more than an hour to go until game time but the outside tables were already packed and in any event it was not our destination.  It might have been more fun to watch the game there or, at least, we could better have judged the Brazilian reaction to the tragedy that was about to unfold; from there we had to ask directions to Rua do Lavradio, then walked about ten blocks to the other end of the Rua. 

We settled into an outdoor table at the Mangue Seco; it was pretty empty, so we had no trouble getting a seat. 

Across the street from Mangue Seco on Rua do Lavradio
As the time for the game approached, a few other folks sat down, but it never crowded.  And disaster struck the Seleção early in the game; it was in the 10th minute that Thomas Muller found himself sufficiently unmarked to pass the ball into the next with the side of his foot.  Less than fifteen minutes later the tie was effectively; within a span of perhaps six minutes, Germany scored four more goals, guaranteeing a humiliating defeat for Brazil.  The Brazilians nearby called out in agony or anger at first, but as the game went on they fell silent, and some of them just paid their bills and walked away.  In the end, Brazil had lost 7-1, the worst defeat every for a team that had won five World Cups and had not lost at home for many, many years.

The street had been pretty quiet throughout, and I felt that it was hard to judge how the local folks would react.  Brazilians are pretty upbeat, and I was ready to assume that they would be partying despite crushing loss.  But I was overwhelmingly outvoted on this one.  We had to look for more than ten minutes and walk several blocks before we found taxis to take us back to our hotel.  As we passed Bar do Gomes, though, there was the usual buzz and a large crowd standing around outside.  I felt vindicated, but others distinguished this scene, saying and artsy and intellectual crowd was less likely to care about football

1 comment:

  1. Good reporting, Paul! That last game for Brazil was stunning and sad.