Fran's Facts: Updates from the Saints' Trip to Brazil!
It was our last day, and Brazil was sad to see us go. As we got closer and closer to Rio de Janeiro, the clouds got darker. Fortunately, we could still see The Christ the Redeemer Statue, O Cristo Redentor, one of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World, from the base of Corcovado which meant that our view from the top would still be good! Armed with tickets for the 11:30 train up the mountain and our cameras, we boarded and began to chug up the mountain. The train stopped 170 steps short of the statue, and we were given the option of taking the elevator or climbing the stairs. We did not need Fran to tell us that we would be taking the stairs (we knew better than to suggest the elevator). The view from the top was a spectacular 360 degree look at Rio de Janeiro! We took pictures of the city from above, and we also took turns posing in front of the Statue. We managed a group photo and visited the chapel inside the statue before making our descent. While we were waiting for the train, a monkey peered at us from the top of the banhiero but quickly scampered away, overwhelmed by all of the attention (Britt did manage to snap a picture before he fled).
We then split into two groups. Half decided to ride the gondola to see the view at the top of Sugar Loaf with the motto, "when in Brazil...". The other half stayed at the base. The gondola ride was not for those with fear of heights! We snapped pictures out the windows and at each stop. At the top was a gorgeous view to the city as well as the Christ Statue that we had just left. The clouds even cleared a bit which enhanced the already gorgeous scenery. Before boarding the gondola back to the base, we did a photo shoot with a small monkey and waved to our teammates who were on a bench below.
As we drove toward the airport, we took in Rio de Janeiro for the last time. Checking in and going through security was bitter sweet (and a challenge for some) because our Brazilian voyage was coming to an end. While waiting for our flight, we used up our remaining reals at the gift shops. Before going our separate ways at JFK, we reflected fondly on our wonderful experience: putting on a clinic for the school children, horseback riding, getting to know the Brazilian team, learning dragflicks and corner plays, surf lessons, the Christ Statue, Sugar Loaf...
Obrigada, thank you, to everyone for making our trip happen. The donations of time and money are greatly appreciated. You helped to make our trip to Brazil so memorable. We formed even closer relationships and bonded over our experiences. We will start our season with a BANG on Thursday08.12.10 - STILL Getting Caught Up! - (12:01pm): The next day, Our first morning in Buzios, began with breakfast at the hotel then it was off to Geriba Beach in time for surfing lessons at 10. One of the first things we noticed when we arrived at the beach was the velvety texture of the sand and the sets of waves on the horizon. Our instructors were very welcoming and eager to teach us the difficult skill of surfing. Six of us at a time were allotted a half hour lesson. Most of us were able to stand up at least a few times, however some of the pro surfers included Julia, Brittany, Moe, Haley, Chelsea, Erika, and even Fran got a chance to show us her talent on the board.
While most of us were busy trying to master surfing, Brittany and Brooke were tossed around in the overpowering waves while boogie boarding. Once we had all given surfing and boogie boarding a try, Debbie told us the way to what she called a "surprise beach". After about a 10 minute walk down the beach and through part of the town we walked out on to a small alcove with huge rocks which were jetting out of the water with large waves crashing upon them. We were able to climb up on the rocks for a breath taking view of the water and several magnificent picture-taking opportunities. After walking back to Geriba Beach some of us decide to head into town for lunch and shopping while others chose to go back to the hotel and rest up for our last night in Buzios.
Our night consisted of a farewell dinner and packing. Our dinner took place at a creperie. Since it was our last night we all decided to sit at a large round table so everyone could be included. People took advantage of this sitting arrangement and took a lot of pictures. There were two categories of crepes: salty and sweet. The salty crepes were more of a dinner choice. These included ingredients such as cheese and meat. The ham, cheese, and egg crepe was one of the most popular choices. Some of the team decided to have just sweet crepes for dinner, which were quickly recognized by the layer of dark melted chocolate and vanilla ice cream on top of the strawberry or banana filled crepe.
Being our last night, Fran took the opportunity to give a toast to Brazil 2010 and the future Saints field hockey season. Once everyone finished their dessert, it was time for one last group picture outside of the restaurant. While some were too full to explore the town some more, others decided to walk to the street fair. There were little stands where local artists displayed their art work and jewelry. Some of the most popular stands were long wooden carvings of Brazil favellas. Another was a local man whose canvas paintings depicted beautiful sunsets over sailboats calmly resting on the oceanfront.
This morning everyone did some last minute packing, checked out, and enjoyed their last Brazilian breakfast. We loaded up the bus and began our first leg of our long trip back home, with the first stop being Rio de Janerio to visit the Christ, which is now considered to be one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.
08.11.10 - Getting Caught Up! - (5:42am): Greetings from Rio!! Sorry for the delay...but thank you for your patience. We have just had an extremely successful weekend, busting our moves on the Brazilian women's national team and holding a solid 3-0 record.
After we said our last goodbyes to our beautiful hotel and the country side of Sao Bento Brazil, we packed up and set off for the beachside city of Rio de Janeiro. Wake up call was around 6:30-7:00am... the bus was packed and ready to go by 8:00. Many of us prepared by popping Dramamine pills while others just used their IPods and sleeping as medicine. The bus ride was 5 hours of winding, bumpy roads that passed through the neighborhoods and slums(favela) of Brazil. It reminded us a lot of Slum Dog Millionaire. There was graffiti on abandoned homes, half finished buildings, stray dogs and children running on the roof playing with their kites. Looking at the streams we realized why we shouldn't be drinking the water. Yet Brittany still swam in it and Brooke brushed her teeth with it. Rest assured no one has gotten sick...yet.
The military base surrounded the only Astroturf pitch for field hockey in Brazil. It was home of the Pan-Am Field Hockey Tournament. We are the only collegiate team to ever play on it and the second team from the U.S.A. behind the Women's National Team. We made it just in time to play. We ended with a win. Not sure of the score (9-2?) but it was a successful team effort with everyone seeing equal playing time.
Driving into downtown Rio in a smelly bus, we passed the Christ statue that was lit up and Sugarloaf Mountain (not in Maine) that has two gondolas that connect the two peaks to the land. We are planning on visiting both these attractions on Wednesday. We checked into our new hotel and received interesting keys, trying to open the doors and turn on the lights trying to open the doors and turn on the lights averaged 20 minutes. We grabbed a quick bite to eat with only one near death experience. Brooke thought it was a good idea to put an entire tree of broccoli in her mouth. Luckily 16 made it to see game two.
Saturday was a FULL day of field hockey. Yes, it is not just a vacation (we are so sore we can only move our fingers right now to type this...although Taylor is sleeping). We had a clinic for 3 hours with the men's Brazilian National Team Coach, Claudio and Player, Matao. We learned how to drag flick, chip shot and other shooting techniques and also some new drills that Fran filmed on the iflip that we will surely use. Matao was nervous to play our team later and told Riley that she was not welcome on his team, really meaning with his poor English that he did not want us to use our new skills on his team. We had a quick lunch at the military club and then geared up for another match against Brazil. The refs were a little bias to say the least and we had some tough breaks but came out with another win (3-1). Although we were victorious the team was nice enough to bring us out later that night.
We went to a pizza buffet. We hope this type of service will be brought over to the U.S. soon. Some of the rising sophomores reached 10 pieces of pizza and claimed the title of team vacuums. Our favorite was the chocolate pizza with strawberries. Brittany's was white chocolate pizza. Quoting Brittany and the famous Forest Gump, "Life is like Brazilian slices of pizza, you never know what you're gonna get."
After eating 2000 calories of doughy goodness, we left the restaurant a little bigger but ready to dance. The team brought us to a club where we received VIP treatment. The team was very friendly and could speak enough English to understand and carry on a small conversation, although it required some work...especially from Michelle. She was our translator for the night with her fluency in Spanish. We were taught the samba earlier in the week but this was our chance to show Brazil the American style of dance. Lollipop was our first chance. Our goalie sure knows how to get low! It was a fun night out for the Saints and the Brazil team was really welcoming and showed us a fun time in their country.
We were up before the sun. It was a very early start to our morning after a night out on the town in Rio. However, the team pulled through with another win (3-2). This was after a slow start. Down 2-0 the Saints took off their dancing shoes and laced up their turf shoes to battled back for the 3-2 victory. Our clinic was shortened in the afternoon because it was Fathers Day in Brazil. We learned some new corners we hope we can use this season and perfected our strokes. We had a record time change into our beachwear and headed to Ipanema Beach. We ran into Giselle and Beyonce on the beach. Kidding about Giselle but we really did meet Beyonce and Riley took many pictures with her...Beyounce was a puppy. The water temperature wasn't that cold for winter. The diva Taylor didn't go in too deep (just her feet) but Brittany dove right into the rough water. The waves were almost 10 feet and there were surfers everywhere. Erika tried coconut water. They cut the coconut with a machete and you drank out of a small hole with a straw. Beyonce loved it too.
We stayed at the beach till 5 and then walked a block away to the hippie street fair. There were hundreds of vendors with handmade jewelry, bags, paintings and crafts. Many hippies were spotted. Each of us brought home a little something from Brazil. For dinner we broke up into small groups. Some of us dined with the Brazilian team and had a great time with them again while others ventured on their own and had a nice sit down meal celebrating our last night in Rio ending with LAVA CAKE and other delicious desserts. We are now heading to Buzios to relax on the beach for the rest of our stay here.
But in the meanwhile...Blame it on Rio
Fun Facts About Brazil
1. The boardwalk is made with stones, each individually cut and pounded into the sand to make wave-like patterns on the sidewalks. This was seen largely along Copacobana beach, two blocks from our hotel.
2. Sugarloaf are mountains which are connected by a larger gondola. From the top the whole city can be seen.
3. Favela is the name for the poorer neighborhoods.
4. The Brazilian people are very adamant about keeping their store fronts and stoops tidy, and can be seen sweeping throughout the day.
5. Copacobana palace was one of the first buildings to be built on the beachside of Rio in Copacobana. When Mick Jager provided a free concert for Rio, a walking bridge was built to get to the beach for crowd control...the whole city took advantage of the free concert.
6. English is very scarce here. At dinner we were unable to order a Coke without a translator, even though the pronunciation sounded extremely similar to ours "koka"
7. There was a church in central Rio where homeless children sleeping on the steps were shot back in the 80's. This was tied to government affairs and since there has been punishment handed out by the court for those involved.
8. On Ipanema beach many Brazilians try to make money to get by, by selling refreshments, food, bracelets, tattoos, clothing... you name it, walking up and down to each group of sun bathers. It is a hard life. We experienced children begging while eating our lunch on the beachside.
9. The restaurants in Rio were very eager to seat you, wanting to sell their cuisine and bring in as many customers as possible. They were always very accommodating. Lots of the restaurants are buffet style and you pay based on the weight of your plate.
10. Children can be seen flying kites wherever you go. Most times we see the kids trying to detangle the kites from palm trees or wires. There is a game that is quite popular, were glass shards are attached to the string of the kite and the object of the game was to cut down your opponents kite. The winner collects the losers kite and gets to keep it.
08.09.10 - Lack of Internet - (10:45pm): Unfortunately, Coach Grembowicz and the team have found themselves without internet for a few days in Rio. I suppose if you're going to be without internet, Rio is a great place to be!
As soon as Coach Grembowicz is able to pass along her latest installments, we will continue to post them. Sorry for the difficulties!
08.05.10 - How to Handball - Brooke Maloney, (10:45pm): Although the magazine Cosmopolitan said that "Brazilians are ‘out' for the summer" (Reported to us by Brittany Clark, who didn't understand the type of Brazilians they meant), we love it here! We woke up bright and early to indulge in an amazing breakfast filled with fresh fruits, different breads and cakes, and freshly squeezed juices! After we ate as if it was our last meal, we drove to a small farm where we saw how coffee was harvested and ground by a wooden, water-powered, large-scale coffee grinder. Then we decided to try what we thought were tangerines but discovered to be unripe limes, which actually tasted like an everlasting warhead. After purchasing some souvenirs, we hiked down to a beautiful waterfall. After a few slips on the rocks, one lost camera and a bruised knee, we made it back to the bus and to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we had some free time to hang out after a lunch with amazing key lime pie and chocolate cake. (As you can see, we're starving here.) Some of the girls went for horseback rides on crazy horses that tripped, bucked, and wandered in whatever direction they felt like. Other people hung out by the pool and got some tanning in because of the beautiful Brazilian weather we were lucky to have!
Around 4:00pm we went to a local school to learn Brazilian handball and teach the kids how to play field hockey. Handball was an interesting site in the beginning but we kept up towards the end! The players caught on quickly to the game of Field hockey and gave us a challenge when we played them. We demonstrated our Corner plays, which apparently still need a little work for the upcoming 2010 season! Afterwards they challenged us to a well-known sports game in both countries, Soccer.; which we discovered we have our own David Beckham, Taylor Voigt, who scored our only goal!
Shockingly, we had an enormous amount of fans watching us play, the experience overall was a ton of fun and filled with a lot of laughs. Afterwards, as we were handing out little bracelets for them to remember us by, the entire team, Fran and Alana included, were asked to take pictures and sign autographs! Some even wrote their names legibly and were facebooked later that night (currently Brittany Clark is chatting with a young girl, Bianca, in Brittany's interpretation of Portuguese, which is a mix between freetranslations.com/ her "English"/ and some Harry Potter lingo?)
After our Handball lesson we had a Samba lesson, a very popular Brazilian dance. Our teachers were really good dancers and it was very clear that most of us chose sports over dancing when we were younger. (Can't wait to show you guys the video Fran- who refused to show us her moves- took during our lesson!) Despite our uncoordinated dance moves (with the exception of Courtney Cartier, Kelsey Barry and Taylor Voigt), the experience was really awesome, I really don't think anyone stopped smiling or laughing, and it was a great way to immerse ourselves into Brazilian culture.
Afterwards we stopped at a local restaurant to experience a soup buffet! There were several different soup options including; Bean, Broccoli, Bacon and Potato (a favorite of many), Cream of Onion, etc. The dessert of the night was a local favorite consisting of cheese and a type of fruit called Guava! Finally, after a long and fun day, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation! Tomorrow we head to Rio de Janiero for our first game of field hockey!
08.04.10 - HELLO BRAZIL! - Kelsey Berry, (9:52pm): The Saints arrived in small groups to New York's JFK airport on Tuesday afternoon. The excitement grew as more players and finally Fran and Alana joined the reunion. The flight went smoothly, and the Saints were seated in the far back of a 777; we landed in Sao Paulo at 7:30am local time.
After de-boarding, going through customs and collecting our baggage, we met our cheerful guide, Pat. Pat picked us out of a crowd of Brazilians (wonder how?) and guided us through the busy terminal to our very comfortable bus. The bus ride brought us out of the airport suburb and into the beautiful surrounding hills. We stopped at a small grocery store for a restroom break or a visit to the "banerio" as we learned, and snacks.
Lunch exposed us to the culture of Brazil through our taste buds. A quaint buffet-style restaurant (the buffet was heated by a brick stove with an open flame beneath!) some members of the team were adventurous enough to try the "guarana"-- a soda made mostly in Brazil from accia berries.
As we left the center of town, our bus wound up a steep hill bringing us to our final destination, Pousada du Quilombo. It is a beautiful mountaintop resort where we are some of the only guests. A few details of our unique location: two per a room with a fireplace, beautiful porches in each room with views, sauna, pool, hot tub and even a swinging bridge that managed to hold all the Saints long enough for a picture. The afternoon was spent hiking around the property, and visiting a nearby artist colony.
Dinner was pizza...but nothing like Sergis! Twenty pizzas were consecutively brought out, and we all got to try a different interpretation of the Italian staple....seconds were only ordered with the last version ...a chocolate-caramel desert pizza, topped with chocolate sprinkles! While at dinner, our fires were lit to heat up our rooms (it is still a mild wintertime here) and we are all grateful to be sleeping in warm beds tonight!
08.03.10 - At the Airport - Coach Grembowicz (9:08pm): As you can see from the new picture to the right, we're all packed and ready at the airport for the 10 HOUR flight to Brazil! The team and I are very excited, and we've brought a camcorder along in hopes of showing some of our video clips from the trip later this month. So far, there has been a steady stream of texts being sent, Ipods being used, and studying being done (by none other that Brooke Maloney)!
Time to board...Brazil, here come the Saints!
08.02.10 - Introduction (2:49pm) - "Go Saints!": The St. Lawrence University field hockey team boards a flight to Brazil this week, and head coach Fran Grembowicz will be sending live updates from the team's trip. You can follow along by accessing this page, "Fran's Facts," which will be updated daily.