The first morning in Salvador was spent catching up with friends who had already arrived, and making plans for the day and roughing out how thing generally work here. This is where having Peter and Amy and the Buleys here has been so invaluable. It would've taken me two or three days to get as far as we got in a thirty minute meeting as a group. Getting your arms around how the most basic things work in such a short period of time was a gift.
After the Holland Mexico match we wandered a bit and the boys went to the beach to play some soccer and swim. This is where I caught up with them. After watching them work on a sand castle the size of a small house we headed for the apartment to get ready for dinner and our fateful meeting with Joseph Santini. Joseph has been, and continues to be, our most valuable resource on the ground in Salvador. From plane tickets to lodging and food and help with game tickets he has been unbelievable. He is a short man with a round and tanned physique, a great smile who has the eyes of a story teller. The reincarnation of an Irishman in a Brazilian. Comfortable in the company of strangers immediately putting you at ease. He is an enigma with a varied background. A Phd. in biochemistry, I'm told, who lives in Berkley some of the time and Salvador the rest, running a travel agency, the Magna Rosa Pousada, and the two restaurants on the premises. Since Joseph is Brazilian soccer is his the backdrop he uses to measure the events in his life. Each World Cup providing landmarks used as reference for other significant happenings is his life. The variety of topics he can address in one evening can make your head spin a bit. Whether you want to talk about vinho, or discuss the goings on in the soccer world, or the history of Salvador and Brazil he is your man. Needless to say he has gravitas. There is a bit of sadness in my heart realizing that Joseph is a character that, in all likelihood, I will lose contact with after we leave Salvador. The short friendship with a firm handshake and bear hug who will be a landmark for me to use as a reference for the goings on in my life.
Dinner was great. Connor and the boys demolished three pizzas and helped the adults clean up what was left of their dishes. I think Carson ate his body weight. Then we hit the streets for some barefoot soccer. Being the lone adult in the group with the boys had me concerned at first. I didn't want to get in the way of any fun they were having. It soon became clear that after a short spell of organization into three groups of three with games to two winners stay, I was just one of the boys. From Jayden Chong, who is ten years old, and myself at forty-four we had the beginnings of five generations covered. We were all equals on the street in Salvador. Some with quicker feet better skills and more acrobatic than others. All having a great time. Man of the match has to go to Jayden who held his own for the evening and scored four goals. The smiles and chatter made the extra night's stay in San Juan fade just a bit. Its' stain on my life washing away in the therapy of the game. We were eventually joined by Donato. I don't know where he came from and can't tell you anything that he was saying but we welcomed him into the fold, a perfect stranger, with a contribution in the recipe of play.
We wrapped up around 10:15 and turned in exhausted. At least speaking for myself. A good day with friends and strangers alike. Happy days. Signing off from Salvador wishing you fortune in friends and wisdom in life. Know that you will always have more than you need and never have less than you want.