Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brazilian Boys

We are living in a 19th floor apartment of a giant gated community with a rec center immediately across the street where the Jiu Jitsu/Judo academy is located. As guests, we have access to the pools, tennis courts, (many) soccer fields, and weight room. The view from our balcony is pretty decent, and aside from the 50-year old washing machine technology and dusty linens, we are not wanting for anything. There is even room for the dart board I packed with Erwin's face on the bullseye.

Some shots from our balcony:

This morning, Gerson woke us up, and we arranged to meet at the rec center, and then head out to lunch with a friend that Gerson wanted to have a conversation with about an upcoming film. Later, while we were waiting at the rec center, we noticed a group of 9-10 year old boys playing indoor soccer. We were watching them for less than a minute before they asked us to join them. Grover and I immediately took off our shoes, and bounded to the gym floor.

I approached their leader, and said, "Ew, Aqui y ella, la" ("Me, here and him there") - I was feeling proud of myself when the boy answered, "OK - you're goalie" in perfect English. My team (which I will refer to as Team Awesome) had skill, tenacity, and a fighting spirit any goalie-coach would admire. Grover's team (Team Losers) were a bunch of cheating shlubs that I gather were from a local favela. The shortest of their bunch had a nasty face, was dressed in a blaze red soccer jersey, and I swear he was packing heat.

Team Awesome came out strong with a blizzard of offense. In spite of our best efforts, Grover repeatedly made save after (lucky) save. Due primarily from my encouragement at the other side of the gym, we continued to pound Team Losers until we scored several goals in a row. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

After the initial trouncing, Team Losers stepped up their game, and used long outlet passes to isolate me, leaving me no choice but to give up a few goals that were nearly impossible to stop, including a rocket at close range between my legs. I didn't give anyone an earful for their lack of defense, and I think they respected my restraint.

(If the above video works, it is of yet another two on one I was forced to contend with, and the post-goal gloating by Team Losers. Note the left-footed pass to the left-footed shot)

Gerson showed up a few minutes later, and watched us for a while with Novell before we had to leave. In all seriousness, the skill level of these kids was roughly equivilant to a high school soccer player in the United States. Their ball handling was absolutely amazing, and the level of sophistication of their games I never would have guessed anyone at that age could possess, which I tried to explain to them just before leaving along with an "Obrigado."

We all joined Gerson's wife, Corina, in the car, and drove to a very nice restaraunt where we (the Gringos, at least) were a bit underdressed. The girlfriend of one of Gerson's relatives happened to be eating at the same restaraunt, which wasn't surprising because Gerson seems to run into people he knows everywhere in Barra. We learned on the way that we would be meeting up with a Brazilian soap opera star ("The Brad Pitt of Brazil") that would be in the film Gerson was producing. We waited a little while for him to join us, eating cheeze and garlic bread. Then, when heart throb Murilo Rosa finalley arrived, all eyes in restaraunt followed him to our party of five. We shook his lovely hand, and sat down to eat lunch, cooked next to our table that included three pounds of beef. We stuffed ourselves silly while Gerson, Corina, and Murilito discussed the upcoming film in Portuguese. I could only pick out a word or two from every sentence that I understood, but his grace and charisma transcended all language.

A few times during the meal, he joked with us about being fighters, and Grover took the opporutnity afterwards for a photo op.

Now we are just relaxing with some Acai before training this evening at another academy a little ways away. I'm a little fatigued from the soccer game, but am looking forward to donning my gi, and participating in a sport in which I do not embaress myself.

The King has spoken.

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