Gui and Carla didn't waste any time in getting that on our agenda. It was actually extremely convenient. There was a deal through our hostel to pay in advance and get the transportation and tickets to a Flamengo game. It was actually the very last game to be played in the HUGE 100,000 seating stadium (forgive me, I've forgotten the name at the moment) before its closing until the use for the 2014 World Cup. A little crazy when you consider that the 2010 World Cup has not even begun yet. (You wouldn't know that being here, though. Everything is decked in Brazil pride because of the big event. Even the McDonald's menu is special for the World Cup.)
I've never been to a professional soccer game before and this was definitely the way to start. We may have been up near the top of the stadium (but that whole portion was covered from the rain that was falling through parts of the game) but it was where all of the action was. You may see in my pictures that the stadium looks empty. This had much to do with, well, it's massive seating capacity but also that the opponents had no fans. But we were in the heart of the Flamengo pride. Drums beating, chanting and singing, flags waving. We may have lost but getting to experience the first goal of the game (not until the second half) was enough to satisfy me. I'm pretty sure Melody and I found ourselves singing along without completely knowing what were saying. You couldn't help but be swept away with the atmosphere.
One cultural thing to note about the sporting event experience: the crowd vendors. Like any arena, vendors walked around carrying food, drinks and snacks yelling out to the crowd and making their money. But never in the US have I ever noted them to be such avid recyclers! Mid there semi-annoying "pssssst" noises they'd make (it was their way of announcing their presence or something as they moved through the crowd) I noticed that the plastic tubs they carried sodas and waters in (no selling of alcohol in the stadium) that there were empty crushed cans as well. It actually looked dirty and that's why I asked Carla about it. She explained that cans are NEVER left anywhere because someone will so easily snatch them up to later trade in to make money. Funny, though, isn't it, that in the US we can also make money off of cans, but you sure don't seem people walking around picking up other people's trash that faithfully. Besides, I'm sure people would look at those plastic tubs with the melted ice water holding both full cans and empty crushed cans and not even want to purchase anything. It's just interesting to me the things that are the same, but treated differently.
Quite an eventful first day--felt like much more. We finished up the night by grabbing a small bite to eat across the street from our hostel and a drink. Exhaustion set in full force, though and bed time came somewhat early.