MANAUS, Brazil - A pair of riverside bars host World Cup parties steps away from the Rio Negro, one of the few passages into this Amazonian city.Follow @SlamSports
Twin flat screen TVs appear out of place in the tropical setting. A single amplifier blasts Brazil-Cameroon play-by-play throughout uncomfortably quiet streets.
An hour earlier, these same streets were buzzing. Taxis, pedestrians and street vendors going about their days with a pivotal World Cup matchup on the horizon.
Thirty minutes before kick-off, the port completely clears out. Like a scene out of 'I Am Legend', there was only one thing Manaus cared about.
So, naturally, I ventured out.
As I approached the port-side watering hole, periods of complete silence were interrupted whenever Brazil was in possession, the match well underway.
If you were wondering if the world's game remains big in the rainforest, let this be a lesson.
Even in the jungle, kids still wear stained yellow jerseys with passion. While the poverty here is immense, for 90 minutes, nothing else matters.
Before an eventual 4-1 Brazil win, things were quite nervy. The locals here in Manaus were yelling directions at the TV as if they could do better than Brazilian manger Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Cameroon came close to opening the scoring before Brazil eventually broke the ice.
When Neymar scored the opener a quarter-hour in, everything seemed right. The guy sitting next to me attempted to jump, but ended up knocking an entire table of beers over.
In the moment, though, all that followed were more cheers as it turned out the TV opposite us was on a short delay.
So, both sides of the bar lived -- and re-lived -- Neymar's opener as if it had just been scored.
Then came the explosives, seemingly easier to purchase than any kind of non-domestic beer.
The streets, formerly silent, were jolted by the sound of fireworks strong enough to take off a finger.
It's like Olympic hockey in Canada, only different. For us, sports is just entertainment. We forget about it within 24 hours.
We have our lives, our jobs and wealth so high most out here in the Amazon could live and not work for years at a time.
After Joel Matip's equalizer threatened to spoil the riverside party, Neymar struck again before the half to replicate the aforementioned celebration.
It signaled a chance for the lone bartender to come back around.
The server, and 60-something owner of the place, refused to serve patrons during the run of play, always waiting for a stoppage -- a foul, a goal an injury -- before bringing booze to the local Brazilians. That, for me at least, was a thing of beauty.
When Fred made it 3-1 before the hour mark, everyone knew it was done.
On the walk home, I heard Fernandinho add a fourth goal just for fun.
Amid quiet streets, there were Brazilians, from all walks of life, taking in the match however they could.
At a small taxi stand there were three people crammed into a hut watching a TV set the size of a lunch box.
Even more special were the gentlemen up the street from my hotel who took in the pivotal match using an iPhone, perched in the middle of lawn chairs.
Looking over their shoulders, the players were the size of peanuts.
And that's what the World Cup, the Copa do Mundo is all about. For Brazilians, it's about coming together in any space, under any circumstance to watch players they believe best represent them as a nation.
On Saturday, they'll do it against a neighbour. Following Chile's 2-0 loss to the Netherlands earlier Monday, Brazil will meet one of its biggest rivals in the knockout stage this weekend. Group A's other qualifier, Mexico, will get the Netherlands.
Until then, life on the river will continue.
Come Saturday, however, everything on the Rio Negro in Manaus will fall silent until Brazil finds another winner.
MEANWHILE, IN THE ALLEY ACROSS THE WAY
The Beautiful Game has an ugly side. And, no, this isn't another story about Hope Solo.
While fans, kids and clad-in-yellow bar patrons were taking in Sunday night's pivotal Brazil-Cameroon World Cup match in a riverside bar, a domestic dispute broke out.
What started the disturbance remained unclear. But when a female donning Brazilian yellow picked up a pair of weapons, it didn't really matter.
Her assault tool of choice? Duel tree branches that appeared so sharp they looked like extremely large pencils.
Then, she attacked.
A man's back pack was the only thing preventing the sharpened sticks from slicing up his shoulder blades.
At one point, the man put up his fists to fight -- a sequence of events I took in from afar.
To those in surrounding huts, it didn't seem to matter. With eyes glued to televisions throughout this Amazonian city, nothing else mattered for 90 minutes Monday.
Not even to the Manaus Police, who came through in a caravan and didn't bother to take action.
It seemed like the only lives on the line Monday night were those taking part in a soccer tournament.