Arrival and Pick Up of Tickets
You arrive in Natal, Brazil after 35 hours in a plane.
Your flight itinerary was rerouted due to bad weather and you flew: Denver to San Franciso to Mexico City to Panama City to Sao Paulo to Natal (It was the only way to make your first game, USA vs. Ghana).
You are exhausted, but hey it’s the frickin’ World Cup.
You share a cab with a pair of American brothers from the airport to Ponte Negra, Natal where your Posada and the stadium is located. Along the way, the cab driver gets lost.
It shouldn’t really be a surprise; the airport has only been open for 5 days, and the road that takes you directly along the coast to the innards of the city from the airport isn’t ready yet.
No ques to pick up tickets
Now it’s time to pick up your tickets. You’ve been dreading this moment. You picked up tickets in South Africa and had to wait 3 hours in a stuffy, non-airconditioned room in a que that moved slower than a trail of ants trudging through molasses in January.
Be surprised. 5 people are in line in front of you at the pick up location inside the shopping center, Cidade Jardim. Swiftly you make it to the front. Pick up your tickets and you are on your way.
USA vs. Ghana
You glance down to check your itinerary. You have tickets to 8 games (USA vs. Ghana, Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, Bosnia vs. Nigeria, Colombia vs. Japan, Portugal vs. Ghana, a second round game in Brasilia, a second round game in Salvador and a quarterfinal game in Salvador).
Feel super psyched about the whole thing. Attend the first match in Natal – the US is playing Ghana.
Hear the chants of USA! USA! USA! as you walk the 3 km from the shopping centre to the stadium. Join other US fans. Chant more. I. BELIEVE. THAT. WE. WILL. WIN!
Keep your friends close and your cell phone closer
Have a completely awesome time with a buddy from college at the game. How could you not? Your team, the US, has beaten Ghana, a team that has kicked you out of the last two World Cups.
Think about how many cool pictures you will share on your blog thanks to your new Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Go to an after party. Have your phone stolen and have no pictures for your blog.
Brush off the loss. You have insurance for the phone. Plus you shouldn’t have left it on the table unattended. Idiot.
Colombia vs Ivory Coast
Three days later, you are making your way to the stadium in the capital city of Brasilia. Be impressed with the huge, romanesque columns that line the exterior of the 71,000 person stadium.
Meet the cousin of your girlfriend and his friends outside the stadium to give them tickets. That don’t speak English, you don’t speak Portuguese, but who gives?
Your communication about the match can be made with furrowed brows and exaggerated gestures. Plus you know all the bad words in Portuguese, so for anything that really matters, you are covered.
Enjoy the Colombians
There is an export that is more important to Colombia than coffee and cocaine – Shakira. Watch the multitude of fans claim to be Pique and ask women if they will be their Shakira.
Later, inside the stadium, “Shakira, Gostoso, Shakira, Gostoso” (Shakira is delicious) will come from the lips of the most enamoured Colombian fans. Why? Why not.
Don’t expect food in Brasilia
When you arrive inside the stadium, you que up for something to eat. You have 5 options. A Cheeseburger, a double cheeseburger, a hotdog, cold sandwiches or chips.
Think it really doesn’t matter, since you are so hungry. Later regret thinking this way for the first two weeks of your trip. Just look at your fat ass. You’ve gained thirteen pounds, all in your belly.
For once though, your pie whole remains empty of red meat. They are out of all food. Don’t worry they tell you – “come back after half time.”
You do. After waiting in line for a half hour, the person in front of you snags the last hot food. Instead, you drink more beer because you didn’t consume those cheeseburger calories, or so you rationalize.
Colombia matches Jersey Color
Watch Colombia slug out a 2 to 1 victory over fiery Ivory Coast. The Colombian fans have come out in droves. To make things more impressive, Colombia shares the same canary yellow jersey color as Brazil.
There is a sea of yellow in front, to the side and behind you. Hear the Colombians and Brazilians join forces in a chant against a common enemy: