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Roaming in Recife


Wheels up, computer out, headphones on — t-minus two days to WWIII. Recife awaits. I left Manaus about 12 hours before John and Dustin, so I made a hotel reservation in Recife to get some shuteye before the two of them arrived. Our airbnb host was picking us up at the airport at 7am because the boys’ flight left at 2:30am and landed around 6:30am. I got in at 11:30pm the night before, so I could potentially get six hours of sleep in the between time. I used to find a spot close to the airport so the cab to and from wouldn’t be too expensive. That being said, the hotel I booked was not exactly the Four Seasons. In fact, I was legitimately worried about being robbed while inside the place. The linens were clean-ish but smelled faintly of sweat. It was super cheap by World Cup standards but as it turns out, there was a reason for that. Luckily, the door had a deadbolt and somehow, the room had A/C. At this point I was too tired to care about the security or less-than-stellar linens so I grabbed every minute of sleep that I could, and then it was back to the airport to meet up with the boys.

Waiting in the airport for the boys, I got to work on re-mastering some of the photos from the Amazon. When they walked through the arrival doors, it was like watching The Walking Dead. You could tell these guys were on their last leg before falling asleep on their feet. Luckily, Luis, the paterfamilias of our host family, arrived a few minutes after them and we were off to our accommodations. As we drove through the rain — which was to become quite a theme in Recife — Dustin fell asleep in the car instantly. John was talking to Luis, so he didn’t have the same luxury.

When we arrived at the house, we realized we were in the same situation as Manaus — great sleeping quarters but far from everything in the city. It was on a dirt road quite a few miles outside of downtown. But, the room was cheap, had comfortable beds, a mini-fridge and a portable A/C unit that could easily cool the entire room. And, the good thing about having your accommodations far outside of town is that it discourages you from spending any time indoors. We would leave in the morning and return in the morning because we rarely got back before midnight. But, it also makes it quite difficult to write or do anything else productive, hence why I’ve been so far behind on my blog.

We walked in the door of Luis’ home and met his daughter, son-in-law and their cadre of children. The people renting the room before us were still there, so we all crashed in the living room. Dustin took the big couch and was asleep before Luis had even finished showing us around. John took the loveseat, and I grabbed the recliner. Three to four hours later, we woke up feeling like entirely different people. I wasn’t nearly as bad off as they were given my five hours of sleep the night before, but everyone seemed to be ready to go now. There were some World Cup games going on soon, and our friends from Manaus (and before that, Natal and Rio for Dustin and John) were already posted up at one of the most popular sports bars in Recife, The Underground. They were saving us a table so we grabbed a cab and headed to Boa Viagem, the main party area of Recife.

At the bar, we watched the second of the two World Cup games with our buddies. On the way there, we had spotted a churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse) with an all-you-can-eat deal for 40 reals. So, after the game ended, me, Dustin and John went to the steakhouse and posted up. We walked in and were seated immediately; within 15 minutes, there was a line 30 people deep out the door — apparently our timing was impeccable.

We decided to class it up and ordered a bottle of wine, which turned out to be quite tasty. We ate until we were in pain but had no regrets — easily the best meal I’ve had in Brazil.

After dinner, we made our way to the US Soccer night before party. It was at a pizza restaurant that wasn’t actually finished being constructed. It had a nice interior but had no tables and didn’t have a working kitchen. It made no matter; everyone was simply there to drink.

When we got to the location, the line was easily 150 deep out the door to the left. To the right were people who had actually RSVP’ed to the party, and there were probably 30 or so of them. Dustin said, “I don’t like lines. Follow me and act as if you’re supposed to be here.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that, but John and I nodded agreement and followed his lead.

Dustin walked right down the middle, in between the lines, and cut left into the non-RSVP line about 4 people from the front. No one seemed to notice or give us any flack at all; within two minutes, we were inside the party. Maybe people just didn’t care or maybe they really didn’t see us make the move. Either way, it was epic. For my family members reading the blog, I imagine this as the sort of move that Scott Bailey would have made back in the day — smooth, discreet and awesome.

Once inside, the DJ was playing some great tunes and every few minutes, a US soccer cheer would ring out. Everyone was in USA gear from head to toe. One of the guys we had met at the game in Manaus was decked out in a full Teddy Roosevelt costume, including accurate, natural facial hair. He led a cheer over the microphone that got people really going.

Then someone legitimately famous took the stage — Will Ferrell. The video has already gone viral, but we were there for his hilarious speech in which he vowed to bite every German player even if FIFA banned him for life. It was funny as hell and incredibly cool to see it live.

We stayed at the US Soccer party until midnight-ish and decided to change venues. We went to a club that had a really long line and decided to go to a different one instead. We changed venues to a spot called Dona Carolina, which was mostly empty. But, there was an awesome samba drum corps there with strings of LED lights running around their drums so the drums glowed in the darkness. Because there weren’t very many people there (read, 15 or so), I mimed to the drummers to let me play. To my utter shock and delight, after the next song, one of the drummers took off his drum and motioned for me to come up on stage and play with them. I handed my phone to John to record it and jumped up on the stage. I played with the corps for a couple of minutes and it was a blast. I doubt many Americans can say they got to play with a Brazilian samba drum corps live — without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip.

When we left the club around 3am, there was quite the dust up with security. As with many clubs in Brazil, we were handed a card when we walked in the door so you can charge your drinks to it and then pay on your way out. What the door guy failed to mention is that they were charging us a 40 reals cover as well. So when we tried to leave, they told us we had to pay our card even though all of us had paid for our drinks in cash. Annie, who had joined us at the US Soccer party, tried to explain our position in Spanish, which is certainly more helpful than English but still not actual Portuguese, and we ended up in a heated argument with the female head bouncer who looked like she could kill you with just her stare. We ended up settling with them by two of us paying our covers and the other two not, but no one seemed happy with the situation. Regardless, we left the club around 3:30am to head home.

When we got into the cab, the driver didn’t really know where our house was, so he took us to the general area of the city. We got out of the cab into the driving rain and started to walk. The problem, though, is that all of us were way too tired on the drive in to remember how to get home. We remembered a park and a playground and a dirt road and a giant puddle, but couldn’t remember what order they came in. As we found out, there were A LOT of playgrounds and parks in this area. We ended up trudging through the pissing rain for nearly 45 minutes walking around this neighborhood trying to figure out how to get home. Google Maps was failing us, our memories were failing us and we had a HUGE game tomorrow. By the time we stumbled upon a landmark that was familiar enough to John to navigate us home, it was 4:15am. By the time we got out of our sopping wet clothes and into bed, it was easily 4:30.

And we had the 1:00pm game tomorrow. Woof.

BrazilAndrew Stern