Rio de Janeiro authorities ordered motor homes of Chilean and Argentine World Cup visitors off Copacabana and Leme beaches and began towing unattended vehicles.
Police officers advised motorists of the move yesterday morning, and later escorted campers by convoy to their new campsite: an asphalt lot called the “Big Samba Square” next to the Sambadrome parade grounds in the city center. One group of Chileans surveyed a fold-out map to determine their new location, and those who had already figured it out were less than thrilled.
“It was spectacular right in front of FIFA Fan Fest and the beach, we were very comfortable,” said Edgardo Maticovich, 35, who traveled with six others from Mendoza, Argentina. “Now we’re in a beach of a parking lot, nothing more.”
The city decided to remove the campers because some motor homes were parked illegally and that was causing confusion on the beach, according to the city’s press office.
“We want to receive tourists well, with special attention to our South American neighbors who drove enormous distances with family members and friends to enjoy the World Cup in our city,” a statement from City Hall quoted Mayor Eduardo Paes as saying.
Francisco Kortes, 27, drove six days from Santiago with three buddies and set up camp on Rio de Janeiro’s beach. They had planned to stay another two days. Sitting inside their camper at the Samba Square, they debated whether to depart for Sao Paulo.