Warning!!! Obscenely fun pictures coming up and they may just make you sick that it was not you...
We awakened a bit early on Sunday morning so we could enjoy a refreshing dip in the Rio Preto that runs next to our pousada in Maromba. Now, it is not just the fact that the river has many small pools to lounge within, this river also has an awesome rock formation that creates one of the most spectacular water slides I have ever seen. Rather intimidating, this 60' (20 meters) slide was and is one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced.
Of course, I made Gerson go first (I am not that crazy-stupid!).
After watching Gerson tumble up out of the water, choking because he was laughing so hard, I was up and on top of the slide in seemingly seconds. What an absolute rush! By the time we left, several of the local "hippie" vendors were setting up their wares nearby and awaiting the anticipated weekend crowd that comes to watch as much as to ride. For a short hour, we had the slide all to ourselves and only our screams and laughter echoed off the trees.
We both brought up that if this slide was in the United States, besides having to pay an exorbitant fee, there would be concrete everywhere, safety rails, etc. and you would have to sign a confusing liability waiver, wear full body armor and a helmet and neck protector. Yes, we found a few bumps and bruises on our backsides; however, those are just well-earned memories of a great hour in our lives.
We got our things together, still laughing about each other's rides and especially our expressions in the pictures, and that exhilaration took us out of Maromba and on the road to Taubate (Tau-bah-tay). Andre, fellow old school surfer and a long-time friend of Gerson's, lives in this nice moderate sized town just north of Sao Paulo. We stayed in a nearby hotel and just hung out and visited with Andre and his wife, Priscilla and baby girl, Isabela. Unfortunately, the conspiracy continues as Andre, like Gerson's other surf-era friends, refused to divulge any stories of those days. Hmmmm, I wonder why???
After our pleasant visit (although unstoried, grrrrr), we made our way back to "home" to Curitiba. The trip was uneventful and considering the condition of a particular stretch of road I commented on in an earlier webpage, "uneventful" was a thankful thing,
We were not in Curitiba one day when we were off to just out of the city to visit Kike and his family celebrating his oldest son's (Lucas) 10th birthday at his parent's farm. Another beautiful place to live and many familiar faces attended.
I would like to deter from the website for just a moment as I want to interject this page with a great experience we had in August 2006. Iara ("Yarda") Scarpelli, shown in the pictures above, is a competitive swimmer and has been since she was a child. As she represents Brasil as one of the top back-strokers in the country, she competed in an International competition in Palo Alto, California in August 2006.
We were home at the time so we drove up to the Stanford University to watch Iara and her fellow Clube Curitibanos compete in the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) World Masters Championship held every other year in a chosen country. What we found was truly amazing as over 8,000 people were involved in the competitions, ranging from swimming races, water polo, synchronized swimming, diving and open water swimming.
Also noteworthy, was that the ages of the competitors ranged from within their 20's up into their 90's - yes, we watched two 93 year-old men compete and two 90-something women compete. They could hardly walk and had to have help getting situated in the pool, but at the sound of the buzzer, they pushed off and stroked the 50 meters to the deafening applause of the hundreds of people in the stands.
Other remarkable mentions are that each one of the Brazilians placed in the upper echelons of their races (remember, these are placements within the world) and we were especially proud of Iara who finished 5th in the world in her trademark backstroke competition.
A rather funny anecdote about the races, the team Clube Curitibano (the swimming club in Curitiba, Brasil) fielded a team for the mixed medley relay. This particular relay was comprised of four swimming disciplines: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle and was competed with two women and two men. As the team was very excited about their chances in this race, we were anticipating their performance and were wearing our Brazilian shirts in a show of support.
We watched several other heats go forth and as the Brazilians were slated to race in the latter 30's heats (out of over 40 total heats of 5-7 teams each - over 250 teams total), we had some time to wait. As their particular race drew near, we scanned the side-lines where the teams were lined up in readiness for their race. Not seeing any of the Brazilians, we began to be concerned. As their heat was the next to follow the swimmers already queued up for their race, we became very uneasy when no Iara or other Brazilians were in sight.
When that race finished and the assigned heat was to enter into the starting positions and still no Brazilians, we became very worried. Then, like a whirling dervish out of nowhere, came a blaze of black streaking down the concrete, casting things off her body as she reached the pool's edge. Flinging her watch to whomever might catch it (as watches are reason for disqualification), Iara jumped in the pool, grabbed hold of the starting bar (as the backstrokers start in the pool) and Blam! the starter buzzer sounds and Iara was off and racing ahead of most of her pack.
Iara had all of about two seconds to be in the pool and back-leap into her swim and she still finished second in her leg of the medley. The final result, Team Clube Curitibano came in second in their heat and 5th overall in the world. Not too bad for a team that almost missed their race because the officials did not have the team documented correctly and had two members on a different team. Thanks to Iara's command of the English language, her very likable personality and what I am sure, her fierce announcement to the officials that they race "now" and figure out the paperwork later...got the message across and the team just squeaked under the wire to compete in the race.
And, as Iara still competes, she will be in Perth, Australia in April for the 2008 FINA World Masters Championships.
Now, back to your regular programming:
At the end of our week around Curitiba, we met up with Marco Vaz and headed to his family's fazenda, just on the outskirts of the city. Another beautiful place, the farm boards thoroughbred horses on its many acres of land. We enjoyed a stroll around the land and especially the antics of two boxer-mix puppies that entertained us for quite awhile.
Finishing the week at Renato's new home, we enjoyed a great "indoor" bar-b-que as the weather was not behaving well enough to be outside. Renato and Cinthia's new home is a beautiful three-story home that has the kitchen, living room, laundry and small bath on the first floor, three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor and the all-important, absolutely necessary bar-b-que/family room on the entire third floor. What an awesome layout (although, my knees could do without all the stairs) and the view was terrific.
We are back to the beach so we can bring some tan back to California.