Friday, October 30, 2009

Me Picas Mucho!!!!!

The Mosquitoes and the humidity have descended upon us simultaneously. Last night at practice they boldly landed on legs, arms two or three at a time, and even bit through shirts as the sun set and the lights came on. As the swine flu scare recedes into the background, old flu prevention signs are covered over by dengue prevention tips.
As I walk around the city today (finally in a dress) sweat rolls down my torso and I'm wishing I had brought my sunscreen with me so I could reapply. The heat should break soon with the promised thunderstorms of tonight that also promises to potentially ruin any Halloween plans. Last year there was no rain on Halloween weekend. It was my first month in BA and we went to the Halloween party at the Road House where Nick works. We went because everybody we knew (all seven of them) where going to attend. I'll never forget my conversation that I had with one x-pat as I waited for my friends to arrive. Even though I had already left my hostel and settled in an apartment he smugly told me I was still a tourist and not the x-pat I had already begun to think of myself as while I slowly navigated this new city with it's ever increasing obstacles that time and time again kept me from arriving on time where ever I went. I felt like I had been rejected from this club I had been so excited to join. The next day was my second weekend at Ultimate where I was happy to find smug free people who accepted me even with my limited experience at both Ultimate and BA.
It is like being in a relationship or having a baby. After the first year you stop counting months. When people ask how long I've been here I casually reply, "Over a year." and not "A year and one month." I hear someone else respond, "twenty days" and I remember those first twenty days and how nervous and excited I was. At this point, I've tried hard to never be snoody and to give advice without sounding smug that I've already done this, or that I already know that. But as this holiday and landmark comes up I can't help but think or say aloud, "Oh, this time last year in BA I was....." It’s almost thrilling to be able to think, "Oh, the Mosquitoes are back earlier than last year." Sometimes I feel like I really know this city now, and then sometimes I get lost in a part I know really well. And when Marina told me of her twenty-minute commute that turned two hour traffic jam due to some Malvinas veterans, I wasn’t angry that our class had started an hour late. I realized that I had my own horror stories to share about being stuck on buses taking debtors through the villas and what a nightmare things can be here when a few people decide to protest something even though it probably won't make a difference. That was pretty cool.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maniacal Mustache Madness

Mustaches abounded at the first annual mustache competition here in Casa Cochobamba, Argentina. The six competitors came together to show the fruition of their efforts over meat and beer. The weather was beautiful, the parilla downstairs, and the mustaches were ripe for the judging. Here are some photos and comentary from the night.

We watch the LSAT books burn....they strangely resemble an accordion - the saddest of the instruments

Willy arrives and reveals his newly groomed stache

It has many nicknames: the fish hook, the snake bite, the J...we could go on and on... all I know is I'm hooked/obsessed

Uli, a late arrival to the competition would totally have won if he had stayed for the judging!

Boys will be boys...mustaches will be AMAZING

Amazing Rayban glasses that Uli bought second hand

Santi is sad because he doesn't have a mustache

So are we...

And now to meet the competitors:

Willy J

Mike Foster


Alex Ferrari

Joshua Henry Rolf

Nick H-M

We sat around with Hot Toddies and then beer and waited for the food to cook. We ate our Choripan and Morcilla and then as the Vacio cooked the judging began.

Each competitor had to give a one minute speech on their mustache, outlining the process, choices made about style or grooming techniques and how their mustache made them feel.
Willy decided no words were necessary and whipped off his shirt to show off his mustache in its natural state.

The explanations were amazing, and most competitors had come to the same conclusion. Life is better with a mustache. After their speeches Kyla, Fanie and I went into the dining room to do the judging. We judges based on four points: grooming, respect to the mustaches that came before, texture and thickness, and onesness with the mustache. Each competitor also got an individual title.
Nick: the boy next door stash
Alex: Dirtiest/pedifilia stash
Josh: Porn star/Ron Jeremy stache
Mike: El classico
PJ: Best natural geometric form
Willy: Miss Congeniality

Second runner up: Josh
First runner up: Mike
First Place: Alex

Happy judges: best night ever - stachetastic if you will

And now a new more informal competition has been started. Longevity is the name of the game, and the man who keeps the stache the longest is the winner. However, the real winners are Stef and myself seeing as we can't get enough mustache action. We hope they stay forever.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Just to show how against the idea of saving the Argentine government is they decided to forgo daylight savings this year!!! That's right, we will stay exactly where we are and we will not have an extra hour of daylight. Its very sad. When I expressed shock at doing away with what to me has been a lifelong institution I was reminded that daylight savings was just an experiment the government dabbled in last year. People complained. Savings got the ax. So for all of those curious about where we are at in that social construction we call time, we will be two hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time once the clocks change in the States.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Fought the Law and the...Law Won

Instead of staying quiet on the issue and wallowing in a puddle of self-pity that stretches farther than the Rio de la Plata (the widest river in the world), I figured I might as well just come out and get it over with: I performed not as well as I expected on the LSATs. I'm pretty pissed/upset/let down/slightly embarrassed. Granted, I did better than the first go around, but my score still left something to be desired by myself and the law schools I envisioned myself attending. I've gotten a few good pep talks, reassessed my options, and realized that it's not all as bad as it may have seemed at first. There are still some pretty strong schools with good programs out there that I could get into, and some others for which I'm a good candidate. This minor setback won't stop me from being a lawyer and while scholastic pedigree does matter a great deal I know it's not all about where you go to school. However, I'm an incredible competitive person who expects to do well in anything I do, so it's still a serious knock to my ego. But, again, this won't stop me. I'll just have to work harder. I've already narrowed my list of schools and will continue to work on applications. I feel like with my situation the sooner I get my applications in, the better. That may be silly talk, but it won't stop me from getting cracking on some apps. In other words: it's business time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cordoba: The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Cordoba: Second Largest City in Argentina
Named after Cordoba, Spain
Home to the oldest University in Argentina
Jesuit Founded City
Dust Bowl

We arrived in Cordoba Saturday morning after an all night bus ride (during which we both slept very well due to the amazing seats and a little help from Dr. Behar) and met up with Willie who brought us to our hostel. Josh and I didn't even think to request a private room so I was happily with all the girls. SLumBeR PaRtY!!!!

Funny poster at our hostel: love the English mistakes

Some of the girls in my room
From the left: Milagros, Sabina and Andrea

We had the morning to wander around the town, and antsy to get going I went off by myself and got to know the big plaza and more touristy area. Kind of like the Plaza de Mayo/Florida section of BA but smaller and with a way cooler church. All the churches in Cordoba are in fact among the coolest churches I've ever seen.
The day was hot, and I mean heavy hot. The weather weighed on you and made me sweaty for the first time in a while. I kinda liked it until I arrived at the field. After a long uphill walk through the main artery of the city we arrived at this:

In the forefront of the photo is the "track" where people run around, and in the back is the "field" only I'm not sure you can call it a field if there are literally ten blades of grass. The tournament was a hat tournament, meaning the teams were "random" and not our usual teams from BA. I love these tournaments because they give you a chance to bond with people from other teams, and its nice to get a break from certain team members' playing stlye. Or coaching style...or whatever you need a break from.
Captaining my team was Steve, an expat with a Science Olympiad t-shirt from the year I was born (1986) and around eight years under his belt in this city. He loves to make up poems in Castellano that I never understand. Maybe this year I will... He also is notorious for coming up with great team names and was on my team at Monte Hermoso last year.

Steve on the left and Andres A.K.A Chapi on the right explaining how do run a zone or the cup defense

Andrea, Alex and a newbie named Eric

Katsu (these were his last games in Argentina as he has moved to Peru since these photos were taken) was also on my team in Monte Hermoso, and Milagros is a Cadillac

Papita (called this because his older brother is already called Papi) whose real name is Oscar and Andrés

Chrisi (a cadillac) and Serhio (in his first weekend of Ultimate)

Vitamen E was decided upon for our team name. E for energia. And so much more...

Vitamina E silly style

So as I said, it was hot and dusty and the combination was not good. We played our first game hard and came this close to winning. We lost by two points and faught hard for every point. At the end both teams were exhausted. However, there was a third team of mostly people from Cordoba to play and the winners got to pick who would play next.

Of course they picked us.

I'm in pretty good shape now. I may not have a model's set of abs, but I've got stamina that I havn't had in years. I can play an entire game now if I have to and I can keep playing hard till the end where as before this was not possible. But after a game in this weather with this dust I couldn't catch my breath and it actually pained my legs to run after my fresh components and I was wasting energy because there was no way I was getting there in time. It felt like a cruel punishment for something that wasn't my fault. To say the least, we lost but sadly we also lost our spirit and didn't even do a cheer when we walked off the field. I think we just all wanted it to be over.
To make matters worse, while our hostel had an abundance of cool art there were only two showers. When it was finally my turn the water didn't work out of the shower head so I had to take a crouching shower. A reall bumber because my legs hurt.
That night Josh and I wolfed down a dozen empanandas and then I ate people's left overs as well to compensate for the unthinkable amount of calories I had burned that day. I called it an early night at 12:30 and hit the sack with serious force. It was the most comfortable bed I've slept in for a long time. I know I was tired and all, but my bed in BA is so bad that even hostel beds and pillows seem luxurious to me...or maybe it really was a great pillow.

Trying to stay awake

Gossiping with Cassie and Katie (two Cadillacs)

The next day the winning team and the Cordobese team had to wake up early to play a game at nine. At this point I was pretty glad I had gotten my game over with yesterday and had a relaxing morning with the ladies of my team and Sabina who wasn't playing because of an injured knee. When we arrived we continued to lie aroud on the warmed concrete bleachers and then lost another game to Oh Yea (the winning team). Then ate sandwiches for lunch (Even though hamburgers had been promised and the smell had been taunting us for an hour) and some of us, like Hope pictured bellow, took naps on the small squares let in by the tall cyrprus like trees lining the back of the bleachers.

Catching some rays

An interesting way to shake hands and say good luck before a game

Guarding Cassie

She's totally kicking my butt!

After we finally won a game!!! Kyla and I headed for the showers at the field in order to avoid the kilombo (disaster) of the night before and then to the same Chori stand that she went to last year. This Chori stand is special because they put the toppings on for you. And look at how many there are!!! This was also my most expensive chori at $10 (pesos) so we split one.

I finally captured the perfect cross section of a Chori

People quietly went to their own rooms, showerd and visited the Disco for beer, fernet and coke. I had a girl talk circle in my room with rapid fire Spanish gossip coming from all directions. It was awesome.
Then the party slowly started in the kitchen and Josh started the parilla (in a room full of Argentines I'm not sure how he eneded up with this job, but he did the damn thing right). Vicky, a member of the cordobese team, had brought her guitar to the party (lighting up my eyes) and began to play a little folk music as the coals heated up. Right away I could tell her voice was special, but as she sang more and more Argentine folk songs I came to the realization that I was sitting in font of someone truly special and that one of those crazy Argentine nights was about to begin. The kind of night where the fernet flows into pitchers like water and I can't ever imagine leaving this country because experiences like this are so amazing and never happened to me before I came here.
There were 92 churizos and much fewer frisbee players and everyone at their fill and then some. The singing started up again and we sat transfixed for a long time.

Pitcher of Fernet, Vicki, German guy, Kyla and sweet backdrop

Phil proves himself to be a genius (guy on the right) when he realized the zone defense otherwise known as the cup could be applied at parties. Pictured here are Josh, Chapi, and Phil doing the cup to Achmed. I swear this is very funny if you play Ulitimate.

General merry making

A second fantastic folk singer joins us and their voices wail into the night as I sit mezemorized.

The cordobese are no different than the porteños in that they never want the party to end. When Vicky asked who wanted to go to a Peña, or a restaurant where people take out guitarts and sing folk songs into the wee hours of the night. Chapi was already eager to go having been very taken by Vicki's talent from the start and Josh decided he didn't want to miss out either. The crazy Brazillian guy in charge of all the guys selling hammocks who were sleeping next door to me claimed he would take us all out and we hopped into some cabs and headed for the peña.

Us at the Peña

The room was rusty red and there was a small light fixture hanging from the ceiling. The circle of tables all faced the end of the room where the guitar was coming from and we took a table in the back. Vicki sat down with us for a minute before she hopped up and joined the singers with her guitar. Her deep resonating voice and the emotional wail that came from her heart as she sung captivated everyone as it had us. Soon it was all focused around her and the dancing started.

Traditional folk dancing

Vicki rocks it out

I'm not sure what time it was when the peña kicked us out, but kick us out they did, so we headed to a plaza with Vicki, her guitar and a group from the peña who like us were not ready to throw in the towel.

This is what I look like at about four in the morning after I play frisbee all day...

We stopped in front of this church in the plaza Josh described as having lots of bottle caps everywhere, and the guitars started again. People were dancing and I wanted to dance too!! So Vicki showed me how, and soon Josh and Chapi joined in as well. We danced until someone said it was five am and we decided that yes, it was time to head back and Vicki gave us a small tour of the down town as we headed back to Turning Point Hostel.
Little did we know that we would have to vaccate our beds at ten am so that was shocking!!! And Josh covered some of our last day in Cordoba. One of the things that stuck out most that he didn't mention was the black ferris wheel in one of his pictures. The story and the ferris wheel creeped me out so much I have to share. The ferris wheel used to be a normal one until it broke and somebody died. So they fixed it so it wouldn't move and painted it black as a memorial. Still gives me the creeps to remember it.

We also took a nap in this park

Took a picture at this bridge

Took a cool photo at this church

And swang on these swings

One last note about the churches. They were the coolest. One was built by a man that got his start building ships so the ceiling was shaped like an upsidedown boat meaning it was concave and awesome. The church in my sunglasses was the coolest mix of romananesque, gothic and Islamic influences and incredible inside. We regretfully didn't get to explore like I wanted too because a mass was going on, but there were gargoyles and interesting staircases and crazy ceilings. Oh my.
So there you have it : possible too many details about our Cordoba adventure. Hope you enjoyed.
Also, a disclamer: my blogger spell check has randomly changed to Spanish, so forgive spelling errors!