"Skylar, don't worry. It'll be okay", Peter said.
"Wait dad, there's more....".
This was the exchange moments before the final between Argentina and Germany. The day had been a good one, thus far. "Just another shitty day in paradise", was how one of my good friends would begin calling extended vacations in amazing places. Connor and I took the day off from the beach to hang around the pool and play some games there. Understanding that our beach time would be cut short by the start of the World Cup final. Clearly a momentous event, planned for days earlier, to be held at the Roxy Bar in Praia Du Frances. Our good friend Peter making all the arrangements. Personally, the wait for the final began months ago with the planning of this trip. This game was charged with expectation. What would it be like to witness the World Cup final in a bar in Brazil, the most soccer crazed country in the world? The answer would turn out to be a lot different than I had expected.
The game was not a disappointment. There was a small betting pool assembled by Charlie Vandam that assured we would all have a little skin in the game. Genius on his behalf. The Roxy Bar had cold beer and pizza and a gigantic projection screen for us to view the game. Being after 2:30 in the afternoon the edge had worn off the sun in our open air bar. The table was set. We arrived eager to witness the crowning of the undisputed kings of the beautiful game through the competition unfolding in front of us. Argentina was the sentimental favorite of our group. Germany was the rational favorite. The Argentines possessing a solid defense and the ability to strike, through arguably the world's best player, Lionel Messi. Messi is made even more impressive by his humble nature and very un-soccer like quality of not flopping, in combination with his magical ball control skills. He holds the spirit of the game in his hands with children across the world, our boys included. When they talk about Messi there is a tambour in their voices that is reserved for few. They are reverent toward Messi. He is a Demi-god representative of the soccer god's work here on earth. The Germans, on the other hand, in possession of the best developed system in the game. Bringing up quality players on mostly even footing playing a balanced and measured game grinding opponents into submission. Confident and cool in their dismantling of opponents, they play from solid foundations with odds on their side. Dispassionate but effective. It maybe the fact that we were in Brazil or, it may be the fact we like underdogs, but by the time this final had rolled around we were all ready to witness a little magic happen. We wanted to see a team that played with passion and flair win The Cup not some Teutonic super power. Argentina in favor of Germany. Then, "Wait dad, there's more....".
Skylar had been out for a run before the game. As any sane person would he was running on the beach. The sun was shining and the ocean breeze made the heat more tolerable. This day he was jumped by five Brazilians, three of whom had knives. I cannot imagine how terrifying it had to be to face five, as one, in nothing but your running shoes and shorts. Fortunately from them and him there was no language barrier, as Skylar speaks Portuguese. They wanted his money, of which he had none. They wanted to know where he was staying, to which he smartly gave them a bit of bad information, "A pousada in Praia Du Frances". Then they informed him that if he didn't come back to them with $500 Real by 7:00 that night they would come to town and kill him. On its' face an all together ugly situation, a pure act of bullying and cowardice. In Skylar's understandably shaken self, terrifying. The only reason I bring any of this up is that it provided me with a stark counterpoint to the rest of our trip. We have been guests in Brazil hosted by some of the most gracious people with their arms and hearts open. On the other side of the coin there are always less hospitable people everywhere you go. Up to this point I hadn't seen any of them yet. We spent most of our time visiting the state of Alagoas. Alagoas is one of the poorest states in Brazil. There are people here that don't have anything. They live from day to day with bleak prospects and little to rely on. In full view of the individuals affording meals on the beach being waited on hand and foot, sipping beers laughing and carrying on without a care in the world. I imagine this can be hard to accept when your circumstances are so much less than your fellow man. Envy is as destructive as anger, emotionally. I also can imagine, being tucked away in the bushes far down the beach away from everyone they might've been getting high and Skylar was a target of opportunity they couldn't resist. After all what did they have to lose. It may have been a social balancing of accounts, in their minds the rational for their actions. This was no Robin Hood and his band of thieves stealing from the rich to give to the poor, though. Just five bullies acting outside the threat of legal retaliation hoping to scare up enough money for their next fix. In conference with the owner of the Roxy Bar, it became clear that this happens a fair amount. My singular intellengence on the perpetrators being high at the time of the attack. One of the Brazilian friends in our group told us that there was no point in reporting this to the authorities. Connor was nervous and it took me a while to help him reason through the likely hood of five guys coming to the bar to kill Skylar by 7:00. It seem very unlikely to me. Less so to him. He kept his eye on the back of the establishment for a while. I wish I could've offered him a beer to settle his nerves. Skylar got an escort back to the guesthouse for a shower and returned for second half.
Brining us back to the game. I missed most of the first half with all the commotion. The second half was highly entertaining ending regulation in a tie, 0-0. Both sides were creating opportunities and each had the chance to end the game in regulation but the fates expected more soccer this Cup. Extra time finally yielded a goal for the Germans by a well placed substitute, Mario Gotze. The goal itself a pretty piece of skill coming from a crossing ball from the left wing to be chested down for a right footed finish. There was nothing the Argentine keeper could do. The Germans celebrated, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in the 113th minute. In an ironic twist Skylar picked Germany to win 1-0 scoring in the 109th minute of play to take home the betting pool. This fact alone is a sure sign that there are higher powers at work in our lives. The dissonance early in the evening returned to harmony and balance. Elemental justice. Skylar smiling, everyone reveling in a game well played even though the sentimental favorites were being sent home in second place. Messi was voted man of the tournament in another twist. His hard work, beautiful play making, and honorable style earning him what the winning teams best player couldn't.
All in all a heady evening in Brazil.
Signing off for the final time in Brazil, wishing you all the Karma you deserve, be it good or bad. Know that you will always have more than you need and never have less than you want.