To be more accurate, I rooted for Mexico in Tuesday’s game, which happened to be against Brazil.
I knew I’d probably be a lone fan, but I was still excited to watch the game in a public setting. I arrive at the restaurant/bar in Aclimação, my modest red-white-and-green striped rebozo around my neck, and sure enough, it’s a sea of yellow and green. I’m a tiny bit self-conscious, and I catch two women at a nearby table looking at me, but maybe I’m just imagining. Why would they care, they have home advantage. The Belgium vs Algeria game is finishing up, with people mildly interested, and a live band starts to play samba for the next hour. Zazueira, zazueira…
I’m a loyal Mexico fan, but I’m realistic. The team’s unofficial slogan is Jugando como nunca, perdiendo como siempre, or Playing like never before, losing like always. The team went through three coaches in a month and earned a spot in the World Cup by the skin of its teeth. It’s the little engine that just barely can.
The game starts, which is approximately the last time I take a breath. The ball swiftly travels from one side of the field to the other, neither team really overpowering the other. Mexico is actually holding its own against Brazil. I think I’m becoming cautiously optimistic. I let out cheers, but it’s a bit awkward when you’re met by the opposite reaction by everyone around you. Puta que pariu flies around the room.
Halftime. The band plays samba again and rallies support for Brazil. Me traz outro choppe?
Second half. Again, I don’t breathe. The samba band literally drums up anticipation. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Like the first half, there are some extremely close calls with near goals by Brazil only to be stopped by Meme Ochoa. Everyone around me lets out a huge yell of disappointment. I let out a cheer of excitement. One man near me lifts up a chair. I find myself getting louder and louder, yelling directions at the players. Yes, everyone, I’m telling Chicharito to attack. No one manages to score, and Ochoa remains a brick wall. And then, just like that, it’s over. Mexico ties Brazil in Brazil.
The band starts to play again to ease the disappointment for everyone and celebrate the tie for me. Despite the outcome, people dance and soon enough it becomes a regular party. On to the next game. É a vida! É bonita e é bonita!