Boy, What a Difference a Month Makes! / by Ian Hameroff

No journey or adventure is ever without its drama or headache. I can safely say our final leg of this tour of USA group stage matches has checked all these boxes in less than 24 hours in Recife. 

Where to start?

Our flights met with a little drama, as we left Manaus behind schedule due to a late arriving passenger for this flight to Brasilia. Normally, leaving 20 minutes after the scheduled departure shouldn't create too much heartburn, but when you have less than 60 minutes to make your connection, you count every second. With nearly half our flight filled with red, white and blue clad USA supporters heading to Recife, we had a little bit of comfort knowing we weren't the only ones with this tight squeeze. 

When we finally landed at Brasilia, waited (once again) to exit the plane to take a bus to the terminal to hightail it to our next gate, the only thing that truly worried me was whether or not our bags would make the connection. 

Upon our arrival to the rainy climate of Recife, we found ourselves welcomed with a free Caipirinha (courtesy of Pitu) and both of our suitcases spinning on the baggage carrousel. Wipe that sweet from the brow and take a nice deep breath. 

Not. So. Fast.

Our hotel was close to the airport in the famed Boa Viagem beach neighborhood of Recife. So, we expected a quick taxi trip, fast check-in and then off to a late meal. 


Not. So. Fast.

The taxi line took about 40 minutes to snake around to an available cab. Maura commented how this reminded her of Las Vegas: exit the terminal to meet the jarring weather conditions and wait in a long line taxi queue. 

Our cab driver did make it a quick trip. Almost too quick. 

He drove around Mach 3 and decided all red lights were simply suggestions. At least he beeped his horn as he sped through every intersection. Mighty nice of him, eh?

Speed Racer got us to our latest temporary home on this tour around 11p local time. 

Remember I mentioned some drama?

Guess what we learned when we tried to check-in?

Our prepaid hotel reservation, which was made over a month ago via a Brazilian travel agency, had one small error in its details. It was made for May 24th thru the 27th, instead of June. 


We've just arrived to a city that literally had zero available hotel rooms due to this little event they call the "FIFA World Cup" to discover our room was booked for a month ago and not that night. 


Maura immediately started to drive an intense negotiation in Portuguese with the hotel staff, and I wrestled with the (once more horrific) hotel Wi-Fi in a mad dash to find another hotel room somewhere in Brazil. 

We were able to pay for a new room to have shelter for the night (a real bummer considering we appeared to be throwing away a bunch of money for the prepaid original reservation) and continued our panicked search for anything over crappy hotel hamburgers at 1 am.

I must admit, I never felt so powerless. I wasn't able to complete a web search or a make phone call to get any help in the ways I've always solved problems in the past. And, at this late/early hour we couldn't connect with our Brazilian travel agent. He was offline until 1pm. We just wasted energy trying to find a plan B at 2 am, but with the weight of our situation--having only one night in this hotel due to the fact all rooms were booked in this place--we couldn't think of anything else to do.

Oh, did I mention that the hotel's computers also crashed when we first arrived? We didn't even have a working room key nor could the staff do any search to see if they had a spare room for the other two nights. 

Good grief.

We slept for about 3 hours and arose as the walking dead around 7 am to begin the second wave. We conscripted anyone and everyone, and I made a number of Airbnb inquires. 

Our travel agent reached us early having read our plead over email and (surprisingly for a Brazil business) owned up to his massive mistake. 

He said he'd work with the hotel (who still didn't have a working system until nearly 10 am) to get us sorted. Meanwhile, I lined up an option more than hour away via Airbnb over the crappy Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby while Maura stood post at the reception making sure everyone was working on a solution.

It took about 90 minutes, but I'm happy to report we are staying put and the hotel is honoring our original prepaid reservation. 

Holy crap. 

Deep breath. 

After all of this insanity, we took a nice walk along the Boa Viagem beach, ate some lunch and crashed for a long afternoon nap.

I really hope all of this pain and anxiety was our small part and price to pay to help our boys secure the result necessary against Germany to advance. If not, I think I might bill the German National Team for our pain and suffering. 

Good grief.