Road to Rio: Tasting Brazil 2014 in person

Yesterday was a rest in the ongoing drama series that is the World Cup finals. Many needed that chance to breathe, or merely exhale, because matches have been really breathtaking. The USA team nearly gave their country something unexpected, by beating a promising Belgium team. But, in extra time, the fresh legs provided by Lukaku was their undoing, even though the USA mounted a charge in the last 10 minutes that was like anything Hollywood could have created. The final result, 2-1, will be an historical fact. However, the history writers will also record that the man of the match, American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, was heroic like few ever are. He made 16 saves–a record since such things were first noted in 1966. He became ‘Captain America’ in graphic representation, and almost any and every saviour. Some of the so-called memes were brilliant. Yes, the USA fell in love with soccer, but now had reasons to keep loving it.

Americans love to raise aloft the individual, rather than the team: it’s deep seated in their individualist culture. Now, they can do it and few would bridle at it. We have a lot of the back story on Howard, such as he’s a sufferer of Turrett syndrome. He sealed his legacy for the moment by getting a phone call from President Obama after the match. I suspect his homecoming will be special and I expect him to be the toast of late night shows for a while. He pushed other events off the front pages and out of the headlines.

Other stuff was reported. Liverpool and Barcelona are getting their teeth into talks about a transfer for Luis Suárez. Match fixing allegations against seven Cameroon players were made, then refuted by the alleged source, an admitted match fixer. The final eight teams are set for the quarter finals, due to begin on Friday. I am now in Rio, and will taste futbol every day.

Travel can be a real chore. We began our journey just as the first tropical storm of this hurricane season was unfolding. ‘Arthur’ is on his way north. My older daughter was bitten by its impact and had to curtail her travel as her original flight was delayed so much she would have left after her connecting flight to Miami was due to leave. Smartly, she rebooked to fly via New York JFK. Then, her flight to NYC went that far, only to be turned back. Her mother had to come to her rescue and take her for an overnight stay. We will see if and when she can travel. The storm is coiling to be bad today and Friday. How events can conspire.

But, the storm may be just what Jamaica needs, if it gets lashed by its rain. The island is in a water crisis, because the rainy season has not shown up for work. You could imagine the clouds all too busy watching World Cup football. So, additional water restrictions in Jamaica, again. We saw a sprinkling on Tuesday. I counted a few hundred drops of rain. All is getting brown. Whatever climate change will really mean, we are in a drought when we would normally be getting rain.

It was ironic to head to Miami and be delayed by rain showers and thunderstorms.

Rio is supposed to be Brazil’s party central. Maybe, that’s why the airport is GIG.

We are due to be here for 10 days and will lap that up. Copacabana Beach is a few blocks away. FIFA Fan Fest beckons on match day. Short and tee shirts and sandals.

It’s going to be an interesting adventure.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)