My Favorite Moment from the Confederations Cup Final: Brazil Sings the National Anthem

Brazil beat world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win the Confederations Cup last night.

But really, the game was decided before the teams even kicked off.

It was hard to imagine Brazil losing, at home in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium, after seeing this (video embedded below and online here):


HIMNO BRASIL by dm_505f34141e1f6

That, my friends, is not a team that is willing to lose on its home turf.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, to be sure, but the Seleção won through sheer determination. And, as the video demonstrates, incredible passion.

Tabatinga, Brazil: the Ho Chi Minh City of South America

Here’s a great story from Alexi Barrionuevo in the NY Times. It’s about a town in the Brazilian Amazon, close to Peru and Colombia, where motorbikes are the primary means of transport — a rarity in South America. Check out the link to find out why wearing helmets in the area is discouraged. That Roar in the Jungle Is 15,000 Motorbikes

This sweltering Amazon outpost is a border town on the move — on two motorized wheels, that is.

During the afternoon rush hour, Tabatinga’s main avenue is a sea of scooters and motorcycles. Whole families pile onto a single scooter, even families of five: husband, wife and three children. Mothers breastfeed infants while fathers navigate a road nearly uncluttered by traffic signals.

With more than 15,000 motorbikes and only 47,000 people, Tabatinga resembles a small version of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, another chaotic place where cars take a distant back seat as the preferred mode of transportation.

“I have never seen a place with so many motorbikes,” said Sabrina D’Assumpção, a resident of Rio de Janeiro who was visiting her husband, a military officer, at the army base here recently. “It is practically a city run entirely by motorbikes.”

Tabatinga owes much of its moto-obsession to its location along Brazil’s extreme western frontier. Nestled alongside Colombia and just across a narrow river from Peru, the town has evolved in the last quarter-century from a military town into a hub of cross-border commerce.

(Emphasis mine.)

Messi’s Argentina Advance in Olympics

Lionel Messi [image via Wikipedia]

Speaking of football (soccer), here’s a New York Times interactive feature called “An Argentine Advance.” It’s about Argentina’s pint-sized playmaker Lionel Messi (Wikipedia page, highlights on YouTube) and his team’s dominant performance at the Olympics yesterday. The masterful Argentines beat rivals Brazil 3-0 (match report here) to book their place in Saturday’s final against Nigeria. Messi, who plays his club football at FC Barcelona, figured in all three goals.