2 Jun 2008

The national meeting and saying goodbye

Posted by walterheck

We organised a big couchsurfing meeting for the end of May. Thursday was a national holiday, so by organising events for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday people still only had to take 1 day off from work or studies. Belo Horizonte is more or less in the center of Brasil, so people wouldn’t have to travel so far. Of course the biggest groups of people came from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo (these two cities have the biggest communities in CS in Brasil). That said, we also had people coming in from Bélém, Salvador, Maceio and even Manaus. If you’re living in Brasil, you will know how special it was to have people from that far away coming all the way to BH “just” for a cs meeting. More after the jump…

So, we had 250 people and 4 days full of events. It was quite the thing to organise. Unfortunately we had some problems between us organisers. Personally, I can be one of two types of organisers: The in-control type, knowing exactly every detail of every activity on every day. The other type, I’ll call him “the follower”, just does what he is told and nothing else. To be somewhere in between is very difficult and frustrating for me. In this case, I started as the in-control type, but slowly became “the follower”-type because of friction between me and one of the other members of the organising team. She got a lot of stuff done, but unfortunately was kind of a control freak. None of us wanted to confront her with all of this, partly because she was doing so much stuff. Let’s just say there was a lot of cultural difference and it was a good (although sometimes tough 🙂 ) learning experience.

The first night of the meeting we had a party in a bar in the city center. Even though we had planned this to “just” be an opening party with nothing special (just an opportunity for people to get to know each other) this turned out to be our main party. Around 250 people danced and drank the night away.

I manned the t-shirt selling booth, Felipe got completely drunk (because he was so excited about the meeting and frustrated about the organization), Vanessa was managing signups for the trip to Ouro Preto and welcoming people and Ricardo was welcoming people and after that he went home to take a well-deserved shower (we had been so busy organising that there was no time before the party to do that).

The party was a blast! Everyone had a really good time, and even in the t-shirt booth I had a good time talking to all the people that passed by. Unfortunately we made a grave mistake: someone stole all the income from selling the shirts that night (some 350 reais). None of us were completely sober (maybe that was our mistake, but I was just too frustrated from the problems organising). Felipe and Ricardo saw me put the money in the bag of shirts 5 minutes before we left. By that time, the only people still at the venue were the people working there. The only person that could have gotten his/her hands on the money was one of the people working at the bar or the taxi driver that brought us home.

I stayed the night at Felipe’s place because that was much easier than returning home in the middle of the night. The next morning (or rather, a few hours later J ) we had to get up to organize the amazing race that was planned for Friday during the day. Since we had moved the starting point of that race a few days before, we decided someone should be present at the old starting point to catch people that would show up there. I happily volunteered for this. Also, I didn’t want to have too much to do with the organization of the amazing race. Frustration took the better part of me on that topic, so I decided to back out and do only the necessary.

I went to Praça da Liberdade and fell asleep there, waiting for people. In the end I never saw anyone, but later heard that someone had seen me but was afraid to wake me up, haha.

After that, I returned to meet Felipe and Vanessa (Ricardo had to work this day because of some important meeting, lucky bastard J ). The rest of the event I kept quiet and just followed them to just do what was absolutely necessary. In the end this event was very successful, for which Vanessa deserves the credit.

The amazing race had a bunch of challenges, some more difficult than others. One of the challenges Felipe and me thought of in a short unserious brainstorming session weeks before was: “make a picture of your team inside a swimming pool (naked=bonus points)”. We never for one second actually thought of the possibility that anyone would complete it, let alone do the bonus part. Much to our surprise, two out of 8 teams successfully managed to complete this task.

In the evening, the race ended up in “Parque Guanabara”, basically a carnival (or “kermis” in dutch) that never moved. We had a nice party there, showing the pictures from the race on a big screen. Especially the pool challenge pictures yielded a big round of applause. The party ended at midnight (that was when the park was closing), and I went to Juliana’s home with her, her guests and Felipe. We drank some cachaça there and apparently I fell asleep. We spent the night there and had a nice breakfast the following morning.

For this day we had two activities during the daytime: a road trip to Ouro Preto and Mariana and a picnic (with option for a hike) for the less active/less rich surfers (I consider myself the second category J ). Vanessa had organized two busses for the trip to OP, but due to some bullshit by the bus-company, we lost the busses at the last moment. We had never thought of signing a contract with them (we did make a downpayment and wrongfully assumed that would be enough of a reservation). Vanessa was quite upset, but in the end she found new busses to transport the people to Ouro Preto.

Meanwhile, Ricardo, Felipe and me met up at Praça do Pape, the square with the most beautiful view over BH. Me and Ricardo stayed there with all the picnic people, while Felipe took the hikers up to the top of Serra do Corral (the hill-range above Praça do Pape). I wanted to go hiking, but I knew I was gonna need all my energy later that day, so I decided to stay at the praça.

In the evening (after a one hour power nap at Ricardo’s place) we organized a mad hatters party. Basically this is a normal party where everyone wears a weird hat. Ricardo and me got to the venue, only to find out that there was only one person on-site less than half an hour before the club was supposed to open. On top of that, we found out there would be two other parties going on at the same club on the same night. We were afraid they overbooked, but in the end it turned out the place would just be well filled. All of us organizers were completely exhausted by this time, barely holding on to the end of the party.

I was the organizer responsible for the Sunday morning excursion around Mercado Central and the fair at avenida Afonso Pena. After the party I rounded up all the people still able to walk to go to Mercado Central. We walked towards Afonso Pena, but slowly one by one they all started to go home. In the end I waited by myself at the meeting point for half an hour. After that I decided to go home since no one had shown up yet and I had to finish packing my bags to leave later that day.

I went home, slept for an hour or two and then finished packing my bags. I said goodbye to Vilmar in more words than we had exchanged in the weeks before that (which still was not a very long conversation J ).

I had organized a ride back to São Paulo with some surfers, so I went into the city to meet them. First however I had to meet my friends to say goodbye to them and to take care of the last organizational things. We had a nice lunch together and after that it was time to leave. My good friend Bruno accompanied me to the place I was meeting Rodrigo and his friends, and we all decided to go to a place high above the city to enjoy the sunset from there. I had been to this place before, but it was very nice to see it one last time before leaving the city. After that, we went to the place where Rodrigo and his friends had been staying. It was a beautiful place almost on top of one of the hills in BH with a beautiful view.

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4 Responses to “The national meeting and saying goodbye”

  1. And then……? Sorry, but I’m really curious about your travel adventures. Anyway, it sounds like your meeting was a succes (despite the organisational difficulties). I hope yopu managed to enjoy yourself with all that planning and hard work.




  2. Congratulations for the succesful meeting!



  3. hello, Alexander Supertramp (may i call you that way? lol)

    you seemed so introspective in/on/at the meeting. (i always get confused with those prepositions…)
    i had pictured you as a quite extrovert person after reading your blog (yeah, i did it – eagerly -, weeks before i met you), but i barely heard your voice during the four days of meeting…
    now i think i have a better idea of your and other organizers tiredness at the moment. (i did’n know about the cash stealing thing! o_0)

    i don’t know if you remember me, but i’m so glad of being part of CS’ history (my team was one of the freaks that did the bonus points, yay!) and of your adventures in Brasil, even if it’s just like a spectator – i’m following your posts since the one on which you tell about your plans of coming to my country. and now i almost drop a tear when i read the end of the story (seriously! it could turn into a book or something).

    well, i have to thank you for the cultural exchange (you don’t need to pronounce a word to change someone’s life) and wish you good luck in your new way into the wild 😉



  4. Walter, my friend… Any chance of me seeing those bonus point photographs?