World Cup destination: Natal


Sao Paulo to Natal. (By Steven Goff — The Washington Post)

6 a.m. wake-up

Scrambled eggs, banana cake, cashew juice

Shoulder bag, laptop case

Sleepy media colleagues in lobby

Bus departure

City at peace

First stop light: driver seeking directions from pedestrian

Ascending roadway along edge of historic municipal stadium

Four kilometers: driver seeking directions from another vehicle

World Cup of patience. Hopefully, not World Cup of patients

Low clouds, gray sky

Alleged shortcut past Opium Motel

Light traffic; refreshing

Mexico City + Shanghai + New York = Sao Paulo

Spray paint on river embankment: “FIFA GO HOME”

Countless Coca-Cola World Cup billboards with smiling faces

Airport arrival; never a doubt

Training for “Amazing Race”; nerve-racking, exhilarating

No luck at electronic check-in

Line for human check-in

Bom Dia!

Couple with child and a ticket snag; father meltdown

Same couple with child and a ticket snag; mother meltdown

Warning: no valuables in checked luggage

11-pound carry-on limit; perfect packing

Former catcher Mike Piazza awaiting flight to Manaus for Italy-England

Side-by-side bookstore offerings: Walter White and Neymar. “Breaking Bad” and freaking good

Bad vs. Good. (By Steven Goff -- The Washington Post)
Bad vs. Good. (By Steven Goff — The Washington Post)

Chileans. Russians. Colombians. Americans. Italians. Ticos. Brazilians. Japanese. Estonian.

U.S. national team WAG with kids

Gooooooooool! (By Steven Goff -- The Washington Post)
Gooooooooool! (By Steven Goff — The Washington Post)

Appropriate and timely airline name (Gol+) and color (orange); Hup Holland!

Window seat; middle vacancy

Sleeping passenger on aisle wrapped in Brazilian flag scarf

Sweet or salty snack; sweet – 122kcal valor energetico

Seu Jorge’s lovely “Rebel, Rebel”in earbuds

Warm rain, thick air in Natal. Florida?

Natal closer to west Africa than southern tip of Brazil

Beautiful, new, almost-finished airport surrounded by lagoons of mud puddles

Roadside donkey

Roadside vendors

Roadside roller-coaster

25 kilometers to city center

Feels like 2,500 with rambling tour guide

“Welcome to the city of sunshine! (pause) You are not allowed to laugh”

“We are not used to rain. When it rains, we wait for it to stop and then come out”

300 days of sunshine per year. Not today

Not Sunday

Probably not Monday

Beachside fanfest deserted

Surfers undeterred

Majestic sand dunes, crashing waves

Buggy expeditions, camel rides

World Cup at the Outer Banks

Holiday Inn, ocean view

Mini-bottle of cachaca in the room

The Atlantic

Praying for sun

10-hour travel day

Exhale


Worth the trip. (By Steven Goff — The Washington Post)
Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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