BY KURT WEBER
It’s game day in Natal, Brazil. The sky is overcast, the beach extends along the coast, crowded with red, white, and blue swim trunks. Dark gray skies are overhead, but the beach vendors are still pushing their wares: jerseys, paintings, jewelry, scarves, ice cream, grilled shrimp, and fresh fruit.
Natal, a small city on the far northeast tip of Brazil, is flooded with American accents. I’m confident the locals haven’t tried to accommodate this many English speakers in a long time. Natal appears more laidback than Rio, the seemingly most easygoing city of South America.
The city has built a brand new stadium and airport for the occasion. The airport is so new (15 days old), they forgot to put trash cans in the restrooms. The highways are pristine, and the local roads are old cobblestone and rubble.
We are headed to the stadium in a few hours – hoping our team plays well, gets past the first must-win game against Ghana, and gives us another reason to celebrate this amazing locale.