June 29, 2014
By Michael Lewis
DON'T BLAME IT ON RIO (DAY 18)
When eating (sleeping and exercising) is a luxury
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- When you have gone to enough World Cups as I have, you learn from experience, sometimes bad experiences. But you learn.
When I covered Italia '90 a generation ago, I learned something vitally important in Italy, the land of the fantastic food -- eat when you can. After taking a train ride from Florence to Rome after several hours, we would show up at the media center and discover that they had somehow run out of food for the journalists.
Or all they had left was water, soda, ice cream and vanilla and chocolate wafers. Not exactly the diet you want to live on during a month. So we learned to eat well when we can. I lost 12 lbs. in Italy – honest – because of the horrible food situation.
Needless to say, I have followed that philosophy and strategy in Brazil.
On Friday night, only hours after returning from Recife, a bunch of us had a sushi dinner.
On Saturday, it was breakfast, two cheese sandwiches and some cookies at the USA's training site at Sao Paulo FC. I worked into the night and missed out on a dinner with some other journalists. Like it or not, it's the price you pay at the World Cup (hint: it is not as glamorous for journalists as you might think). Incredibly, I did not go to bed hungry.
I am happy to say that my roommate, Filip Bondy, and the Washington Post's Steve Goff, have followed suit and started to make their own cheese sandwiches to stave off starvation.
On Sunday night, I plan to finish as early as possible and go have a decent dinner because we have to get up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday for our trip to Salvador. So, that means an early bed time (the game plan is to catch two decent nights of sleep in a row).
Incredibly, I was able to exercise for two consecutive days for the first time in memory (perhaps for the first time during the World Cup, thanks to our early-morning flights, departures and arrivals). You have to catch that as you can as well.
In Salvador, I might be able to see Eli Durante, whom I covered many years ago when I wrote about the Rochester Lancers. He is Brazilian and has returned to his homeland for the World Cup. He said he hopes to see the USA take on Belgium if he can get some tickets to the game.
I have a warm spot in my heart for Eli. In my very first professional soccer game as a writer, I wrote about the Rochester Lancers beating the Vancouver Whitecaps in June, 1975, 3-1. Eli Durante found the net twice in that game and he certainly made it easier to write about a sport that I did not know very much about at the time. I would like to think I have learned a bit more about the beautiful game since then.
And, it would be great to catch up with Eli for a little while on Monday or Tuesday.