Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 19 - Match Day in Natal - England Out (unless there is a Miracle)

I was hoping that this was going to be one of the best days ever, with an England win at the heart of it, but it wasn't to be. It was still great to a large extent but, once again, for the fifth time in succession, a game that I really cared about went the opposite way I was hoping for. You can only get slapped on the face so many times before it starts to hurt. So the day's mood score was only 8-2!

My plan in the morning was to get some cash but the shopping only starts at 11am! I still did have a coffee and a nice chat to a couple of Brazilians about the state of the game before coming back here. It was chucking it down with rain again, which has been a bit of theme in the North-East of Brazil, since Fortaleza.

Natal has had a very unusual amount of rain these last seven days

I got a taxi ride to an old historic building in the centre of Natal called the Centro do Turismo, where they hold a weekly Forro session for tourists. The two musical/dance nights I've been to so far have been great so I thought I'd give this ago too. I had imagined that once I'd located the place I could go wandering around the old town looking for a bar/restaurant to watch Columbia v Ivory Coast in, and then head to the fan fest for the England game. After that, my plan was to go to my second live match Japan v Greece and then end up watching a bit of Forro.

The first step went perfectly and I was dropped off at this grand old, yellow building with an excellent view of Natal. I made enquiries about the Forro and bought a ticket for R$30.

Beautiful Square for Forro Dancing Later

Centre of Tourism - unmanned information desk

Fantastic view of Natal

The bridge and the FIFA fanfest - my next destination

Beautiful Square - where the Forro dancing would be later

So then I set off to explore the old town. Wrong. The old town was basically more like a favela and I felt a bit vulnerable walking around looking for somewhere to eat. Also my camera battery then ran out so I was getting a bit anxious by the time I'd found my way to the shoreline. Even here there were no cafes or bars like in Fortaleza or Ponte Negra. So I walked all the way to the fan fest, quite a way. By the time I'd got in the match had started but I didn't miss any goals. It was a great match too.

The Littoral of Natal is spectacular

Columbia v Ivory Coast was a great game

Met a Columbian who lives in Canning Vale!

Clinging on to the side of the of the fort in dodgy weather

Not a lethal drop but it would have hurt!

Very impressive bridge

Oops - another photo uploaded of the same thing

Feeling nervous about England v Uruguay. Suarez fir to play - very ominous

God Save The Queen!

Chucking it down again

Columbia won 2-1 during which I had some "food" which has to be pretty much the worst selection I've ever known at a football match. Mansfield Town's pies are better than this strange, deep fried patte thing with ham and (supposedly) cheese inside. I bet deep fried mars bars in Glasgow are healthier.

Anyway from that disappointment to a lovely high, walking along the shore to the old fort where Natal was founded. Fantastic walk.

Then back to the fan fest. I must say I had a sinking feeling even before the game started and it never really left. Even if the bizarre USA fans chant "we believe that we can win!" was part of my repertoire (and thank the lord it isn't) I wouldn't have sang it during this match. I did think England deserved at least a draw but they just didn't play well and Uruguay played their usual selves with Suarez back. I thought the final goal was offside and went away cursing the officials with tears in my eyes before heading off the beautiful new arena for the Japan game. The public transport for the World Cup is non existent. I asked a FIFA staff member at the fan fest the best way to get to the stadium from here and she said "take a cab". No buses like in Fortaleza then. So another pricey taxi ride through choking traffic.

Once at the stadium, still morose, I had a burger before winding down to the stadium. That definitely cheered me up. The sight of all the crazy, enthusiastic Japanese fans is enough to warm your heart and also the England fan behind me told me it wasn't off side as it had deflected off an England player. This made the defeat a little easier to bear and I tried to put it out of my mind by getting involved in the 0-0 draw going on in front of me.

Arena dos Dunas, Natal, is beautiful

Lots of crazy Japan fans

Still feeling miserable before the England fan on the left told me the winner wasn't off-side after all (some consolation, that!)

Heroic Greeks survive against Japan, even down to ten men with an hour to go.

After the match, another long walk away from the ground before catching another taxi to go through more traffic before arriving back at the Centro do Turismo again in time for the show. And, it was really lovely. Forro is my new favourite folk music. It has all the beat and rhythm of samba. It makes you want to tap your feet inn the same way, but in addition it has an accordianist playing the most delightful tunes. It reminded me a bit of Lesley'd dad playing for us in the Lithuanian dance group.

What I hadn't realised is that after one dance routine the dancers immediately go off into the audience and drag men and women up for a go. This extremely beautiful, very tall bespectacled young lady picked me and I bet she wished she hadn't. Left 1, 2. Right 1, 2. Sound easy but I goofed it up again and again. Oh well I tried. I got the impression the dancers avoided me after that - and who could blame them - but at the end there was a big, group dance where everyone got involved - kind of a Brazilian version of suk suk ratele and I got into that. It was really really lovely and washed away all my Uruguayan blues.

I love Forro

Great dancing

I had an anxious moment when at nearly 1am there was no sign of a taxi coming, apparently all of them in use at Porte Negra, so the guy kindly asked the coach driver for a group of toursits if he could drop me off. Perfect, for only R$20 too. So yet again, the fear bubble is burst. So ends another day. Getting close to half way through now.


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