Every night thus far on our journey through Brazil, I have sat in my bed, reminisced about the day, and wondered how the next day could even possibly come close to the experience I had that day. But day after day, I have continuously been amazed at how the different sights, sounds, and people we encounter get better and better. Our first full day in the mountains of Sao Bento was no different. It began with an early breakfast at the resort. The breakfast was similar to one at the hotel in Guaruja, with the addition of fresh strawberry smoothies and banana crumble cake. The scenery surrounding the resort is truly breathtaking. Since the resort is on the top of a mountain, there is a 360 degree view of the Brazilian countryside. It is unlike anything back home, with thick vegetation and trees in certain areas and open fields in others. It is absolutely beautiful!
After breakfast and a brief picture taking session, we traveled into the countryside below the resort to a ranch that produces coffee. Our outstanding tour guide, Fernando, translated for us as the lady who owned the ranch showed us around. The ranch has been passed down through the woman’s family for a few generations, and she has preserved the old method that her grandfather used back in the day. It was really interesting to see how the coffee that we so heavily depend on during finals week is actually produced! After some free samples of coffee and a few gift purchases, we gave the owner’s children some Behrend t-shirts and a basketball. They had never even seen a basketball before. Coach Niland gave the kids a five minute lesson on dribbling, passing, and shooting before we hit the road.
For the next two hours, the team split up and got to choose from a few different activities. Some when horseback riding, others went for a bike ride, and the rest relaxed by the pool and hot tub. We couldn’t really go wrong with any choice! Russ, Kovac, and I went on the bike ride. After an hour of riding that included a hilarious crash (I won’t mention who…Russ), we made it back and were off to work a clinic.
The clinic was the highlight of the day. We got to work with local kids, teaching them some of our drills and workouts. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget! We got the chance to split up and work with the kids individually, with each one of us taking three players. The kids I had the privilege to work with all had some basketball experience. It was challenging, but so much fun trying to communicate my points to kids when we couldn’t understand a single word we were saying to each other. I learned quickly, though, that a smile, thumbs up, and laugh are universal and have the power to bring people from entirely different backgrounds to a mutual respect and understanding.
Our day concluded with a trip back down into the small city below the resort. Luckily for us, it was the city’s anniversary! We had the opportunity to celebrate with the locals, as there was food, dancing, and partying throughout the streets. The entertainment was awesome, as every single one of us danced with some of the Brazilian girls.
Our trip is truly molding into a once in a lifetime experience that we are sure to never forget. We are having the time of our lives, with the only set back being the food poisoning that one of us unfortunately suffered from last night. Personally, I’m very appreciative of this opportunity to meet the incredible people I have in Brazil, see both the beautiful, as well as the impoverished places, and share this experience with my best friends. Ciao ciao!