By Mike Woitalla
Saturday in Rio de Janeiro: O Globo reports that taxi drivers are unhappy. They see no significant increase in fares. Visitors are using public transportation.
So do I. The Rio Metro is swift, comfortable and convenient, for less than $2, the Pavuno train, hours before Colombia-Uruguay game takes fans -- mostly wearing Brazil jerseys -- to the Maracana station. Streets surrounding the stadium are closed to traffic and ticketless pedestrians. Four separate rows of police on the pedestrian bridge glance at tickets and steer those without to the exit of the other side.
The Brazilians are early to watch on Maracana's big screen or in nearby bars the Brazil-Chile game that's taking place in Belo Horizonte, 220 miles to the north.
The Metro ride may have been smooth, but the game is a roller-coaster -- ending on a high. Tudo Bem. All good, as the Brazilians like to say.
Raphael Santos, a 29-year-old Sao Paulo resident who traveled 210 miles to Rio, says he was super nervous during the 1-1 game that ended with in Brazil's favor after kicks from the penalty spot. Had Brazil lost ...
"It's just a game," he says. "Sometimes you go through, sometimes you don't. Life goes on."
His companion chimes in: "That's not how he was acting during the game!"
Brazilian journalist Fernanda Filomeno, a correspondent for EFE, says an early exit would have been awful: "We have so many social problems. Futebol is one of the good things. Everybody loves futebol. We need to win the World Cup."
At least the selecao, despite it struggles -- Chile dominated the second half -- has taken another step. Neymar, the hero so far, scored his crucial penalty kick. Julio Cesar, the goalkeeper who was playing for MLS's Toronto FC to prepare for the World Cup, stopped two spot kicks.
"This team is very popular," says Felipe de Paula, of A Critica Journal based in Manaus in the Amazon. "They are beloved. In past World Cups, there was always a player or two the people didn't like. This might be the best liked team we've had for a very long time."
They certainly tested that affection in Belo Horizonte. But at the end, the fireworks went off in Rio de Janeiro.