Although the volleyball team may be back in the United States, we continue to give you insights into the team’s trip to Brazil. Below are more blogs from the team as well as pictures from the trip.
Day 9 started with a lot of emotions. We opened the window, and it was raining a lot, but that didn't stop us to get what we had planned done!
We woke up 6 a.m. to get ready for our bike tour. After breakfast we all went to Giulia's house to meet people who organized our bike tour. They showed us the plan on the map, where we were going. Everyone got a bike and a helmet, and we were ready to go!
Our first destination was Sugar Loaf, in Portuguese its called Pão de açucar. We were riding next to a lot of beautiful beaches, like Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon, Urca, praia do Flamengo, praia do botafogo.
Finally we arrived to Sugar Loaf and we had to hike all the way up to the top. It was 25 minutes hiking up slippery rocks with about a 50-degree incline. Everyone was sweating, and we took some breaks. But we finally made it to the top, and the view was amazing. After this we had to go back down the same way. There were some of us who slipped (Scott Shaw our trainer), but we got down safe.
When we got back down, the next destination was downtown. We stopped at Museu do Amanhã where we took pictures and bought souvenirs. After this, we had to ride back to Giulia's house. We had some flat tires, but this was not a reason to stop. We solved the problem and continued our tour.
Finally after a five-hour bike tour we arrived back. We rode 58 km, which is about 36 miles. It was tough, but everyone made it! We ate lunch at Giulia's house and went to Giulia's stepdads club. There we got to relax, everyone went to the hot tub and some of us played soccer, tennis or swam.
We got ready for our dinner in Giulia's house and had an awesome time with her family. It was a good experience to listen Giulia's dad to talk about his Olympic experience and get a little piece of his wisdom. He showed us his Olympic medal from 2004 games. It was really cool! We ate dinner after this, had some good time with our team and then went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
This day was another amazing day of this wonderful experience that we had as a team. We are really thankful for being able to enjoy a little bit of our Brazilian teammates families! Hopefully we were able to show at least a piece of our happiness on this trip.
:) Mariana and Laura
While these words in no way justify the sights and joys of the day, they serve as the story board for day eight in paradise. The day began without the exhaustion we have become accustomed to as we were able to sleep in until 8 a.m. (woohoo)! Breakfast ignited the morning as Brazilian culture includes serving cakes and an assortment of delicious breads as a staple for "Café ah Manha". Following breakfast, we made our way to the harbor to meet the boat through the small beach town. A few stragglers were fortunate to find their treasures on the carts of the vendors just off the beach before the team boarded our boat for the day.
The boat was equipped with both front and back seating. The team spent a majority of the time in the front of the boat gasping at the views ahead. The sight of the pale sky melting into the tops of the mountains that sit patiently on the ocean waves is truly breath taking. A few crazies, including myself were up for a mid ocean swim on our trip to the first destination. The feeling of throwing my body from the brisk air into the crisp water was invigorating. Without the constraints of a bottom to hold our feet, we swam in the sanctuary that is the open ocean.
Shortly after the swim, the boat dropped all aboard onto a beach known for its beauty and authenticity. The beach was protected from industry and completely natural. The turquoise blue water accented with the white sand is so clear that every sway and movement from the ocean is marked on the ocean floor and glistens all the way to the surface.
Despite the slightly gloomy weather, this stowaway beach seemed like it was the finale of the boat trip due to its magnificent beauty. It was easy to think, "How can it get much better than this?" Thankfully, the adventure continued, and we got to bask in the glory of two more secluded beaches. The second stop, although within 10 minutes of the first, had a vastly different aura. It had the same powdery white sand and vibrant water, yet the way the sand kissed the water at the shoreline and the sharply cut boulders lay on the earth created a completely different scene. It was rather refreshing.
The last stop was by no means any less awe-striking than the previous two. There was an abundance of beauty in every nook and cranny of this area as well. However, this beach had a few small huts that acted as restaurants. There were also carts of Brazilian treats being pushed along the shoreline. By the time these carts came into view it seemed as though everyone was ready for lunch. As we hopped back onto the boat, the team relished over the lovely scenes.
The ocean was once again speeding past us, and the sun began to peak through the clouds. The next exciting site that lay before our eyes was the restaurant we would soon eat at. It was a small shack-like restaurant floating atop the water with the ocean surrounding all sides of it. We all stepped onto this unique contraption with our swimsuits and sarongs, ready to chow down. By the end of the meal we were all pleased with our fresh seafood selections and conveniently appropriate atmosphere. It consisted of the sounds and smell of the ocean and a light breeze accompanied by the warm sun caressing our skins. The warmth of the sun promoted the cool and enticing vibe of the ocean. Many of us found ourselves jumping directly off of the restaurants edge into the water. What better way could there have been to cool off after lunch than to jump into the ocean? Nothing could beat this experience.
After flirting with adventure for a while, it was time to head back to the hotel. So we all found our spots on the boat and sang and danced together to our hearts content as we approached our starting point. We made our way back to the hotel and prepared for check-out. After check-out, we were able to split up into a few groups and enjoy Arrial Do Cabo for the last time until the bus arrived to take us back to Rio.
It was during this time that it became clear – this trip is so much more than simply getting the opportunity to play volleyball in a beautiful country. This trip is about building a strong foundation for the future of the Spartan volleyball program. It has brought the team closer through the obstacles of playing volleyball against highly skilled teams, being in a foreign country and relying on our Brazilian teammates to lead us in the right path, and by allowing us to appreciate utter beauty together.
This trip will, without a doubt, have a monumental impact on each one of our lives.
Erin and Thali
Day 7 – Nandyala Gama
Day 7... what an awesome week! Today we woke up super early because of the long drive from Arraial do Cabo to Saquarema. The day started great because of the wonderful homemade breakfast served at the hotel! The carrot and lime cakes were delicious!! I already miss them.
Today was the second day playing the Under 18 years old Brazilian National Team, the final score was 3-2 for them. The match didn't go how we wanted, but I am extremely proud of the entire team for battling together, communicating clearly and always having each other's backs throughout the game.
My best friend since middle school, Thamyris, came to watch our game, and she said she couldn't express how proud of me she was. It was awesome seeing her after one year and a half. Last time I saw her was when I came home (Rio de Janeiro) during 2016's Winter break. She hasn't seen me playing since 2011! It was an honor to have her cheering loud for me and my team.
After our game we watched an awesome scrimmage of the U23 Brazilian national team against a professional club from Rio, Botafogo. The national team won 3-2. It was really inspiring to watch some great plays from high-level players. Even though we had just played five sets, I felt like I had to play some more volleyball after watching those guys hahaha!
Back to the hotel... time to rest!! Wait... no!! Let's play some beach volleyball! Kaitlynn and I beat coaches Shep and Alex on a set of 15 (YES WE BEAT YOU GUYS, GET OVER IT ) at Praia Grande. Praia Grande is a gorgeous beach located five minutes walking from our hotel. I still don't know how my body was able to function after those intense five sets against the national team! I guess I kinda like volleyball. Hahaha!
And now, yes... time for some rest...
We went swimming at Praia Grande, swam for a little bit in the pool at the hotel and then took a shower for dinner.
Seafood seafood seafood!
We went to this restaurant called Calamares, right on the beach. We loved it! The best part of our night was when our teammate Summer took over the microphone and guitar from the local live singer and sang "Wagon Wheel" originally by Old Crow Medicine Show. Summer has an amazing voice!! It was such a precious moment!
After the small concert and dinner, we got back to the hotel to get some warm clothes and went back to the beach just to admire the moon and listen to the ocean before we went to bed.
I love how every single day is so unique. Day 7 was amazing just like all the others. I can't for what is coming next.