Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monte Hermoso and the World Famous International Frisbee Tournament (this is a long one folks)

I must begin with an apology for disappearing like this, I know it must have been hard for some of you (Mia) who ignored previous posts mentioning that we would be going away for the three day weekend for a beach Frisbee tournament. I recognize that I should have posted right before leaving saying we would be away, but of course we are us and packed like crazy at the last second and I had no time. Of course when we arrived at the designated meeting spot (the Burger King in Plaza Italia) a few minutes late we were the second ones there only to be beaten by another couple from the US. We had a good laugh about how we still have yet to adjust to the lack of punctuality here. Turns out we had plenty of time anyway because the gas stations were on strike and refused to pump any gas. Our bus was an hour or so late because it had to go back to wherever it came from to make sure it had enough gas for the trip. Typical!
But let me start at the beginning...a very good place to start:
This weekend was a three-day weekend celebrating the Immaculate Conception and what better way to celebrate this miracle than with a Frisbee tournament on the beach in Monte Hermosa (ONLY a nine hour bus ride away from Buenos Aires). We left Friday night and the party began before the bus arrived. Whisky, Fernet (the perteño favorite) and beer circulated the ever growing crowd and the party continued on the bus. I of course had not napped that day thinking it would be wise to be as tired as possible for a nine hour bus ride, but for a few hours everyone was running around, playing and listening to music, and taking field trips to the bottom or the top deck of the bus (yes we had a double decker bus!!) Some of the porteñas had homemade alfajores (an amazing Argentine snack involving cookies filled with dolce de leche), we had our PB&J sandwiches, and everyone else had their jamon y queso sandwiches (the PB&J of Argentina) and all was shared as is the culture here (much to the delight of our US friends who had not consumed an ounce of peanut butter since arriving). Honestly I could probably write a whole post on the culture of sharing here, but let me just say I was meant for this place. Everyone who knows me knows I love to share my food, but even more I love to share other peoples food. Here people usually don't even ask, they just gently take whatever it is you are consuming from your hands, have a bite or a sip and give it back. Other times someone will just pass their food or drink around without being asked to. Everyone participates and everyone benefits! At parties there will often be no glasses even though people rarely have personal bottles of beer. Instead beer is generally bought in 1 liter bottles and at parties they are passed around by a group of people until it is finished or set down on some surface until another person passes by and takes it up again. Germaphobia does not exist here however liters of beer are the only beverage where it is ever appropriate to drink from a bottle. Any other time it must be done with a straw if one is on the go, or with a cup if you are at a restaurant. Even at the gas station cups are automatically handed out with your Gatorade, juice or soda. It’s amazing.
I also met some new people, and talked to this new guy Dave from Australia who happened to be passing through Buenos Aires on this particular weekend. He is a Frisbee fanatic and so of course found our website and agreed to pay the three hundred pesos for the trip. This is just one example of the spirit of Frisbee. People who love it play it everywhere they go whenever possible.
Finally everyone began to settle down (as did my stomach after getting rather angry at me for consuming such cheap whisky) and Josh and I nestled into our seats. Now something you should know is that the buses in Argentina are amazing. This was the cheapest level of bus and the seats go back waaaaaaaaaaaaaay farther than any coach bus I've ever been on. They also have these amazing leg rests that come down from the seat in front of you giving you a very comfortable semi reclined resting place. Add Josh's shoulder and sweatshirt to the equation and it equals me passing out hard for a good five hours.
Before we fell asleep though, Josh touched my shoulder and told me to look out the window. My eyes opened wide when I saw the amazing display of stars out my window. I could only see a quarter of the sky, but it must have been the good quarter. The Milky Way was practically vertical here instead of horizontal and continued very close to the horizon. I could see Cassiopeia on the horizon as well and realized I had never seen any stars this close to the horizon (even in Great Barrington where the light pollution is almost non existent), but there were too many stars for me make out much else not to mention my armature star gazing status. It was breathtaking though, and I felt small and safe in my double Decker bus. I gazed out thinking my thoughts until I must have fallen asleep.
I awoke around five hours later with a bursting bladder and was forced to use the bathroom, and we arrived shortly after.

Nick waking up on the bus next to Daniel
Nice shot of Daniel looking out the window

Our bus outside the apartments we stayed at. Do they even have deer here? The picture speaks for itself.

Josh and I were staying in "the apartments" which were really like very small town houses. Our "apartment" consisted of us, both the Nicks and a guy named Andrew. He's older than us and has a real job but is from the States and has been only one month longer than we have. It was nice to stay with him because he's also new to Frisbee (well not the game, but the Buenos Aires league) and I had not had the chance to speak with him much before. Turns out, like everyone else he is really cool, nice and great to be around. Shocker. Is anyone who plays Ultimate not cool?
We had arrived at nine, and began to play at 11. In the mean time we foraged for food in the small town of Monte Hermosa and cooked up an historic breakfast of eggs before liberally applying sunscreen and heading out to the beach.
When we arrived 2.5 minutes later (we were one block from the beach) we were greeted with a very professional playing field. The field was outlined in red flat ropes and there were big Monte Hermosa flags on at the back of both end zones. There was a scoreboard and a tent to huddle under when el sol got too hot. The whole thing was ridiculously professional.
We had been divided into 6 teams on the bus, five people on the field at a time. My team consisted of our Captain Steve (from the US but living here for a very long time) Katsu (Japanese), Sabina (porteña), Juliana (US study abroad), Felipe (Columbian), Factura (porteño), and Alejandro or something (not sure his deal). Our team name was Katsumaki combining Katsu's name and the Japanese word for a hurricane. We won our first game and lost our second. I played pretty well and even scored in one of the games (I think against Aguavida (jellyfish in Spanish).

Josh's team was called Super Hands. Here Betti, Andres and Nick get ready to continue play.

Here are those of us who were not playing enjoying some maté on the sidelines.
We realized the games were too long and the sand was at times unbearably hot, and packed it in after all the teams had played two games. I gleefully ran to the ocean for one last time that day and then it was back to the apartments for a shower and some cards before dinner.

The city of Monte Hermosa at dusk

Dinner was at this ridiculous beer fest that was happening in honor of the opening weekend of the beach. There were tables set aside especially for us and the crazy tall dude on stage dressed in a ridiculous German outfit singing German beer songs in Spanish gave us a shout out.

Our long tables filled with exhausted players

Yet people still dance after little sleep and exerting themselves all day

I was not kidding about the crazy German Dude

As we waited in line for some food he began to sing New York, New York and Nick and I decided to leave the party early. Both not in the mood for it and were exhausted we found a cute local place and had some steak. Of course there was one waiter for the whole place and it took us 40 minutes to order let alone eat, but my Steak A La Raul was fantastic. After dinner Nick got this ridiculous popsicle stick that came with an extra piece you could attach to rotate your popsicle stick. The picture speaks for itself and the absolute absurdity of the situation:

We passed out before one and woke up much more revived then some of our other friends who had stayed up till three. This morning Nick had cooked breakfast (eggs again) and after a fortifying breakfast of eggs and beer we hit the beach for a serious day of Frisbee.

Each team had to play five games! The games were shortened, but still, that's a lot of Frisbee for a girl who hasn't exercised this much since high school.

The games begin on the even hotter sand the next day

Poor burnt Juliana and happy unburnt me!! I was OBSESSIVE with the sun screen!!

Josh tries to block Andrew but he still makes a back hand throw

My action shot!! I actually threw the Frisbee...and it went to a person!!

My personal highlight was an amazing block I made. I was guarding an impossible tall porteña whose name escapes me at the moment and the disc was thrown towards her in the end zone. Now defense is not one of my strong points yet (well I'm not really sure if I have any yet) but this girl was very hard to guard seeing as she was fast and tall. Anyway, so we are racing towards the end zone, the disc has almost arrived at its destination, and at the last second I jumped into air, leapt higher than maybe I ever have before, and threw my arm in the air with all I was worth. As I flew through the air in slow motion my hand made contact!! And I smashed the disc to the sand with as much force as possible. I fell to the ground and rose to cheers!!! Another thing about the spirit (or in Spanish espiritu) is that sportsmanship is taken to a new level. Even the girl I had blocked congradulated me. It was great.
I didn't feel so great though during the rest of that game. The sand was unbearable hot even though starting the day before those in charge had taken my suggestion of watering the field in-between plays and games. It was so hot out that the entire field was never wet at once, and my already sensitive feet from the day before were in agony. As I cut into the end zone to look for a pass I literally heard yelps coming from my mouth and also from the mouth of my mark. We ran back to some damper sand practically screaming in pain. This problem was later solved with the use of socks, but I can tell you playing beach Frisbee in socks is no picnic either.
After four games and as many trips into el mar (the sea) my team played for third place. I was so tired I can honestly say that I never stopped trying, but I took myself out because I was helping no one. My legs were shaky and my defense was only helping the other team. We took fourth, but it was a close game and I was just glad it was over and I wouldn't have to play anymore.
I spent the rest of the time taking pictures and watching Josh win the finals and watching the sun set over the beach. It was beautiful.

The start of Josh's final game: jersey's are donned

Frisbee at dusk: Josh is on the right in red

Josh's team wins!!!!

Josh leads his team through the tunnel

Felipe, Myself, Diego and Josh after the finals

Afterwards I helped clean up a bit and then Josh and I waded in the rising tide watching the end of the sunset. It was cloudy but there was an oval hole in the clouds letting in rays of sunlight. It looked like a Michelangelo. We just stared at it and marveled at how unbelievable and incredible lucky we are. The decisions that brought us to this country weren't luck, but the incredible good fortune we have had from our family's support to meeting these incredible people (we have Nick to thank for that) and then this beautiful weekend at an incredible beach...well enough of the sap, you get it, it was amazing.

We headed back up the beach cold but happy and hit the shower in a bit of a rush seeing as our bus was leaving in ten to take us to a golf club for an asado. Surprise surprise we were the first ones on the bus. I should just set my clock back.

Andres plays some guitar as the sun finally disappears

We got off the bus at the end of a long dark driveway, but colorful candles lighted our way our friend Paula had brought with her from Columbia where it is a tradition to do so on the day of the Immaculate Conception. It was beautiful.

Paola smiles with her colorful candles

We arrived at this cute little "club house" that seemed to me to be in the middle of the woods so I'm not sure where the golf was...but no matter. We sat at long table and were served salad, beer, wine, soda and many different cuts of beef. First there was chorizo, then there was bife de lomo, vacio, ribs, you name it. By the time they were bringing out the last cuts I was so full I was wishing I were at home on the couch so I could unbutton my pants. Lucky for me there was no dairy to be found at this meal or I really would have wished I were home.

One side of my table

The other side. Notice mouths always open cause that meat didn't stop coming!

Now it was time for DJ to turn the music up and for the dancing to begin. Time to work off some of that beef. We danced for a while and then it was time for the closing ceremonies. Medals and trophies were handed out (I wasn't joking about how professional this whole thing was) and superlatives were given. My favorite team, Disco Flash, won most spirited, and my friend Felipe who was on my team won MVP. Josh got a moment in the spotlight when his team was given an enormous trophy for first place, and then the dancing began again.

Josh's team receives their absurdly large trophy

Dave wins the Superman award for best lay outs and a book of Superman comics...in Spanish of course.

Emory's pose pretty well represents the craziness of it all

Somewhere in the middle of the night Josh and our friend Juliana taught everyone Solda' Boy (who can rest easy knowing his amazing dance moves made it south of the equator) and then I spent the rest of the night salsa dancing with different partners. I received a very nice compliment the next day saying that I am a very good salsa dancer and that is surprising because most girls from the States are...well...terrible and can't move there hips for you know what. Now I have nothing on the girls who grew up in South America. Their effortless hip rocking and twirling might take a while to imitate, but so far I have made great strides. Now if only Josh would learn. One of my favorite partners is my friend Sebastian who speaks no English (he's not one of those who pretends to speak no English, he literally speaks no English) and when we are dancing he tried to speak to me in Spanish, he asks if I understand, I usually say quizas, or maybe, and then giggle as he shrugs and twirls me. Even he, a practically emaciated, shy film student is one of the best dancers I've ever danced with.
At four in the morning we were dragged to the bus and driven back to our apartments. Instead of returning we headed for beach.
Well not before Nick escaped to a chair and fell asleep with peanut butter in hand (sadly it was removed by Andrew for more consumption right before the picture was taken.

Supposedly this is one of the few places in the world where you can see the sun rise and set on the same beach. This was something we just had to see. So we braved the wind with a guitar and huddled in the sand.
Josh and Sebastion (one of my salsa buddies) on the beach

Nick falls back asleep in my lap only to be awoken by me telling him the Policia have arrived...he then starts giggling thinking I'm kidding.

We were still going strong in our quest to pay homage to the rise of the sun when the policia showed up in full uniform (bullet proof vest and truncheons in hand) demanding to know why we were huddled on the beach and for documents. Ummm, obviously we did not have any on us at 5 am on the beach, but luckily someone had a driver's license to show us. They told us to get off the beach and then ran back to their cars. Then a truck pulled out of nowhere, stopped a few feet from us, and then reversed back from whence they came. It was straight out of Super Troopers, and ridiculous. I thought Meghan would have gotten a total kick out of it!
Everything had got a bit weird and it was cloudy anyway so we headed home and fell soundly asleep sometime around six.
Me being a little crazy and all I decided to set the alarm for 10:30 so I could go back to the beach for a little. No one seemed to be awake so I poked my head out of the window and looked at my beach view until Felipe came out onto his balcony. I joined him and for a breakfast of milk, bananas and sugar (basically a bowl of cereal without the cereal) which his mother always makes for him in Colombia. We were joined by Danny and Juan who then made eggs, sausage and bread. We were then joined by Diego who went out and bought facturas, or pastries and we then enjoyed some of this as well!! So by the time everyone else was waking up we went for a much deserved last walk along the beach just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer was coming on (dubbed in Spanish, of course). I spoke and listened to Spanish all morning and got to know some of my teammates a little better. It was great but exhausting. When we got back everyone else was eating, so I had second, or third breakfast (I guess you could just call it lunch) where I tried some of Dave's vegemite. I think I'm one of the few people who liked it, but then I've never met a condiment I didn't like. Josh had brought over our peanut butter, and I gave my friend Sabina her first PB&J sandwich (I had giver her a few spoonfuls of just peanut butter the day before and she totally went nuts about it. I think this sandwich changed her life, she's a total convert). There went our second jar of peanut butter, but it was totally worth it to spread the love.
Now this time I was not going to be fooled, and when two pm, or our departure time, rolled up I was not even packed yet. People were throwing discs on the lawn, in the pool or on the beach. The drivers didn't even show up for another hour or so.

The signing of homemade tournament t-shirts

Yes, the time is 2pm and everyone is still chillin'

I returned to the beach for a little where I was sunburned for the first time all weekend!!! Minus my lips getting burned I was one of two people who did not get burned until that morning when my shoulders got quite red. Oh well, I made it out much better than most.
The bus ride back was much calmer than on the way there and I slept for much of it. However this time I was able to enjoy the beautiful countryside in the waning daylight. Supposedly it looks like the Midwest of the United States, but not having had my great American road trip yet I'll have to take my friend Kyla's word for it. There were farms as far as the eye could see, and hundreds of cows. It was beautiful.

One gas station stop, a toll to get back on the bus consisting of a sip of Fernet (yuck) and nine hours of beautiful countryside later (oh and quite a few naps) we were back in our beloved Buenos Aires at 1:30. Our friend Dave was heading out to Uruguay the next day but needed a place to stay so we brought him back to our casa where we had nothing to each but peanut butter (thanks again Shelley), jelly and the end of a loaf of bread. After Dave had figured out how he was getting to Punta del Este we slept soundly until 10:30 when Josh let him out and we said our goodbyes. I hope to see him again soon and I wish he were staying longer. To bad he only had three months before he has to be back at law school and a very full traveling schedule...
Today we woke up at 1:30 and I honestly wondered if it would be possible for me to get out of bed. My body hadn't felt this way since high school! But hunger pangs forced me into the shower and we went out into a muggy San Telmo in search of nourishment. We made tasty summer pasta for lunch, nectarines for dessert and since then I have done nothing but lie here on this couch, blog and do the dishes. For once I am VERY happy to be unemployed. Josh went out and bought some tasty appertivos and a nice bottle of wine (that meaning a 16 peso bottle of wine) to celebrate his payment for doing a bit of translating. Yes that's right, Josh is getting paid!!! Almost 500 US dollars!!!!! I know; tears of happiness are rolling down my cheeks as well. He's making me look bad.
On that front I had a second interview but my throat was a bit hoarse from partying the night before (stupid me!!) and even though I thought it went ok she wants to see me again when I'm in full voice. It was kind of a crazy experience though because she spoke very little English and I ended up singing all these Disney songs.
I hope you are all well at home and the cold isn't getting to you, I'm sure this post didn't help. Miss everyone!!!

1 comment:

Meghan said...

This weekend sounds absolutely amazing! I think my favorite part was the popsicle stick thing. But don't have too much fun so that you will never come home!! I miss you!!!