Yesterday was one of our group's birthday! How amazing must that be... to celebrate your birthday in another country. And to do it with class and style! And celebrate we did! Throughout the course of the day, we found moments abounding to make sure distance from family and loved ones did not mean a day without being special.
Even the teens at the Round table got in on the act! And as a birthday was being celebrated, friendships were being made. The teens had the opportunity to do a teen round table with teens from Brasil. It was so interesting to sit and observe, to listen to the many things that the teens from both group thought and how their perceived differences were not a difference at all. I am fairly certain the only true differences that were discovered during the time together were the difference in drinking age and how cold our winters are.
After an afternoon of class and the realization that we were heading to the mountains in the morning and might not have the warmest clothing with us it was decided we needed to head to the mall. I realized you can take the kid out of the country... you cannot take the mall out of the kid! And the Brazilian teens were no exception! After bonding during the round table it only made sense to bond further over a shopping trip.
As you can see... a mall is a mall in any country! Some of them found treasures, some of them got a shopping fix and found some very beautiful sweaters and some were looking simply for the basics... warmth!
We had not told the teens of our plan to take them to a local pizzeria for dinner, instead telling them we would have dinner at the ACM. The general consensus after an amazing dinner, was that we needed a place just like it in the US. It was a buffet, sort of... the waitstaff appearing over your shoulder almost quicker than you could imagine. Each time baring at two trays with different pizza's for you to choose from to your hearts content. They ranged from traditional for us... cheese, ham, supreme (with an Brazilian twist) to things that you could not imagine... stroganoff, filet with gravy, oil and garlic (my favorite), corn, heart of palm, chicken hearts, you name it... it was on that endless supply of pizza. Mixed in were french fries, little chicken bits, and more pizza... and at the point it didn't appear any one would be able to eat anymore pizza... the sweet pizza's made their appearance.
Unreal is the only words for it. I watched eyes sparkle, smiles grow and the laughter get louder among our entire group as sweet pizza's started making their appearance... chocolate, M&M's, dulce de luche, white chocolate, fruits, banana with meringue, banana with a sauce, ice cream and more chocolate... you get the picture right? It was unbelievable...
Our day had started at the Cemetery, beautiful and unique, a strange place to visit until you know the back story. That Cemetery is how the ACM gets the funding needed to run it's socials... Like ACM Morro Santana, it not only fills a need for the community, it funds the needs of the community today. We have our annual campaign, rely on grants and donations to fund our social programming, They have a cemetery.
It is in the cemetery district, near the Spanish cemetery, those cemeteries were so far from the city originally, and the city simply grew up and overtook them. From the sixth floor you had a breath taking view of the city. The old stadium that is slowly coming down, the new International stadium and harbor off in the distance.
The day ended in the dark, with laughter, talking, and a touch of concern... Evidently we'd had a power outage... Just as everyone was starting to drift to sleep it returned.
There won't be a blog tomorrow, maybe not on Sunday... We head to the mountains and camp today. It will be different and beautiful. And no WiFi... Instead it will be hiking, camp fires and fun. Our days here in Brazil are starting to fly past. When we return to Porto Alegre tomorrow afternoon we will hurry and get ready and we will go to see a Gremio (they are as bad about football teams as we are about the Cardinals and Cubs) match before having dinner. Monday we will tour the International Stadium of World Cup fame, finding time to shop for souvenirs before we go to Bar-b-Cue Brazilian style. Hard to believe we are more than half way through our adventure and that Tuesday will find us packing up and heading for the journey home.
What an incredible adventure!