Posted: 1/11/2012


         AMAPA is the second least populated of all the Brazilian states, with less than 500,000 and no tourists venture there, just south of the Guyanas in the extreme north-east. 90% is jungle and there are no roads out of there.

        THE BIG ZERO, or ZERAO in Portuguese, is the nickname of a stadium in the town of Macapa, and it's on the equator. One half is in the northern hemisphere and the other half in the southern hemisphere, with the half way line on the Equator. NO KIDDING.  In one changing room the water in the sink goes round clockwise when you drain it, and counter clockwise in the other !! From the top of the stand you can see the Amazon River nearby.

      It was inaugurated in 1990 with a veteran team led by Zico and Paulo Cesar, with a capaicity of about 5,000 in the only stand. It was poorly constructed and the roof blew off in a storm in September. The floodlight supports are at the front of the stands, and all eight 'naked 'ones obscure the view.. Such is the north-south wind in that month that teams winning the toss choose to kick off in the direction of the south to get a head start. Politicians had promised stands on the other three sides... but those were just that, promises.

     Local guys like to take girls to the centre line at night and make love on the Equator. Quite an accomplishment.

     Looking out from the long promenade downtown on the banks of The Amazon, the far bank is maybe 4km away. In the mud are goalposts poking out. Here they play  Futelama -footmud, when the tide is low. They play on the pitch, about 100 metres long, and its very slippy, but sliding tackles are very enjoyable. They don't stop playing until the water is up to their knees. They even have a small tournament in the two 'stadiums' Surubim, a type of local fish, and Catamara-catamaran. Twenty plus teams, all named after fishes and marine animals. The team named after a water buffalo beat the pig in a recent final.

     No FIFA World Cup 2014 matches will be played at ZERAO. Really?