A reporter settles into Brazil to cover the World Cup

World Cupdate: We’re on the ground and rolling in São Paulo. The first day was long and at times overwhelming.

As my friend Steven Goff says, you could drop Manhattan into São Paulo, and it’d seem like a quaint, little neighborhood.

I’ve rented an apartment off AirBNB for five weeks. It’s very no-frills, but no complaints here (except for the tiny ant-like bugs who are living rent-free in the bathroom. I’ll drain my hairspray supply trying to permanently evict them).

First dinner consisted of pizza (1/3 zucchini, 1/3 mushrooms, 1/3 caprese), Brahma beer and good company. The neighborhood is gritty but interesting. I’ve been told I shouldn’t walk alone late at night. Yesterday, I almost had no choice.

I went for a stroll and wandered through the most incredible cemetery. The crypts and tombs and statues were on a level I’d never seen before. It was dusk, so the smog temporarily made the sky glow brown, which was also new to me. I lost track of time – and geography – and as the gates prepared to close at 6 p.m., I was essentially blindfolded in the middle of a maze. As the minutes ticked away, I started jogging, certain the gate was nearby. When I finally found it – 6:01 pm – a guard had just locking it up for the night. And that’s why I’m not complaining about my apartment this morning. The alternative was much worse.

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.

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Marissa Payne · June 10, 2014

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