Friday, June 13, 2014

Arrival in Natal, Mexico v. Cameroon Game

Official mascot of 2014 World Cup is an animal of unknown origin
I had told various people that if you do not see regular postings on the vacation blog, it meant that I was hit over the head with a lead pipe and that I was lying in a gutter somewhere on a side road in the middle of Brazil.  Despite Brazil's reputation on crime, that has not happened yet.  The reason for no posting on the first day in Brazil is far more mundane than bleeding like a pig from a knife attack.

I got very little sleep on the flight down.  The hotel's internet is slower than dial-up from an AOL disc circa 1999.  And my computer got hung up for a long while trying to install Update 3 of 4.

So welcome to Day 2 in Natal.  A very rainy Day 2 in Natal.  A very rainy WINTER day in Natal, although, with temperatures in the low 80s, how wintry is a Natal winter?

The flight down was long.  I had a middle seat in the middle section of 767.  Lucky me had one of those super deluxe ultra-premium non-reclining seats.  Middle seat AND no recline.  It was like hitting the airline seat jackpot.  From Hell.  The plane landed in São Paulo a few minutes late.  But then there was a huge line to clear customs.  Scratch that.  There was a huge line to get into the line to clear customs.

It's time's like that which make a four-hour layover a wonderful gift.

When I finally cleared customs, re-checked Big Green (my big crayon green super-sized suitcase that I would never dream of traveling without), then went to the gate for the flight from São Paulo to Natal.  It said Gate 17.  Easy walk there.  And I know I'm in the right place because the gate is packed with Mexicans.  The flight down, in fact, was packed with Mexicans.  All going to Natal for the second game of the 2014 World Cup, Mexico v. Cameroon.  More on that later.

So everything's going great.

And then the Natal flight disappears from the board.

It didn't say the flight was delayed.  Or, worse, it was cancelled.  It just ... disappeared.  Lots of later flights were listed.  Earlier flights were listed.  But the flight to Natal?  It ceased to exist.

But I was hanging with the Mexican fans.  And they weren't too concerned, even though the trip to Natal was their reason for being in Brazil.  And eventually the flight did reappear.  But I've never had that happen to me before when flying.

And by the way, I had heard that they built a fabulous new terminal in São Paulo for the World Cup and that it was completed on time, under budget and it was beautiful.  I didn't see it.  I was in an outdated 1960s era airport terminal which, even though São Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, was about the size of Reno-Tahoe Cannon Airport.  So that São Paulo terminal must be one of those infrastructure projects they didn't get around to completing.

[Footnote.  And a foreshadow.  That line -- "must be one of those infrastructure projects they didn't get around to completing" -- is going to be a theme of this trip.]

Well, anyway, enough complaining.  I did get to the hotel, the Kristie Resort Hotel.  How I don't know.  But just when I thought we were hopelessly lost, I saw the sign for the hotel.  And it's a nice hotel and a great location.
It's on the beach. Or "em a praia," as us Portuguese speakers would call it.
I'm staying in "the flats," which is across the street, so this is our beach view.  The room is simple and clean:

Tile floors, easy to clean
The shower has nice water pressure.  But don't put your paper in the toilet or you'll never get it to flush again.  That is one of the rules of using a bathroom anywhere in Brazil.

We had dinner last night at the Dos Mares.  Very good shrimp, but ridiculously over-priced.  And they play that "appetizer you never ordered but is rather expensive" game.  But it's right on the beach:

Ponta Negra nightlife
We're in the "Ponta Negra" section of Natal, which is the tourist hotel district at the southern end of the oceanfront.

And, with as tired as we were from the overnight flights, dinner was the evening's entertainment.

Day 2 was the World Cup game between Mexico and Cameroon at Arenas Das Dunas in downtown Natal.  I did not take my camera because it was raining something fierce.  I got soaked.  And we were lucky enough to get a ride to the game with someone who was staying at the hotel who wasn't even going to the game.  (They were here for USA v. Ghana in a few days.  And, yes, they were in Brazil to follow the Ghana team around northeastern Brazil.)

As far the Mexico/Cameroon game, the Mexican fans were in abundance.  They dominated the crowd and made most of the crowd noise.  They dominated the game, winning 1-0.  The Mexican fans left deliriously happy.  And they were friendly and polite, so that was good.  We had a long walk back to the hotel from the game because, well, we weren't sure how else to get back, even though it was six miles or so (not 6 km like 
most people were telling us).

Again, no pictures because it was raining too hard.  I will take plenty of pictures next game.  I promise.  Unless it's raining in Recife.  Which it is forecasted to do.  Hey, I live in the desert.  Rain is a nice change of pace.  (But, still, it was nice to be under the roof for the actual game.)

No comments:

Post a Comment