The First World Cup of Powered Wheelchair Soccer

I got nervous when the international student office called.

Being that all I had to do was pass language exams upon my return from Portugal, my class attendance was a bit on the inconsistent side.

Instead they asked if I would help as a guide and translator for the United States team for the First World Cup of Powered Wheelchair Soccer, to be held the next week in Portugal.

Come again?

But it was real. And it ended up being the more rewarding experience of my time in Portugal.

After saying I would be happy to help however I could, they told me to meet a van from the cerebral palsy center in the main university square on Sunday morning at 5am.

Okay sure.

The night before I was to meet this van, the Cuban hip-hop group Orishas played at this gigantic student festival called the Festa das Latadas, which is a week-long “welcome back to school” celebration in the early Fall.

When the hospital workers called at 4:30am to make sure I was going to make it on time, Orishas had just finished their set. I came out of the giant festival tent to a driving monsoon. I ran a drunken and slippery mile in flip-flops to meet the hospital van and begin what would end up being a very long and interesting day.

The night before, I had told my friends that I’d be back in time for lunch the next day.

That was before both incoming groups missed their flights to Lisbon.

It was going to be a long ass day indeed.

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