Friday, June 21, 2013

Ironies and the International Airport - São Paulo

Last night, my two 6-year old sons and I had a flight from the international airport in São Paulo to Chicago. Every year I try to spend 4-5 weeks in the US during June-July break so the kids can have their time with their grandparents and family and friends, and with American culture and language. After a week of protests and road closures, I was pretty worried that traffic would be terrible for our 9 pm flight.  Instead of leaving at our usual 5 pm time from home, I called the taxi for 3 pm.

In the end we made it to the airport in 45 minutes. Which left five long hours to entertain kids, eat dinner and get in the appropriate lines at the appropriate times. Fortunately one of the kids' friends and parents were also flying out that night so we got together for dinner and kid wrangling. And to watch the Confederations Cup games - Spain vs. Japan and then Uruguay vs. Nigeria. 

Here is what struck me in the international airport (filled with gringos escaping the protests as well, by the way). None of the airport channels were showing the protests, which were apparently the biggest yet; 90 cities in Brazil hit the streets to celebrate victory (bus tariffs) or ask for more concessions from the government. There was no ticker-tape banner at the bottom of the screen with updates of road closures or police actions. It was like nothing was going on except for football. 

I half wonder if, at game time of this short tournament, that is as it should be. The Confederations Cup stadiums are built. The teams are here. International visitors who have nothing to do with Brazilian politics are supporting their teams. For 90 minutes of an afternoon/evening, let's shout out "goooooooooooolll" and let the ball roll.

The photo above is of my favorite soccer player, named Diego Forlán. He was the player of the World  Cup of 2010--now a "senior player" of 34. His joy at scoring the winning goal is a reminder of how this game should be. Joy. Can this feeling be brought back to the World Cup of 2014 given what is going on? I just don't know.

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