Temryss Lane’s World Cup: Meeting the Wondo Family and Dancing ‘Til Dawn
Our plane landed after midnight in Natal, Brazil. We arrived in a rain storm that lasted for almost the extent of our stay, but we managed to have a rainless match day, and a few quality hours on the beach. The locals swear it only rains the occasional day or two, maybe 20 days a year.
To shake off the jet lag, my production partner Jon and I went for a rainy four-mile run down the coast of Ponta Negra, the East coast of Brazil. The coast is lined with giant dunes and beach resorts; a few of which were national team hotels, made evident by the more than 20 military guards positioned in front of each hotel equipped with assault rifles. I was a bit uneasy as I ran by because none of them smiled and they all had their fingers hovering over their triggers. To make myself more comfortable, I decided I was going to try and get them to smile by making eye contact when I ran by. I was successful with one and a half of them. They were all very young and I only saw one woman who, interestingly enough, had a nightstick instead of a gun. No crazed fans would be breaching the gate, that's for sure.
We did however get access to the "friends and family" FIFA hotel to meet up with Chris Wondolowski's brother, Stephen.
Stephen, his father, his mother, and two of Wondolowski aunts made the trip to Natal for the first match in Group G. Chris' wife, Lindsey, and their baby, Emersyn will be joining the Wondo crew for the second match in Manaus.
Stephen and I sat down over Capirinha's, poolside, on the deck overlooking Ponta Negra Praia (beach). The winter sun was beautifully gentle, and perfectly warm this day. Stephen and I were both pinching ourselves as we talked about living a dream of being at World Cup Brazil. For him, it was even more surreal as he was there supporting his big brother. He and his father had managed to breach the armed security to pay Chris a quick 30 minute visit the day before the game. He said Chris' energy was high and the team really felt like they had a good thing going into their first match against Ghana. We spoke in depth about Chris's preparation on his journey, about this defining humility and competitive spirit, the warrior spirit that got him here.
His character came from his Kiowa mother, Janis Hoyt, who had just arrived from Walnut Creek, California, and was still adjusting to the long travel. It was such an honor to sit down with such a beautiful, strong, eloquent, and powerful Native woman. The moment I looked into her eyes, I could see where Chris came from. Her sharp facial features and golden skin, he also inherited. We talked a while about traveling to this Brazilian paradise in support of her son, Bau Daigh. Jon and I showed her a raw digital cut of our project and her emotional reaction validated the work we are doing to tell this story.
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