I’ve just returned from Brazil and it’s safe to say I’m rather relaxed after enjoying myself immensely. The reason I went? Well, that in itself is a long story that begins around 12 years ago.
You see, I’m a bit of a tennis fan. It’s true, and I still consider myself a real threat on the court, though I may be slightly deluding myself.
Through my love of the game, I became friends with Australian player, Pat Rafter. Through Pat, I came to know a dedicated supporter, ‘Waz’, who was heading up a group of sport fans known as ‘The Fanatics’.
Time passes, as it does, and through some events that I can’t quite remember, Waz and I were talking on the phone about the idea of Powderfinger playing for The Fanatics in South Africa at The World Cup Football event in 2010.
I talked to the band, and low and behold, we were soon in Durban, playing our hearts out to the Australian football fans.
Ok, skip to the present year, 2014… Waz and I are chatting on the phone in January, this is how the conversation goes:
“Hey Darren, would you be interested in organising something for this World Cup in Brazil?”
“Are you kidding Waz? I’ve never been to South America… how about I put together a supergroup of sorts?”
“Great, let me know what you come up with.”
So I started thinking about it all, wondering who I could get involved. Basically, it came down to a bunch of friends, whom I knew but had never played with. Davey Lane (You am I), Kram (Spiderbait), Mark Wilson (JET) and Rusty (Electric Mary). We formed a supergroup who would play Australian rock songs for The Fanatics.
Suddenly it’s June and we have a setlist comprising of our respective band songs as well as some classic Australian rock songs. June 13th arrives and our flight begins its slow crawl towards Brazil. Still, the anticipation is palpable as none of us have been there before.
Our first port of call is Porto Alegre, in the southern corner of the country. Nestled on the water, its a disparate town encompassing both comfort and struggle.
Let me be honest here, there is often controversy when a world event comes to a country, as suddenly a lot of money is funnelled towards the event and taken from supporting the needs of the local inhabitants. Brazil is no exception, as I discovered talking to many locals. On one hand they are hoping their country does well in the game itself, but on the other, wish the money spent on the event could have been put towards their basic life needs and economic situation.
Driving around Porto Alegre, I couldn’t help but notice the struggle that people were facing day to day. All I can suggest is that when we (tourists) travel to these countries…. spend money at the local markets, shops, food establishments and street vendors – not in international fast food chains.
One of the first things I needed to do was sample the local ‘street meat’. Basically, street vendors set up a little BBQ grill and cook endless skewers of meat, sausage and onion mixes. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many I ordered, but it was a lot and I’m salivating now just thinking of it. All of this must be washed down of course, and the national cocktail of Brazil, the Caipirinha, did the job many times.
I won’t go into detail regarding the Australia vs Netherlands game but to say the atmosphere was electric and our lads outplayed themselves.
Time to leave Porto Alegre and onto Florianopolis… a beach mecca about 6 hours bus ride north. We only had a few days there and it was the middle of winter but one can imagine just how vibrant it would be in the peak season. Gorgeous beach coves surround the island, each being a little place to escape to when desired.
There was seafood for days, hiking in every direction and all levels of resort style living.
Sadly, I had to leave after only 10 days, but the taste of Brazil will remain in my mouth for weeks to come.
This was my first time in South America but it won’t be my last…
Did you love Brazil as much as Darren Middleton? Drop him a comment below he’d love to hear what you thought!