Post by John
Greetings friends and family,
Well we are back and slowly getting rested up after a busy and exciting weekend in Curitiba. I know Donna has already posted about the trip, and I just wanted to add a few things with my own twist.
The trip there was all that Donna said, even though I was given the area with the most room (the front seat), my legs were folded like pretzels most of the time. Our driver, Vargas, was a very nice man… but his driving scared me. While everyone in the back had basically a TV to watch the movies on, the front seat had a slide-out video screen from the stereo that the “passenger” could watch. However, Vargas liked to watch the movies as well. Did I mention that it was dark and we were on small (yes even the roads, are small) windy roads? But alas we arrived safe and sound.
At this point I was feeling very lost, with my very limited understanding of the language, Pastor Zamora (Eli) and I went off to find our rooms. I saw where the rest of my family was sleeping, and even though very small, didn’t look that bad. A young man leads Eli and me out of the compound and across the road to a house. Eli explains to me that this is the residence of someone who works at the seminary, and there is also a dorm here. The dorm is a large open area, with maybe 30 mattresses laying on the floor with just enough room to walk between them. Sounds good to me. I am exhausted at this point. As I am laying there trying to fall asleep (it is very cold… and I thought Brazil is suppose to be warm, so I didn’t bring much as far as warm cloths go… silly me), I feel and then see a very large spider crawling on my arm. So for the next 30 minutes or so, I could not sleep. I felt like there were hundreds of spiders everywhere, which of course, there were not.
The next morning we are up at 6:30ish and getting showered and dressed. It is very peaceful, I have time to do my devotions and have a relaxing breakfast. Eli tells me we are going to get a warmer room, which was good news to me. After breakfast is over, I walk outside and two big buses pull in…welcome Sao Paulo youth. Wow, the place changed from quiet to excitement. Youth everywhere, and it just kept getting crazier and crazier. Eli preached the first service and from the reaction of the kids, it was really good.
That afternoon, Eli showed me our new room, upstairs above the dining area. A nice room, eight guys to a room. Not bad, I think. Walking around the place, I see the youth are just having the best time, Chaise is in heaven. There are maybe 4-5 kids his age to play with. However, he has taken to the older kids and they have taken to him. Chaise once again has celebrity status.
This weekend was suppose to help me with my Portuguese, but it would not turn out that way. The youth (and some adults) were constantly asking me where I was from, which I would tell them in my best Portuguese, and then they would start practicing their English on me. I would soon be in a group of 4-5 people all working together to have a conversation in broken English. Lots of fun, and I even learned a little bit myself. This would turn out to be the norm for me this weekend.
Saturday afternoon, Donna, Chaise and I head in to Curitiba to see some sights and end up at the Botanical Gardens. Very nice, and Chaise has a blast running around. On one of the buses we see a bunch of Curitiba soccer fans, who join up with some others a few stops down the road. Very lively bunch! More about them soon. We finally arrive back, one successful outing.
Well, it is time for me to go to sleep. I am still bushed. It’s only 11ish and events are going on until 1, but I am beat. I get to the room and talk with some of my roomies for a bit, and as I finally start to drift off to sleep, Eli wakes me up. He tells me we are moving because the room smells bad. He asks if I want to stay here or go with him. I need my comfort zone (that is, may Pastor Eli), so I go with him. We now have a decent size room. Eli, his brother-in-law and myself… Even better.
The next day Donna, Chaise and I are going to go in to Curitiba again with a guy named Gert. He has volunteered to drive us around and shows us the town. He shows us some very interesting places and tell us all sorts of cool things about Curitiba. A very nice man who we plan on visiting on our way through Curitiba again in February. Well at some point Donna asks me if I would like to go to a soccer game with Gert. I think long and hard about it (maybe a half a second) and readily agree. We have just enough time to go back to the conference, change and get going.
So we are off! On our way there, we talk about the team and how well they are doing– ranked fifth in the nations– and chat about other things as well. We get there and it is a zoo! People are all over the place heading for the stadium. Gert tells me we have to hurry and to watch my wallet (already taken care of) and up we go. He has season tickets and I am thinking they are going to be near ground level (he has two bad legs, so I am thinking it would be easier for him), but he explains to me his seats are what he considers to be the best– the top corner. It makes me a little nervous climbing up there; very steep, and narrow. But WOW the view is great. He tells me the stadium is not full, with maybe 25K people there. It is a sea of red, with everyone chanting the ClubeAtletico Paranaense (CAP) war cry “At-let-ic-o” all while doing a double tomahawk chop. The lower deck is occupied by the Fanaticos or the crazys… huge flags, fireworks, and no shirts, standing almost the whole time. In the picture, you see a bunch of empty seats, but that is because you’re looking at the other teams fan section. The rest of the stadium was packed.
The stadium was very nice. Gert explains it is one of the stadiums they plan on using for the World Cup in 2014. However they are going to expand it to hold more people. Currently it holds 30K, when completed it will hold over 40K. There is a trench that surrounds the field to keep the fans off the field. Also the field has police and security all over. I ask Gert about this and he explains that the fans can get a bit emotional at times, and then he tells me a story of the Curitiba soccer club. During one game, either they were losing or there was a bad call, and the fans went berserk– started thrown things, ripping the chairs out, tossing them. Two people ended up getting killed. The punishment… the club was moved to a city a couple hundred kilometers away for ten months. Luckily this game was fairly calm.
It was a great game. CAP scores first with a penalty shot, and then the other team scores not long after. For the rest of the game it is back and forth. Lot of shots made and and lot of blocks. The tension gets higher and higher. A win would move CAP to fourth place ranking in Brazil, but a loss would send them to tenth or worse. As the clock ticks down, Gert says, “Danger!” each time the other team is close to a good shot. I was in full spirit… Chanting, screaming, standing with the crowd yelling, and yes, even doing the double-hand tomahawk chop…”At-let-ic-o.” By the end of the game Gert is calling me a Fanatico (and telling everyone back at the retreat). With less than a minute left in the game, our team slips a shot in and wins 2-1. All pandemonium breaks out. I have not seen many people move as fast as Gert did. He said we needed to get out of there quickly before the people hit the street… Okay, I thought, let’s go, though I didn’t quite understand.
The car is parked close. Police everywhere… and do I mean everywhere!! They are on horse, in trucks and cars. And they are all decked out in riot gear, with batons, shield and shotguns. I will say at that point, I start to get a little nervous. Gert says it is all just a precaution. After the games, the fans tend to get a little rowdy. It would be worse if the team lost, or if it was the play-offs, but all the same, Gert keeps using his useful word “danger,” and quickly gets us out of there.
I think I would have to rate that experience as one of best on the trip to Curitiba. All and all, it was a really good weekend. Gwen had a great time, Chaise had a great time, besides the sleeping arrangements, I am pretty sure Donna had a good time, as did I. It is a blessing to see so many youth gathered in one place, for one purpose.. to praise God. It has been an experience I will not soon forget. Here is the link to the video Donna was talking about in her post…
Thanks everyone for following us, and hope you all are doing well!!