The smell of the churrasco wafted in from the backyard, maneuvering its way through the mass of people here, who shouted for the jogo bonito dressed in an intense yellow. Welcome to Brazil’s Costa Rica headquarters.
The Center for Brazilian Studies in Santa Ana, southwest of Costa Rica’s capital, held a joyous watch party for the 2014 World Cup opener Thursday afternoon. Back in the homeland, the favored Brazilians kicked off the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Croatia in São Paulo.
Marlene Da Silva, a Portuguese teacher at the center from Belo Horizonte, estimated about 80 Brazilians gathered here for the event, and they were joined by a couple hundred non-Brazilian supporters. The organization inaugurated the World Cup with a samba party beforehand.
Fans used the pre-game to enjoy the mouth-watering meats on the churrascaría, a Brazilian style barbecue. They washed down the meal with guaraná (Brazilian soft drink), Brahva (Brazilian beer) or caipirinhas (the iconic Brazilian cocktail). Chefs also cooked up bobó de camarão (a soupy shrimp dish served in a puree of yucca and coconut milk) and coxinha (traditional chicken croquettes), among other delights from the land of samba.
The foundation set up several television screens inside and outside the building to view the match. Spectators in Neymar jerseys abounded as the 22-year-old phenom scored Brazil’s first two goals (the second one coming after a controversial penalty).
The hosts rallied from an early 1-0 deficit after an own-goal by defender Marcelo. For the first time ever, a World Cup opened with a team scoring on itself. But Brazil’s squad never sweated the early lapse. The Brazilians haven’t lost in their own country since a 2002 friendly defeat to Paraguay. Brazil hasn’t lost in a match that counted for something since 1975.
Once midfielder Oscar finished off Croatia with a late breakaway goal, the party was on in Santa Ana. Supporters waved the yellow-blue-and-green Brazilian flag and shouted out their positive feelings in Portuguese. When the match ended, the dancing started up again as Caetano Veloso’s “Tropicalia” resounded through the venue.