It's been 3 weeks already!
Well, I have officially been in Brazil for 3 weeks now. I feel really safe in Sao Carlos, it's a great city and there are a lot of really awesome people here. If you already read my initial post about Brazil, you'll remember that I've always loved it here but I understood it would take some time to get used to everything. Well, I have had my time to adjust now, so I'll talk a little bit about what's going on down here in South America.
I really enjoy Sao Carlos, it possesses a lot of character. The city has a real small-town feel where everyone knows each other. Everywhere I go Breno and his family know someone and they always stop to say hello. The Picolos are highly involved in the community by owning soccer academies and being involved with the school, and they have made friends everywhere because of it. People look out for each other here, and it seems like a friend is always there to have your back.
As I mentioned before, the buildings aren't in the greatest condition and you see a little more trash around than in the US, but I've grown used to it. In general, cities aren't the cleanest places. Actually, for Brazil, Sao Carlos is considered very nice. It is interesting however the difference in culture. The other day I picked up an old bottle off the street and threw it in the trash, and everyone looked at me kinda weird. I think that the way of life has been like that for so long, everyone is just used to it and accepts it. I think issues like that can be solved with proper education about respectfulness and taking care of the world around you, and eventually, the trash problem could be reversed.
There is so much beauty in the city, from the unique architecture to the cobblestone streets here and there. And the views of the countryside that surround Sao Carlos are fantastic, it really makes me appreciate the beauty of the world. So far we haven't ventured outside of Sao Carlos at all, everything we need is right here. People definitely travel less in Brazil. For my soccer trials, or to visit a State/National Park or beach, is really the only reason we will travel outside of our home city.
Speaking of soccer trials, I will be having my first tryout next week. The reason I don't have any posts on soccer yet is that after 2 days of training at the complexes here, I got injured. It was June 12th and I was playing soccer on a turf field at one of the Multi-Sport complexes. I was dribbling fast down the sideline and a kid came out and hit my ankle, causing it to get stuck in the turf and twist. I felt a pop so I knew it was bad, and by the time I got home, it was super swollen. Since then I've been icing and doing recovery work, and starting June 25th I began training again. My ankle is still swollen, but it gets a little better each day and by Monday I should be prepared for a trial. Not being able to play for 2 weeks has been infuriating, but it opened up time for me to pursue other things. I'm excited to be back and playing again though, and I'm taking it easy to build strength back up. I will be writing a new post next week for my first trial and how it goes.
Though I've only been able to train 5 times total at the Multi-Sports complexes, I have a routine. In the mornings I go with my Brazilian mother, Adriana, to the Multi-Sports complexes, where she works. There are many coaches that work at the complexes, but I always train with a particular one. Renato Natella! He's a good guy, I like him a lot. (I've accidentally called him Nutella a couple times but he doesn't seem to mind) Usually, he works with me and Breno and another friend of ours, Abelardo. I always like the training sessions with "Nutella", we focus a lot on technical. Brazilians really, really like focusing on technical. The defense we don't work on as much. We always have to play on turf fields which I'm not so much a fan of, but there just aren't that many nice grass fields around. In fact, I really haven't seen any nice grass fields here. The fields of the professional teams I'm trying out for will have nice, well-kept grass fields, however.
Soccer is taken very seriously here. It is the main sport in Brazil by far. Literally, everyone plays it. By comparison, the local school that the Picolo's are involved in has around 1700 students. Newsome high school, the school I played sports at in Florida, has around 2800 students. That's quite a size difference. Yet at Newsome we had 80 kids show up to tryouts, and this school would have about 700 kids show up to tryouts. After seeing this culture, it's no surprise to me that Brazilians have the reputation they do when it comes to soccer. I love the atmosphere and it motivates me to get back into the swing of things and start training every single day again. I'm happy to be close to full strength, as I really missed not playing for 2 weeks.
So I just happen to be in Brazil during the world cup and it's crazy here. I have never seen so many yellow soccer jerseys in all my life. Everywhere I go I see people in yellow, usually with "Neymar Jr. #10" on the back. I don't know if that is just for the world cup, or people just really, really like wearing Brazil jerseys. For game days it's even worse. It's rare to see a person walking down the street that doesn't have a shirt on that isn't soccer related. People also love to throw huge parties for the game days. I drove past a bar the other day and there was probably 50 people in a building built for 15. It's pretty neat because usually, families get together and hang out, just like they would at a birthday party or holiday in the United States.
For the Brazil vs Serbia game, the Picolos had all their extended family over to the house for a barbecue. We have a serious amount of barbecues here, I've already been to 4... For our cookout, Fabio fired up the grill and put on some meat. At the barbecues, we always have about 4 types of meat, fried cheese, rice, garlic bread, and lots of desserts. I probably ate a couple pounds worth of meat, but I stopped when Fabio tried to feed me 11 chicken hearts on a skewer. I ate a chicken heart at my first barbecue here, but they definitely aren't my favorite. They do seem to be a delicacy here, however. Everyone talked and ate while the game was going on, and we were all having a good time. Then about 30 minutes into the game Brazil scored, and chaos erupted. There was yelling and screaming and the waving of flags and I think I saw a chicken heart fly across the room. It was absolute madness. Brazilians don't think of soccer as just a game, it's part of their life, part of who they are. One of my friends here asked me if people cried when the United States didn't make it into the world cup. I told him nah people didn't seem to care at all. He was pretty shocked by that because he's so used to the soccer craziness in Brazil. I really enjoy being in this atmosphere though, and love having barbecues with all of the Picolo family.
Between the barbecues and the massive lunches I talked about in my most recent post, I'm still as well fed as ever. Sometimes after soccer, I will go to the local marketplaces with Adriana and help pick out food. There are 3 little marketplaces in particular that we go to. One specializes in fruits and vegetables, one in meat, and the other in more broad snack items. We go to the markets to get fresh food every other day but it doesn't take that long because the stores are all in close proximity to each other. Plus you can just zip in and out and because the stores are smaller and not busy like a huge supermarket in the US.
Note: To all my faithful subscribers, I am sorry if you are not receiving email updates whenever I post. Wix has a known issue with their automated emails and they are working to figure that out. Hopefully, soon the issue will be resolved and you guys will begin to receive email updates again. Thanks!
All in all, things have been going very well here for me. Between the food, the friends, and the day to day life, my time here couldn't be better. Well, it would have been nice if I didn't injure my ankle. That could have been better. But God always has a plan, and I'm sure there was a reason for it unbeknownst to me. I'll be posting about my first trial as soon as it happens, so stay tuned for that! Thank you to all my readers, I look forward to posting more stories about my Brazilian life. Tchau!
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13