Dylan Martinez, chief photographer for the United Kingdom and Ireland, is in Brazil to cover the World Cup. He’ll be keeping a diary of the highs and lows here.
Wednesday June 25
A hot Cuiaba to a warm Brasilia
Slight panic at check-in this morning when the nice airline lady looked me up and down, smiled and said if I wasn’t careful she would have to charge me extra for the bags under my eyes. Must sleep tonight.
More air miles and another chance to see this particular airlines’ favourite episode of “Two and Half Men” – which I am assured is a comedy.
For once, everything went like clockwork but we still missed Argentina showing Nigeria what happens if you give them – and in particular, Messi – space.
I’ve been looking forward to Brasilia. I love being surrounded by weird and wonderful architecture.
But I’m going to take this opportunity on a quiet day to pretend I’m calling a radio station and give a big shout-out to our photo editors in Miami.
So far Bonn’s Banana Boy, Wolfgang Rattay, former international Olympic basketball star, the practically unspellable Tom Szlukovenyi and Woodstock legend Rickey “The Hippy” Rogers have all had the dubious honour of editing my pictures.
Their job is to make me look like I’m Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver and not Robert De Niro in the Little Fockers.
Now I’m just waiting until Russell “let me just crop that a bit more” Baxter Boyce, the practically unpronounceable Pawel “Ten Brains” Kopczynski and our supreme leader, best just call him Reinhard Krause get the opportunity to pick my best ones.
Oh, and while I’m at it, let me say a big hello to everyone else who knows me.
Here’s are a couple of great pix from today
This beauty taken by The Big Lebowski’s little brother Marco Djurica.
And this one by Milan fashionista Stefano Rellandini.
And last but not least, one by our very own head-banger Sergio Moraes
And here is a cute one from yesterday, well just because…..
Tomorrow Portugal v Ghana.
Tuesday June 24
A very hot but pleasant Cuiaba
I didn’t get much sleep last night after finding myself with the choice between trying to kip in a sweltering room or else listening to an AC unit that made about as much noise as an ACDC sound check.
But the morning was beautiful. Clear, blue sky and a light breeze.
In fact the whole day was wonderful, a few degrees below 30 Celsius (86 F), even though, as our taxi driver reminded us, it’s winter here. He then added that they only have two seasons in Cuiaba: “winter and hell.”
I learned a couple things today. First, when Reuters LA editor Mary Milliken speaks, you should listen. And second, I basically don’t need to bother switching on my cameras until the 90th minute of a game.
Mary explained at breakfast that there was this really old Colombian dude, Faryd Mondragon, aged 43, (I remember that year fondly), and if he came on the pitch he would make World Cup history by being the oldest footballer ever to play in the finals.
I was covering Colombia v. Japan, and even though there were plenty of goals, everything seemed to happen elsewhere. Until right at the end, that is, when Mondragon came on as goalie.
It was, as they say, “emotional”. You know when you know something is going to happen? Well I knew that in the final minutes Colombia would score and he would go mental – and for once I was on the button.
So I stopped looking at the game and just waited for him to show us what it is like to be 43 years old and on a winning team. What a dude.
A good game. Japan lost 4-1, giving Colombia their third win on the trot. And Jackson Martinez (who else?) was man of the match.
Here’s a shot of him by Eric Gaillard.
And a shot of Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado by Jorge Silva.
Unfortunately for us, an incident involving a certain Uruguayan player kind of stole our thunder.
Tomorrow we go to Brasilia for Portugal v Ghana. Am looking forward to that one.
Monday June 23
A hot Manaus to a hot and pleasant Cuiaba, via some airport or other.
A big plus on this pretty insane tour is that we get to meet up with old friends and make new ones as we travel from place to place.
A big minus, waistline-wise, is that everybody seems to be waiting for us to have their big night out…
Jorge Silva and I feel kind of like your favorite uncle, who you haven’t seen for a few years, and who turns up out of the blue and buys you a great meal.
Ok, so we might not be everyone’s favorite and we won’t buy you supper, but so far wherever we go, our fellow photographers, technicians, text reporters and TV crew have always been very happy to see us. We’re brand new and – best of all – no one has heard any of my old jokes yet.
Last night, after the USA v. Portugal game, we got to share a meal with our Manaus crew, South African photographer Siphiwe Sibeko and Andres Stapff, a Uruguayan who shares Suarez’s killer instinct but luckily for him not his looks (just saying).
Tonight we hooked up with Gaza photographer Suhaib Salem and Nice’s answer to French actor Alain Delon, Eric Gaillard.
Also we got to fly over the Amazon in daylight: we saw an awful lot of trees, a spooky amount of deforestation and a big brown river.
In the end, the journey only lasted eight hours today, but we still managed to miss all the football.
The pilot kept us informed of Brazil’s fortunes as they played their match against Cameroon, which they ended up winning 4-1. I wonder if he would have done so if they were losing?
Sunday June 22
A very, very hot and humid Manaus
Ahhhh, finally a decent hotel. Joy.
I have a comfortable bed and sheets at last. Believe it or not, we got none in our Salvador hotel. Although why they put the air conditioner up to max, so the room was (no kidding) 10 degrees Celsius, is beyond me.
Still, my main news today is that the beard is gone. Why would anyone have a beard? It continually itched, I spent all day fiddling with it, it added about 15 years and at least 10 kilos to my looks, not to mention the fact that I am sure it was to blame for extra body-checks whenever I went through security.
Football-wise, after 94 minutes and some seconds of covering USA v. Portugal, I was starting to think that this was a long way to come to sit at the wrong end of the pitch for three goals and to capture no celebration.
But it ain’t over until the fat lady – or in this instance Ronaldo – sings. USA were seconds away from a great win over Portugal, but it was not to be. Ronaldo made a cross, and Slivestre Varela headed the ball into the goal.
Some pictures are not great pictures – they are just pictures that are great NOT to miss. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I saw I had this last-minute goal.
Still, to me, this one kind of sums up Ronaldo’s World Cup so far.
But picture of the game goes to Siphiwe Sibeko.
Tomorrow we head to Cuiaba via somewhere for Colombia v. Japan.
Saturday June 21
Overcast Salvador, via a grim Rio airport, to a very hot and humid Manaus
A good game, a good meal, a good bottle of Argentine red and a very good night’s sleep meant I felt like a millions dollars when I woke up.
Unfortunately feeling and looking don’t always go hand-in-hand. A quick glance in the mirror and I thought a badger had died on my face. This beard will have to go. I now know why I haven’t grown one since ‘97 – I was in Kabul when the Taliban first took the city and outlawed shaving. Not a good look for me then and even worse now.
We left our Salvador hotel at midday and didn’t arrive at our Manaus hotel until well after 1.a.m. To put that into some kind of perspective, I could have flown from London to Jo’burg and been eating a steak and drinking Shiraz at the famous Bull Ring restaurant in that time.
It was a day of unpleasant airport food and attempting to catch glimpses of some football.
At Salvador we watched a pretty unimpressive Argentina take on Iran, and I had to bite my tongue as almost the entire airport cheered Iran on. I did smile though when I overheard a Brazilian boy ask his father: “who do we support?” “The red ones, son…”
Here’s our great view of Argentina v. Iran (in RED).
Here’s our view at Rio airport as we caught the tail end of Germany’s lucky 2-2 draw with Ghana. Everyone was cheering for Ghana – we all love an underdog.
Here’s our view of the first half of Bosnia v. Nigeria. Sorry to Damir, my Bosnian colleague.
Tomorrow I have to buy a hammock and then shoot Portugal v. USA. Should be a goodie.
Friday June 20
A wet then very humid and hot Salvador
Where to start?
I could start with my fellow photographer Jorge “the goal and celebration magnet” Silva, and tell you what it is like to know that wherever I sit it doesn’t matter, because everything happens in front of his camera, and he captures every moment beautifully.
Or maybe I could start with the advice that our photography colleague Marcos Brindicci learned the hard way: avoid a certain pizza unless you want to get severe food poisoning and vomit during a World Cup match.
There are lots of ways to describe what happened to Marcos: barf, pray to the great ceramic idol, yodel groceries, do the multicolour yawn, spew, yak, upchuck, hurl etc… And it happened all as French superstar and man of the moment Karim Benzema scored a goal and then ran towards him.
Or I could start with another piece of wisdom: “watch your gear as some scum bag cannot wait to nick your stuff”.
In short, we learned lots of things today. Jorge should have the surname Golden not Silva. Marcos Brindicci has now been rechristened Don Vom Juan. And anyone who has seen a Jean Claude Van Damme movie should know not to mess with the Muscles from Brussels, or his lookalike, my colleague Eddie Keogh.
On a serious note, people are stealing camera gear with alarming regularity. From hotel rooms, from media buses, from media centres, from the pitch, and most disarmingly from right under your nose – some even at knife point with a smile on their face. So if it happens to you, do what Eddie Keogh does and run.
While Eddie’s back was turned (for a moment) some chancer picked up his bag and sauntered off. But Eddie the Eagle Eye saw that something was awry and chased the culprit.
Long story short, security guards, a FIFA official, Brazilian police and indignity came down on the offender. Unfortunately not everyone has been nearly as lucky as Eddie. Keep your eyes peeled and be quick on your toes if some light fingered so-and-so tries to pinch you stuff.
Oh yes, and teams played sports. France won 5-2 (should have been 6). I said I liked Benzema.
This is maybe my favourite shot by our Italian/German Stallion Fabrizio Bensch
And here are a couple more that kind of work too.
Thursday June 19
A very wet Rio and then on to a muggy Salvador.
The worst and also the best part of being ill with a major temperature is the deep sleep and the bizarre, weirdly vivid dreams that follow.
Last night, maybe not too surprisingly, Martin Sheen and I had a very pleasant supper together. He was surprisingly knowledgeable about the World Cup and pinhole cameras.
He talked about the merits of Germany’s Thomas Muller (who has already scored a hat-trick) not really being an out-and-out striker but playing from the midfield and how tough it was to defend against that. I will have to take his word on that one.
Anyway my day was not nearly as interesting as my night of hallucinations.
It was another long day of traveling and it appears that every time I get on a plane to Salvador, England lose 2-1. First to Italy and then today to Uruguay.
Disappointing, but as Liverpool fans know only too well, Suarez loves to score off a Gerard assist.
Here’s a picture of people not too concerned with watching Ivory Coast v. Colombia at Rio airport.
And what about this one, this man was actually using a public phone. I haven’t seen anyone do that for years.
Tomorrow we shoot Switzerland v. France. Should be a good one – I always enjoy watching Benzema.
Wednesday June 18
A humid Rio
Credit where credit is due. Jorge’s persistent sneezing, coughing and spluttering finally paid off and he has managed to give me his flu. Hopefully this may explain the fact that, while video-chatting with my wife yesterday with an whirring fan overhead, she told me I looked like some crazed Benjamin L. Willard from Apocalypse Now.
It’s not ideal to be photographing a World Cup match between Spain and Chile with a temperature and the shakes, especially when one of your cameras has now officially died. But at least we got the opportunity to work with our very own dead-ringer for Madeleine Stowe, the exceptionally gifted photographer Pilar Olivares. Chile defeated Spain 2-0.
Here’s my favorite picture of the game showing Andres Iniesta all alone, taken by Ricardo Moraes.
Spanish sports daily, La Marca used it across the entire front page with the headline (in English) THE END. Pretty cool.
This one of Spanish captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas wasn’t too bad either.
And this kick in the head had to hurt.
Next we return to Salvador for Switzerland v. France. Oh and my beard is really coming along.
Tuesday June 17
A humid Salvador and then a surprisingly chilly Rio
Mr Silva and I have been looking forward to today since the whole nightmare of being completely drenched by rain in Natal.
We thought we would soon be at the aptly named “Casa Beleza” or “House of Beauty”, sitting by the pool sipping caipirinhas while we watched Algeria take on Belgium; then we could stroll to the local bar and soak up the atmosphere as Brazil battled it out with Mexico (remember Jorge is Mexican).
Instead we spent the whole day at Salvador airport moving from gate to gate as our flight was continually delayed. Fog they said, which is weird as there was no fog reported in Rio.
We arrived in Rio more than five hours late, at the height of rush hour or, more importantly, exactly as Brazil faced Mexico. We learned an important secret: if you want to do anything in Brazil, just wait until their team is playing football and you’ll find all the roads empty.
A trip which should have taken over an hour was done in less than 15 minutes. We even got to our BnB in time to watch the final 30 minutes of the game, drink two beers and cheer on Mexico.
And here is a picture I forgot to send yesterday showing us driving the wrong way on a motorway. That will turn your hair grey – that’s my excuse anyway (ok the road was supposedly closed but it was still pretty spooky).
Monday June 16
A slightly damp but ultimately pleasant Salvador
One of the best things about these big, set-piece events is getting to work alongside some of the best photographers and reporters in the game. One of the worst things is a bad diet. The hotel breakfast included undrinkable coffee that looked like tea, and slices of food which, visually, I recognised as cheese and ham, but which, taste-wise, made me not so sure.
I didn’t eat again until the evening when I was so starving that I let beer quench my thirst and hunger.
Picture-wise the jury is still out on whether my new beard is bringing me luck – I was in the right end for three of Germany’s four goals and got kind of lucky with Pepe’s head-butt on Muller.
And I don’t totally hate this one of a downcast Ronaldo.
BUT the light sucked big time and someone needs to teach the German’s how to really celebrate a hat-trick.
I love this one too by Argentina’s answer to Don Juan (or is it Don Quixote?) the inimitable Marcos Brindici.
Oh, and my partner in crime Jorge Silva has come down with the flu, which is no fun for him and will be a real shame for me in a day or two when I get it. Rio tomorrow.
Sunday June 15
A very rainy Salvador and then a sunny Salvador
The best thing ever happened this morning. I found, hidden in my bag, a Father’s Day card from my two super daughters. Words cannot express how much of a lift that gave me.
A good 3G signal also made it possible to video chat with my family for the first time in days. Unfortunately the beard did not go down too well. I promised to get rid of it, unless I get very lucky with the Germany v. Portugal match on Monday.
It rained, we got very wet, then very cold (what is it with people’s obsession with air conditioning, even when it’s freezing?), then the sun came out and it was almost lovely.
Argentina played Bosnia, which was good for me (my family is Argentine) although not so good for Bosnia’s most famous export, and maybe the best photographer I have ever had the pleasure of working with – Reuters’ Damir Sagolj.
Still, football is football, and I don’t care how good you are, I took pleasure in texting Damir throughout the match. In the end we accepted that Bosnia understood the basic concept of scoring goals and that every team should have a Messi, just to make it fair.
I also took some warm-up pictures of players controlling the ball.
And here’s a night shot of the stadium.
Saturday June 14
A rainy Natal to a rainy Salvador via a rainy Brasilia
A day of disappointment is almost always followed by a restless and unsatisfying night’s sleep. Waking up half a dozen times in a panic thinking of all the things I could have done better didn’t make for a great start to the day. Add to that our 90-minute direct flight from Natal to Salvador was cancelled only to be replaced by an 10-hour trip via Brasilia. Oh well, good for air miles, at least.
I was going to ask our taxi driver on the way to the airport what he thought about the World Cup, but didn’t want to distract him as he drove in the pouring rain while keeping one eye on his “sat nav” showing a live stream of the match between Colombia and Greece.
On the plus side (come on, things couldn’t continue like this) I won a three-way wager on the outcome of the England v Italy clash involving myself, the wily Paul Barker, picture editor for Asia, and super cool fashionista Stefano Rellandini. I felt a little guilty betting against England but just because I might look a tad dumb…
Anyway enough about me, check out these beautiful pictures taken by a few of my great friends who also happen to be some of Reuters’ creme de la creme.
This one is a genuine cracker by the Machine, also known as Michael Dalder. Love it when a great goal makes a super frame.
This one by the infamous Kai Pfaffenbach is simply beautiful.
I liked this one too by King Eddie Keogh, formerly known as the Muscles from Brussels, due to his uncanny resemblance to Jean Claude Van Damme.
Friday June 13
Horrendous torrential 10 hour downpour in Natal
I am weirdly superstitious, don’t know why, and unfortunately I am beginning to think that maybe this beard is a hex. Which is a shame as I have just purchased a parrot, a peg leg and a tin can.
As days that I want to forget go, this one is right up there with coming down with a bad case of food poisoning on a Vietnamese train – if you were ever on a rattler from Hanoi to Saigon in the 90s you will know what I mean. And the day I learnt that beer and pizza were fattening.
Everything I had feared could go wrong, went wrong, and then a whole set of other things I hadn’t even considered going awry also went south. Pretty much the only good thing to happen was Jorge buying me a whiskey as soon as we got to the hotel, as sitting in wet clothes in the press room with the AC turned up to the max was not ideal. Jorge was happy as Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0 and he had a cracking picture. Double win for him.
Next we are off to Salvador for Germany v Portugal. If my luck doesn’t change there, the razor is definitely coming out.
Although just thinking about this, it was Friday 13th, right? And haven’t they made movies about this being a bad day? So maybe the beard can stay after all.
Thursday June 12
What do you do when the one-and-only Carlos Barria, a Reuters photographer who is in training for some Iron Man contest, knocks on your door before 7 in the morning and says “wake up greybeard, the weather’s perfect, let’s go for a swim”?
Clearly I should have said: “go away you freak of nature”. But rather weirdly, less than five minutes later I found myself in the Atlantic and doing an unconvincing impersonation of that old-time swimmer-cum-Tarzan-actor Johnny Weissmuller. I have his slightly puzzled look down to a tee, I just need to work on the monochrome looks.
Trying to keep up with Iron Man was not easy but we braved the seas for what felt like miles and miles and miles.
Workwise we got lost trying to go to a stadium where they are still laying concrete and putting up signposts.
And it was 30 degrees. And the light left a lot to be desired. And the pictures were not as wonderful as we had hoped. And basically it was a typical MD-1 (match day minus one) experience. In other words, slightly disappointing. BUT I did get to swim in the sea.
Mexico v. Cameroon is our next challenge.
I’m just hoping that of all the things that can (and inevitably will) go wrong, that ones that actually come up won’t be too important.
Later Wednesday June 11
Heading to a very sunny Natal via an equally sunny Fortaleza
So I was going to go have some big rant in this post about leaving my room at 6 a.m. this morning to arrive at the airport, only to be told by the airline rep that my flight was cancelled - didn’t anyone tell me?
“Err no,” was my response.
Okay, no worries I was told, I was booked on a flight in 12 hours time
“Err no,” once again.
Luckily the nice lady took pity on Jorge and me and got us onto a flight to Natal but we had to go via Fortaleza.
I got a middle seat, and was subjected to episodes of Friends – such as the one with the jokes you have heard before. Drank horrible coffee and didn’t get anything to eat. But who cares? Pictures, as they famously say, speak a thousand words, and this is what happened.
I left here at 6 a.m.
And exactly 11 hours later (almost to the minute) we were here. JOY.
Oh yeah and we got here in time to celebrate the birthday of another Reuters photographer, the legendary Toru Hanai, who was “29″ (not for the first time).
Thanks to Toru for the somewhat romantic picture of me and Jorge by the sea.
Early Wednesday June 11
Leaving a rainy Rio
After getting my luggage back, I’m pleased to find nothing is missing.
When I was wistfully thinking about my lost bag I imagined it full of all the secrets to the universe and able to solve all my problems. I’m not so sure now. Instead it’s just some rather unexciting t-shirts and shorts etc… I had hoped there would be more.
There is a razor but now I am almost liking this santa beard and have convinced myself that I resemble some cool cat from Mad Men or maybe even a suave beatnik. Never let the truth get in the way of reality, as they say.
Now, Wednesday morning, I’m about to get a flight to Natal with my main partner in crime the awesome Jorge Silva. He’s Mexican and we are going to shoot Mexico versus Cameroon on Friday.
Butterflies are starting to flutter, just thinking about it.
Tuesday June 10
A somewhat less sunny Rio
The worst thing that happened in the last 24 hours was that I sat on a dodgy chair with a protruding nail and ripped my ONLY pair of shorts in the buttocks area. Not nice if you’re not into that kind of thing.
Strangely, of all the things that didn’t go astray with my luggage at the airport was a very old hotel sewing kit. Remember they used to supply those back in the 90s? Well, I have one and now all I need to do is learn how to sew.
Almost the best thing that happened was being sent yesterday to cover a demonstration by women protesting for their right to go bare-chested on the beach.
As assignments go this one sounded like it had potential – go and photograph a bunch of topless women tussling with police as the sun sets on Ipanema beach. But you know that expression “if it’s too good to be true it probably is”? Well I was able to prove that. In the end there was no topless protest, no police and to round it off I didn’t even see the sunset.
I did get a nice shot of some people doing keepie-uppies on the beach though.
Absolutely the best thing to happen was my lost luggage finally turning up. Now I can shave off this beard that makes me look like a cross between Dumbledore (without the brains) and the Big Lebowski (without the cardigan).
Monday June 9
My luggage still hasn’t arrived. And my famous good humour (!) is waning as I start to become a public health hazard.
How many days is it okay to wear the same t-shirt? And can I make a flak jacket look fashionable? Unless I get a razor I am soon going to be mistaken for Father Christmas.
This is maybe not a good idea, so I decide to go shopping.
A small group of us have also done the tourist thing and gone to visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks Rio. The word “impressive” does not really do it justice.
Here is my picture of “the hand of God”. Get it?
And here’s the group of us doing our best to look like some kind of rock band posing next to some funky graffiti in a cool part of town.
I also collected one more person’s opinion about the World Cup.
Eric, one of our taxi drivers today, said: “okay, the politicians they rob everything but now we must all support Brazil. For me Neymar will be the main man.”
He had two Brazilian flags on his car, so no surprise really.
Sunday June 8
On the outskirts of Rio
Rather predictably, day one in a new place ahead of a major tournament is all about setting up cameras, laptops and getting accreditation. Very dull.
But now the cameras are ready and Elena took my accreditation photo.
Also I have this lovely room to welcome me to some place that I was told was Rio, but is actually 3 hours drive from the city. Luckily I love taxis.
Still no luggage.
Saturday June 7
On board a plane and arriving in balmy Rio
I’m thinking luck is on my side. I’ve got an aisle seat for this 12-hour flight and next to me is one of the very few empty seats on the plane. By the window is a small, quiet Italian, there are movies I haven’t seen and I recognise an old family friend who I was not expecting to bump into. So all should be well, right?
Then the pilot comes on and says in his oh-so-special dulcet pilot voice that more than 100 of us passengers will not be accompanied by our luggage today. All those carefully prepared bags, gone astray because of some global computer malfunction.
Suddenly everybody on the plane is thinking ‘I hope it’s not my luggage…’ But we can’t all be lucky and, let’s face it, I am sure there are people more desperate to get their luggage than me.
After all, I have my cameras and music and something to read with me. And if I am not mistaken they do have shops in Brazil, so whatever.
I kind of believe in karma, and thought that the luggage business had already balanced out the empty seat when the air hostess reached me and said they had run out of the popular chicken curry and all they had now was some rather unappetising, wildly overcooked, pasta dish.
As it happens I was half lucky, one of my check-in bags arrived – the one with the gas mask and flak jacket and one change of clothes.
So far I have asked two people who will win the World Cup.
Brian, a British taxi driver who took me from my home to the airport, said he wanted Brazil to win. He remembers the great Brazil team of 1970 and wants to see more football like that.
Beatrice, the Italian I sat next to on the plane said “well of course I am Italian so I want Italy to win. But Brazil will win, come on it’s in Brazil for goodness sake.”
Friday June 6 – Packing headache
So what do you take with you when you are going to Brazil to cover the World Cup, and your trip involves 14 flights, and about 39 nights in seven different cities with nine changes of hotel?
Bear in mind I won’t be spending more than two nights in a single hotel for the first three weeks. So no chance of doing laundry then.
I decide I really, really need music (that fits on my phone), books (they fit on my tablet thing), a laptop for whatever, headphones (of course) and credit cards. And tea (just in case).
Oh, and don’t forget three cameras, five or six essential lenses, monopod, chargers, myriad computer accessories, security clothing, adapters and, and, and…
Most importantly, I should travel light, and remember not to take the dog.
How did I do? Well, in the end, it all weighs in at over 60 kilos.