03.02.09

Ultimate Buenos Aires Styles

Posted in Buenos Aires at 3:15 am by Jackson Lee

Ultimate has been in Buenos Aires for the last 10 years. For the first 8 years of its history, the sport barely registered above ‘lightning catching’ on the local sport popularity charts. In the last 2 years, things has taken a sharp turn and Argentina has now proudly sent a representative team to Columbia and to the sands of Remini, Italy. It is at this exciting time that I arrived.

Having succumbed to the addiction of chasing frisbee’s at an early age, on arriving in Buenos Aires I quickly found myself making friends with the people in the local ultimate scene. Having succumbed to enjoying the sound of my own voice, also from a earlier age, I found myself doing a bit of coaching.

Argentina has no shortage of excellent athletes (think Diego Maradona, Puma’s Rugby), passionate individuals and competitive energy. Coaching such people is as rewarding as throwing a shoe at a 2nd-rate president. There are few times in life when all the pieces full together, but in the past six weeks all the energy I’ve put into Ultimate has been truly rewarding and has given much more back to me. Thanks ‘Discor Sur’!

I was honoured, at my last playing day, with the following poem: –

This is an ode to an Ultimate Frisbee master

One who inspires us in practice to run and throw faster

Who day after day his wisdom does impart

Who upon seeing a banana cut his heart does infarct

One who from his hands the Frisbee does not slip

One who is a huge fan of the Super Power Grip

This man hails from New Zealand, land of the kiwi

Is it just coincidence that this rhymes with Frisbee?

Perhaps not, perhaps it ‘tis fate and destiny…

That in the flight of the disc, he would feel his remedy

To boredom, to sadness, to all things melancholy

Perhaps it is the secret behind his countenance so jolly

Today we thank thee Jackson, for giving of yourself

For dusting off the books of knowledge on your frisbee shelf

And opening them up for one and all to see

To help each one of us to in practive be

The best that we can do, and even more

It doesn’t really matter if we’re gonna be sore

Because together we strive for excellence and glory

To be a part of the neverending story

That started way back in ‘68

And since then has carried on a straight

Path through the hearts and souls of many

It has been a sport both joyous and uncanny

It captivated you, it captivated me…

Heck, it even captivated DD

So, Jackson, we wish you a muy buen trip

On our radar screen your presence here has not been a blip

But much much more than that, you have entered our heart

Of Disco Sur history and present you are now a big part…

You may leave now, but your grand presence lingers

We’ll remember you each time as we adjust our fingers

But enough is enough, I’m rambling like a whacko

Buen viaje, adios, hasta pronto Jacko

By Stephen Camilli

03.01.09

Criminals and Omnibus’s

Posted in Buenos Aires at 5:16 pm by Jackson Lee

Last night was my first close shave with the underbelly of South America. Everything happened while I was waiting for the 11:50pm omnibus (long distance bus) to Cordoba.

Argentina is not known for having a highly efficient transportation system. The British empire made a token effort at building a railway (with the help of some of my Asian brethren) network during colonial times – but this has since fallen into disrepaire and isn’t functioning well (one train from Buenos Aires takes 42 hours while the bus service to the same destination takes half that time).

Planes, while functional, are more expensive per kilometer compared to other parts of the world. So long distance buses are the default travel method for most South Americas and backpackers. Journeys of 10 hours are considered normal while some people, I have met, have braved 40 hours+ odysseys.

The service and comfort of the high-grade buses of the Argentine, however, is parallel with what is provided on business class while flying(the buses are double decker), so long trips aren’t as spine crushing as first thought. The main bus station in Buenos Aires is a major gateway for transportation in Argentina. Its big, busy and somewhat dangerous partly because it borders with one of Buenos Aires slums.

I arrived at the Retiro bus terminal fully knowing that I looked like a fresh faced backpacker. I found a seat amongst the crowds and decided to people watch while waiting. An hour later, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a guy sit down in the row of seats to my right, behind some elderly travelers. Moments later he got up and moved to sit closer to me, on my side of the elderly travelers – strange, I thought – better keep an eye on this clown.

On my left was a pay phone. I then noticed a women approach the phone, pick it up and noisily (in Spanish that I didn’t understand) start talking. This was strange as she was being louder than I would expect in the environment. Was she trying to distract me?

I looked around, my large backpack was between my legs while my smaller day pack (which had my laptop) was on the seat next to me (on my right) while the strange guy was two seats further down. Out of the very corner of my left eye I noticed another man pass by and suddenly something flashed out of his hand. I looked around – he was pointing at the ground at a $2 peso note (which I knew wasn’t there a second ago). He was speaking to me (I didn’t understand him) and gesturing if the $2 pesos was mine, while the women on the phone had turned our way and had also become involved.

In the brief moment it took for all this to unfold, I realized what was happening. The two people on my left were trying to distract my attention from the guy on my right who would quickly take my day pack. The $2 peso note was placed behind and below me which was the exact position I would look which as not to have eyes on my day pack. The women and the man were in a position to argue with one another (and me) about the $2 peso note to give the getaway man plenty of time. If I had not seen the note come out of his hand, I might have been drawn into the trap.

All this happened in moments. Acting calmly, I grabbed both of my bags,  stood up and took a few steps towards the middle of the hall. Once there  I turned slightly to see what was happening behind me. The gang of three had realised that they had been spotted and were darting off away from me. No one else blinked an eye and probably hadn’t noticed what had just happened.

Phef. You’ll be happy to know the rest of the bus trip went safely.

I will be visiting a travel store in Cordoba to buy a chain to lock my bags together (and closed) very soon. I’ll also brush up on my karate chops and menacing facial gestures in the next few days. Every adventure has its up and downs and I will remember this moment one as an up.

02.25.09

A little about Buenos Aires

Posted in Buenos Aires at 8:16 pm by Jackson Lee

You might be wondering what I´ve been up to in Buenos Aires for the last 6 weeks.

Living Like a Porteñol

I arrived via the somewhat casual travel services of Aerolineas Argentina, caught the bus into the city and made my way to ‘Hostel Suits Palermo’ where I would spend the next few days acclimatising and getting to know this enormous city.

Where shit gets done!

Congresso – Where shit gets done!

Hostel Suits Palermo was my first real taste of the social magic of hostels. I met some interesting people including a couple of kiwis blokes trying to do something new everyday of there 12 month trip around the world. This included swimming in one of BsAs city fountains (at a major intersection), piercing body parts, not sleeping for 3 days, travelling with a Swedish female rock band etc etc.

Using craigslist.org, I checked out a couple of places to stay and ultimately decided to live with one of the guys from Ultimate Frisbee, mostly because his apartment had a good study environment (minus the construction crew next door). Located between the hip suburb of Palermo (population 225,000), a huge beautiful park (which, oddly, has a area designated for transvestite to congregate at night – I know, nasty huh!) and the pram-pushing suburb of Belgrano, the apartment has been the perfect place to begin this trip of South America. My humble abode pictured below.

Weather of the gods

The first thing you should know about Buenos Aires is it is hot. Beautifully hot. Not humid hot where walking out of air-conditioning is like slipping into the camp fire but sunny, smile-inducing, girls-have-every-excuse to show of their curves, hot. And its sunny – it rains when you want it to – which is about once a week and there is often a soothing breeze which works as a reminder to put a paper-weight on the newspaper during your afternoon siesta. This city has the best weather of any place I’ve been.

City Biking Touring

No arguments here, cycling is the best way to see this city (and perhaps all cities). Get on a bike…. More to come

Tango

I’m hooked by this beautiful and sophisticated dance. If you never enjoy a warm evening watching Tango over a drop of Mendoza Vino then then please punch yourself in the face. Mid-dance, you will catch yourself with a wider, warmer smile than you had when you first realised girls like sex too.

02.24.09

Birthday 31 – Half way to 62

Posted in Buenos Aires at 8:51 pm by Jackson Lee

Last week my age flipped over again. Birthdays, I´m told, are a big deal in Argentina. An America who has lived here in Buenos Aires for the last 10 years recounted to be that often on his birthdays people he hardly knows (i.e. someone meet on a plane) will ring and congratulate him. And if a birthday party is organised, its more than likely that anyone that can turn up, will turn up.

My birthday was a pretty quiet afair. I decided to take the not-tell-people approach as I felt uncomfortable with celebrating “myself” with people that I don´t really know. Wrong or right decision….?

Dinner last Thursday night (i.e. the night of the 19th) got started at midnight, which meant it was on my birthday (Friday the Feb 20th) so the guy I am staying with cooked up some birthday food (see photo below).

Birthday Pie

This was followed by a entertaining night out in Palermo at a bar with excellent taste in music (Pink Floyd). There were several casualties from the 10 Peso (US$3 buck) bottle of Gin. Incidentally, alcohol is rediculiously cheap here (unless purchased in bar). Saturday rolled around with a intense, “my dentist would be proud of giving me” headache hangover. Luckily, we play Utlimate on Saturday and the Argentines love to sing birthday songs in groups which was both good-fun and nervous-system testing at the same time.

I´ve been writing some post which havn´t been posted yet. The journey out of Buenos Aires into South America (heading towards Bolivia 1st) begins in the next week.

02.20.09

Carne De Vaca

Posted in Buenos Aires at 3:57 am by Jackson Lee

I got sick with a cold. A week later I got another cold. The buckle reached the shortest length hole on my belt as the pounds shed away. My eating habits since arriving in Buenos Aires had taken a serious hit. Pizza, Empanadas and Quilmes beer might be damn tasty but they don’t provide a lot of nutrition.

I like to explain to people that Chinese food is extremely diverse, so long as you accept that most of it is bathed in cooking oil and tongue fortifying Asian spices, you should have no problem enjoying the range of styles. The Argentine’s don’t deep fry as readily as the Chinese. In fact, the basically eat Carne De Vaca (beef) + Mediterranean pasta and bread + dulce to Leche (or themes similar).

The pampas (the farm area’s of Argentina) are vast beyond describing. The are home to the Argentine gauchos (cowboys) and hordes of cow. Argentines are very proud of producing the worlds most price-competitive, high quality beef. This, unsurprisingly, has heavily influenced the culinary tastes of local people. Parrilla’s are almost as common as Fish’n’chip shops. Parrilla food is basically a pile of meat (plus fries).

Knowing that being on the road in South America would offer little for a hungry vegetarian, I had been planing returning to the world of carnivores after 6 years of lettuce grazing. During Grahams visit a few weeks ago, I plunged back into the meat eating world.

The first roast dinner I’ve ever cooked

01.28.09

Buenos Aires – The Beginning

Posted in Buenos Aires at 2:38 am by Jackson Lee

Learning what is actually possible in life verses what we pursaude ourselves is possible is a journey that is worth more than any cheesy Mastercard advert. Two weeks in Buenos Aires has shown me a bit of that.

What, I asked myself, was I doing playing a epic game of Pictionairy at 7:00am on Sunday morning with a room full of Porteño´s (people of Buenos Aires)? Specking Spanish was the least of my problems, keeping fuelled on caffeine to stay awake was paramount – alcohol was not an option. Amougst a few moments of luck, the 4 hour game was hilarious mostly due to the good nature of the hosts.

Turns out that people in Buenos Aires simple don´t sleep all that much – specially on weekends. I´m told that it is common for porteños to see the Sunday sun come up. House parties, usually get started after 1am and nightclubs open there doors at 2am.  Last week, I saw a woman getting a haircut at 3am and 15 or 16 yo girls throwing a bag of flour at each other sometime after midnight. Dog walking is hugely popular around 1am.

It will be a long time before I happily find mysel home early because the pillow was calling or the world around me told me so. If the Porteño Argentine´s think sleeping is overrated then I sure as hell don´t have a good argument against them. Vivo ahora, no mañana.

Recent economic collapse, military dictatorship, insanely passionate soccer fans, the Falklands war (Guerra de las Malvinas), ridiculously poor dietary choice (think meat x infinity), beautiful people, incredible weather and a romantic language – welcome to Buenos Aires.