by Alex Zaqwan Yusuf
As the vehicle pulled out of the airport, initially I noticed that there wasn’t much difference from Nigerian cities… However, there was one distinct difference, the roads…Vehicles drove orderly and in lane, and that was when I realised it “Oh the danfo yellow buses in Lagos aren’t here”.
There are trips, and ‘there are trips’, but I want to tell you about one trip. To Sao Paulo, Brazil. The whole dream and excitement was initiated when I was selected to be part of the 60 fans to visit Brazil as part of DSTV’s ‘let’s go to Brazil trip’. In 2010, I had applied for a visa to watch the World Cup in South Africa, and even after securing accommodation and obtaining my flight ticket, sadly I was denied. So when this opportunity came knocking, I was more than certain that this was a compensation and I was going to make the best of my trip.
The fun started from Lagos, Nigeria, where we were hosted to a cocktail party by DStv on the eve of our trip. Then came Saturday, June 21, 2014 the D-day; as expected I was at the airport as early as 6am to check in for our 9am scheduled flight. The sight of fans at the airport who were billed to make the same trip guaranteed that it was going to be a wonderful one. Fans dressed in green and white colours of the national flag, celebrities and media well represented; and then the icing on the cake – it was a chartered flight, and I had never been on one.
As I entered the plane, I noticed that it had been fully branded with the official colours and logos of the World Cup, including flags of all participating countries, and every seat had a customized pillow and blanket; this is amazing!
After all the due checks and processes, the flight was ready for take-off, time check 10:15am. Although I was sandwiched between two other fans on the flight, and was to remain so for the next 8hours flying time, I cared less. My mind was fixated on the ultimate goal – to be in Brazil. The first 3 hours was boring, and even with my headphones and music, I couldn’t help but complete my unfinished night sleep which had been cut short by excitement and preparations. On waking up from my sleep, I was confused and amazed at what my eyes beheld. As much as I could deduce, the cabin had been transformed into a party house. One fan blasted music from a portable speaker, and others joined him as he danced spontaneously. ‘NOW THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT’ the expression in my head. Food was served, drinks, every one of us breathing one spirit “FOOTBALL” and sharing in the fun. Of course I couldn’t sit back and let the fun roll by, I just had to join in the dancing and chanting. I guess it turned out to be an airborne virus as the flight attendants didn’t take long to (in Nigerian jerseys) to join in the party.
The media enjoyed lots of pictures as people walked around in fun. Trust me I had to get my own paparazzi shots *wink*, and my… did I get a lot, pictures and videos. A couple of hours more, and the pilot announced we would soon be touching down, and although I didn’t want the party to end, I was anxious to inhale the air in Sao Paulo.
And finally we landed, I checked my wrist watch and it was 7pm Nigerian time. Yes! we’re in Brazil. And what an amazing flight it was.
We landed in the city of Campinas, the third largest in Sao Paulo. The airport was a lot less sophisticated than my expectations, but more organised that our very own Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos. It took us all just about 30 minutes to be cleared at the airport and ready for the ride to our hotel. Unlike our expectations based on the briefing we received, it was a lot colder and temperature was about 19°C. I was loving it. Then came the tour bus to convey us to hotel, a magnificent Marcopolo luxury bus. Apologies to Malaysian air *sad face*, but the bus was way more comfortable than my flight. We had been informed that the hotel was at the Interlagos Avenue, Umuarama – Sao Paulo; 2 hours’ drive from the airport.
As the vehicle pulled out of the airport, initially I noticed that there wasn’t much difference from Nigerian cities. The sand had same close-to-red colour, the grasses where same and power cables where visible as they connected from house to house. However, there was one distinct difference, the roads. We had driven more than an hour and I still hadn’t felt a single pothole, smooth drive all the way. Vehicles drove orderly and in lane, and that was when I realised it – “the yellow danfo buses in Lagos aren’t here”. Besides all these, the fun never seized, as the likes of comedian and radio personality, Yaw and Kumisan kept us entertained with their funny jabs. Soon we were at the Hotel, Ibis; an international standard hotel with all the right facilities. I horridly checked in, and dropped my luggage off in my room, as I was eager to take a walk around the hotel and also grab something to eat. Taking a walk into the mall right across the hotel, I couldn’t help but admire the atmosphere and orderliness around me.
To be continued…
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.