June 30, 2014
DON'T BLAME IT ON RIO, DAY 19
Going from heaven to hell and back again
SALAVADOR, Brazil -- One thing that I have learned about the World Cup in general and the event being in Brazil in particular, is that you can go from heaven to hell and back to heaven again in an extremely short time.
On Sunday night, I enjoyed a reunion dinner with Eli Durante, whom I covered on the Rochester Lancers many, many years ago, the first professional soccer team that I wrote about. Eli, who was born in Brazil, and his son Nicholas are in this country enjoying the event. Eli has a special place in my writing history. In my very first pro game I covered in 1975, he scored twice in a 3-1 win. So my story was about him.
We talked about a whole gamut of subjects, from the World Cup, of course, to soccer, to Brazil, to business. During our conversation, I discovered that Eli ran into Long Island's own Paul Riley, who is now the coach of the Portland Thorns, during a vacation trip to the Bahamas. And he also knew long-time referee Esse Baharmast.
The dinner and talk lasted a little more than two hours, certainly not long enough, but an oasis in what has sometimes turned into a desert for a writer.
Of course, paradise is never forever, especially during a World cup.
Early Monday morning I had to file a story for a Sao Paulo newspaper -- they needed it by noon -- but since I was going to be in the air then, it needed to be sent earlier. So I decided to complete the story from my room before breakfast and before we boarded the bus to take us to the airport for the trip here.
But there was one slight problem -- the internet wasn't working, even the Ethernet.
After wasting 10 minutes of precious time trying to get online, I went to a room near the U.S. Soccer media headquarters, managed to grab its wireless signal and sent my story. It certainly wasn't a masterpiece, but I made deadline.
We shared a flight here with the U.S. Soccer friends and family group and the media essentially was sequestered in the back six or seven rows of the plane.
I had my usual ticket follies at the ticket counter as I got a seat for 15A and a ticket that had a name other than my own. No, his name was not Michael. It was rectified and I wound up sitting among the media in the last several rows.
Salvador looks like a happening city.
Unfortunately I did not have the time to enjoy too much of it. Too much work.