Natal

Caught the overnight bus from Fortaleza….just seven hours this time and arrived at 6 a.m.

Arriving in Natal as dawn broke it was clear they had heavy rain in the night. As it began to get light there were still grey clouds overhead.

Now I needed to sort out how I was getting to Recife for the game at 1.00 p.m. tomorrow, the original plan was that I was travelling with Manuel by car, you’ll realize after yesterday’s episode that something went wrong with those plans.

Lots of Mexicans here and they are doing the same thing, so it was no surprise when I heard the buses to Recife were full. Of course being one who doesn’t give up I persisted and managed to book a bus out at 23.45 tonight, for the five hour journey.

So what to do in Brazil by the sea as the rain pours down?

Head to the mall for some shopping (to replace things) and where the FIFA ticketing centre was located. There was no sign of any local buses, so I had no option but to take a taxi.

During the journey my driver talked (as taxi drivers all over the world do) non stop. Despite neither of us speaking each other’s language I think we understood each other. This was borne out by the fact that he accompanied me to the ticketing centre and explained my case and remained with me for the next two hours.

I understood that Natal was safe but that Recife was dangerous and had a reputation for crime like Fortaleza.

I was now told that FIFA had said yesterday that under no circumstances would they reissue tickets. Keeping quiet about the fact that I had done that yesterday I said I accepted that, but would like to see if it was possible to buy tickets.

Again I was told this was not possible. Yet outside a large queue had formed obviously looking for tickets for tonight’s game Japan v Greece.

Japan v Greece, Natal

My FIFA helper took pity and asked about the games I needed. He tried but no luck, he suggested trying the Internet. He saw my iPod and asked if I had wifi, I explained that even when I get it it rarely works (as I was advised by Camila before I set off. Thank you.)

He proceeded to try the different networks that came up and (as I had already worked out) entered the same name for the password. I told him that was typical Brazilian and he acknowledged it was. Nothing worked so he suggested a large nearby supermarket which had Internet.

Japan fans in Natal, Brazil

I asked a few questions and found that initially he didn’t know if the shopping mall would open today as on match days the cities had declared holidays. He later found it would open at 3p.m.

He also informed me that there was a bus strike today.

So off to the supermarket where I got to kick my first ball in the aisles, with some kids before we got told off! I took one of the chocolate world cups off the shelf and gave it to one of them who then paraded it round the store, before putting it back.

The connection to the Internet was slow and when it did come up it failed, after my third computer I looked at the assistants and said “Brazil” they immediately fell about laughing. I had read that Brazilians say this when things don’t work out, and felt that after the week here that I have had, I was entitled to use it.

So it would appear my only hope for the two missing tickets will be Pedro’s sign.

I guess by now you’ll realize at the moment I feel a bit like the Uruguayans without their dulce du leche (which is as good as sugar Kane!).

Looked for some help to get to the stadium later in the day and found two people from England, who having been based on the Northern coast, were able to give me useful tips for my next destination.

Met another old friend, by chance, inside the stadium, Sebastian can be found usually near beautiful women. I spotted him having his photo taken and ruined the shot!

For the first time I managed to watch a game on TV. It left me singing “Soy, celeste” as I later watched Japan v Greece from the best seats I have had this tournament.

By now you will have seen that the stadiums have all been magnificent (as usual) but I heard that for the last game it took some time to get back into town.

So I planned my escape from the stadium beforehand by foot to the bus station.

On the way out I bumped into another friend, and went with them for the bus.

One of his companions had been arrested earlier in the evening, (for nothing, honest) and kept in custody whilst the game took place and he was due to appear in court at 8.20 a.m. tomorrow morning. But the bus to Recife departed tonight….with him on board.

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