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Thompson: Ronaldo and his father

Euro 2016
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The journey begins ...

A happy hour with Brazilian cowboys as told by Wright Thompson.

This is the first of many entries in my World Cup blog, which is the name we settled on because everything else sounded way too pretentious for what will appear here over the next month.

I am traveling around Latin America, dropping in and out of the countries that are sending teams to Brazil, writing about the nexus of soccer, culture and political life. There will be full reported dispatches, and observed scenes, serious stories about drug violence in Honduras and a short poem about a beer in an ancient Mexican cantina, written pieces, video and photo essays, some shot by professionals and others simply snapped on my phone. Some are planned, and others will be found.

The idea is to travel from place to place, in the shadow of a clarifying and consuming event, and write about what life looks like in the glow of that particular moon. Right now, I'm thinking about the places I'll go, old favorites like the pizza and cold beer of Bar Tasende in Montevideo, or the way the sidewalk cafes of Santiago feel like Paris, or the hidden bars of Buenos Aires. I'm imagining places I've never seen, like the high plateaus of Colombia, in the old cartel towns, or on the banks of the Panama Canal, hanging out in a marina while the games play on an old TV.

There will be profiles of players, and of the fathers and mothers who nurtured their dreams, and stories about how the World Cup acts as a magnet for people around the world.

I leave Sunday for Mexico City, where the reporting will begin, and over the next month, please check back here regularly. Let me know if you have ideas, or bar or restaurant suggestions, from any of these countries: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay or Costa Rica. I'm at wrightespn@gmail.com or on Twitter at @wrightthompson.

Together, these stories will be about a soccer tournament, but also about a place that's as much an idea as a set of hard-fought lines on a map: Latin America, the land of Maradona and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, from the border towns of Mexico to the Cape Horn lighthouse at the farthest tip of Chile.