Twenty years ago, my dad and I watched soccer take hold of America as the 1994 World Cup swept the country. There was something truly special about that team, especially to a seven-year-old still convinced she could be a professional soccer player. The faux-denim kits, Alexi Lalas’s ginger glory, and an emotional run into the knockout rounds – I loved it all and started to dream.
Sixteen years later, my athletic ambitions long destroyed, I hopped on a plane to Johannesburg, South Africa with one of my best friends and a backpack, ready to experience the first African-hosted World Cup. The next two weeks were unforgettable. Watching Germany-Ghana in breathtaking Soccer Stadium, meeting fans from all 32 countries at our hostels, seeing Ronaldo boo-ed live at Spain-Portugal, shark diving in “Shark Alley”, rounding up USA fans across Capetown to watch Donovan’s historic moment in USA-Algeria…I could keep going, but I’d just be repeating myself.
I left South Africa craving more. The soccer, the fans, the country – it was truly the trip of a lifetime, and all I could think about on my 32 hour itinerary home was…Brazil 2014, here I come.
Four years later, I’m about to embark on a three week journey through Brazil for the most anticipated World Cup of the century. It’s hard to describe the million thoughts running through my head – excitement to watch the game in its birthplace, anxiety for our safety when the country is in turmoil, and relief that four years of saving and planning is finally happening.
All that disappeared watching the opening Brazil-Croatia match today. I’m READY. I’m ready to chant every song in the books while we cheer on the Yanks with our fellow American Outlaws. I’m ready to watch Brazil play in their house. I’m ready to visit the mecca of futebol – Maracana Stadium. I’m ready to continue a World Cup journey, 20 years in the making.
Here’s our itinerary, message me if you’ll be down there!
June 17-20 Rio for Spain-Chile
June 20-23 Manaus for USA-Portugal
June 23-27 Recife for Mexico-Croatia and USA-Germany
June 27-29 Belo Horizonte for 1A (Brazil) vs. 2B (Spain/Netherlands/Chile)
June 29-July 3 Salvador for 1H (Belgium) vs. 2G (Portugal/Ghana/hopefully USA!)
July 3-6 Iguacu Falls