Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – They only had tickets to a single Chile match but that didn’t stop two university friends from undertaking an epic road trip to follow their team to the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Their 8,300km journey started three weeks ago when they left Santiago, taking turns driving day and night, crossing the Andes Mountains into Argentina and then via Uruguay into southern Brazil.
|Pablo and Marcelo’s trip took them from Santiago, Chile, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They still face the long drive back [Google Maps]|
After seeing their team beat Australia in Cuiaba, Pablo Bardehle, 29, and Marcelo Kaczeczka, 30, decided to drive on and spend the rest of the tournament in Brazil, as close to the action as their meagre budget would allow.
To save money, they live out of their van, which is now parked on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach.
“Hotel prices are insanely high all over Brazil during the World Cup. So, why not camp out of our car?” Bardehle told Al Jazeera.
“We use the public restrooms and showers on the beach, which is really convenient. We pay our parking fees everyday and we’re not bothering anyone so I don’t foresee any problems.”
The two friends, who make low-budget TV commercials for a living, built a little kitchen in their 2007 Hyundai, where they cook simple meals of rice and canned tuna.
The friends’ journey is testament to the great lengths some football fans are willing to go to in order to support their national teams in Brazil, where hundreds of fans sleep in their cars or in tents since the start of the tournament.
Chile’s World Cup
Chile’s national team has done surprisingly well in the World Cup so far, ending second in Group B, and is meeting host nation Brazil in the round-of-16 in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
“We don’t have money to go see that game, but that’s ok. We’re enjoying ourselves anyway. We’ll watch it here at the Fan Fest on the beach. We don’t have beaches like this in Chile. Back home the water is colder and the women are less pretty,” Marcelo said.
Bardehle, who dubbed his trip “the ultimate bro-cation”, said he started seeing a girl one week before he left Chile.
“The worst mistake ever! Now I constantly have to be on Skype and WhatsApp. But I’m planning to be faithful.”
After Chile’s brilliant 2-0 win against Spain in Rio’s Maracana stadium in the group stages, both friends are now confident that La Roja, or the Red One (Chile’s national colour), will also beat Brazil on Saturday, despite being seen as the underdog in the fixture.
“Have you seen our keeper, Claudio Bravo, in action? He’s in such good shape. And Alexis Sanchez has been doing really well, also. The only game we lost was against the Netherlands, but that match was thrown. The referee was awful,” Bardehle said.
The friends said they would remain in Brazil until the end of the tournament, even if Chile gets kicked out of the competition.
“Mark my words; it’s going to be historical. Chile are going to reach the final and they may even win the World Cup,” Bardehle said.