January 11, 2007 - 15:03
It's been over 9 years since I've traveled to a foreign country or even took an airplane until I got invited to the C&C3 Community Summit. I wasn't believing that I was going to EALA, because I still needed a US visa and I wasn't being able to get interviewed to get one. My luck changed one week before the trip, on a Friday night. EALA Predator was already asking me to bump me to other events when I suddenly browsed the Visa site to schedule me to February, so I could go to the Community Summit that will happen in February 2007. Surprisingly, there was a December 5 in green (which means available) over there. I've clicked that desperately without even looking at the screen properly. That action changed everything and, on the same day, my tickets were bought and I've started to prepare myself for this great adventure. I was very excited!

I had one week to get prepared for it and since it would be the first time I'd travel alone (the last time I was a kid and I've traveled with my family to Florida), I also needed to learn how airports and airplanes worked. I knew nothing. I had to buy several clothes (especially, but not only, for cold weather, since it's summer here in Rio de Janeiro and I don't use any kind of coat, jacket, even in the winter), fix my glasses, go to the medic because my middle finger from the left hand had an inflammation, buy dollars and figure out if Traveller checks were good enough to bring.. (in the end, I gave up of them), sort numerous problems in my university, especially a work from a teacher who told me he would reprove me if I didn't finish it in less than a week. It was a syntactic analyzer for a very basic C language. My syntactic analyzer had an infinite loop, but at least the lexical part worked. There were also some documents to write for the final project, but a friend has saved me on this one. I had to miss several classes and I've heard about more teachers scheduling tests in the day I'd arrive, but these tests would happen before I arrive at the airport. I also had to collect trailers from PPM and Revora hosted mods and prepare some sort of presentation to show there, and also collect feedback from the fans from both places. On the day of the trip, Saturday, December 9th, I had to sort insurance issues. That week was the most rushed week of my life where I've slept an average of 3 hours per day or less, powered by too much Coca Cola.

I've got my visa one day before my trip. Despite the continuous problems with the flight controllers in Brazil, the first flight (from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo) delayed only 15 minutes and the second (São Paulo to Houston), 40 minutes. My time in the airplane was exclusive to sleep, but that wasn't enough to cover my countless hours of extreme activity from the week. I've arrived at the Houston airport with a kinda bad impression of the place, I admit the original problem was more ideological. For all republicans out there, I hate George Bush and his son and the name of the airport was George Bush Intercontinental Airport. I was freezing there and the homeland security guy thought I was an illegal immigrant. I was saved by Predator's fax (originally made to the US consulate). Despite this minor problem, I didn't take long to understand how things in this place worked. Just follow the flow. Then, I had no problems in my flight from Houston to Los Angeles, except that I was even more frozen, even wearing a coat. The flight attendant offered me a blanket, but only after she left, I could check the dictionary and understand the meaning of the word 'blanket'. The fool here said no. I still regret that decision.

LAX was easier for me. I've quickly found the Duty Free Shop to buy some basic stuff and I've looked for electronic devices on near stores. I've figured out that everything (except for IPods and similar) is 2x, 3x or more times more expensive than similar stuff in my country. I've bought dollars here paying (R$ 2.30) for each, but even if one dollar cost one real, most of the things would still be expensive. So, the airport is a terrible place for shopping, but it was my only option... that and the EA store, of course. Los Angeles was definitely freezing for me since I was used to the 37' celsius from Rio de Janeiro (against the 8' celsius from LA). My coat protected everything below my neck, but my head was inside a freezer and the wind was strong. After 3 hours at the airport, shopping and looking for a phone and internet (both were extremely horrible, to be honest), I've taken a cab. I still had that feeling of 'What the hell am I doing here? Am I really in Los Angeles? Is that a dream? Wake up, man!'.

The city didn't surprise me at all.. it somewhat reminded me a bit of 'Barra da Tijuca' (a rich district in Rio de Janeiro). Big streets, most buildings were not high (that part differs), although there were few exceptions, too many houses and too much clean (that part also differs), it was kinda boring, at least that area had nothing to do (few stores, mostly for food and nothing attractive). As Hexetic said in one of his movies, I could see the EALA campus from the cab. The hotel, Ritz Carlton Hotel - Marina Del Rey, is a paradise. Definitely, the best hotel I've stayed in my whole life.

I arrived about mid-day at the hotel, and ...I'm gonna be honest here, I didn't know what I needed to do. I was wearing a BfME 2 t-shirt, so someone would figure out I'm in this summit and would 'rescue' me. I was rescued by Webboy, from MyCnC, a strong Chinese community. Great site, but unfortunately I can't understand anything written on it, except for a few words. I've got the keys (card) to my room and he showed me the whole stuff. The room had two very comfortable beds (those that you jump on it and it throws you at the ceiling). It had one of those huge plasma TV with many TV channels to choose, including HBO, but to be honest, I could also watch all these channels in Brazil. If I had a laptop, I could use the wi-fi from the room, but I still couldn't buy my laptop and this trip delayed my plans to buy one. The bathroom was amazing, very comfortable. He also showed me the stuff from the hotel such as the pool, business room, the lobby, gift shop, fitness center, and few others. I liked the business room (free *EA pays* internet). I could send a decent email to my family with it. Some minutes speaking to him and I've found Hexetic or Hexetic found us. That I was the moment I figured out that I wasn't pronouncing my nickname correctly. At least I've learned how to pronounce "Banshee".

I've spent the next hours between my room and the lobby talking to people. At first, it was kinda hard to get people's English, since I wasn't used to hearing and speaking English with such intensity. So, If I got distracted for a few milliseconds, I would miss some of the people's words and the whole context of people's sentences. That made me become kinda shy on the first day, but in the following days, my English improved considerably. I've met other people like Jason from Strategy Informer, Sledgehammer from Big Time Tournaments, Crimson, Renardin, Assassin, JohnWE and others. I also had the opportunity to meet Hostile, my partner from CnC3.net/Revora, who gave me a kick-ass limited edition CnC3.Net mug. There were two other problems that day. One is that the batteries from all my equipment were low, because of the flights. I had to recharge everything, except the mp3 player that I didn't use in the whole trip. The other problem was the timezone. When it was 7:00 PM in LA, for my body it was 1:00 am. I was sleeping (I've tried to resist to sleep, but I've failed on several occasions) in the lobby with a bunch of people talking and meeting each other. Where is the damn coca-cola to wake me up? Anyway, it was about 7:15 when I came to my room to get my recharged camera and cell phone (useless, except to find out what time is it in Rio de Janeiro). When I came down to the lobby again, nobody was there. HAHA! That's a nice start!

People went to Barra Cantina, a Mexican food restaurant. The staff from the hotel placed me in a taxi that brought me there. Then, I've met EALA Predator in person and he was very kind to me. I've drunk the uber coca-cola of the doom and, suddenly, in a step of magic, I was totally awake again. The menu had several options that I couldn't translate very well (where was the dictionary when I most needed it). My wild guess was good and I ate chicken in a mass with some random stuff and the chicken, as usual in the USA, was full of peppers. My mouth caught fire, but the coca-cola saved me. It was a fun moment, I could talk with several people, especially Jason. Someone asked me about TAKTICS, but I couldn't remember who. When we've returned from Barra Cantina, I could talk to Hostile about CnC3.Net and Revora before going to sleep. EALA Predator told us to be ready at 8:30 am. When I returned to my room, I finally met my roommate, Cabal, from CnC World.

Go to the Next Part -> Part 2: Invading EA...