A Man, a Van and the World Cup’s Craziest Plan
When Miguel Peña and three broke friends began a 5,000-mile road trip to the World Cup final, nothing—not torrential floods, thieves, or unconscionable referees—could derail their dream.
Illustration by Mardou
It’s Monday afternoon in Fortaleza, a coastal city in northeastern Brazil. The boardwalk that stretches along Iracema Beach is packed with tourists. The atmosphere is festive, as people erupt into impromptu chants and cheers while sipping watered-down beers under the midday sun. The 2014 World Cup is underway and Mexico is scheduled to play the powerful host country the next day. People in sombreros and green jerseys dominate the crowd, singing mariachi music and speaking in Spanish. Suddenly, a beat-up white van turns the corner, honking repeatedly. A young man waving a giant flag hangs out the window yelling “Mexico, Mexico!”
His enthusiasm does not seem out of place but his chariot does. The plates on his Dodge minibus are from Nuevo León, a Mexican state nearly 5,000 miles away from Beira Mar Avenue.