Brazil prepares for the World Cup

  • Manaus is a sprawling city of 1.8 million residents. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The square in front of the Teatro Amazonas opera house is a crossroads for Manaus residents. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • Manaus, an Amazon River city, has a population of 1.8 million. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The vibrantly colored seats of Manaus’ Arena da Amazônia were designed to mimic tropical fruit. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The Rio Preto flows past Manaus’ waterfront. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The palafitas — stilt houses — of Manaus rise along the river bank. They were built on stilts to protect against periodic flooding. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald staff

  • The Manaus skyline is a mix of old and new as this photo taken from the steps of the opera house shows. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • Omar Vgaz, manager of the Boutique Hotel Teatro Cafe, think Manaus will be ready for the 2014 World Cup. “The Cup is going to be good for Manaus — it will be known,” he says. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The design of Arena da Amazônia, the Manaus soccer stadium, was inspired by the rain forest. The shape is reminiscent of a woven Amazon basket and the brightly colored seats represent tropical fruit. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • Engineer Jerocilio Silva says the biggest construction problem was that the steel framework that gives the stadium its basket-like shape arrived from Portugal late. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

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  • Manaus visitors will find it possible to pull up by boat for lunch at a floating restaurant moored on the Amazon River. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff

  • The Amazon region has a distinctive cuisine that includes fish such as tambaqui. MIMI WHITEFIELD / Miami Herald Staff