As the child of a safety officer and a lawyer, I can't help but feel slightly guilty posting about the escapades of the Chamber Singers in Brazil today. Not that we weren't safe or legal (don't worry Mom; we were!), but the standards for safety and legality in Brazil are so radically different from Canada that I think we all experienced a little bit of culture shock.
For starters, we as a choir piled onto the bus by 8 am for a day at an oceanside beach about 20 minutes away from the hospitality centre. Roberto, our translator, informed us that Fortaleza is home to one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, and we agreed with his assessment wholeheartedly! White sand, blue water, scorching sun, crashing waves, and even a couple horses thundering down the sand created a perfect atmosphere for our first full day in the country of Brazil.
To kick off our beach experience, we loaded into a couple of local fishing boats and took a swim a kilometre out to sea, floating in the ocean waves. After ooh-ing and ah-ing over the waves and the boats, we returned to the beach and hopped onto several dune buggies, driven by professional buggy racers for a death-defying roller coaster ride across the sands of Fortaleza. No seat belts, no training videos, no helmets, and virtually no rules made for a white-knuckled ride for some, and a hooting and hollering good time for others!
There were stops made for zip lining into the ocean, tobogganing down the sand, photo ops with mountains and beaches, and races up and down the dunes. Similar to an amusement park ride -- minus the safety harnesses and roll bars -- the dune buggies topped out at approximately 120 km/hour, though I believe there are a couple of chaperones prepared to swear that some of us drove significantly faster than that.
After a delicious lunch of fresh-caught red snapper, tilapia, garlic shrimp and traditional Brazilian sodas...
...we loaded up the sun-burned choristers and spent the evening worshiping with a Brazilian congregation several miles from the compound. Professor Cameron McKenzie preached through a translator, and the choir enjoyed singing several pieces with a congregation of incredibly enthusiastic locals.
Dinner at 9:00 pm was another traditional Brazilian meal of rice, beans, sun-dried beef and chicken, and more local beverages, and we finished up the day discussing our struggles and triumphs adjusting to the rhythms and orders of South American life. Just before midnight, we wrapped up our discussions beside the pool in the compound, and the sun-scorched, travel-weary, but very happy choir headed to bed to do it all over again at 6:00 am tomorrow.