Tuesday morning dawned and Brazil was going to play North Korea at 3:30 in the afternoon. I had nothing to show my support for the home team and everyday I saw at least half of the people in Rio wearing a yellow and green jersey. I had just to get my own. Luckily every street corner, by law, must contain at least one vendor selling something with a Brazilian flag on it. Just kidding about the by law part. But really, on *every* block there is someone selling jerseys, flags, vuvuzelas, hats, or yellow and green air horns. At the stop where I get off the metro there's an open air market with rows and rows of yellow and blue (away color) jerseys. I bought one and felt fully prepared for the game.
Rio de Janeiro was one of the many international cities chosen to host the International Fifa Fanfest, which is basically a gigantic screen on Copacabana beach where the games are shown for free. We headed there after lunch on Tuesday and the metro on the way there was literally packed. We barely squeezed into the metro car and avoided the closing doors. People were shoulder to shoulder until the end of the line when we got off and headed to the beach. We approached the Fanfest area near the entrance but there were a lot of people crowded around there not going in. Employees were standing in the entrance telling people the Fanfest area was closed! We were a little disappointed but followed the crowd to the opposite side of the Fanfest area. In the description of the whole venue setup the guide mentioned something about a screen being turned out to the beach when the home team was playing so upwards of 100,000 people could watch. The Fanfest area hadn't looked that crowded so I was hoping the guide would be right. Luckily it was and behind the first screen there was another giant screen facing the opposite way and out onto the open Copacabana beach (away from the Fifa Fanfest tent setup). We wandered over to a spot on the sand and stood with the other fans watching the game. It was tense and relatively quiet until Brazil finally scored. Horn blowing and talking were at a minimum as everyone was focused on the screen. Of course, this changed when Brazil made its first goal. Everybody cheered and jumped up and down for a few minutes after the goal. Everyone left the game pretty happy but the guy next to us said Brazil should have won by more.
After classes on Wednesday a group of us went to Sugarloaf Mountain. The R$44 ticket for the two cable cars up seemed a little steep but the views at the top were definitely worth it. The quick ride up to the first mountain gave us a great view of Copacabana beach and the bay it borders. There were lots of cute little monkeys, which might be these marmosets, near the eating area. They were playing around between the chairs of the dining area and practically posing for pictures. There were a lot of other tourists with us too, a group from China and New Zealand, and probably other countries as well. Antonio, from BridgeBrazil, acted as sort of a tour guide and helped us get to Sugarloaf and answered a lot of our questions about Rio in general, since he's from here. He explained that cariocas (people from Rio de Janeiro) don't come up to Sugarloaf because it's so expensive, so it was just us tourists at the top of the mountain.
The quick ride up the second cable car brought us to Sugarloaf and a great view of Flamengo and Niteroi, reachable from Rio by a long bridge. We could see the Christ the Redeemer statue in the distance and we stayed until the sunset. On the bus back to the metro, Sergei was talking to a carioca who said we should wait an hour or so before taking the metro because it's super crowded around 6 when everyone heads home for work. So the four or us (Rita, Leslianna, Sergei and I) stopped at a restaurant for a snack, or 'lonche.' It's a pretty common practice to go to a restaurant after work with friends before heading home. I had grilled steak on a stick with sides of manioc flour and salsa (chopped jalapeno, onion, and tomato).
I just saw a commercial for McDonald's while watching the England x Algeria game and it reminded me of a McDonald's poster I saw on the metro. McDonald's is doing a promotion (http://www.mcdonalds.com.br/favoritos/) where on different days of the week they offer different kinds of sandwiches for countries playing in the World Cup. Today is McEstados Unidos day and the burger has American cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce on it. There's a McDonald's near the Uruguiana subway station and a KFC down the street in Centro. I also saw a Subway walking around Flamengo once so there are a few US chains down here. Since I'm writing about food... yesterday I had a churro and it was pretty much the most delicious thing ever because they're made hollow and then filled with either chocolate sauce (mmmmm) or dulce de leche, which I'll try next time. After I was feeling patriotic so I bought a yellow vuvuzela, a flag I've hung in my window, and Havaianas with a Brazilian flag print on them from the open air market near the metro. There's everything from headbands, bracelets, and swim trunks in green and yellow at the market. I love that wearing something with a Brazilian flag on it, or a jersey, isn't touristy (like wearing an I <3 NY shirt in NY) but more normal. There's at least 3 flags in windows per apartment building and every other car seems to have a window-clipping mini Brazilian flag flowing as it zips along. It reminds me of people wearing Steelers jerseys in Pittsburgh.
Today we went to a sushi restaurant I discovered yesterday after I turned the wrong way down Rio Branco while heading to the metro. Afterward we got some super tasty froyo from Yup! There are lots of frozen yogurt places around town although the one we went to only had regular and green grape flavored yogurt. In class we learned about a lot of local dishes so I will have to try feijoada, a meat and bean stew, and farofa, a kind of flour and egg omelette/quiche. But I'll try almost anything for lunch as long as it's not chicken, since I get plenty of that for dinner everyday.
Just heard a vuvuzela...