I was sad to leave Natal, having met some quality people. I was looking forward to not having to run into THE BOYS seeing how they were staying in rental homes and I had hotel reservations and had changed my flight itinerary. But as fate would have it, I found myself arriving to the airport and being on the same internal flights as them the rest of the trip. Go figure. I would see them at or near the stadium on game days too but that was to be expected. Even in Brasilia where I had linked up with three young German men for drinks and dinner we again crossed paths. The Germans and I had walked into a random restaurant and were looking for a free table as it was crowded and I saw them taking notice of me but did not make any eye contact. Oh well. Enough about them.
Back in Fortaleza, Bot and his travel group met up with me at the beach the day after my arrival. I continued to enjoy the sun for as long as I could before joining them. They were all US based Ghanaian men – doctors. I felt as if they were of a different generation but they probably were not too much older and proved to be good company. Again, they attracted quite the number of Brazilian ladies and I suspect they would have attracted more were I not to be present. More on that later. After the match against Germany, and after dining, we went clubbing at a spot within walking distance of their hotel, and not only did they find a taxi for me afterwards, they rode with me to drop me off at my hotel before returning to theirs. What gentlemen!
I should mention that the day of my arrival into Fortaleza, I wanted to do something. My hotel was quite close to the FIFA Fan Fest where there was a large screen showing the games and entertainment opportunities. It was just after seven in the evening, and the last match of the day would be on. It took about five minutes to walk over. I believe it was a Greece match being played. The crowd was of a decent size. This was my one and only Fan Fest experience but I don’t think I missed much. Two guys came up to speak to me…separately. The first was from Guinea-Bissau but had been living in Fortaleza as a student for a couple years. Our interaction was brief. The second circled me for a few minutes before making his move. He was Brazilian with remote Lebanese ancestry. He was an endocrinologist in Belo Horizonte and thought that I was beautiful. Very, very beautiful. He fidgeted a lot and looked like Cupid had shot his arrow at him when I told him I was also a doctor. He creeped me out to be honest. I would have told any other person that my next destination would be Belo Horizonte and that I was going to see the Costa Rica – England match there. But not him. I’m sure he would have felt that fate had brought us together, two football loving doctors, here on the beaches of Fortaleza. I got kissed. Yes, got kissed because I certainly was not a willing participant. I suddenly felt the need to return to home base (my hotel) getting somewhat annoyed with myself for being out alone at night in a foreign place. He held on to me briefly before letting me go.
In Belo Horizonte a few days later, I met up with Tricks. He had been my classmate for two years at the Havel School in Berlin. Back then he was tall, slim, and blond and part of a dynamic duo. The other was shorter, dark-haired, and more mischievous. Both had the girls’ hearts aflutter. I should probably mention that this was classes 5 and 6, the era of passing around so-called “love notes” and noticing budding chests on girls. I was one of those early buds needless to say! You make with that what you will.
In either case we had initially found each other several years ago over the internet, lost contact, and then discovered each other again thanks to Facebook. Over the years, and it’s been at least six or so years now, we’ve proven to be good online pen-pals of sorts, keeping up-to-date with each others highs and lows. He had previously lived in the US, which is where we last met about four years ago and for the past year he and a friend have been surfing the Americas. How cool is that? So we have been looking forward to linking up in Brazil for quite a while. He is still tall and slim but no longer blond. Seems like he grew out of it. This time, compared to four years ago, there were a few more grays poking through. Sigh! We are getting old. We were to watch the Costa Rica – England match, which at this point was basically an international friendly as England was already out of the tournament. Those few days in Belo Horizonte were probably the most relaxed of my time in Brazil. It’s good to be with friends!
Ah, but wait. I’m forgetting myself. I had several late late nights in Belo Horizonte given that I was with friendly and safe company. No longer solo! YES! On one of those nights where we were partying on the crowded streets to the sound of samba and live drumming, trying not to lose each other yet making ourselves familiar with the Brazilians and getting sprayed with alcohol, I turned around and was taken aback. He was staring right at me, inches from my face. Yes,the endocrinologist from the beaches of Fortaleza. Now, I don’t think he was stalking me. He seemed just as startled to see me. “KChie?!” He pointed at me, surprised. “In my city?!” Instinctively, I clutched on to my friend, while exchanging polite pleasantries. There wasn’t much else to be said. After he left our area, I told Tricks about him. I got a jolly good laugh out of it. Imagine the odds?
Anyway, so here I am today at the São Paulo airport waiting for my flight back to the States. It seems I have survived Brazil and now I can share the truth that I’ve essentially been solo. I met loads of great people and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I can’t say which was a better experience, South Africa or Brazil, but it’s clear to me that watching the World Cup with people who are passionate about the beautful sport of football is what it’s all about. Of course it has been taxing. All the uncertainty. All the warnings about danger, violence, strikes, and demonstrations. Each time my sisters would send me a warning, which they did one too many times, I would respond with instructions of what to do with my body and my possessions were calamity to befall me. They didn’t seem to like that. Hmmm! And the expense. Oh my! Brazil was going to be expensive anyway and I had been saving up for it for a few years now, but oh my! The last week of hasty arrangements just flushed my budget down the toilet. So here’s to ramen noodles for the next several months. Hopefully, I will have vegetables from my garden to make my meals nutritious. Can’t wait to board this plane!!!