Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Santos: Long Walks and Old Men

In Santos, we worry our movie will be about us getting fat around the world: here we are in Trinidad, all fairly lean, here we are in Brazil, showing signs of being fed extravagantly by unbelievable hosts. To combat the massive intakes of food, we nix taxis and buses and go on 6 or 7 km walks between destinations. Santos is divided into regions by seven canals and we count each of them as we walk along the beach garden, ranked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest of its kind. Gwendolyn steps in wet concrete, literally leaving her footprint on Brazil. Ryan's stepping-in-something story is worse: as Rebekah starts shooting a game, Ryan walks off to scout out a wide-angle shot. He stands there for some time, pondering different angles of the quadra, questioning the inclusion of a tree, studying the light. He turns to walk back, feels his foot slip, and realizes that for the past ten minutes, he'd been standing in a pile of dog poop, the only pile of dog poop anywhere around.

On Monday, we're given press passes to watch the Santos men: we note that there are way fewer tricks in a professional pactice than a pelada. When a coach who decides your fate is watching, people are less keen to try and rainbow their way out of the back.

The following day, we play with the Santos women on the beach. While Gwendolyn is usually the only girl playing with guys, this time Luke is the only guy playing with meninas. None of them played on organized girls' youth teams. All of them learned their tricks na rua, on the street. You can see other games up and down the beach--goals made out of anything from upside-down bicycles to flip-flops, sidelines drawn into the sand.

On the field beneath our window, the old men play on Sunday mornings. At 6am, they begin to show up, sitting on the ledge of the canal. At 6:30, they walk through a fruit and vegetable market to a corner cafe, stirring sugar into their coffee and arguing over the Corinthians game. At 7, they walk through the gate to the field and sit at plastic tables at the not-yet-open bar. At 7:30, they head for the locker room. We wonder how many locations they can squeeze into pre-game. At 8am, the game finally begins.

They play well, they play hard, and they fall frequently, making wild hand-gestures and fighting over whether the tackle was clean. When Gwendolyn comes on, they laugh and smack their thighs, as though she is the unusual sight, when they are the seventy-year-olds shimmying down the field, their knees only occasionally buckling. They shout in each others' faces: "You just passed it to my knees," "He's a trashcan, he's a trashcan, pass the ball to me," "This game will be shown all over the world and that's the ball you play?" They're highly opinionated, as they all have over half-a-century of playing experience.

In the locker room after the game, there are many wrinkled butts and they are not at all camera shy. Ryan does his best to avoid full frontals. We don't want a senior-citizen schlong to leave us with an NC-17 rating. They talk trash and tell Luke that it's time for the third half--cervejas and a barbecue. We share toasts with the veterans and leave for São Paulo...

1 comment:

cz said...

I love the old guys! I can't believe that nobody has posted a commentfor them yet. Their little group has so much character about them and that makes them one of my favorite groups in the movie.