Week June 15 - June 21, 2014
Praia da Pipa is a wonderful little beach town that has just enough touristy atmosphere to attract the international crowd and with the help of the World Cup, it was a variable mini-United Nations. We took a bit of time to walk through the town and spend some time on the beach and in doing so, recognized probably 10 different languages being spoken. Of course, we found a cluster of Americans now and again and enjoyed our shared excitement of the upcoming game (and the reason we were all near Natal).
||A colorful street up to our
The view from our window
Very nice pousada
Praia da Pipa
||Praia da Pipa
Futebol played everywhere and anywhere
Water time for Gerson
Praia da Pipa harbor
It was good to have Sunday to just enjoy Praia da Pipa and regroup, as it were. After so many days of picking up and going, it was nice to stay unpacked and in one place. It also gave us a chance to watch some of the other Copa do Mundo games being played and enjoy sitting with the pousada owner, Marilia and her friends to watch France's game. Marilia is Brazilian and has lived in several countries and as a result, she has quite a varied community of friends. Gerson got to practice his French and his Italian throughout our pleasant stay.
||Praia da Pipa
The town dates into the 1800's
Palm frond roses Gerson bought
||Watching the pousada TV in the
outdoor common kitchen. France
scored and the Frenchmen/women
went fou (crazy)!.
Views of the charming pousada
With the pousada Aconchego
Watching the games on TV was one thing, but listening to parts of the town erupt when a goal was scored was remarkable. You could easily discern the favored team by the decibel level of the post-goal celebration. It was also fun to listen for the collective "OH!" when a shot on goal missed as the entire town would exclaim their surprise and you could just imagine the wave of people slapping the palm of theiir hands to the back of their heads..
A pair of monkeys kept us entertained
And kept Bully the dachshund frustrated
||Monkey sticking his tongue
out at Bully as Bully was
barking at it, or so it seemed!
climbing the trees
Game day cometh and we the worthy are ready! Bring on Ghana! We garbed ourselves in red, white and blue and carried our enthusiasm for Team USA and the Beautiful Game into Natal. As we wanted to have lunch near the stadium, we arrived early and our extra time allowed us to meet up with a group of fans called The American Outlaws (www.theamericanoutlaws.com).
The American Outlaws is a large group of fans for the United States Mens National (Soccer) Team and organizes tailgating before various games, parading to the stadiums, etc. Rather by chance, I happened upon their website and their announcement of a party and parade before the game and without hesitation, we were there to include our voices to the raucous, exuberant crowd.
||We are decked out and ready!
Sharing lunch with fans and watching
The party's starting
||We estimated at least 2,000 U.S.
supporters paraded into the stadium
front of the Arena Das
One Nation One Team!
Parading the mile or so to the stadium was an adrenaline rush and we met people from all over the United States. The local Brazilians lined the route and were waving and taking pictures. Shouts of "GO USA" and "BRASIL" were intertwined with singing "The Yanks Are Coming", "We're Not Ghana Take It", "I Believe We Will Win" and of course, the United States National Anthem.
||Everyone behaved and the lines
A selfie overlooking the main
Gerson having a difficult time deciding
||Let the game begin!
Screen shot of the packed
We were in good company
Always proud to see the
The game was a bit of a nail-biter and sitting down seemed to be the option as standing was more the rule. The stadium was overwhelmingly supportive of the Yanks as it was estimated that there were 10,000 Americans out of the almost 40,000 in attendance. Brazilians sitting near us were loudly cheering for Team USA and entire sections of the stadium were drowned in red, white and blue.
||National Anthems being played
A lone Ghana supporter in our section
A section of Ghana supporters made
Loved the sign - "Not Ghana Beat US"
||US in red and playing well
Norway had a sense of humor
There were 39,758 other
Team USA came out strong and scored in the first minute of the game (and achieved a record of the fastest goal scored in any World Cup game!). If you know your soccer history, Ghana knocked the U.S. out of the last World Cup and has beaten Team USA in other crucial games so Ghana is a bit of a nemesis for the U.S. When the Yanks scored so quickly, it set an exhilarating tone that never diminished.
Our euphoria lasted well into the second half and was only slightly dimmed when Ghana scored an equalizer. Fortunately, that only spurred on U.S. players and within the last minutes of the game, Team U.S.A. scored a second and winning goal. To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement. The win meant not only did U.S. finally rid itself of its Ghana-curse, but also that the team could defy its naysayers and actually get through the (death) group stage and into the top 16 knockout round.
Do you think Gerson was happy!
I think we were both very happy...
along with several thousand other
||Final score - 2 - 1 - U.S.A. wins!
And something all us women like
We arrived back at the pousada exhausted to the point you would think we played the game ourselves. The day was everything we hoped for and then some.
Not much time to recoup as we were off first thing the next morning to get to Jacuma and to stay at a pousada owned by the brother of a childhood friend of Gerson. Luciano owns the Pousada Neptun and it was just off the beach and quite nice. It's difficult to go wrong when you have a pool outside your door and the beach a few steps away.
And of course, we made sure we watched the second Brasil game vs. Mexico. Unfortunately, Brasil only tied with Mexico making the third game a bit more crucial as Brasil's status in the Copa do Mundo was still in question.
||Pousada Neptun - quite nice
Gerson with Luciano and his son, Neto
Common fishing raft used - check
||Coming into Jacuma - green
and turquoise water
Enjoying one of the calm pools
We only stayed one day with Luciano as Gerson found out about a town that was having a Sao Joao (Saint John) celebration and with the area being famous for its Forro (Foe-ha) music and dancing, we decided to take a detour. Forra has a special connection with the United States and for decades the spirit of the gathering has been embraced by Brazilians. During World War II, the U.S. had soldiers stationed in the northeast of Brasil and they would host dances, posting signs stating that the dance was "For All". Because Portuguese has an 'H' sound for the letter 'R', 'For All' sounds like 'fohah' (and two 'R's' together are the 'H' sound).
We spent the night in Campina Grande and had a great time at their event (much like a country fair). Forro music was everywhere and ranged from the high tech, almost pop-music-like presentation to a simple four-man band. We preferred the simpler and more "pure" version of the music (hey, when an accordion comes out, you know it's authentic) and just enjoyed watching the older couples reminiscing their courtships on the dance floor.
Of course, I sought out the goodies to eat and did I find some good stuff. I indulged in more than one (not saying how many) chocolate-covered strawberries (three on a stick cost the equivalent of $1.50us) and dinner consisted of a local fare of carne seca (sun-dried beef) and all the fixins.
||My dress fits into the decorations
A colorful Brazilian singer
Selfie at the fair
Forro dancing and colorful costumes
||Indulging in chocolate covered
Couple enjoying the music
Carne Seca and all the trimmings - Yum!
Forro pop style
Because of our little detour, we had to get on the road early to get to Maragogi, another nice beach town. Maragogi is known for its access to natural pools in the reefs that form during low tide. The reef and its pools are approximately 1/2 mile out in the ocean and with the cooperating tide, you can easily snorkel with the reef's inhabitants.
We found a fun family hotel right on the beach and next to a restaurant (finding restaurants nearby that were showing the World Cup games was imperative) so we were set for a couple of nice days.
||Fishing the old fashioned way or
the original stand up paddle
Gerson ready for the boat trip
View from the pools
Lots of blue tangs around the reef
||Some fish try to blend in and hide
Got to go back to school
Gerson being Gerson
Nice reef formations
Unfortunately, several tourist boats go out to the natural pools and the reef around where the boats moor was damaged. We swam a bit away from the boats and the reefs were in better condition and many more critters to see.
||Nice coral formation
Sea slug cruising along
Lots of peixes
These little fish have a lot of color
||A really nice day to be on the water
We closed off the day on the boat and after a quick shower, we were next door to watch more of the World Cup and enjoy a few cervezas (bem gelada!).
|Panoramic view of some of the natural pools||Sunset enjoyed from the boat|
So far, another memorable trip enhanced by the infectious exhilarating mood of the World Cup. Go Brasil and Go U.S.A.!
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