Day 6 – Breann Robinson & Arianna Newcomb
Welcome to day 6! Waking up early again, we headed down to breakfast. Today Scott (our faithful trainer) had a birthday to celebrate, so we filled the dining area with our infamous trilingual birthday song to start our day.
Then we hit the road for Saquerema. Saquerema is where Giulia's dad (Giovani Gávio) runs his club and where all the national volleyball teams train. The facility is beautiful, huge, and "after talking with some of the Brazilians, I learned a lot about the lifestyle that the athletes take on when they live and train there" (Breann). The athletes have multiple practices a day, they do not study, they eat and sleep there, and they can only leave every 15 days to go home for about three days. However, the professionals on the national team are allowed to go home on the weekends.
This morning, after catching up on some sleep during our long bus ride from Rio, we arrived to the training center of Brazil's national teams to play against the U18 team. After a very long hard fought match against the U18 national Brazil team, it was time for some lunch (Thank goodness). We got to eat some great food with some awesome company, including the team we had just played!
Then it was back on the bus to head to Arrial Do Cabo. The bus ride was long but worth it! Once there, we headed straight for the beach to watch the sunset. Some of the girls swam, and some of them just sat and chatted. Once we had taken all of our pictures and the sun had set, we headed back to our hotel. We finally got to do some laundry which was long needed!
For dinner we ate at Calamares. It was right on the beach with live music. After we ate, we danced and sang, and it wasn't long before we were walking back to our hotel to get some sleep.
"I can't wait to see what other new exciting fun things we are going to get to experience here in Brazil!" -Arianna Newcomb
Day 5 started the earliest and ended the latest. We arrived at Acapulco Copacabana Hotel at 2:45 a.m. and started our day off in Río bright and early with a 6:45 a.m. breakfast. In our matching T-shirts designed for our Brazilian Tour, we headed by bus to Trem do Corcovado which was a trolley that took us up to the infamous Cristo Monument.
On the bus ride there, we drove past beautiful beaches and the surprisingly vegetated downtown area. We were then taken up through the jungles of Río by the trolley, and along the way, there were spaces between bonsai and palm trees where you could get a glimpse of the city from above. We had no idea that those little breath-taking sights would be nothing compared to what was waiting for us at the top of the peek. Getting off the trolley we climbed the stone steps till we reached a black marble base where the heavenly Cristo rested. Looking out upon Río, we witnessed such remarkable beauty that words cannot do justice. In attempt to capture the moment we had a San José State Volleyball photo shoot and took as many pictures as we possibly could. Being at the top of the monument is something we will never forget.
We then headed back down where we departed by bus to Casa de Musíca in Nandyala's old neighborhood. The reunion of Nandy and her family was an emotional but happy moment that we all got to share with her. After getting a grand tour of the unique home, we gathered around for a musical Spartan jam session. Instruments played by Summer, Erin, and Nandy's little brother Ébano. Even though we all sang off tune, it was a very special moment we were able to share with Nandy's family and friends. We got to see more of Nandy's neighborhood as we headed to the famous Éscadaria Selaròn staircase. Another picture perfect location, not a moment was wasted. Every step was decorated with its own unique tile but together the staircase embodied interesting Río history.
Lunch took place at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where an assortment of food was served but the highlight were the famous açai bowls that we got to try for the first time. After lunch we said our "Obrigada"s and "Tchau"s we got back on the bus which took us to our next stop, the mall. We all had the same mission to track down the perfect bikini. We are happy to announce that we all found success.
We finally got back to the hotel at 4:30 p.m., which was the first time since 6:45 a.m. Having a quick turn-around, we cleaned up into nicer clothes and headed to Fernanda's family condo where we had a rooftop dinner looking out onto the city of Río. Dinner was another all-you-can-eat pizza buffet but better with organic fresh ingredients, long and filled with laughter and Portuguese conversations. Before leaving we extended even more "Obrigada"s to Fernanda's mom who organized the dinner and put together thoughtful Río essential gift bags for each of us.
We finally settled into the hotel at 10 p.m. and reflected on the eventful day. Overall, it was a day that none of us will ever want to forget. This day alone was enough to make us all fall in love with Río. It's a blessing to be here together, and each day we become even more thankful. We loved getting the opportunity to write this day of the blog, and we hope you stay tuned to the more exciting stories to come.
Beijos Latahevai Lousi and Kaitlynn Zdroik!
Day 4 – Fernanda Vido
Today was an amazing day full of new experiences. After having breakfast at the hotel, we headed to 25 de Março (March 25th) Street which has a really famous street market. You can find pretty much anything at 25 de Março, and it was awesome to see the girls exploring such a famous place for Brazilians. The street is very crowded and messy, and the sellers try everything they can to make you buy their products. They have great deals and most things are cheap so a lot of the girls bought some jewelry and little gifts for their family members.
After exploring 25 de Março street market, we headed to Mercadão de São Paulo. I think the best way to describe it is comparing it to a farmers market in an old building. In Mercadão you can find fresh food, such as fruits, meat, fish, cheese, nuts, etc., and some great traditional restaurants.
As soon as we got there we stopped by a fruit tent and were served all kinds of fruits by some wonderful workers who worked at the place. The girls did a great job trying new things and even I got to try fruits I've never seen before. This was my favorite part of the day! I'm proud of everyone for being so opened to a new culture.
After walking around the Mercadão and having lunch we went to Pinheiros. Pinheiros is a well-known club, with really good professional teams. The volleyball team we played was really experienced and consistent. The girls were amazing players, and I think our team put up a great fight. Although we lost 4-1, we fought the entire time and didn't give up once. I am so thankful for the experiences I've had with my new team so far.
Day 1 & 2 – Jamie Hirai
Oi do Brasil!
We left SJSU at 7 a.m. and flew out of San Francisco around 11:45 a.m. We were all packed and ready for the travel ahead! There was a moment of panic and frustration as our plane was stalled at the JFK airport because a plane did not leave our gate yet. We sat in the airplane for about a good 30 minutes wondering if our connection had already left or was delayed. The flight attendants had told us they had no outside communication with the airlines, and that made us worry more. It wasn't until we had a moment of clarity when we remembered that we had our phones and could check out flight's status online. To our benefit, our connecting flight was delayed and all was good.
Thankfully our gate was only two away from our docking gate, so we could quickly get to our gate to go to São Paulo. From gate 34 to 36, there were tall women with the exception of a few shorties, running to get to their gate. Finally, we all board the flight and we were off to São Paulo!
After nine hours of flying, we arrived in São Paulo. We go through customs and grab our luggage. Then we went straight to the hotel where we tried pão de queijo for the first time. It's a bread ball that has cheese on the inside. After we ate, we went to practice at Mariana's club. It is similar to a country club but much bigger with more activities. The facility offered multiple gyms, futbol (soccer) fields, swimming pools, locker rooms, a movie theater, and much more. Practice was a good two hours trying to get our muscles warmed up and loose after our long plane ride.
For dinner, we went to Mariana's house. Her family was so welcoming and loving. Both sisters, mom, dad, and dog (Cacao) were there. Dinner consisted of rice and beans, filet mignon topped with onions, kale, and salad. We sat in Mari's living room, chatting and listening to Portuguese music
São Paulo is known to eat rice with brown beans, whereas Rio de Janeiro is known to eat rice with black beans. Brazilians eat much different than typical Americans. There is much more bread and cheese in their diet. The end of the night was topped with dessert, everyone's favorite. Brigaderos is my favorite and majority of everyone's so far. It is a chocolate ball, but it is soft and almost like fudge. There was also a banana brigaderos, which Thaliana loved. She is a banana lover. The main dessert was a peanut cake with peanut butter filled in the middle of the cake. All the food was tasteful and we were for the most part open to trying different foods.
We started Day 2 with breakfast at the hotel where we ate more pão de queijo. Afterwards we headed to Sesi, the volleyball club Mariana played for. Practice was held at their men's facility. This was the first time for all the Americans using the international volleyball. The touch and weight were different than the volleyball we use in America. I personally don't like the ball because of its ability to float easily. Also, trying to get used to a different ball can take time. After a good 2 hour practice, we got some coconuts. I loved the coconut water. It reminded me of home, Hawaii, because I miss the freshness of the coconut water straight from a coconut.
Later on in the afternoon we went to Sesi's women's volleyball location where we were going to play their team. It's interesting because their warm ups are short compared to our hour-long warmup in the U.S. The warmup was only about 15 minutes of shared hitting lines and serving. The first two sets we played an older or more experienced women's team in which we split sets. Their women's team was smart with the ball and knew exactly where they wanted to place the ball on every touch. Then we played their younger team the last three sets. Brazilians typically set the ball to the pin hitters slower than in the United States.
After the games, we went to an all you can eat pizza place inside a mall called Giulia's. Ironically we also have a Giulia on our team. The pizza was good and served all different kinds of pizzas from four cheese, hot dog, to even a tuna pizza. The waiters and waitresses were friendly and upbeat. They would dance with customers and eventually turned on our team's favorite song, "Bumbum Granada". It was a blast and we didn't realize how full we were till we got back into the bus and headed back to the hotel to sleep. We've had two very eventful, fun first two days and we're excited for what is ahead!