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Latin Americans journey to Brazil World Cup

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm •  Published: June 7, 2014
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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Planes, trains and automobiles? That's not all. With Latin American soccer fans eager to witness the sport's biggest event in their home hemisphere, travelers are taking to bikes, buses, boats and at least one homebuilt trailer.

Held every four years, the World Cup hasn't been in the Americas since 1994, when the United States played host. After Brazil, the games go to the other side of the globe, to Russia and then Qatar. For many, this is a once in a lifetime chance to cheer their national teams in person.

Cristian Uribarri and four friends are traveling from Chile in a wood-framed, aluminum-sided trailer he built from scratch.

"Going to Brazil is such a unique opportunity," said Uribarri, 35. "Russia would be impossible. Besides, it's too cold. And Qatar is one of the most expensive places on Earth. My wife is putting up with all of this because it's my only chance."

The shiny contraption they call their "Lunar Vehicle" has air conditioning, a stove, an LCD TV, a Playstation and a queen-sized mattress. The group pooled $3,200 in savings between them, and will take turns driving the pick-up that pulls the trailer. Using the mini-home on wheels will save them on lodging and meals. Everything else will be charged on their credit cards.

Some travelers hope they don't bust their budget before they even reach the games in Brazil.

Juan Luis Sube, an environmental engineer from Mexico, is making his way south by bicycle, having left Guadalajara with two friends in early December.

"We left home carrying $3,500 dollars each and we're already running out of money," the 29-year-old Sube said as he pedaled near the majestic Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.

Sube, Angel Martinez, 26, and Hector Lujan, 25, quit their jobs to make the 5,900-mile (9,500-kilometer) journey through 14 countries. They're hoping to reach Sao Paulo to pick up some donated tickets, and then make it to Recife in time to see Mexico play Croatia.

"We're driven by the desire to be a part of this 'fiesta futbolera' and by our pride in our Mexico team," Sube said. "We want to show that Mexicans can do great things."

Edwis Perez of Colombia says his journey to the World Cup will allow him to check off two of the 100 items he put on a bucket list some 20 years ago.

"In that list I had: 'Attend a World Cup' and 'Get to see the Amazon jungle.' I'm doing both now," said Perez, a 40-year-old engineer. He plans to fly to the Colombian city of Leticia, take boats to the riverside host city of Manaus, and then catch another plane to Belo Horizonte to watch Colombia play Greece on June 14.

Brazilian fans are claiming the most tickets to the monthlong tournament, scoring more than a million in FIFA's allocation. U.S. fans are next with 187,063 tickets, followed by Germany with 56,885 and England at 56,219. Argentina comes in fifth with 55,524 treasured tickets.

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