It is a well known saying that the most dangerous lead in hockey is a two goal lead.  Apparently from my study of an entire one game this applies to soccer (or as it is known here – futebol) as well.

On my first weekend in Porto Alegre, while I mostly laid low and did some shopping for the apartment, more on that later, I decided to join a group of folks from the office who were heading to the local football match.  I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy/understand the game as I had never really watched it much before and when I did it was on TV.

Well, I loved it.  Yes, I think I might have finally found a round ball sport that I can enjoy.

First there was the atmosphere.  Before the game everyone was congregating anywhere they could near the stadium to have beer or other beverages.  We actually met up at a gas station that you guessed it, sold beer by the bottle.  They even had tables set out in their lot for folks use while waiting for others or the game.

Once we got into the stadium you could start to see the passion for the game.  At each end of the field there was a very vocal group of fans cheering in unison for their respective teams.  We were closer to the visitors end yet could hear the cheers from both ends clearly.  The rest of the stadium was clearly for the home team sporting their colors clearly and buying up new articles of clothing from vendors passing through the aisles.

Finally it was game time, and the local team, Internacional, was clearly dominating play by keeping the ball at their offensive end of the field and maneuvering quite well around the other team.  Well, just like in hockey, the sport I love dearly, that doesn’t always guarantee that you will score and that is exactly what happened here.  On a break away play the other team stunningly took a 1 goal lead.  This of course led to the eruption of the fans in the visitor section, followed by the cajoling of them by the rest of the crowd.  And only 10 minutes later the opposition scored a second goal, this one was one of those garbage goals that you never want to go in, well at least when you are on defense.

So, there we were, two goals down and I couldn’t help but think positively about the phrase “the most dangerous lead in hockey is a two goal lead” and hope, yes I was already becoming an Inter fan, that it would hold true in futebol as well.  So, long story short, it did.  Just before the end of the first half the score was narrowed to 2-1.  It then stayed that way for quite some time with the tying goal occurring at 75 minutes.  Finally the game winner was delivered at 85 minutes sending the stadium into a frenzy.  Anyone wanting more details can check out the game summary.

On the way out of the game I made my support official and bought an Inter hat. This means that I am with the majority of the office here in supporting this team.  There is another local team, Grêmio, that a few folks support.  It is quite a heated rivalry and sadly for the Inter fans, they lost the cross town battle last Sunday.  There is a rematch tomorrow, and given that the game ended 2-0, maybe that hockey saying can extend itself even further and give some assistance to SC Internacional as they head into enemy territory.

Believe it or not, there were a few things other that futeball that occurred during my first couple of weeks.  While the first days were primarily focused on working, after all I am here for business, there was a BBQ organized by one of the locals the first Wednesday night I was in town.  For a mere R$20, or about $12, I was able to buy into covering the cost of goods and eat my fill of meat as well as sip some beer.  This was not your average American BBQ with the weber grill, this was done in full Brazilian style with large skewers of meat cooked in open fire pits built into the walls of the common area of our host’s living complex.

There were a lot of cuts of beef and a number of sausages, including one that had a reasonable spicy kick to it.  Plus there were chicken hearts, now before reacting too much think about that Thanksgiving stuffing that includes the giblets.  They were amazing for exactly that reason, they had that homey taste of of a family holiday combined with the atmosphere of a BBQ.

Overall the night was quite fun as in addition to having a good meal I was able to get to know some of the folks from our office here in a non-work setting and catch up with others from the US whom I had not seen in a while.

Of course, given that we are a large and international company, we do have some vegetarians in our crowd, sadly it is hard to accommodate them.  This night, an attempt was made which sadly fell short.

In general, it is very hard for vegetarians in Brazil and even harder for vegans as so much of the food revolves around meat.  I even find myself eating more meat, and especially more beef than I generally do at home.  When I’m not having beef I am often having chicken and know that I have to find a way to get more fish into my diet here. I did try to cook some fish one of my first nights and it didn’t turn out all that well as either the fish itself was very salty or the spice mix that I used contained salt, I am betting on the fish as I did look at the ingredients when I bought the spices and was pretty sure salt (or sal) was not one of them, though I should probably check again.

That is another thing that it is taking time to get used to here, and that I might need to figure out a way to avoid, most of the food is very salty, especially the beef, where it seems as if salt is used as a tenderizer.  Since in the US we are very adverse to a lot of salt, my taste buds and my body are just not reacting well to this tendency.  And given that a very popular lunch here is steak and fries, often served with rice and an egg, and sometimes beans, this is not going to be an easy feat.

On my first Saturday in town I ventured out to find a few necessary items for my apartment.

I consider myself to have gotten quite a successful outcome in finding a good amount of what I need for what seemed like reasonable prices.  There were some options that were quite a bit more so I kept looking, in one case having to head to the back corner of the store to find the locally made, less expensive plastic containers which I desperately needed as very few things here are sold in re-sealable packaging.  Of course then I had to lug everything that I bought home, which is a bit of a feat given the final part of the journey is up a fairly large hill.

The second Wednesday that I was here there was a déja vu of two events, this time in unison.  There was an after hours all office meeting where we went to an off site location.  The first order of business was to let folks play some intra-office futebol and this was followed by, maybe you guessed it, a BBQ.  As folks were eating we did actually have an update about the goings on of the office and all of the visitors we expect to see over the next couple of months.

Then, that Friday, during lunch, some of the office responded to a futebol challenge by the PUCRS computer sciences faculty members.  Unfortunately the faculty won, however it felt as if their main advantage was that they had been playing together longer and that at the basic skill level the teams were close in skill level.

You may be wondering why the faculty of some random university challenged ThoughtWorks. Well, it’s not so random. Our office is actually located on the campus in the Computer Sciences building.

That’s all for now of my random thought and photo wanderings, stay tuned for my normal weekly post Wednesday morning (US time) when the upcoming entry will highlight the weekend I spent with a number of co-workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tchau,

Wendy

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