Friday, July 18, 2014

A year after, JMJ Rio, Ready, Steady & Go

16/07/2013: The long awaited gathering

The first morning in my new accommodation at the nun's convent of Saint Joseph. We went early most of the volunteers staying there to the Cathedral for the 2nd time to get our volunteer kit. It was the 1st time to walk from the convent to the metro station, a descending road taking about 15 to 20 minutes. It was easy and the view was a nice as you can see from far away Corcovado and El Redentor (Redeemer). It was a lovely walk.
Meeting Chiara from Italy,
just before getting my badge

We arrived at the Cathedral and there were lot of volunteers as well but everything was going on smoothly.. at some point i was near the end but didn't reach it and they were calling for those in countries with few volunteers since it won't much time to find the badge and then go and collect all the stuff and of course Egypt was among those countries with small representation.

After i fetched my kit and was waiting on the outside, i met the 6th Egyptian volunteer which turned up a girl I've met the year before. It's a small small world! 
I also met the 3 musketeers, a.k.a the 3 Jordanians I already knew from facebook and whatsapp and 2 from Palestine.
For once we could speak in Arabic without the need to translate from one language to another.
4 Egyptians, 3 Jordanians, 2 Palestinians and others
After picking up the kits, i went to meet the rest of my friends. Long before we travel we have decided to gather all for lunch and our Brazilian friends have reserved in a restaurant not far away from the Cathedral. We ended up a bunch of 40 people walking in the streets going out for lunch. I was following my GPS, i gave my Egyptian flag which was now mounted on a big stick to a friend so the rest can see and follow us. We literally charged in the restaurant. Imagine like 40 people in a restaurant. This was the best restaurant ever, Kilograma. The food is served as open buffet, you pick up whatever you want but you pay according to the weight. I later on discovered that this concept was in many restaurants in Rio but it was totally new to me. I ended up paying a bill of around 36 Reals, i was fearing i would surpass the 40 Reals limit of the day with the food card.

After the restaurant, some went for a walk before going to the Cathedral for the mass for volunteers, me and others went straight to the Cathedral. On our way, i tried my first açai. It is a sort of fruit like berries with dark purple color but crushed and iced and you just eat it like ice cream or use a straw and drink the melting liquid.

At the Volunteer mass
At the cathedral we attended the 1st mass of the JMJ. It was for all volunteers. It was so crowded, full of volunteers from all around the world. Although most of the mass was in Portuguese, i enjoyed it, specially the hymns that were sung.

After the mass, when i was outside, a reporter saw me with the Egyptian flag, taking a photo with other people. He asked me if i can make an interview. It was much fun, he was a Brazilian reporter and speaking little Spanish and I tried to answer his questions in Spanish although it has been ages since i spoke Spanish and I had to work hard to find the right vocabulary. Of course, his questions were about Egypt, how it is to live there, if there are any problems for Christians and so on... later on in other interviews it was the same subject, same questions because Egypt was on the news.

On my way back to the accommodation, i lost my way because it was dark, i didn't remember the exact street and I was on my own. I found out that the area is all residential, no shops, no one to ask about the way. Even when i found a doorman in a building, he didn't know about the convent then a passing guy, came with me and we walked till we found it. Many Brazilians speak only Portuguese, especially the elder. Thank God I arrived safely but it was already late and raining and the nun in charge was kind of worried because i was late. I make a mental note to save the location on GPS, to know the name of the street and to return earlier.

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