20180619 Colombia v Japan

Today’s words start with the letter K – Kagawa, Kagero and Kalashnikov.

I woke up at 3am awake as anything. I went outside for a stroll. It was raining. My washed Curacao T-shirt was still dripping wet. I eventually got back to sleep and woke moments before my alarm went off. The taxi was waiting and got me to the airport within ten minutes.

I do not think I saw another vehicle on the road.

Two more security checks before I boarded the plane – utterly forgetting I had a bottle of coke and a bottle of water in my bag, the security people did not seem concerned. Its not like that at LAX or Heathrow!

I missed take off and the beautiful views of Sochi as the Aeroflot flight headed towards Moscow as I was asleep.

I woke up mid flight with a beautiful Indian actress next to me! She said she worked in Bollywood, but I was soon asleep again. Another seemingly interesting person to chat to but I needed to sleep!

Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 20.07.16Moscow gave me my 3rd security check of the day – and it was not even 10am yet! I boarded another aeroplane to be taken to Saransk. A city I had no idea existed before the FIFA World Cup and until I looked in the Areoflot magazine, I had no idea where it was situated.

Filming things as I go along for the AMA instagram account, https://www.instagram.com/amasportsphotoagency/ I needed to record the Colombian and Japanese fans boarding the flight.

This time I was in business class, but it made no difference as I went to sleep again!

Everyone was on a mission to get off the aeroplane as quickly as possible. Sprinting down the steps, media, Colombian and Japanese fans raced to the first shuttle bus to take them to the stadium.

On the bus the Colombian man gave us another rendition of his songs on his mouth organ as I chatted to a crazy Japanese girl and her brother who came from Tokyo. But there was no time to make friends when the doors of the bus opened everyone shot out!

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Whilst in Moscow I remembered that all of my camera batteries were totally dead so I sent a message to the 4th emergency service and asked Canon to supply me with fresh ones when I arrived at the stadium – that was after MORE security x-rays and checks and over enthusiastic volunteers wanting to check every bag after it had been through a state of the art x-ray machine. The traveling media are slowly getting tired and grumpy. Some questioning the Russians as to if the fancy x-ray machines actually work as why manually check things one a bag has passed though it?

Those who had arrived early were asleep. Those who arrived late were dashing around trying to get tickets for the game, including me.

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Thankfully there were not many Russians and even though there was about 40 Japanese photographers, I had no trouble in finding a spot that I was happy with. Today I went for seat 156.

For Netflix fans, this was the big one – Narcos v Good Morning Call

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Wagner Moura v Haruka Fukuhara

Falcao v Kagawa

The Colombians tried to out do the Japanese fans in terms of colour and providing photogenic faces from South America against their Asian rivals. I have been to Colombia and Japan this year. I adore Japan but Colombia is so far my favourite country in South America that I have set foot in.

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The Japanese photographers were all smiling at me as I was trying to speak their language – I kept shouting. “Sumimasen” to photogenic fans to get their attention.

It worked!

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After adhering to the unwritten Photographer World Cup Protocol Rules of refusing to shoot Mexican fans unless it is a Mexico match and although seeing about a hundred Chinese girls with the flag of Spain painted on their faces at the Spain match in Sochi, it was nice to see countries represented by fans from their home nation.

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After being totally bored pre-match at some of the games, this one certainly made up for it.

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As the game began, I bagged another Japanese word to my vocabulary – KAGERO. It means heat haze.

Like at the other day time match the heat haze defeated many. Then a red card and goal, Japan scored a penalty, but Kagawa ran the other way and it was pointless sending the goal picture, let alone the celebration.

During the first half, Colombia got one back. The Japan defence wall jumping up with the ball going into the net underneath them.

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One or two of us shifted five seats to the right as the shadows were playing games, subsequently, we felt the wrath of the volunteer photographers police who told us in no uncertain terms that we should not move. The old me would have gone crazy mad, instead I ignored them and tried to battle with the frustrating conditions. Even the TV cameramen said that they were not doing extreme close ups as the heat haze was causing out of focus pictures.

It finished 2-1. I joked to the Japanese that they were on the way to winning the World Cup – or in Japanese ; Wārudokappu – Wurd-o-kup-pu. Smiley happy faces turned to stern ones with a sharp no as their reply.

After saying my goodbyes I noticed a Japanese journalist that I had not seen in years, I felt bad walking past but I had to make progress.

The shuttle bus to the airport was going well until it stopped in the middle of no where. Some Russian was spoken and we had to get off the bus.

Then we were directed to an x-ray machine at what was a glorified bus stop and then we got another bus to the airport. The second bus took about 90 seconds. Entering an airport means one thing – more security and more x-rays.

And guess what!? I was in the wrong terminal. The flight I needed was in Terminal B. So a 50 yard walk to an outpost near the runway and for the third time in five minutes

I was thoroughly searched AGAIN!

This time the x-ray presented more issues. Two Colombian Chicas who were in front of me dressed in Adidas yellow Colombia shirts and black matching jeans, had their hand bags drop to the floor as they left the x-ray. This was because there was no collecting table. Me, refusing to put my equipment in, finally found someone who spoke English. Once everyone understood, someone caught my £8,000 lens and handed it to me once they knew I was not carrying any knives or Kalashnikov rifles.

Bizarrely enough, this brought some smiles in a nation who hardly smile.

Had it stopped? NO!

After checking in, we were ushered to another part of the makeshift airport to the gates. Through ANOTHER x-ray machine.

The most startling fact about the people of Saransk was how white they were. Totally white, like some had never seen daylight in their entire lives. Today my arms were tanned and red after being outside for 2-3 hours. It was an eagle eyes Japanese photographer who pointed it out to me, but after he did we rated every local in the person on 1-10 on their tan. 1 being totally white, 10 being dark as dark. They all got 1.

So people keep asking….

Are you keeping well – Yes. Plenty of vitamin C and protein. No crappy food is touching my lips. I have eaten one chocolate muffin. My body has switched to sleeping deeply for 5 hours a night now. Anything else is a waste.

Have you encountered any trouble – NO. NO. NO. Though I have mostly been with Colombians, Mexicans and other Latin nations who get on and don’t want to drink and fight.

The England game was good, wasn’t it? – Don’t know, I was asleep in the bath. Brazil v Swiss or Portugal v Spain were my favourites so far.

Enjoy your holiday – Holidays mean one airport security check before you leave. Sitting here on the floor of Terminal B of Saransk Airport, I think I had seven, with one more when I get to my hotel!

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