In late 2007 FIFA announced that Brasil had been named host for the 2014 World Cup finals. Ryo was already becoming fully invested in the soccer culture that is his by maternal heredity. I adore South America, and I had already shared an adventure in the Pantanal of southern Brazil with his older brother. We decided then that the two of us would be making this trip as a pilgrmage to the world’s biggest sporting event held in the most intensely football-crazed nation and continent of all. Ryo would be seventeen and could soon be taking a path less amenable to such whimsical trips. And I was coming off a year that included back surgery and testicular cancer, and I really needed this to look forward to.

We also had a lot more dispensible income back then. It was pre-recession, and both boys were small and thus dirt-cheap to maintain–clothes, a few toys, and really not much else. After the past few years of frozen salaries and adding the financial demands of two licensed and insured drivers with cars and social lives, our situation is not at all flush any more. We’re still taking the trip, but it will be on the thinnest of shoestrings and paid for in part by selling off some jewelry and coins that no one was ever going to wear or spend anyways. We’re still going to do as much fun stuff as possible, but there are going to be bills to pay when we get back, so no going nuts, yeah?

The preparations have been in the works since the tickets went on sale last August. We had put in our application to purchase the 4-game package to follow the Italian National team, including all three games of group stages as well as the first game in the elimination rounds. It also meant that we would be traveling to different host cities but wouldn’t know which ones until the schedule was announced in December, when we learned that our games were going to be in Manaus against England on the 13th of June, in Recife against Costa Rica on the 20th, and in Natal against Uruguay on the 24th. The fourth game will be either in Rio de Janeiro on the 28th or back in Recife on the 29th, depending on the outcome of group play. Good. It’s taken a while, but I’ve managed to program out the trip through our third game, including a little trip up the Rio Negro for a quick, 3-day fix of Amazon forest ecology/biology in between the England and Costa Rica matches.

Travel visas procured, shots for yellow fever and typhoid done. All set, right? The only decision left to make is whether I was going to blog this trip in Communing with Artifice. I still need to replace my trusty iPad that has served my writing needs in previous trips but is now AWOL in my house somewhere (I think). Nobody remembers who used it last and it’s been lost for a while. I took a laptop with me to India but that was more than I want to be schlepping around Brazil with me. But yes, I think I will be blogging again (especially if I get another iPad). Here’s the basic itinerary in map form.