A group of adventurous soccer fans followed a long route to Russia for the World Cup tournament: they traveled 16,000 kilometers by bus from Durango.
The six friends set off in April from the northern state in their colorfully-painted, converted school bus dubbed La Bendición (The Blessing), bound for the Tamaulipas port city of Altamira.
From there the bus and its occupants — including a Canadian and a Chilean who tagged along for the ride — crossed the Atlantic Ocean before arriving in the German city of Bremerhaven on May 26 to start an 18-day road trip to Moscow.
Along the way, the red, green and white bus adorned with paintings of mariachi musicians, the female skeletons known as catrinas and a taco stand passed through more than 10 European cities, making longer stops in Amsterdam, Berlin and Krakow.
Written across the roof of the vehicle is the most famous line from the popular Mexican song Cielito Lindo: Canta y No Llores (Sing and Don’t Cry), perhaps suggesting that even if the Mexican team doesn’t perform well on the pitch, the party will go on.
In a video uploaded to social media yesterday, La Bendición is seen passing slowly through a street in the Russian capital, sounding its horn as Mexican fans cheer and sing to celebrate its arrival.
One of the bus travelers told the newspaper El Universal that Europeans’ reaction upon seeing the vehicle has been nothing short of extraordinary.
“People laugh, take photos, say hello to us and generally treat us very well and ask us what the bus is about,” Daniel Garza said.
While in Russia, the die-hard fans will travel to the port city of Rostov-on-Don for Mexico’s second match against South Korea and the team’s third group match against Sweden in Yekateringburg, ensuring that several thousand more kilometers will be added to the bus’s odometer.
Two of the enthusiastic fans first got the idea of setting off on the adventure to Russia by bus after attending the World Cup in Brazil four years ago.
One of the men told broadcaster UnoTV that the bus is furnished with beds, a kitchenette, a fridge and a couch, while it also has regular seats in the front so the fans can travel in safety.
“If you organize things well with your group of friends, it works out much cheaper than buying flights and paying for accommodation and other expenses,” Fernando Osorio said.
Héctor Galindo, who also traveled to Moscow on board La Bendición, said the aim of the trip is to enjoy the experience with friends and to “take Mexican culture to all the counties we travel through.”
The four Mexican supporters on the bus will be among 45,000 Mexicans that FIFA has estimated will travel to Russia for the month-long tournament.
The Mexican team, nicknamed El Tri because of its tricolored uniform, will play its opening match against defending champions Germany in Moscow at 10:00am Sunday.