Thursday, March 31, 2022

The LOOOONG Voyage Back to Los Angeles from São Paulo via New York City


Sun.-Mon., March 27-28, 2002

Bart and Alex's flight home to Barcelona via Frankfurt wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:00 p.m. and my flight to Los Angeles via New York City was a red-eye departing São Paulo at 11:05 p.m.

Thus we decided to take a quick tour of São Paulo's two main sites in the morning before the 45 minute drive to the airport.

Our blue and gold Hotel WZ Jardin had a
decidedly different look in the morning

Our hotel's breakfast buffet was

After breakfast we checked out of our hotel but took full advantage of their offer to store our luggage until we left for the airport later in the day.

We were off to São Paulo's top site . . .

São Paulo's Roman Catholic
Catedral da Sé

Nice interior but a Sunday
Mass had just started

None of us felt that exploring the Catedral while Mass was being said was the right thing to do, so we hung back in the shadows.

It was a beautiful structure
to say the least

The Catedral's Baptismal Font

The nice plaza in front of the Catedral's entrance has, at some point, been turned into a homeless encampment with all of the accompanying aromas.

Before he dropped us off, our Uber driver had told us to be careful in this neighborhood.

Fortunately, the streets were somewhat empty at this early Sunday morning hour but still . . .

We opted to get another Uber ride to our second main tourist site in São Paulo . . .

. . . why a churrascaria of course!

Our first Uber driver this morning made the recommendation for us to have our final shared meal in Brazil for lunch at the Boteco São Bento.


The pulled beef croquettas were sensational as were the equally delicious mixed fried pastries, some filled with fabulous meat and others rich cheese.

Then our main dish to also share arrived . . .


Last night's dinner and this lunch were two fantastic examples of Brazilian churrascarias at their finest.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and Onças Week was a great thing indeed.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to collect our luggage and got our final Uber ride to São Paulo's airport for our flights home.

Once at the airport, I needed to
get proof of a negative COVID-19
test before being allowed on the plane

Bart and Alex already had their proof but I didn't. Thus we said our goodbyes in the airport's check-in area as they headed home and I needed to take my COVID-19 test at the airport's medical facility.

I took the 72 hour PCR test that promised results back within four hours. No problem as I still had six hours before my plane took off.

After only three hours, my test results came back with the desired negative for COVID-19 notation. I was good to come home!

I checked my carry-on bag as I did not want to deal with it any longer and if it did get lost, I would be at home with plenty of backup clothes until it arrived.

Once through Security and the Passport Check Station I was inside the waiting area armed with a good book to read.

Wouldn't you know it, our grandson Jacob was right.

Every city, and in this case airport,
does indeed have a McDonalds!

It had been once again hot, humid and very long day. I was drinking plenty of liquids when I saw this for sale in the airport.

A bag of salty Ruffles potato chips

I instantly recalled how back in 2010 while walking the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in southern France and northern Spain, a bag of salty chips like this really helped my recovery from the day's dehydration.

It worked like a charm today too.

It was nearing 11:00 p.m.,
time to bid a fond ADEUS to Brazil!

My red eye LATMA flight to New York City's
John F. Kennedy Airport was on time

OH MY GOD, I had at least
two inches of knee room!

It may not sound like much but it was a great comfort on my scheduled nine hour and 35 minutes flight to the Big Apple.

We made it on time after an
extremely smooth flight

I now had a three hour and 19 minute layover before my final flight aboard a JetBlue plane to Los Angeles.

NYC's JFK Airport has this throwback
TWA terminal and propeller plane
on display that threw me for a loop

It would be another six hours and seven minutes to Los Angeles and there would be some rough air pockets along the way but the JetBlue pilots got us home in one piece. Thankfully, I again had plenty of knee room.

It made for a total of 19 hours and one minute of travel time including the two flights and the layover in NYC, but it would be good to be home again.

As for my checked bag, it did not get to LAX with me, having not been transferred in time from my LATMA flight to my JetBlue flight in Gotham.

As I said earlier, no big deal as I had plenty of clothes now I was home.

My bag magically arrived on our doorstep the next day.

Once again, OBRIGADO to everyone involved for a wonderful experience with the Onças Week project in Brazil!

The Final Scrimmage of Onças Week and a Night on the Town in São Paulo


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Our week with the Onças was about to end but not before another full day of American football activities.

And what a great week it was!

William from the CBFA Board
at our morning Team Meeting
going over what was on our agenda
this final day of the camp

Here indeed is our
Saturday Agenda

Basically, it came down to time for several morning meetings leading to our final team scrimmage at 3:00 p.m.

It was still hot and humid and rain was in the weather forecast at just about the time our scrimmage was set to start.

We'll see . . .

Head Coach Brian Guzman
explaining the parameters
of this afternoon's scrimmage

Coach informed the team that we would engage in 12 situational drives on the day. The first 11 drives would start in predetermined situations both coming in and going out.

The final drive on the day would be based on the score of the scrimmage going into that drive.

If the Offense had the lead, it would be a Four Minute Drive trying to eat up as much time as possible.

If the Defense had the lead, it would then be a Two Minute Drive trying to waste as little time as possible while getting in position to score the winning TD or FG.

Coach Guzman explained
the scrimmage's scoring system

Coach came up with a simple scoring system that was part boxing's Ten Point Must system and part Marquess of Queensbury Rules.

In a nutshell, here is Coach Guzman's hybrid coaching system.

Touchdown = 6 points
Field Goal = 3 points
Two Point PAT = 2 points
One Point PAT = 1 point

Ok, the offensive scoring system was nothing unusual except that all Field Goal and One point PAT attempts would be uncontested.

We did no Special Teams work as a team this week. We only had our Long Snapper, Holders and Kickers practice their operation vs. air. It would be the same during the Scrimmage where the Kickers were able to convert on all three of their uncontested Field Goal attempts today.

Three and Out = 1 point
Turnover = 4 points
Fourth Down Stop = 3 points
QB Sack = 1 point
Touchdown = 6 points

The good thing for the Defense was that the only way we could score a TD is on a turnover. A player asked Coach if the Defense would get ten points for a Pick-Six or a Scoop-and-Score?

The answer was "Yes."

OBRIGADO Coach, we'll get back to you later today.

Our Linebackers holding an
impromptu walk-through after
our final Defense Team meeting

They wanted to be 100% sure mentally of all of our alignments, adjustments and checks vs. all of our Offense's looks.

Game Time!

It was time to board the bus for the ride to our well lined scrimmage field at Itapecerica da Serra's Parque Paraíso's Campo de Futbol Aliança.

The field looked great when we unloaded
from the bus and it was still not raining

It was scorching hot in the direct sunlight and humid to boot. Every fat guy's dream weather.

Checking the field out hours
before the start of the scrimmage
The community behind the stadium

Never forget, the other kind of
futebol is still King in this country

My roommate OL Pedro Sangaletti
resting after getting his ankles taped

It was still . . .

. . . a BEAUTIFUL day
for American football!

Still no rain in sight which was making the Offense feel much better.

Kicker warming up

The Greens

The Greens are a local American football team that provided us with all sorts of young men and women who served as water girls/boys and did all of the necessary but often menial tasks that a team needs to have done to have seamless, efficient practices.


Kris is the dynamic President
of the CBFA

She is a real go-getter who is doing a fine job along with the rest of the CBFA Board of Directors in moving our beloved sport forward in Brazil.

Coach Guzman's pre-scrimmage
address to the entire squad

Finally, it was time to
Hustle, Hit and Have Heart!

Our SS in the red helmet BLITZING!

I'm not too crazy about our DE's body language as he draws the OT outside to open the gap for our blitzer.

It always comes down to who
controls the Line of Scrimmage,
a.k.a., THE PIT

Celebrating one of our
two Defense's Pick-Sixes

That's a total of 20 HUGE Defensive points during what would turn out to be a 63 play scrimmage.

If you can run the ball,
you can win a lot of games

Modern Offenses though thrive
on throwing the ball


Guga about to make a tackle

Guga is the playing name of DB Gustavo Goedert who shared an Uber ride with me from the airport to our hotel when we both first arrived last Sunday.

#45 in the Barcelona Dragons helmet
is OLB Alex Posito

Alex joined Bart Iaccarino and me to form The Three Amigos in Brazil.

OLB Igor Mota
Onças Defensive Co-Captain
The Heart and Soul of the Onças Defense

Igor brings incredible passion and energy to the field every day, it does not matter to him if it is a practice or a game.

He only knows one speed, ALL OUT!

Over the many years, I have come across just a handful of players that possess Igor's mindset. They were all such a joy to coach!

Now as for that twelfth and final drive of the day, it was a Two Minute drive as the Defense, thanks in large part to those two Pick-Sixes, led 27-20.

That meant that an Offensive TD and a successful two-point PAT could still win it for the team in the white jerseys.

Time to BATTLE one last time!

The green shirted Defense rose to the challenge keeping the Offense out of the pay dirt area while accumulating two more QB sacks in including one to end the day.

Final Score
Defense 29 - Offense 20

By the way, the heavy rain that was expected never did show up, but I was still quite wet from the high humidity.

LOTS of smiling Defensive faces
at the end of the scrimmage

With DE Andrey Pereira and
OLB/Onças Defensive Co-Captain
Luis Polastri

They both encouraged me to grow my hair out like theirs.

I just might.

The Linebackers for one last photo

Left to Right: OLB Igor Mota, OLB Jefferson Martins, MLB Joao Holyfield, Coach Contreras, OLB Luis Polastri, OLB Alex Posito and MLB Giovanni Pichetti

What a great group to coach this week!

MLB Giovanni  Pichetti was also the
Onças' only Long Snapper this week

He had three perfect snaps today in helping the Offense score nine points off of three successful, uncontested Field Goal attempts that led to nine Offensive points.

With Defensive Coaches
J.P. Teran and Gui

Hey Coach Gui, where is your pencil?

The Three Amigos met on the stadium's concourse after the scrimmage to take advantage of their booming snack bar.

On a scorching hot, humid day is there anything better than an ice Brazilian cold beer?

Why yes, several ice cold Brazilian beers!

And meat of course, in Brazil
we HAD to have more meat, this
time from the stadium menu

That dog looked poised and ready for any miscue by our barbecue chef.

A nice look at the colorful village
behind the stadium

We were simply enjoying the moment so much at the stadium as they were setting up for a night of samba dancing.

When Coach Guzman alerted us that the bus was leaving for the hotel in five minutes, we countered that we would get an Uber ride home instead in order to finish the rest of our adult beverages and enjoy some Brazilian music.

Waiting for the Uber to arrive

We already knew that many of our players and coaches were going home tonight after getting back to the hotel to shower and pack.

The Three Amigos opted to be part of the evening exodus. We were able to say all of our goodbyes to everyone except our DB Coach Casey Frost who I throughly enjoyed working with this week, I simply could not find him.


São Paulo's airport is about a two hour drive from our hotel. We decided to take yet another Uber into São Paulo tonight, find a hotel and then enjoy some of the famed Brazilian night life.

The first order of the night after checking-in to our hotel was finding more Brazilian meat to consume.

CBFA Board Member William highly recommended a spot for our dining pleasure, so we took him up on it.

The Churrascaria Santa Fé was yet
another AMAZING dining experience!

OBRIGADO, William!

These meat or cheese pastries

Unfortunately, when it arrived, the meat was so spectacular with a rich flavorful aroma that I completely forgot about taking any pictures.

My basic caveman instincts were just too strong!

Fully sated, is was time to get young, single Alex into São Paulo's nightlife scene.

We headed to São Paulo's famed Vila Madalena district. 

Yes, people were indeed out and about

LOTS of people

Gritty but good!

We plunked ourselves down at a table just inside one of Vila Madalene's many bars and close to a refreshing oscillating fan and a good view of the the people strolling by on the sidewalk.

Even though it was about 11:00 p.m., it was still humid and that fan was a must if we were to survive the night.

We let Bart do the ordering and the next thing we knew our waiter arrived with a bucket of ice that also held a new bottle of vodka and about eight cans of Red Bull.

I tried Red Bulls by itself years ago and did not really like it.

Tonight, mixed with the vodka, the Red Bull truly gave me wiiings as their commercial likes to boast.

We were back at our hotel fairly early as we found out that São Paulo's bars close at 1:30 a.m. every night.

And they did.

An interesting building
in São Paulo

Our home for the night,
São Paulo's 25-story
Hotel WZ Jardins

It was a nice upgrade from Itapecerica da Serra's Hotel Del Verde.

What a GREAT week this was!

I can not say OBRIGADO enough to all of the people involved with every aspect of the Onças Week project for making me feel so welcome to the team and having organized such a positive event. 

Now for the long trek home on Sunday . . .