It has begun. The Cup is here and Brazil couldn’t be happier. Everyone I spoke with agreed that it was not a penalty but no one let that controversy dampen their enthusiasm.
I am writing this at 8:20 in the morning and the small city of Pipa is not yet awake, those who are have the bleary eyes of those who maybe samba’d a bit too long last night. Not including 1994, this is the 3rd time I’ve been to the World Cup and I can tell you that there is nothing like it when the hosts play.
All day before the match, people were busy preparing. My friend Brock, who arrived earlier in the day, and I lent a hand in hanging green and yellow streamers. Elsewhere bars and restaurants were attempting to entice passersby into their establishment.
During the match, the Main Street here was deserted, save those who had spilled out of bars and were watching the inside TVs from the sidewalk. Each time Brazil scored the sky echoed with the blast of fireworks. After the match, the music was pumped up and the streets quickly filled. Vendors set up smal, portable beer stands, about $1.35 for a can of Brazilian beer Skoll, $2.25 for a bottle of Stella.
As always though, it’s about the people. Brock and I met a number of Americans, well that number was probably four. I enjoyed speaking with a particular couple–the man, a Brazilian from a town south of here; the woman, from Toronto. There was one Brazilian guy who has an amazing invention–a motorized surf board. These things looked awesome, sadly he reported that the motor it uses is illegal in the States.
Like my plane, the town is full of Mexicans. They will empty out for at least a few hours today as they head to Natal to take on Cameroon. They were as happy as everyone else with the victory of Brazil as a result for Croatia would have been very bad news for the Tri-Colors. I still believe the brilliant Luca Modric and his unlucky mates will advance provided they can put the unjust decision behind them.
Pipa is a friendly little place that sits on a small cliff, perhaps 50 feet above the sea. The views are fantastic. The people are kind and helpful. English is not spoken by most but certainly by enough so that things are not difficult. Though this is a tourist town, it also seems to me to be one where the locals enjoy their lifestyle and their work. They hang out at the same places I do thus there is not a feeling of being in a tourist trap.
After only two days here, I am already recognizing people–Max, who drove me here from the airport is often seen in his cab. Jonas, the Belgium owner of Jackburger has ordered me a case of the local, very good, beer, at cost from the distributer. Fabiano, the waiter who has taken care of me at the only place I have found in Pipa with Wifi, a place that makes a great Caipirinha called Golfino’s.
Today and for the next few days, my friends will pour into Pipa. I warned the Canadian girl that soon the Americans will take over and jokingly told her to “Run away!” In one large house, owned by Jonas, there 17 of us–I think I know probably 12 of them. In my apartment, there will be six of us. Six other good friends have an apartment near us and there are two other places that will house friends of mine. So, I guess there are about 35 Americans that I know. I can’t wait to see each of them, many of whom I met abroad, at other World Cups. There is also a friend I went to elementary school with back in Roanoke–Chad was the best soccer player in our class and I hadn’t seen him in years until I spotted him in Nurnburg the night before we first played Ghana.
There are three matches today, all of them important. I am interested to see the mood of the Mexicans when they return and though I don’t want them to win, a night long fiesta would certainly be a blast.
My cafe con leche is empty soI am going to walk around and see if any of the frozen Acai shops are open. That purple, sorbetesque, berry is mixed with nuts, bananas, cream, or other fruits and served in a bowl, truly a Brazilian breakfast.