Music, cheering, noise, chaos, and above all – dancing.
There is nothing quite like being on the Brazilian election trail.
Exuberant is the only word I can think of.
We joined the supporters of Lula da Silva in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a dormitory town on the edge of Sao Paulo city.
Huge sound systems blared out the favorite Lula anthems, and people danced and cheered and sang along.
They came in their thousands to see the man they consider to be a savor from the right-wing presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.
Lula, a former president, is bidding to stage a remarkable comeback to the top of the political ladder.
Arrested in 2018 on corruption charges, later quashed, he was consistently the most popular political leader in the world with approval ratings in the 80-90% range during his time in office from 2003 to 2011.
Many thought he could capture the presidency in the first round last Sunday, and he didn’t.
But, worse for both Lula and his party, President Bolsonaro confounded the polls and closed the gap to a handful of points.
Now everything is to play for in the days leading up to the decisive second round on 30 October.
Despite that exuberance on the streets, Lula’s team were shocked by how much the president made up ground. But the people we talked to in the crowds say they still believe in their man.
“We’re going to fight for him. I’m fighting,” says 61-year-old Maria Francisca Neves.
Maria has traveled from the Jardim Limpao favela, where she lives. She is unemployed and says she and many others are struggling to survive.
“We want them to fight for us, for us to be able to eat meat again, to have our table full of food, for us to have a glass of milk to drink in the morning and be able to give that to our children, to be able to go to university…”
“We are in a battle, and we are going to win. Lula will get there, I have faith in God, I thank God!” she added passionately.
Another supporter, Erivan Paulino de Souza, said he would have preferred Lula had won in the first round to put an end to the tension.
“But everything we have achieved in our lives has been through fighting – we go and conquer, nothing has ever been easy for us,” he explained.
“This is not the first election that has gone to the second round, and so we will fight until the end.”
They all waited in the blistering heat for hours when, finally, he appeared from the side door of the union building on the street where he was arrested in 2018.
He was helped onto the back of a truck, joined by politicians from his Workers’ Party.
And so began a chaotic caravan through the streets of the town.
This is the first time Lula has been back on the campaign trail since he failed in that first round, and they loved it.
The streets were jammed with supporters, waving flags, and dancing. Many were trying to touch Lula or to at least get his attention.
A huge cheer erupted when the would-be president began taking photos of the crowd with a professional camera.
Almost certainly a move to underline his basic campaign message that he is for the people and part of the people.
He has certainly aged and is not the energetic president of the past, but he still shows the touch of the ‘man of the people’ which has proved so popular for so long.
The real question though is whether his type of politics can appeal to an electorate that is already terribly divided.
Followed by thousands, we watched as Lula and his entourage and political colleagues wound their way through the streets.
Shoppers and shop owners watching on as this loud parade made its way to a nearby square.
Most held their hands in the air with their thumb and index fingers in the shape of an L.
L for Lula, they say, and L for love.
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Once the caravan got to the square, the 76-year-old addressed the crowd, promising not to give up, and warning against the spread of misinformation.
“You know that our adversary’s specialty is to lie, seven or eight lies a day through fake news, through zap (WhatsApp), through any other way to talk to people.
“In the next 24 days, you have to be alert, you need to know how to tell truth from the lies,” he said.
Presidential elections are often won by the candidate with momentum.
In truth President Bolsonaro grabbed that momentum when he drew near to his adversary.
Lula needs new momentum now. And he and his team hope that this is the start.