Photo by Aaron Cranford
By Aaron Cranford
São Paulo, Brazil — I lost my camera, phone charger and computer charger before I even landed in São Paulo, but don’t worry now because the story gets better.
First bit of advice, if you want to attend a soccer game in São Paulo, always buy your ticket in advance. I unfortunately had the experience of being on the outside looking in on two different occasions, and while I enjoyed the moments outside of the stadiums, I would have undoubtedly enjoyed the moments inside.
I arrived in one of the most populated cities in the world on the day of one of the most anticipated soccer derbies of the season — São Paulo FC vs. Santos FC. And as I approached the bilheteria in the dark district of Morumbi, I noticed a sizable crowd talking to a stadium employee next to the booth.
Tickets were sold out, and the employee was only there to tell the fans the bad news. Because the match was set to kick off within fifteen minutes of my arrival to the stadium, I decided not to buy a ticket from a scalper, and with a little disappointment, I walked back in the direction of my Airbnb bedroom — a walk that would take one hour and ten minutes to complete.
During my trek back to Rua João Cachoeira, I saw passion for the ‘beautiful game’ in an unlikely situation. As I walked by one apartment complex after another, I passed by countless security guards, doormen, chauffeurs and taxi drivers. And at one point, I slowly strolled by a group of three, who were all crowded around an iPhone held against a corkboard with the help of plastic thumbnails.
The trio were watching the rivalry game I walked miles to see, and with my keys jingling loudly against my chest, I approached them, but they didn’t flinch as I wandered down the road.
The moment is forever embedded in my mind because it demonstrates, yet again, the focus passionate people have while viewing o jogo bonito.
In my second attempt to witness a soccer match in São Paulo, I walked one hour to attain a ticket for the Palmeiras vs. Internacional match at Allianz Parque.
However, I stood in line for more than an hour, and with only five minutes until kickoff, I called it quits and walked to a bar just across the street from the ticket office.
A sizable crowd was chanting and urging their team in green to go at the corner of Caraíbas and Turiassu, and I soaked it all in with a liter of Skol beer too. The match ended 1-1, and many fans walked away upset, but I walked away knowing that I faced another hour on foot. With my head up, I paced back to the apartment, arriving just after midnight.
After walking miles upon kilometers, I decided to not attempt a trek to another match for the remainder of the trip, so I moseyed down to the bar São Bento, a spacious atmosphere just around the corner from the apartment, a few times during my short stay.
Anytime there was a soccer game on television, São Bento would air it. Whether it was the UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus, a match between two Brazilian clubs or Brazil’s national team, which happened to play Mexico’s national team at Allianz Parque Sunday, if o jogo bonito was on, people were there to watch and immerse themselves in the action.
After resting my weary legs and grubbing on some delicious food at Rong He in Liberdade and B. Lem, a Portuguese bakery, I was ready to hit the road once again.
I headed toward São Paulo/Congonhas Airport, walking once again, with my destination being the familiar setting of Rio de Janeiro.
After a quick flight with TAM, I inquired with airport information employees, who directed me to the airport’s lost and found, a cramped room with barely enough space for the serviceman, his desk and his file cabinet.
I walked in with no positive energy because my Airbnb host had already called the airport earlier in the week, and no bag had been turned in to the man behind the desk.
I asked if he spoke any English, and to my surprise, he did really well. I told him my issue, and the date of my departure from Rio toward São Paulo, June 3, and he showed no emotion as he read the list of materials found that day. After four or five items, he said there was a bag turned in, and so his attention turned from his computer directly to me.
“What’s your name?” the airport employee said behind his desk. “Aaron Cranford,” I quickly blurted out to him. “Ah, yes,” he said. “This is yours.”
The lost and found had my bag, and all of my goodies were still nestled inside, including a copy of my passport, which is how he knew the bag was mine.
I couldn’t hide my exuberance and awe from the employee, and he loved every moment of the situation, smiling at my jovial mood.
Rio welcomed me back with open arms and my own belongings.
This is an ongoing series of journal entries, in which I will explain and document my preparation for travel and travel through Brazil in May through August of 2015. You can read each journal entry on The Orange Traveler or on ojogobonito.weebly.com where they will initially be published.
Have you traveled to São Paulo? How was your experience?
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