Monday night I went to the Fan Fest to watch the USA defeat Ghana and the line to pass security was almost half an hour long. They only had two screens active so it felt much more crowded than opening match between Brazil and Croatia.
Tuesday afternoon was Brazil’s second match, this time against Mexico. I accompanied Domenico and his family and as we approached the Fan Fest I noted that the line was a little longer. It was only when I noticed that the line was not straight, it turned a corner and proceeded away from the ocean for a block and then doubled back on itself. I estimated that it would take longer to get through security than the players to get through the match. I had no idea how they were going to pack all those people into the square in front of the lighthouse, so I suggested we find a nice table at one of the restaurants and watch from there.
Fortunately, Domenico knows just about everybody in Salvador. He talked with someone on one side of a metal crowd barrier that kind of looked like a bike rack and they let us through to sit at a table on the sidewalk outside a gay bar. We were clustered around an old tube set watching the match and slowly I watched the crowd grow from a few dozen to over a hundred people huddled around this little television.
Mexico held Brazil to a scoreless draw thanks to some excellent goal keeping. The crowd was disappointed for a bit but quickly returned to celebration mode. As we wandered away from the Fan Fest through the dense but moving crowd we found a band of drummers and dancers performing. I also finally saw someone setting off fireworks. The guy had what looked like a shoot of bamboo about the size of a PVC pipe out of which shot a few firecrackers that didn’t go higher than a meter or two above his head.
Firecrackers are the spastic heartbeat of this city. Even now I hear them going off and the matches for the day are well over. Mostly firecrackers but frequently enough there are deeper explosions. I assume they stop at some point over night since I haven’t been awakened by them but maybe I’ve gotten used to it.
Around this time, my landlord sent me a WhatsApp chat message. He was out at a nearby bar with his girlfriend and asked me to join them which I did, of course. We had a great time. Some of his girlfriend’s friends were there plus we found three Americans from Wisconsin and Minnesota too. I enjoyed my time but left once Russia-Korea match concluded. Sometimes people are just too much for me.
I walked home still amazed at the thick crowds. The Fan Fest is definitely the place to be which I why I stayed away today and relaxed in the apartment.