Tuesday, June 15, 2010

cafezinho and the World Cup

Radio sports news (of which I listen to very little) is dominated right now by the World Cup. I'm no soccer fan (don't get the game) but I have my own little trivial soccer story to tell.

In 1978 I went to Brazil on a business trip with my boss. My two memories of this trip are soccer and cafezinho. (OK a third later)

Cafezinho is a really strong coffee Brazilians use almost as a greeting. Go anywhere for a meeting and every office will have this nice silver pot and a bunch of itty bitty cups. Before you do anything you must drink some cafezinho. I think a phonetic spelling of this is - caf-ay-zeen-yo. I was always amazed at how much sugar will fit into one of those little cups. As I recall the taste is strong and bitter - even with what seems like spoon after spoon of sugar. Another favorite Brazilian drink is Guarana. When I think of how much of both of these caffeine loaded drinks I had during my short stays in the country, it is a wonder I ever slept.

Memory #2 is a World Cup one. That year it was played in Argentina which for you geo buffs, is west of Brazil. Of course both countries were in the World Cup. To say that they were rivals is an understatement. The day Brazil played while we were there - everything came to a standstill. A ghost town on the streets. Argentina went on to win that year and Brazil finished 3rd.

One final memory of this trip - June in South American is more like our December, the beginning of winter - albeit milder. But it is cooler and less sunny. After a few days in Sao Paolo we flew to Rio to catch our plane back to the states. For some reason we had a really long - almost a full day - layover. My boss decided we should rent a car with a driver and go to see Corcovado. This is the mountain with the huge statue of Jesus on top.

If you can tell from this picture, the road to the top in very windy - curvy - nothing to do with wind. It was early evening, starting to get dark by the time we got there. To say the fast drive to the top in the fog was harrowing is putting it mildly. All the way up my boss is saying "faster, faster" and the driver is talking about hoping we might see something but he can't promise anything because of the fog. I don't think you can drive all the way to the top - I'm sure we had to climb some stairs to get the rest of the way. This was more than 30 years ago so my memory is "foggy".

We get to the top and in a miracle-like fashion, the fog cleared and you could see the humongous statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched. I think we just stood there for a few minutes and then headed back down. This time our hurry was to make our flight.

I didn't know at the time that Corcovado is one of the Seven modern Wonders of the World and one of two I have seen in person. The other being the Coliseum in Rome. Maybe I should put the others on my bucket list.

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