The football fairytale you live in bursts and it´s time to head home to reality.
You know you’re someplace full-on when you get woken up at 4am by the videos screaming out from a nearby bar. In this case, I was roused by Slade’s Cum on Feel the Noize.
For me, it was sort of good. Two great weeks followed by a vicious virus picked up at the Germany-Ghana game.
That left me uninterested in football and mooching around like a zombie, though some might say that´s my normal state.
But it provided time to observe some of the weirder aspects of Brazilian life
There’s the ubiquitous smell of fried food. They even fry bananas in batter – why make them worse? They taste horrendous.
Then there’s the women lugging children around in their arms. Virtually no one has a pram.
Marooned at a Fortaleza bus stop, I was stood next to a pretty woman.
A standard 50-something pot-bellied male pootled by on his farty moped.
He noticed the young lady. He pressed a button.
And as he sailed past in the dusk amid the roaring traffic at rush hour, his tubercular machine emitted a very loud mechanical wolf whistle.
She wasn’t impressed.
Honourable second: This tweet after the World Cup
Translation, if you don’t speak Spanish: Germans singing “I’m not Argentinian, I am a champion.’ to the tune of La Bamba. It works in Spanish.
Springwatch in Brazil
The wildlife can be amazing if you are a part-time bird fancier. The highlight of the trip was in a southern town when a green hummingbird flitted noiselessly past me to settle on a bush, seeking nectar.
Shortly after the middle-aged perv cocked his horn at the Brazilian bus stop beauty, two ghostly birds surfaced at dusk from a nearby inland lake, where they’d been fossicking for gold or prawns or somesuch, and flew low over the bus stop.
Large, wings flapping slowly, legs together, at first I thought they were herons but after some research and given the state of the light, it appears they could also be egrets or storks. I’ll get another headache if I start trying to pin it down. There are several options.
Anyway, they were quite a peaceful sight in a city that’s noisy, jam-packed with traffic and unbearably hot. They were followed at intervals by another two birds noiselessly flying to their roosts for the night’
Here’s a picture of some budgies on sale at a songbird shop next to a Fortaleza road.
Was it the best World Cup ever?
Strangely, I’ve seen fewer games here than had I stayed in the UK. Getting to matches in Recife and Fortaleza, even if you are in the city can involved a four-hour round trip due to traffic snarl-ups.
Fortaleza, frankly, is a hellhole and, probably due to contracting a nasty virus, it was a relief to escape.
It’s hard to disagree that the tournament best ever in terms of relentless goals and general derring do. It occurred to me my illness could be toxic shock at seeing Australia match Holland in their thriller.
Euro 2004 had great group games too – Czech Republic v Holland the best match I’ve ever attended.
But that became much more cat and mouse once the knockout started and cautious sides like Mexico and, here, Greece didn’t help themselves by being less adventurous in the knockout stage.
For Brazilians, there’s no apparent recognition that they hosted one of the best tournaments of all.
The most excited people here appear the TV commentators who shout GOOOOOOOOL, as per the cliche, on cue.
There’s surprisingly little bravado and boastful shouting the odds.
The cliche is that Brazilians are brash, colourful, loud and brassy.
But they are also courteous, friendly, easy-going and quite quiet.
So the ‘best tournament’ social media buzz does not seem to have struck Brazilians, partly because it has been so controversial here.
Police presences have occasionally overshadowed the sense of occasion at some games.
In Germany in 2006 and at the London Olympics in 2012 there was a greater sense of the country being utterly enraptured by what was happening within.
Before coming out to Brazil a health clinic tried to persuade me to sign up for rabies jabs for 150 green ones.
But Brazilian dogs are too tired. You can’t blame them, it’shot out here. Nine times out of ten if you see a dog here it’s lying on its side resting
Biting you would be such a waste of energy
When the football bubble finally burst and we all emerged from the World Cup cocoon we’d wrapped ourselves in for a month, it was an abrupt comedown.
For the final, I stood next to a middle-aged mother and her daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who were sitting on a bench on the Copacabana.
They were gloomily not paying attention after losing interest in the game.
After Germany scored, jubilant Brazilians started taunting Argentinians with a song about Maradona – I think they’d call it payback – and there were clashes near us with deckchairs and missiles thrown around. Which, of course, created panic.
It must have been a bit bewildering for a local mum who brought her daughter along to sample the atmosphere and they disappeared into the night.
Further up the beach teargas was used and several hours later I witnessed more clashes between locals and Argentinians.
Amid all that, the atmosphere was generally good-natured. But it was a sour end to the tournament.
A local paper said this week Rio police had arrested more than 150 people at games in the city – most of them belligerent Chileans involved in violence.
It was a mixed bag of a tournament for this fan.
I came, I heard the Noize and I conked out. But it was unforgettable in its own weird way.