The World Cup started in... Bend. Yes, downtown Bend and more precisely at Cafe Sintra on June 11th where a room full of fan/customers braved the 7 a.m. chill to watch the opening match. After that, I jumped on a plane and flew to my home town of Santos, Brazil to continue along with other fanatic Brazilian fans to cheer the national teams on, the U.S. and Brazil. Since arriving here on the 15th of June, I have enjoyed not having to contend with ongoing over the top clamor for the heads of Democrats, the defeat of the Kagan nomination and the fabricated resurgence of Republican candidates. I can't say I totally succeeded in keeping away but at least the Brazilian press is focused on really important things: News from South Africa and the world of football.
Brazil and Brazilians were, or so we thought, totally ready for the tournament. The green and yellow colors of the flag adorned peoples clothing, buildings, cars, busses and every imaginable surface - the energy was magnificent in this land of Pelé, the land of the "beautiful game." The country just about stopped during the games involving the national team and a nice surprise for this Brazilian-American, the U.S. team was viewed with great favor. We (son Trevor and I) traveled south to Iguassú Falls, the spectacular falls near the confluence of the rivers Paraná and Iguassú, a place where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. We watched a U.S. game at a roadside truck stop and ate a delicious meal of home cooked food just about 200 meters from the border. As the only two "gringos" in the joint, we cheered when Landon Donovan scored to propel the U.S. onto the next round.
Back in Santos, we saw the US lose and go home with sadness. Brazil was our next hope and this nation of 190 million souls was again dreaming, a routine that repeats itself every four years with the world's greatest sporting event. The game against Holland paralyzed the country - every corner store, every restaurant and bar, every home had their television set ready. The horns were blaring and fireworks ablaze. The first half was nearly flawless as Brazil mastered a very good Dutch team to a 1 nil advantage. Then the second half came and it all changed: gone was the confidence and cadence and what we saw instead, was a Holland team coming back from the ashes with the Brazilians inexplicably retreating and making mistake after mistake. Holland scored twice and Brazil was out of the Cup, just like that. From dancing green fools we turned into dark grey lost souls, just like that.
Time to go back to Bend, I said... a week ahead of my scheduled return. Then, the next day Germany defeated Argentina 4 zip and all was well with the world again (the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina explains this phenomenon). I am still very much looking forward to coming back "my" Bend, our lovely and quiet town and getting back to the delightful and patriotic effort of electing Democrats to keep pace with making our country solvent and functional again!
Happy Fourth, America. I miss you!
- Carlos Wysling, Bend