World Cup: Fans travel to Brazil and back on a budget

Three friends take journey of lifetime

TEQUESTA, Fla. - World Cup fever fires back up on Tuesday as team U.S.A. takes on Belgium. Some South Floridians have already made it to Brazil and back - and they did it on a budget.

For a trio of young men, it was by no means a luxurious or high-end journey. Game tickets were pricey, so the journey to the other side of the planet had to be cheap.

"We knew it was going to be an expensive trip so we knew we needed to save and get creative," said J.P. Rippe, of Tequesta. Rippe, his brother Matt and their friend, Henry Matthews, did not have the cash to fly directly to Manaus, Brazil.

Instead, the men improvised, opting to fly into the middle of the Amazon rain forest in the neighboring country of Guyana.

"We just knew that Guyana was next to Brazil," said Matt about how the made preliminary travel plans.

When they arrived in the Amazon, the men got into a small van with a few other travelers. The van was supposed to hold thirteen people.

"They jammed sixteen of us in there, a baby and a cat," said Mr. Matthews.

The van kept moving through day and night, all with hopes of making it in time to the U.S.A. vs. Portugal game that was three hundred miles away. At times, it seemed like they had reached the end of the road.

"Two different flat tires and we had to pull it out of the mud once and push it out of the mud once," said Matthews.

But the bumpy, sweaty ride on muddy, rough roads - and even over rivers - finally ended thirty four hours later. Then it was game time.

"Walking into that stadium and seeing that enthusiasm," said Matthews. "It was totally worth it. Oh yeah."

"Traveling with two of your best friends, traveling where you'll probably never go again," said J.P. "I think it's something to be proud of that we survived this trip."    

These men spent between $2,000 and $3,000 each on their World Cup journey. Their trip back to the U.S. was less grueling, with the group opting to take one additional flight bypassing the long drive.

They planned to watch Tuesday's match-up at home in South Florida.

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