The atmosphere is building ahead of England’s Group D opener against Italy in Manaus with the Three Lions being backed to overcome the Azzurri.
Meanwhile, away from the trading floor, I’ve been busy sampling a few local delicacies while also being fortunate enough to come across a Brazilian broadcasting legend!
World Cup Diary 4
04:00 – Up at the crack of dawn to get the lowdown ahead of the big game tomorrow night. The traders tell me they think this game could break records in terms of turnover, and the money is gradually started to come for England. Whisper it quietly, but the patriotic punt may finally be on the horizon.
12:00 – For your benefit, I’ve decided to skip the next 8 hours. If anyone wants a more detailed account of me sitting on my bed in the hotel room, Google-chatting people on the other side of the world to sort out Mario Balotelli specials while the air-con blasts please email me.
This all happens fairly seamlessly, and I wonder if we’ve peaked as a civilisation.
13:30 – I venture out for the first time to come across a large gathering of Amazonian policia militar, photographers and excitable onlookers.
A car with blacked-out windows pulls up and everyone quivers with excitement as a well turned out gent, who I’m told is a Brazilian commentary legend and the best ‘golgolgolll’ merchant in the business, Galvao Bueno.
He stands to pose for endless snaps, including several with the police, and in a statesmanlike manner, declares his love for Manaus. A legend in my midst.
15:00 – It’s time to get to the Arena Amazonia to scope out what’s in store for England tomorrow. The stadium is an impressive looking structure in a fairly nondescript semi-industrial area of the city.
I wasn’t expecting a pub on every corner, but there’s a real lack of places for fans to have a drink and a bite to eat beforehand, bar this place where they sell a litre bottle of local lager which comes in a frozen bottle in its own cooler for just over a quid.
In the name of research, I have one along with a ‘pastel’, which is like a Brazilian Cornish pasty, but tastier while watching the opening minutes of the Spain-Holland match.
15:15 – I walk a full circuit of the stadium, and from this side it very much looks like something from outer space.
18:00 – After filming my update for the shops I’m pleasantly surprised to find lightning-fast Wi-Fi in a petrol station’s mini food court opposite the stadium.
For all of the horror stories I read beforehand about telecommunications in Brazil, I’ve had better signal in the middle of the Amazon than zone 2 on the Underground in many cases.
20:00 – Heading into the old city square in search of England fans. Reports on numbers varying, but there definitely isn’t the feel of a complete invasion so far which is understandable given the journey involved. Only one flag spotted, which is this top effort from a group of Saints fans.
21:30 – There’s samba style music in the square in front of the Amazonian Theatre. The music is drowning out any isolated pockets of England chanting with many of the travelling fans keener to blend in with the relaxed vibe which is at odds with the usual repeated ‘Ingerland Ingerland Ingerland’ refrain.
Those who have made the long trip are just marvelling in their surroundings, enjoying the fact that football has brought them all the way to a place like this. Me too, and on that note, it’s time to get back ahead of the rumble in the jungle.
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