Aug. 12, 2000
Thursday, August 10
Hectic is the word to describe today. We took the freshmen to their physicals and them rushed to do fitness testing. We then ran back to the dorm to pack up while the freshmen went to the locker room. We later left for the airport where we were happy to find that United not canceling our flight. When we got on the plane, I realized the diversity of the people and the many different languages being spoken and it made me even more excited to be going to Brazil.
Friday, August 11
We have arrived in Sào Paolo and the 10-hour flight actually went by quickly. The bags and the bus were both right on time. The two-hour bus ride to the hotel will be permanently ingrained in my mind. I saw street vendors running alongside the cars stuck in traffic. They were selling an assortment of things such as peanuts and electronic keyboards. We passed a police station where off-duty cops were playing soccer in the parking lot. I realized as we were riding past old farm houses and impoverished areas that I am very lucky and even spoiled. I looked at my teammates to see their eyes opened wide in shock. What a contrast between a man in old clothes we saw urinating on the side of the road and the luxury cars and the huge amusement parks which could be easily found in the U.S. I look forward to learning more about the land, people and culture.
About an hour into the bus ride we stopped at a wonderful restaurant. There were so many different types of salads and breads and even more amazing was the amount of meat. Anything from ham to steak to bird to fish was carried around by different waiters and served whenever we wanted it. We then drove about another hour where we arrived at our hotel. When we got off the bus, many townspeople stopped and watched. I don't know if it was the large group of females or the fact that we were dressed identically but I felt like the new attraction at the zoo. Finally, at eight we went to dinner at this really cute place. We met the owner who showed us family photo albums and we met his daughter who practiced her English. They were both really warm and friendly and we promised we could come back for another meal. They took pictures of us and then blew us kisses as our bus pulled away.
Saturday, August 11
We had our first Brazilian breakfast this morning but I think a few American treats such as frosted flakes were thrown in for our benefit. We also had our first team practice as a full team. It went pretty well but I could tell the freshmen were a little nervous. Boof [senior Kelly Lindsey] then went to a radio interview and the newspaper took a team picture. We then went back to the restaurant that we had eaten at last night. The owner prepared "American foods," such as pasta, potatoes, French fries and rice. He also gave us souvenir Brazilian money, and we signed an American dollar and gave him a Notre Dame soccer shirt. We now have a Notre Dame fan in Brazil!
It is amazing how much the people of this country love soccer. There were quite a few people at our practice and when we enter a restaurant I can hear whispers about soccer. Randy Scheller (my roommate) and I have watched their sports channel and soccer is shown almost all the time. It's awesome. We then played a club team, Araraquara, and we definitely did not play to our potential but we won 4-0. I noticed that many fouls were called so it was less physical than a college game. At the end of the game we took pictures with the other team and they wished us luck.