São Paulo: Rendez-vous and Re-education

Back in São Paulo.  Was 9 days not enough?  Probably.  But I achieved just as much in the centre of the city in this 36 hour period as anyone visiting São Paulo needs to: a night in Vila Madalena, a visit to the excellent ‘Museu do Futebol’ and a stroll along Paulista Avenue.  More importantly, I met up with some friends (both old and new) and had a blast!

Vila Madalena

In Rio I decided to double back to São Paulo, making a stop (however brief) at Paraty, rather than up the coast to Porto Seguro and onto Salvador.  This gave me a better opportunity to see my uni friend Jake (and his friends Stu and Ally), as well as another opportunity to see Wesley with the two Paulistas we met twice on our trips to Vila Madalena.

Beers with Jake in Vila Madalena

Beers with Jake in Vila Madalena

After a delayed bus trip (missing yet another 2nd round match), Vila Madalena was where I headed once more to check-in at my hostel then meet Jake and co for the Belgium v USA match.  Later on we met up with Wesley, Fernanda and Renata for some merry drinks en masse, with the police out in full force to control the Argentina crowds (having watched their country win earlier at São Paulo’s Corinthians stadium).

Museu Do Futebol

The following day I joined Jake, Stu and Ally to visit the ‘Museu do Futebol’, an absolutely hilarious tribute to Brazil’s footballing history.  The opening exhibit takes you through each World Cup to date: summarising, quoting and excusing Brazil for not winning in the “Why did we lose?” section.  We were provided with a translation that I would happily fill my entire post with.  I have limited myself to just a few of my favourite quotes:

Why did we lose?

Why did we lose?

  • The first World Cup in 1930 hosted by Uruguay: “Why did we lose?…the squad suffered with the cold and with the lack of ketchup on the Uruguayan pizzas”.
  • For their painful loss hosting the final in 1950: “Why did we lose?  Because God is Brazilian and spared us from earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis.  On the other hand, he imposed the Maracanazo.”
  • In 1958 Brazil won their first tournament: “Why did we win?  Because Pele and Garincha would defeat the Vikings, the Romans, Napoleon’s troops and all the world’s armies if need be.”
  • Brazil’s honourable excuse for 1966’s World Cup: “Why did we lose?…It was time to give the spotlight to the English for them to take credit for the first kick-off.”
  • Mexico 1986 was titled “With the hand of God and the feet of Maradona”: “Why did we lose? Because sadly Maradona was not born in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.”

    Goalposts representing each World Cup

    Goalposts representing each World Cup

  • The spectacular justification for USA 94’s victory: “Why did we win?  Without the ball at our feet, we were Germans.  And as a platoon, we were Romario.  At the peak of his form, the little guy, a genius in small spaces, was able to eat a whole pig, in economy class – without putting his elbow on the arms of the chair.  And, in the Russian roulette of penalties, Baggio kicked the ball to Maceió – hometown of Zagallo, who was on the bench next to Parreira.”  This once again paid tribute to Zagallo, player in the 1958 and 1962 victories, as well as manager in the 1970 win.

Better yet was the brilliant film: ‘Brazil, Eternal Champion.  Brazil, Invincible At Football’.  Past footballers and journalists took you through the journey of how Brazil actually won each of the 19 World Cups to date.  The film removed from history Ghiggia’s winner for Uruguay in 1950, added goals to overcome Paolo Rossi’s flourish in 1982 and altered the outcome of heroes such as Maradona and Zidane.  It cleverly edited the innovative attempt by Pele as he dummied to round the goalkeeper, showing the ball creeping inside the post, instead of trickling wide.  It was sincere in its silliness, hilarious in its self-adoration and drew laughs with every fallacy.

The next room then identified legends of Brazilian football, before looking at some of the best goals in their history.  Pele’s famous goal in the Sweden 1958 final against the hosts ranked amongst such team goals as in the Mexico 1970 final against Italy, stroking the ball around in typical Brazilian style before Carlos Alberto drilled home.  More noteworthy amongst their top goals was Roberto Baggio’s penalty miss in the 1994 final!

Other exhibits included:

  • a ‘torcida’ (cheering section) where projections of cheering crowds lit the dead space under the stadium’s terraces with noises building to a roar;
  • a solemn acknowledgement to the 1950 Maracanazo with a curtained room playing footage of Uruguay’s winner in the final as the sound of a quickening heartbeat becomes ‘deafening’ silence;
  • displays of weird and wonderful statistics, rules and facts of the beautiful game (sadly it was mostly in Portuguese);
  • interactive opportunities such as kick-ups with Neymar and measuring shot-power from a penalty.  However in typically English fashion, most of us hit the woodwork or blazed over and so the speed was not measured!

Most of my focus was spent on an exhibit displaying photos of each World Cup referenced with key cultural and political events of their time.  I watched videos of each World Cup’s summary (where available) to recognise and remember the individual and team legends of history.

Paulista Avenue

Trying to capture the sunset over the traffic of Paulista AvenueAfter visiting the museum, we took a stroll along Paulista Avenue, the commercial lifeline of São Paulo, taking in the traffic and skyscrapers.  Aside from these immediate urban eyesores, the streets were lined with more alternative locals selling their craftwork, bars and restaurants seemed to buzz with workers come evening time, plus I studied the words and photos of an Amazonian exhibit outside São Paulo’s art gallery, MASP.

After bidding farewell to Jake, Stu and Ally, I spent an evening with my lovely Paulista companion, Fernanda, learning some Portuguese and being teased about other attempts – I told her to meet me at ‘Cardapio’ which is in fact the Portuguese word for ‘menu’ not the name of the restaurant!


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