Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Latest Adventures in America ...

Colorado, Beautiful Colorado ...

Montrose, Colorado (June 4-8, 2007)

Black Canyon National Park

Not even a week have I had to get used to Provo again and I am already taking off to Colorado. It’s my very first volleyball camp. It’s an eight-hour drive up to Montrose. In the car, we are in four: Chris, Josh, Dan and Me. I don’t know them very well. I had seen Chris watching one of the volleyball practices, I knew he’d played for BYU in previous years winning two national titles, but that was all. Josh was in the team in the beginning of the year, but left without I had the opportunity to meet him more closely. Dan is from New Zealand, he’s spending some of his summer in the States.

Colorado is perhaps my favorite state in the U.S. I've been there countless times and it always feels good to come back. I love the mountains, the aspen trees, the lifestyle. In Montrose, our daily routine is simple: during mornings and afternoons we coach volleyball, after that the fun really started. Chris, Dan, Josh and I head out to the fields in search of prairies dogs, Chris had brought guns and he taught Dan and I how to use it. While looking for prairies dogs, we jumped the rental jeep we were driving, and laughed our bellies off. With no luck and plenty of fun, we come back to the house.

Josh, Leandro, Dan, Chris

On one of the last days of the trip, our hosts took us to the Black Canyon National Park in the Gunnison Valley. The views blew me away. The precipice makes you dizzy and the rock formations take your breath away. _____________________________________________

Watching the sun set in the Glacier National Park ...
Conrad, Montana (July 25 - 28, 2007)
Driving across the state of Montana revealed a path of many different landscapes. First all we see is an endless road that seems to take you nowhere. Grass fields on the right. Grass fields on the left. As we progress in our nine-hour journey, we see slightly elevated hills with few trees and cattle here and there.

9-hour drive
Continue on driving and you will see crystal clear rivers, fly-fishing boats, a pace of life that seems unreal, a silence that makes you wonder. You’ll pass by some lonely houses. Keep going and will see wheat and barley crops all over on a multitude of green. You’ll see the Budweiser brewing its beer somewhere on your left. Take a nap! More wheat and barley ahead. Later, more cows eating grass. Seagulls flying by. You'll pass through a path of mountains. Keep going and you will see more wheat and barley and soon you will be in Conrad, a farming town of 2,000 people.

In this trip, Chris leads the way, then there is Rodnei and me. Once in Conrad, we teach volleyball to Conrad High School girls, mingle with the locals.Chris brought two guns, it doesn't take long for us to we head out to the fields to shoot some gophers. It was my first time, didn’t know what to expect. Shooting gophers feels cruel at first, but I soon understand that gophers have become an agricultural pest. I was told that the gopher's population needs to be closely monitored.
______________ .
In Montana, I feel like a farm boy. No worries. No papers due the next morning. The sun sets around 10 pm. The sky fades in pastel shades. The Rocky Mountains are far north. Antelopes run around, a herd of white-tail deer on the distance. There are mountain lions out there. Pelicans swim in a pond nearby.
Sunset at the Glacier National Park
Our trip ends up in the Glacier National Park. Rivers and waterfalls. You don’t know where to look, if you glimpse right to try to spot a Grizzly Bear, you’ll miss the stunning waterfall on your left. Ice melting everywhere, forming long-chained waterfalls hitting the boulders down the mountain. A mountain goat, white as the snow, eats weeds somewhere up above. We sit down and watch the sun set. It feels like you are part of an explorer’s painting. Orange shades give up to a pastel pink that vanishes away giving place to a large full moon hiding behind the mountains. It’s almost 10 pm and it’s time to head back.

Independence Day in the Summit County ...
Dillon, CO (July 1-5, 2007)

Lake Dillon

Coming back to Dillon brings great memories. I am excited to see Jan, Erin and Captain Riley. It’s been almost a year that I’ve been there. The mountains. The Lake. The rivers and creeks. All combined make of Summit County an unforgettable place. With the altitude of 9,000 feet, the air is drier than usual, the sun hits harder on your skin. It’s summer time. It’s time for a bike ride. 6 miles from Dillon to Keystone, then, 6 more miles from Keystone to Lake Dillon. Dillon. Enjoy the breeze and work out your legs.

Sean, Leandro, Jan in Breckenridge, CO

On a warm summer morning, I go fly-fishing with Sean in the Blue River. Fresh water. Thousands of trouts waiting to be caught. Sean is patient, teaches me lessons, I cast the pole, reel in nothing. Try again, try to improve the technique. Watch the master do it once again. Soon enough I catch my first rainbow trout. Then my second, and third. 21 is the number. 20 rainbows and one kokonee salmon. Pretty happy with the catch, we come back to the house and the salmon becomes dinner.________________________

On the 4th of July, streets are filled with blue and red. Fifty stars. The elderly and the young gather together to celebrate the most important American holiday, the Independence Day. Veterans are applauded and the thousands of voices sing the sing-along songs. Freedom is rejoiced. This is the land of the free. Orchestra playing in the background, violins and cellos, clarinets and trumpets. The maestro leads the show. ________________________

It’s quite hot, but people stand strong singing the hymns of freedom and bravery. It’s the American pride. Beautiful to see. There’s little patriotism in my home country, Brazil. I wish we could fly our flamboyant flags proud to be Brazilians on the Brazilian Independence Day. I only see such thing during the World Cup. Soccer is the Brazilian pride. That’s it!
After some music, we decided go to the Frisco Parade, Uncles Sam with big patriotic hats march on the streets. Corvettes line up, honking their horns. They throw candy to the crowds. Gangs of kids fighting for sweets, filling up their bags. Sweat running their down their faces. Some many Americans flags. Beer drinkers. Families and dogs. On the Independence Day, everybody becomes one.
I fly back on the 5th, rested and refueled.

Many Movies in Wyoming ...

Wright, Wyoming (July 16-20, 2007)

We land on the smallest airport I've ever been in. Three gates and small commuter planes take care of business in Casper, Wyoming. It fells good to touch the ground, two hours flying on a small, shaky, Embraer plane, scares the hell out of me. Stomach's turning.

In Wright, there isn’t much to do besides coaching volleyball. In cattle country of northeastern Wyoming, small towns reign absolute. Wright has a population of approximately 1,500 people and its economy is based on agriculture, oil, gas and coal. There are buffalo ranches, antelopes run freely around the town. All is plain in Wright.

Our hosts have a great collection of movies, from comedy to horror. It doesn't take long for us, Rod, Tyler and I, to pop the first one. Here's the list (BEST to NOT SO GOOD!):

Garden State
Fast Food Nation
Children of Men
House of 9
V for Vendetta (asleep before movie ended)

Again, Colorado!

Buena Vista, Colorado (June 23-28, 2007)
Buena Vista is a bit of heaven and maybe that’s why it is called Buena Vista which in Spanish means “Pleasant, Beautiful View”. Mountains both sides of the road. The Arkansas River fast flowing, an ideal place for rafting and kayaking. It was one the most beautiful rides I’ve ever taken. Rock mountains and the Colorado River. Pines trees and cool weather.

Buena Vista, or (Byoona Vista) as the locals say, is based on the foot of the Collegiate Peaks that take the names of some of most notorious Ivy League Universities – Mt. Princeton, Mt. Columbia, Mt. Harvard. It is a charming little town of approximately 2,500 people.

Buena Vista High School Girls

Josh, Tyler and I, come to Colorado trying to make the most out of this trip. Our host, Jamie, is an incredibly chill, down-to-earth lady, she takes us the hot springs in Mt. Princeton. A nice treat after a long day of volleyball. Build a little pool by the river, sit down and let the muscles relax.

The camp goes exceptionally, the girls work hard and we all have tons of fun.

On the way back, we drive up to Aspen, stop at the Independence Pass at an altitude of 12,095 feet to take pictures, shoot some video. Aspen is beautiful as expected. Million dollar houses. More mountains and pine trees. I can only imagine all of that covered with snow.
I’ll be back!

Tyler, Leandro, Josh

Saturday, July 14, 2007

De volta a Zion, digo Provo, assim se procedeu ...

Comment vas tu? Aqui encontro-me novamente, ainda um tanto deslocado, sigo a colocar as pendências em dia e a tentar estabelecer uma rotina. Resta ainda um apertãozinho que vem e que vai, sem mais nem menos, neste dias que se passam. Há tantas coisas nas entrelinhas.

A viagem foi longa. Trago nas malas os sorrisos, os abraços, as palavras. Revisitar transforma. E são nas quase 10 horas de vôo que muito me vem a mente. Imagens tão nítidas aparecem do lado de fora da janela do avião.

Sigo a longa estrada que me leva onde hoje estou, uma viagem retrospectiva , e bifurcações nas quais não sei bem onde vão me levar. Sigo em frente, comigo mesmo, da minha forma. Penso na família, tão singela, dos tempos que já não voltam, na infância do bairro do Nova Michigan, dos jogos de vôlei na rua, de bola caindo na casa do vizinho. Lembro-me de pessoas cujos nomes me falham, mas no entanto, suas faces vezes me vêm a mente. Lembro-me das aulas e dos meus alunos do Yazigi, de momentos toscos de importância cuja, muitas vezes, não sabemos reconhecer.

Dormi durante quase todo o vôo. Acordava, já dormindo. O avião aterrizava no aeroporto international de Dallas/Forworth, aeroporto de proporções gigantescas, às 6 da manhã. E então me dei conta de que realmente havia chegado; fila para imigração, implicância com o meu I-20. Cheguei.

Durante as 4 horas de conexão para Salt Lake City, matava o tempo com iPod nas orelhas, músicas aleatórias e Carolyna, alternava o passar do tempo com com livro do Bernardinho e observava o fluxo de pessoas. Aviões partiam. Gente chegava. Crianças loiras brincavam. Abria. E fechava o livro.

Ao desembarcar no aeroporto de SLC, missionários partiam com os seus crachás e ternos pretos. Cheguei a Utah! Pensei e ri comigo mesmo.

Mas ainda me restava uma viagem em terra até Zion, digo Provo. Embora cansado, decidi pegar um ônibus convencional, embora não soubesse as linhas que me levassem pra Provo. Arrisquei. Seguindo a intuição e fazendo uso do dom da fala, finalmente cheguei ao centro de Salt Lake City. Ao longe pude ver o templo e o famoso tabernáculo Mormon. Contemplei por um momento e então peguei um trem que me levou até a cidade de Sandy. No caminho observava a movimentacão das pessoas, que as duas horas da tarde, enchia o trem de com pessoas de todos os tipos; típicos caucasianos, trabalhadores, hispânicos, estudantes, ciclistas, missionárias, punks e desvairados.

Desci no ponto final e peguei um ônibus que me levava a Provo. Sentei-me ao lado de uma senhora que carregava muitas sacolas, aparentemente simpática, essa senhora sorriu para mim e começou a falar descontroladamente sobre coisas muitas estranhas. Percebi que se tratava de uma senhora louca. Minha única saída era ou saltar do ônibus em movimento ou tentar ignorá-la. Mas ignorá-la não foi o bastante, e sem energia para saltar do ônibus, fiquei ali sentado a olhar pros lado, e ela continuou a falar e falar e falar, mas desta vez, sozinha. Eu voava longe.

Ao chegar em Provo, uma placa dizia,


Alugo um quarto. Room #15. Dois roomates dividem comigo o apartamento, um americano, Mike, e um jovem de Bangladesh, Ujal, cujo tio ganhara o prêmio nobel da paz. Ambos aparentam ser pessoas tranquilas. Trocamos algumas palavras e nada mais. O americano, 22 anos, vai se casar em agosto com uma garota de 19 a quem "namora" a apenas 3 semanas. Escolhem as alianças e o terno a ser usado, parecem mais amigos que qualquer outra coisa, não vejo abraços ou beijos. Assim é como as coisas acontecem em Utah.

Já em Provo, aprecio a temperatura amena desta primavera em Utah. Cores explodem nos inúmeros jardins, montanhas agora verdes, céu azul, e uma tranquilidade que impacienta.

Guardo na memória e em fotos danificas e perdidas a viagem ao Rio, 4 amigos se reencontram, Copacana, Pousada Girassol, Photoshoots, Travessa Angrense ...

Guardo na memória o cuidado e amor da dona Vilma, a quietude e o bom coração do pai, os sobrinhos a brincar e a brincar, a Tita que já não liga pra mim, o reencontro com pessoas que significam muito. Revisitar faz bem.

E assim foi.
29 de Maio de 2007



Depois de algum tempo pensando, resolvi lançar um blog. A idéia nasceu da minha necessidade de escrever tanto em português como em inglês e espanhol. Este espaço representa um link no qual grandes amigos e família, especialmente para aqueles que estão a milhares de milhas longe de mim, possam saber um pouco do que acontece comigo. Este é um espaço onde vou postar contos, alguns escritos por mim, mas muitos outros compostos pelos grandes da literatura e outros textos que valham a pena. É também um espaço para discussões de temas atuais. Mas acima de tudo, este é um espaço de encontro e espero que vocês passem por aqui . Seus comentários são muito bem vindos.

After a while of debating with myself, I decided to launch a blog. The idea came out of my necessity of writing in Portuguese, English and Spanish. This space represente a link to my great friends and family, especially for those special ones who are miles and miles away from. Here, you’ll be up to date of what goes on with me. This is a space where I will post tales, some written by me, but many others composed by the greatest of literature and other writings that are worth being here. It is a place for discussions of current issues as well. But most of all, it is a place for exchange of what we have best and I truly hope you stop by some time. Your comments are well welcome.

Desde hace bastante tiempo he estado pensando en lanzar un blog. La idea nació de una necesidad mía de escribir tanto en portugués como español e inglés. Este es un pequeño espacio representa un link para mis amigos y familia para que sepan un poco de lo que pasa conmigo, especialmente para aquellos que están a millares de millas lejos de mí. Además, es también un rinconcito literario, de cuentos, algunos escritos por mí, pero muchos otros compuestos por los grandes de la literatura y otros textos que valgan la pena. Es también un espacio de discusión de temas presentes. Más que todo, es un rincón de intercambio de lo que tenemos de mejor, y yo honestamente espero que vosotros paséis por aquí. Vuestros comentarios son muy bien venidos.

Leandro Justen