Fortaleza

The bus set off 45 minutes late on it 1679 km journey to Fortaleza on the Brazilian coast. It was scheduled to arrive at 09.51 little did I know that it was Tuesday and not Monday it was due to arrive.

Arena Castellao, Fortaleza

So plenty of time to admire the Brazilian countryside as the bus took in all the towns on the way, and my fellow passengers were always eager to get off and try the local delicacies.

So my extended trip acquainted me with all the gastronomic delights served at their bus stations. I can assure you that I tried everything at least once and still don’t know exactly what I had.

At 7a.m. on Tuesday I checked with my fellow passengers and they confirmed there was 3 hours to go. At noon I checked and there was still 3 hours to go!!

Kick off was at 4p.m.

No panic. Taxi!

Once again I took my bags to the stadium, and had to walk the last 2km as no cars were allowed near the stadium.

Upon arrival at the security check, this time, they spotted my razor and informed that I could not go in with it.

Let’s just recap here. I have just spent 45 hours on a bus. Had six hours in bed since I got to Brazil. Just walked 2km with my bags in the hottest temperatures I had encountered so far, now that I was on the North East coast. Oh and I hadn’t had a shave since I got here. It can’t get worse can it?

Anyway I got in and I have now shaved.

Enjoyed the game. Mexico’s performance was no surprise to me as I have seen the fixture three times and Mexico won them all.

Had an early night ..11ish, and up at 7 to meet my Mexican friend Manuel at the bus station to travel to Natal.

We were in the process of buying the bus tickets, I handed Manuel my passport from my small bag, I looked around some seconds later and immediately realised my bag had gone.

Want to know what was in it, with the most important things first. Match tickets, camera, hat, money, jacket, poncho.

So I looked and looked for the police, eventually finding them exuding the same patience I had seen with their queues (even when the metro came in at Brasilia there was not the usual urgency I am used to, to get aboard).

The police did not seem to take an interest as I searched all the bins and the toilets. A Uruguayan girl said she had seen someone suspicous and we asked to check the CCTV, the nearest one wasn’t working. But then Pedro the manager of Guanabara bus company came along. He checked his CCTV and we saw what had happened, two of them and two seconds.

We then went to the police and they then checked the video of the station exits. We saw the culprits but the police were not about to do anything.

Pedro, however was determined to help he offered his services and drove Manuel and I across town to the Police Station to get a crime report. (Beach football today was postponed).

Found out from Pedro that Fortaleza is the 7th most violent city in the world and that a few years he had been visited at his home by armed robbers and tied up. I had only lost a bag.

Pedro realised that the match tickets were the most important thing and offered to take us to the FIFA ticketing centre.

With Pedro and Manuel’s help and patience I managed to get tickets to 5 of the 7 matches I had lost. One of Pedro’s last acts if kindness was to make me a sign saying “I need a ticket for this match.”

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