May 31, 2004
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Boa tarde! Well, the past few days have been a bit more exciting and adventurous than the first few, which means we have been pretty busy.
On Wednesday we trained in the morning and then some people went out on another shopping adventure. Hayley went out shopping, but came back empty-handed; Barnie on the other hand, didn't even make the excursion, as she decided to lock herself in the hotel for the afternoon in an attempt to get some school work done so she could start writing her paper.
Thursday was game day, so it was a light, non-adventurous day. We had our usual meals, then a team meeting to go over the Brazilian team's tactics and style of play and to prepare for the game. That afternoon, we played the women's Olympic team in an exciting match. The final result was a 0-0 draw, but the score did not really tell the story of the game. They outshoot us about 15-7, which meant Barnie had to come up with just a few saves, even though we created the better scoring opportunities. So overall, we were pretty pleased with our play and came away from the game knowing that we could hang in against one of the best teams out there, which was exciting for our final game against them on Friday.
We had our usual morning training, which this time consisted of some light, fun activities, and concluded with the ritualistic "shooting game" with the east up versus the west. We will not say who won, so that we do not bring back any sore memories for either side, but lets just say it was a battle until the very end in the best of five series.
After training we went to the pool as a team and submerged ourselves in the arctic waters. Even though the pool was outside and the weather was sunny, the water felt more like an ice bath. So we basically shivered and complained for the ten long minutes we stood in the pool.
In the afternoon, most people, including Hayley went out on a jeep tour of the Brazilian countryside. Barnie, who had been on the tour last year, decided to stay back at the hotel and finally start writing her paper. It finally gave us a chance to see some of the Brazilian terrain. About 10 of us piled into three open jeeps. After seeing our prospective driver, our group was a bit skeptical, for the kid looked like he was 14. But after we got underway, and he grew tired of trying to "entertain" us with his crazy driving, we felt a lot more comfortable. We started off by stopping at a lake in the city and saw the weirdest looking animal I have ever seen. It was about the size of a Great Dane, and was supposedly in the same family as rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. It's face looked like a mole. It was truly frightening, and reminded a few of us of the animal in The Princess Bride...it was a Capybara, the largest rodent in the world, and can weight up to 160 pounds. We continued our adventure as we turned off onto a dirt road that took us up a winding path. We made it up to about 4,000 feet and were able to look over the town. It was beautiful.
Saturday was quite a busy day! It started off much earlier than the rest, with a 7 a.m. breakfast, and did not include much time for our now accustomed morning naps. We had one final team meeting to prepare for our match, and then faced off against the Brazilian team one more time. It was a pretty lopsided game, with our team dominating the possession of playing and scoring opportunities, yet at half time, we found ourselves trailing 0-2 as Brazil managed to capitalize on its limited chances and we could not find the back of the net. The second half proved just the same. We managed to score a goal, to create an exciting 1-2 match, but just could not quite get the equalizer.
After the match, we went back and rushed to shower, eat lunch, and finish packing before we left the Oscar Inn, which by the way, was in Aguas de Lindoia. So we packed up the bus, which by now we have become quite good at, and headed off on yet another bus ride. We went to watch a pro soccer game in which the top team in the league was playing. However, it proved to not be a very good game, as the home team just could not manage to do anything right and ended up losing 0-1. There were a lot of fouls, "injuries", and was very little exciting soccer. So we were all a bit excited to finally hear the whistle blow for the end of the game.
We then went to a pizzeria for dinner. Most people were not fans of the Brazilian style pizza and opted to go to the McDonald's that was across the street for either a burger or dessert afterwards. So then we left there and drove the short distance to our new hotel in Campinas. We were a little disappointed to find that there was not a ping-pong table here or evening snack time, as these two things had quickly become the highlights of our evenings at the Oscar Inn.
Sunday morning, we made the most of our time and ventured off to a handcraft market. There were some interesting items, and we both came away with our first real purchases in Brazil. Afterwards, we went to a Brazilian barbecue, which was by far the best food we had the entire time there. The waiters came by us with meat after meat on skewers, which we just had to point at and then they would cut a slab for us. A favorite of the team's was definitely the pineapple that had been covered in cinnamon.
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and had a little time to pack up and get ready to head to the airport. After about 26 hours of traveling, we finally made it back to San Jose. We were excited to get some real breakfast and took an outing to Stacks where we enjoyed a warm, hearty meal.
So we are excited to be back in the states, but not quite as excited to have to deal with the end of classes and finals. We had a good time in Brazil and hope you enjoyed sharing the experience with us.
Hayley and Barnie