Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Street Child World Cup Rio 2014: Part 2

Happy belated Easter everyone or boa páscoa! We had a beautiful long weekend and the weather was gorgeous, so we hit the beach a lot. I can't wait to share some photos tomorrow.

It's kind of strange (and sad) how fast the Street Child World Cup came and went, but I guess that's the sign of a good time. I finally finished editing my photos and videos and I'm so happy that I captured some great smiles, wonderful dancing and some singing.

The Late Show

Every evening after dinner, we would have The Late Show where SCWC would share football highlights and each team gave a cultural performance. I absolutely loved this, especially the dances. It felt like a special glimpse into each of the different cultures that I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to experience if I was just a tourist in any of these countries.

Team Kenya

I loved the music from Team Egypt's dance. Egypt has always been high on my bucket list and when I go, I want to hear more of this.


Team Liberia started off with a choreographed dance, but I enjoyed their freestyle the most.

And Team Pakistan got the whole crowd going. That was pretty spectacular.


One night after The Late Show, the DJ carried on a bit so we could boogie and played Michel Teló's "Ai, se eu te pego." This song is so popular here and super catchy (I love it) and Team Brazil Girls would singing it every chance they got. Here below is their captain leading us in the song's dance, which is kind of like the Macarena.

Let's Dance...or break into song

Dancing and singing at the drop of the hat was a common occurrence at the SCWC and it was so fascinating to watch. Sometimes the kids just start singing Shosholoza, a South African folk song they all learned or break out a little freestyle circle because they were happy. 

Team Zimbabwe

Team Mauritius

 This was magical and it happened at the top of Cristo Redentor


Well as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. After two weeks away in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of boisterous (yet lovely) teenagers, I was ready to come home. I look forward to seeing these smiley faces again in the near future and I'm so grateful to have been part of this special experience.

permanent SCWC mural by Joel Bergner at Espaço Lonier

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Street Child World Cup Rio 2014: Part 1


Hello...I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to visit you last week. We dedicated two full weeks for the actual Street Child World Cup; Hub was working very long hours and I was volunteering as a translator every day. We were beyond exhausted and I just couldn't muster the energy to write. I still don't feel 100%, but it was a beautiful experience for me. I only hope I can convey everything in two parts. 

Street Child World Cup took place at Espaco Lonier, a private events camp with dormitories, football pitches, swimming pools with slides in Barra. The space was surrounded by mountains and was very relaxing. I couldn't wait to see the reaction from the kiddos who I imagine for many, this would be a luxury. We tried to give the teams a warm and cheerful welcoming and so we rallied together as each team arrived, clapping and chanting things like "Ole, ole, ole..."


The Teams

I have to say that meeting and getting to know the teams was the highlight for me. We had 8 girls teams and 15 boys teams and I really bonded with a few of them over the 10-day period. It goes without saying that each team had their own unique traits which was ingrained with their culture, but it was so interesting to see them react differently to the whole experience. And they were each so visually striking, different and beautiful...here are just a few photos of the kids.

Team Brazil Boys
Team India

Team Nicaragua
Team Pakistan
Team Kenya
Team El Salvador
Team South Africa
Team Zimbabwe


We had live commentators at all the matches and some were fantastic and others were a bit dud, but they all manage to get one thing right....GOALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!! It really got the crowd going, but not nearly as much as seeing the kids celebrate goals in their own special way. I mean that was just pure money.

Team Brazil: I can't hear you!
Team El Salvador: Hey Macarena!
Team Nicaragua: The Tackle
Team Philippines: A little prayer

The Friendships

In the beginning the kids were shy and kept to the their teams, but gradually they opened up and friendships formed between the different countries. It was fascinating to watch them bond through the experience and to communicate without a common language between them.

Team India loved Team USA
Team USA & Team India
Team Brazil & Team Philippines
Team Burundi & Team Philippines
Team Mozambique cheering on Team El Salvador
Team Brazil and Team Mozambique cheering up Team Nicaragua,
who were knocked out of the semi finals

One of the highlights was seeing how the teams supported each other, like Zimbabwe helping Indonesia score a few goals and then both teams celebrating together with a cheeky dance and piggy back rides. Or here when Team Nicaragua, Team Brazil and Team Mozambique started celebrating something...I can't remember now, but it was fun.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Bienvenidos a Ica, Peru!

My friends and I decided to book a day trip to Ica, a small city four hours away known for pisco brandy vineyards and sand-surfing. I was nervous about sand-surfing (I can't do sports) and super excited to see my first vineyard. The bus ride there was superb, almost first class compared to Greyhound back home. We got spacious full reclining seats, pillows & blankets, a decent meal with coffee, and a good film.

Ica is in the middle of the desert rich with indigenous culture and tradition. It's very dry, incredibly flat and surrounded by gorgeous mountains. It felt like a place where time stood still. Our first vineyard, Bodegas Vista Alegre, was like a beautiful Spanish hacienda and was founded in the mid 1850s and is still run by the same family to this day.


copper pot still or alembic, part of the pisco distillation process

 After a couple pisco tours we went for a lunch feast at El Catador restaurant. My friend Isabel ordered a braised beef dish that looked sooo good, I almost broke my no meat rule. I did pick at her beans and noodles, which were fantastic. I couldn't get enough of the cebiche; it's the perfect balance between sour and spicy and super healthy. And it always came with canchas, a special type of popcorn made from an Andean corn variety called chulpe. It's salty crunchy on the outside and popcorny on the inside and went really well with beer.

Our final vineyard, Tres Generaciones, was really fantastic because it uses very old distilling techniques. The distillery is mainly used by local producers who create small quantities of wine or pisco.

where grapes get crushed
where the juice gets filtered through and the skins left behind
ceramic pilars where wine gets stored for aging
the condenser coil, part of the pisco distillation process
where pisco gets stored for aging

Several tasting shots later, we were off to the Las Dunas for some sand-surfing. Thank God I had a nice pisco buzz going on. I had no idea how insane the sand buggy ride would be.

The sand buggy was equipped with seat belts that resembled upside-down roller coaster harnesses... why I wondered. I was already nervous because I suck at sports, so this didn't help. Our driver raced off to the dunes and took us on the scariest ride ever! We went up and down these massive sand dunes at full speed with an old rickety engine spitting oil and steam, while we lifted off our seats. I was so terrified and just imagined our buggy tipping over and us rolling around in the sand.

To my relief the sand-surfing we did was nothing like real surfing. Instead, we laid across our boards on our stomachs and sled down head first. Our first dune (pictured here) was so high and so steep, I chickened out. Once upon a time I used to be fearless and would have loved this, so I was kind of annoyed by my inner wuss. With the help of my friend I mustered up the courage to sled down and it was really, really fun.


After the dunes, we headed back to Lima and flew out the following day. I had such a great time and wanted to say thanks Ica for the good times and to my girlfriends for making Peru so memorable. 
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