KU Volleyball Brazil Trip - Days 1 & 2

May 27, 2005


By Ashley Bechard, 2004 Jayhawk Senior

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A Note from abroad …

May 24, 2005 – Day 1

With a 12-hour plane ride, two airline meals and a midnight movie under our belts, we finally made it to Rio. First lesson: do not be shocked if the food you are served on the plane is all the same texture and consistency.

Even though it’s winter here, it was still incredibly humid when we got off the plane. We made a brief stop at our hotel (conveniently located across the street from the beach … not bad) and dropped off our luggage.

On the way into the city we passed the slums, which were shocking, even though we were expecting to see them. The houses were stacked on top of each other, so close that they looked like one building. Jana explained that in America, rich people live in the hills, but in Brazil, the poor people live in the hills.

Our guides, Cristiano and Fabio, have the whole trip organized. For those of us who know Coach Posey, you can only imagine how she feels about this loss of control. We grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby hotel and then headed for some “sightseeing.” They didn’t mention that sightseeing meant cramming 30 people into a small glass bubble that is hung by a cable. We took two gondolas up to Sugar Loaf, an amazing mountain you can see from all over the city. Paula and I were about to hyperventilate, but the view was worth all the stress. You could see everything – the ocean, skyscrapers and islands.

On our way we saw a group of local school children. They started chanting, “Kansas, Kansas,” and wanted to get their picture taken with us. Jana said these were some of the children who lived in the slums so the field trip was incredibly exciting for them. Finally, (after what seemed like hours but was really only about two minutes) we made it back down to safety.

Back on the bus, this time to the gym. We played a 17-year-old club team and ended up losing in five games. The ball is lighter here, and we had trouble keeping the serve in bounds.

We headed to dinner after the match, to a place Coach Jones described as “Brazilian bar-b-que.” Hmmm … I could be the pickiest eater on the team, but I was determined to try new things. The restaurant turned out to have an eclectic mix of food. There was a self-serve section with salad and sushi, and then waiters came around with spits of meat. You could pick and choose which meats you wanted and they would slice some off on your plate. (Ashley Michaels’ comment about the process: “Dude, they could have a serious accident with those knives.”) Waiters also filled the table with plates of French fries, onion rings, bread, fried bananas and mysterious fried things with cheese in the middle. I, as promised, tried almost all of the meats. The one thing I refused? Chicken hearts. No way. Not happening.

By the time the meal was finished, Ashley Michaels, Jill Dorsey and I realized that they told us everything was beef. Beef does not come in that many colors. All of us were exhausted (heck, I was exhausted and I didn’t even play) so we headed back to the hotel to (finally) get some sleep in a real bed. Dorsey, Lindsey Morris and I were in a room together, but Michaels was feeling a little left out of the party so we ended up with quite the slumber party.

By the way, there were only three beds. Seeing Michaels and Dorsey try to share a cot (which, by the way, might break any minute) was definitely one of the funniest moments of the trip so far.

Once we finally got situated, none of us were tired, so we watched the only thing that was on TV in English … From Justin to Kelly. For those of you not familiar with the not-exactly-blockbuster featuring the American Idol contestants, be glad. Be very glad.

May 25, 2005 – Day 2

Breakfast came at 8:30 this morning. We were supposed to go on a fabulous boat cruise and hang out at the beach, but there was somewhat of a torrential downpour happening outside.

We changed and headed to the mall. Shopping in Brazil is unbelievably different than in the US. (And trust me, I know about shopping in the U.S.) I managed to snag a pretty cool dress, but my mom was the real winner. Let’s just say that dad will need to exchange some more currency tomorrow.

We had just enough time to get back to the hotel and grab game gear before heading out for the match. We played the same team at a different site and had a better outcome this time. We won in four games and played much better than yesterday.

Back onto the bus and this time it was pizza for dinner. Brazilian pizza, at least in Rio, is amazing. Seriously, New Yorkers have nothing on this stuff. We have two options for tonight’s plan: Go to a club or stay at the hotel. Considering I am both old and boring, I opted for the latter. Please imagine Coach Posey in a techno club in Brazil trying to keep track of 10 college girls. The thought of this was almost enough to make me go.

Instead, four of the girls (Andi Rozum, Paula Caten, Morris and myself) and some of the staff headed down to the beach. We finally got to get our toes in the sand and feel the water. The water was surprising warm and we grabbed some ice cream treats and coconut water before heading back inside to the hotel.

There were some street vendors camped outside the front door of the hotel so Paula helped us bargain for some jewelry. They had caught dad earlier in the day and by the time we got back they had a personalized license plate waiting for him. Make sure you stop by the office when we get back, he’s awfully proud of it. Tomorrow we get to watch the Brazilian national team train and play some beach doubles, so let’s hope for sunshine!