As a child I always dreamed of going to Brazil. I would play on the streets and often call myself Pelé or Zico.
Growing up watching Brazilian footballers is special because of the flair and creativity they play with. Playing beautifully – or Joga Bonito – is part of their culture and is unmatched by any other nation.
When I was 19 I went for the first time, to Sao Paolo with Ajax. I immediately felt the love and passion the fans have for football.
Because of security reasons, we were not allowed to leave the hotel we were staying at, but I put 20 bucks in my shoe and sneaked out to go for a walk because I didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity to come back.
Not long after, I visited my home country Suriname. When I arrived there I couldn’t believe how much the Surinamese loved Brazilians, and that was the first time I bought an wore the famous yellow jersey in public.
This year I told my dear friends from Europe, Mase, Yousif and Ann, that I would making the trip to Rio for carnival. “You’ve been saying that for the last 10 years,” they laughed, “We’ll see you in Rome this summer.”
But the next day I called them back to tell them I’d booked it.
Of course my timing wasn’t great, with strikes at the airport and the terrible Zika virus going crazy in Brazil – but I could not back out.
I landed in Brazil and smiled to myself, thinking thank god I made it to one of my dream destination, Rio de Janeiro.
In Brazil the poor and the rich live next to each other. You can have a beautiful home and two streets down you will have the favelas. These homes have the best views in the city because they are built into the mountains and are close to the beaches, so a lot of them don’t want to move.
Meanwhile the poor might not have the financial backing, but they sure know how to party. They have their problems, but “tomorrow is another day so today lets have fun,” as they would say. Their outlook on life is great and it makes you want to party with them.
Brazilian woman are often described as some of the most beautiful in the world and when you go to the beach you learn that they love their bikinis (if you can even call them a bikini).
Arriving at the beach I saw a lot of men working out or just hanging out during working hours. Those are what Brazilian’s call the “Malandro Carioca”. He is a typical guy that is born in Rio with a good story, looks good, trains hard and lives to get a rich woman to take care of him.
But I now understand why all Brazilian’s want to get old in Brazil, and move back to their country after their careers. The country is full of happiness and that’s why you have so many tourists visit, and people coming over to live there.
When you talk to a Brazilian they are all very social, friendly and passionate about their country. Never tell a Brazilian that their country is just ok, or they will chat your head off until you agree it’s the best in the world.
They do have beautiful natural landscape mixed with a cool urban style.
I did a lot of sightseeing in the beginning. I visited the beautiful beaches (Copacabana, Ipanema) and the world-famous “Carvovado” (also known as Christ the redeemer statue) as well as the top of Sugarloaf mountain. The food is also amazing, which you find out quickly as you arrive in Brazil.
Then it was time for Carnival, where my friends invited me to one of the best parties of Rio de Janeiro. I joined the School of Santos, and during their parade they talked about the football legends Pelé and Neymar Jr for what they’ve done for the city. Neymar Senior and his daughter actually joined the parade, and my friends said I could’ve gone out there too – but I think I’ll leave that for another time
By the way, what those ladies do in their costumes and high heels is unreal –it’s one of the most beautiful dances I’ve ever seen.
People will tell you that Carnivals happen everywhere, and although they’re right, I can confidently say that Rio is in a different league because of its sheer size and beauty.
Rio’s Carnival is all based around competition. For instance, for the best school in Rio it’s all about pride and money so the winner can put it back into the schools again. They then have everyone talking about their town for that entire year.
That’s why they put the last winner and the most successful school at the end of the night because it starts at 8 and finishes at 5.30am and the next day they go again. Bear in mind the streets start around 8am so the city is full of happiness.
This wonderful city is like a big tiger that loves you. But don’t be naive because it could eat you alive.
I’m still in Rio now and I can understand why some people come here and never leave.