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Thu,Jul 24,2014 26 Tammuz 5774
(Photo credit: Reuters)
Flying from Tel Aviv to London - five and a half hours. London to Sao Paolo - 12 hours. Then to Brazilia - 90 minutes, followed by another two hours to Cuiaba.
You do the math. Lots of hours talking and thinking football. At the end we made it safe and sound.
Everywhere you go, especially at the airports, you meet fans, dressed with the national team's jersey, wearing funny hats, plastic glasses, scarfs, some with their face painted. Overall a good atmosphere pervades with singing and dancing.
Everyone has a story. On the flight I sat next to a guy wearing a Nigeria shirt. He was in fact from Edmonton, Canada. His father emigrated from Nigeria 19 years ago. Also on the flight - a group of Uruguayan fans delighted after their team's victory over England, one happy Columbian couple and a bunch of guys from Japan. Everyon with one thing in mind, all happy and relaxed. In my next blog I'll address how football brings us all closer together.
The weird thing for the locals here, is that most games are played a bit too early, I suppose in order to accommodate TV viewers around the world. So here in Cuiaba games are played at 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m., somwhat early for the working people.
And most of the locals are busy with their lives anyways. Cuiaba is a mix of poor working class next to the emerging Brazilian economy we keep hearing about. High-rises next to cheap car shops, fancy shopping malls but with rundown filthy bus stops outside.
Most people I have met so far know very little English. The taxi driver, the coffee shop cashier, even the girls working at the hotel, can barely communicate in the usual international lingua franca. But one way or another, I mix my knowledge of Italian and French with some Spanish words and everything I managed to learn from my Portuguese phrase book, and we all get along.
Moshe Arenstein is the Night Editor for The Jerusalem Post in Israel, and he also writes for the publication. He has also worked as a journalist and TV producer in New York for 16 years, including 11 years with NBC News. He sees football as art and believes it serves as lens to help us understand this world.