One product that Nigerians back home would readily identify Brazil with is the Marcopolo Bus.
Outside the round leather game, football, when mention is made of the Samba land, it is their brand of made in Brazil luxury bus that readily comes to mind.
For Eastern travelers, any good, brand new bus that is comfortable is branded “Brazil.”
When the average Ibo man leaves Lagos and arrives Onitsha, Owerri, Aba or any of the South East cities early, he will tell you that the bus he took is “Brazil.”
While back home, traveling by road is nothing but a nightmare, here in Brazil road trips are nothing but a pleasure.
Yes, Rio is the city hosting the on going world biggest sports fiesta, the Olympics, but courtesy of football other cities in this very massive country are getting a feel of the action.
Football matches right from the group stage has been spread across cities like Manaus, Sao Paolo, Belo Horizonte, Brazilia and Salvador. In fact, the Nigerian Dream Team that is now in the semi and looking good for a medal ( which Team Nigeria need badly like blood) started their campaign in the Brazilian northern city of Manaus which is some 4,500 Kilometers away from Rio.
The Dream Team had after the fine outing in Manaus played in Sao Paolo and Salvador. And for some of us covering the Games, that means making trips outside Rio. And with the rising cost of flying (it is not only in Naija that airfares are going up) there is no alternative to hitting the roads.
The good thing however is that here in Brazil, one embarks on road trips without tears. When the Dream Team played her last group game against Colombia in Sao Paolo, this reporter alongside two other Nigerian journalists left the Redioverio Bus terminal in Rio at 7:30 am with the driver telling us that it would take us approximately six hours to “land” in Sao Paolo. We were also told that there would be a 30 minutes stop over at a bus terminal on the way after a three hour interval.
First, the bus left the Redioverio terminal at exactly the 7:30 departure time on our ticket from Platform 13 even when the vehicle was not yet filled up with passengers.
The fully air conditioned state of the art bus had all the amenities that would make one say to hell with flying. The seats were such that one can adjust and go sleeping. The toilets (sanitario in Portuguese) was neat to a fault. And the bus was fitted with WIFI (with free assess) which ensured that one had access to Internet facilities all through. Every bus here in Brazil is WIFI compliant, just like every residential apartment.
Beyond the comfort of the buses, the roads here in Brazil are not only smooth but well marked with all the needed road signs. They are also well policed. Virtually after every 10 kilometers you see the presence of well kitted men of the federal police (Policia) with their patrol vehicles who are not asking commuters ( wetin you carry) but ensuring their safety.
The drivers here can also tell you with some level of precision what time they will arrive because there is a speed limit that is observed religiously. The drivers also park to cool off after every three hours at the terminals along the highway. The highway bus terminals here in Brazil are such that can compete with any of our so called upgraded airports back home. The terminals here have shopping mall, eatery, toilets, wifi facilities, ATM cash points and other facilities that would make a traveler feel at home.
For this reporter, the six hour trip from Rio to Sao Paolo was fun.
Not even, the 28- hour trip from Rio to Salvador for the Dream Team’s quarter final match was tiring as sleeping inside the bus for the all night journey was like one being in his bed room. There was no pot- hole induced gallops that would make one wake up every now and then.
Just last month, back home, I had an assignment that took me to Calabar from where I went to Port-harcourt to watch the Enyimba, Zamalek CAF Champions League match. I remember that the 5-hour road trip from Calabar to Port-harcourt was nothing but a nightmare. In fact, it took me over two days to recover from that trip when I got back to Lagos.
But here in Brazil, I m warming up to hit the Arena Corinthian, venue of the Nigeria, Germany semi final clash today in Sao Paolo after arriving from Rio on a stress-free, smooth six-hour “land flight.”
Let me borrow the slogan of one of politicians…Brazil, Ebeanor!