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The Fútbol Gods

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First and foremost, I apologize for the long delay in between posts this week. A number of factors contributed to this, namely: it’s been raining this week so I wasn’t able to go out and film on those days, I’ve mostly just been working on the documentary project (which is technically why I’m here, so I can’t complain too much) and I haven’t gone out as much as I was last week. That being said, there were a number of episodes over the past few days worth mentioning. First, I met another American who is working on the same subject material as me. Sarah is a study abroad student from GWU in D.C. working on a project about alternative media in Latin America. She’s not as specifically focused on the NINJA as me, but she’s still working with them from time to time. We met up to grab some drinks so I could pick her brain about things to do and see while I’m here. I gained some good information; we drank some crappy beer, then called it a night.

The next night was the culinary highlight of the trip thus far. Sarah invited me to join her and her friends for a special promotion a restaurant down in Ipanema was having. I got there a little early because the public transit was on schedule for the first time since I’ve been here. There is a bar right next to the restaurant that Sarah told me about; it’s called Shenanigans. It’s probably the most popular gringo bar here in Rio. The décor and design are hilarious because it’s supposed to be an Irish pub, but what it looks like is a Brazilian attempt at an American version of an Irish pub. Having been to Irish pubs in Ireland and the US, this locale seems like two degrees removed from the real thing. No matter, I sat down at the bar and had a couple beers before joining my friends next door. They were playing great music (Led Zeppelin) and had an excellent selection of beer. Plus, there was more English being spoken in that room than I’ve heard in one place since I’ve gotten here.

The restaurant is called Carretao, and it’s a churrascaria (read Brazilian steakhouse). I’m sure many of you have been to a version of this in the US (like Fogo de Chao or Gaucho’s), but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. There was more variety of delicious meat making its way around the room than I have ever seen in one place. I tried everything in sight, many times twice. There were five different cuts of beef that made it to our table alone, much less lamb, chicken or pork. The beer was pretty cheap and the promotion was all you could eat for $52 reais, which is roughly $24 USD — what a steal. Plus, I got to meet a few of Sarah’s friends who are here studying with her. There were three American guys and a Brazilian girl, and we enjoyed raucous conversation right off the bat.

Otherwise, the biggest news is that I was able to find and purchase a World Cup ticket through the FIFA website for the USA v. Portugal game. Some more tickets came available through the first come/first serve platform, and I just happened to be on the website at the right time. So, I was able to purchase a ticket at face value ($400 savings), which I just picked up and currently have in my possession. That’s probably the biggest news of the week, to be honest. Other than that, I’m just working away on my project. In eight days I’ll be moving accommodations to an area way outside of Rio in Barra da Tijuca. It’s about a two-hour bus ride into the city, so I might be looking for a different place to stay if possible. We’ll see though because I don’t really want to pay for nine days worth of rooms if I have a free couch…

In the meantime, I’m working hard and trying to stay as safe as possible. There should be some parties this weekend, and I might make it down to Lapa depending on what my host/friends are up to. Also, friends from the US should start arriving here in the next week or so, which is really exciting. And best of all, the Cup is two weeks away!

BrazilAndrew Stern