World Cup fever literally drove a group of Portuguese fans to take a 42-day road trip from Portugal to South Africa, passing through eleven other countries en-route.
Carlos Brum, a wholesale goods shop owner, made the decision to undertake this adventure in his 1980 Mercedes Benz van after discussing the idea with his friends Jorge Franco, a hotelier, and Joaquim Batista, a landscaper. All three are from Torre de Belem in Portugal.
“Everyone likes football and people love Cristiano Ronaldo so it was easy to travel through all the countries,” said a jubilant Carlos while relaxing on the sofa in his deluxe camp-a-van.
The renovated home-on-wheels boasts a king-size and two-bed sleeping area, shower/bathroom, kitchen with fridge-freezer and dining/lounge area. It is powered by a generator with back-up battery supply via the engine.
“Since arriving in South Africa we have met up with wonderful people. Everyone has been so amazed and excited to see our car showing photos of all the places we have visited,“Carlos added, smiling broadly while Jorge and Joaquim agreed in their limited English.
The car is a visual map of their travels coupled with football memorabilia which these long-time friends will continue to decorate while having an adventure of a lifetime
The trio, who call themselves Portugal’s Number One fans, travelled through Spain, France, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and then into South Africa.
“Some of the roads were very bad to drive on. For instance in Kenya there was a stretch of road that took us days to manoeuvre but we managed and everyone was pleased to welcome us in each country. This is the longest road trip I’ve done but this car has a fantastic motor. It can make it around the world," said Carlos.
Today the Portuguese adventurers who also go by the nickname Vasco da Gama after the famous Portuguese explorer who arrived in the Cape 500 years ago will reach Magaliesburg where Portugal’s training camp is based to give support and cheer on their team.
“We know the coach and the players very well so they will be happy to see us today at their training. I have followed Portugal all over the world often with my family wherever they play friendly matches, World Cups such as Korea and any continental games,” Carlos said.
“We are attending the friendly match against Mozambique in a couple of days and then we’ll be back in Johannesburg for the big eve of the World Cup concert and party at Orlando stadium in Soweto on June 10. The Portuguese are discoverers by nature and we are not scared to discover new places so if we have a few days after the tournament we will go to the Kruger Park for a few days as well.”
“If Portugal win the World Cup we will undertake a celebratory road tour up the other side of Africa via Namibia, Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and out through Morocco. That would be fabulous!” added Carlos.
You might be lucky enough to spot the ‘Vasco da Gama’ caravan at any of Portugal’s three first round matches starting with the first game against Cote d’Ivoire in Port Elizabeth on June 20, the second match against the People’s Republic of Korea in Cape Town culminating with the eagerly anticipated game against Brazil in Durban on June 25. -LOC.