Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My First Marathon (brief cameo by Pamela Anderson)

I should definitely be studying for the CFA, but while my body is still sore and aching I feel compelled to fire up the blog again to recount my first, and probably only, marathon experience on Sunday in NYC.  As some of you know, it's been a couple years since my last posts when I was unemployed and an International Man of Leisure.  Let's face it, working a 9am-6pm job is not nearly as exciting and New York just doesn't stimulate the creative juices like South America does.  However, the NYC marathon was an experience like no other, so let's dust off the writing rust and get it going.

Before talking about the race, I want to point out how much goes into running a race this long (26.2 miles to be exact), in the months before.  I've played tennis my whole life and this was really my first serious foray into another sport.  I started training in the spring of 2012 for the 2012 Marathon but Sandy had other plans so what was only supposed to be 7 months of training turned into over 1.5 years of it.  I'll spare you most of the gory details, but between the early morning races, long runs of over 10 miles on the weekends, yoga classes to prevent injury and physical therapy treatments, it ended up being a significant time and physical commitment.  Most people focus on the 26.2 miles on race day, but there's easily hundreds of miles of pounding the pavement before that just to be in a position to succeed when the big one arrives.  Of course, no one forced me to do it, and I was excited to learn about a new sport and all the intricacies that go into it.

That being said, I noticed improvement in the times I was running.  I went from my the longest run of my life being 3.5 miles before any training to running half-marathons in 2 hrs, 5 mins to running a personal best in September of 1 hour, 55 mins.  I even sprinted a mile in 6:22 a couple months ago, which was almost as fast as I ran when I was a teenager.  Even though I was disheartened at not being able to run the Marathon last year with my sister (who flew up for it), I thought the extra year to train would pay dividends.

About 1.5 months before the Big Day, I ran an 18 mile tuneup in Central Park.  To my surprise, I actually ran the entire time (i.e. no walking), which was the first time I had ever gone that far and even had enough left in the tank to sprint past people for the last half mile. I felt great and was super psyched about where my conditioning was.  That is, until I got home and felt my right knee lock up hours after the race and a pain I'd never experienced before.  I waited for it to go away which it did a few days later before running again. When I did, that new pain returned and that's when I started physical therapy.  After multiple tests, my therapist told me it was "runners knee" which is an inflammation of the IT band that goes down the outside of your knee.  It doesn't cause structural damage, but can get worse the more you run.  Therefore I got a lot of treatment and rested in the weeks before, hoping it would go away.

In the interim, I focused more on yoga and raising money for the American Cancer Society, the charity I was running for.  All of my friends, were extremely generous and I'm grateful for that.  My therapist recommended I put tape on my knees for the race and to get the tape to stick, I had to shave them:

I don't know why my legs look like Gorilla legs in this picture. 

Finally, race day was here!  I woke up at 4:45am, put band aids over my nipples, applied lubricant to some sensitive areas to prevent chaffing and biked to catch a 5:30am bus (thank you Daylight Savings for the extra hour of sleep).  I wore a sweater I would throw away after the start and shorts.  Thank God for the American Cancer Society tent because it was freezing at 7am on Staten Island and windy which is something that wouldn't go away all day.  I brought some extra plastic bags from the cleaners to wear which helped preserve heat and after 2.5 anxious hours the cannons went off and the race started!  (Btw, a quick recap of all the crazy things I did just in this paragraph on race day in case you missed it:

Band aids over nipples - check
Anti chaffing cream betwixt my legs - yes
Wearing shorts in 30 degrees because I couldn't figure out how to take off sweat pants mid race - yes
Wrapping myself in dry cleaning plastic bags for warmth - yes, very normal behavior  

I'll never forget the beginning for a few reasons.  The first was because the view from the Verazzano bridge, connecting Staten Island to Queens was gorgeous.  You could see Manhattan in the distance and there was a police helicopter hovering right next to us.  I also remember feeling optimistic that I felt good and that my pace was where I wanted it to be for those first 2 miles going into the bottom of Brooklyn. 

I felt the first twinge of pain in my right knee a little bit into Brooklyn, around mile 3.  I was bummed that it hit me so early, but was hoping I could power through it.  Unfortunately for me, it intensified with every mile until Mile 8 where it was a 7 out of 10 on the pain scale.  As it worsened, I kept running by subway stops and the devil on my shoulder whispered how easy it would be to take one of them home.  He also reminded me that even at mile 6, there were 20 MILES LEFT!  How the heck was I going to go that far feeling the way I was. I decided to stop listening to him and just take the race in stages.  Get to mile 10, reevaluate.  I took my first bathroom break at mile 11 and when I stepped out of the port o potty, that's when the pain briefly shot to a 9 and I almost fell over.  I put a little weight on it, got back in the race and started running very slowly.  It hurt but I could tolerate it at around an 8 out of ten which is where it was when I ran on a flat course. 

I finished the first half in 2 hours, 8 mins, which was 13 minutes slower than my personal best, so I felt like I was still maintaining a decent pace.  I also figured out that when I walked like Frankenstein, not bending the right knee at all, I had no pain, so I figured, at the very least I can walk to the finish line.

When I got to mile 15, at the base of the 59th street bridge that takes you from Queens to Manhattan, I stared up at the bridge I had trained on multiple times and felt like I was about to cry.  I knew I couldn't run the almost mile long incline and that's when I realized, I wasn't going to come anywhere near my 4 hour goal time.  I only let that feeling last a few seconds, sucked it up, got to the rail to get out of the other runner's way and started the walk up.

That bridge was cold, windy and lonely.  Running the marathon is an amazing experience mainly because of the crowds who are insane pretty much the entire time.  From the moment we landed in Brooklyn, they did not stop cheering us.  I had friends that came to see me all along the route, and I high fived all of them.  The bridges didn't have any crowds.

I got into Manhattan and they spurred me to continue running even though I had walked the entire bridge. The depressing thing was that while my muscles felt good, but my knee was too painful to run the normal way.  I started adjusting my running style to whip my right leg around in a counter-clockwise semi circle so as to keep any knee bend to a minimum.  I don't know how I looked to all those screaming people, but I didn't care at that point.  In a weird way I felt like I was letting them down anytime I walked.  My name was plastered across my shirt and so many strangers kept calling out "C'mon Alex!".  My game plan was to walk until I knew friends were near and to run past them the best I could because, really,  I couldn't let them see me walking!

When I got to mile 19 I was walking more than I was running.  Because it was around 45 degrees and windy I was freezing.  That's when my friend Jay, who lives in Vegas and has run the NYC Marathon a few times, started texting me.  He keeps track of all things gossipy and told me that I was close to Pamela Anderson, who decided to run the race a few months prior.  To prove it, he sent me this:

I'm the red dot.  Pam is the blond dot.

Isn't technology great?  He told me she started ahead of me and that I was only a quarter mile behind her. Even though I really REALLY didn't want to run, he wouldn't leave me alone and told me she was slowing down.  That was all the impetus I needed and I started up again with my gimpy running style.  

She was close!  I gave it all I had, and still couldn't see her.  My knee was on fire and I had to slow things down to a walk for a little while.  I guess she did the opposite, because 5 minutes later I got this:

That made me want to cry again, but in a different way than before.  I told Jay she's too fast for me, and stopped trying.  That didn't stop him from giving me updates of course.  That point in the race was the first time we were heading south and going into the sun which warmed me up.  I don't know if it was that or all the endorphins in my system, but for the first time since mile 2, I felt ok.  I was able to sustain running, the weird style way, for a while as the crowds gradually reintensified in Harlem.  

After 10 minutes of running and getting warm, I looked up and saw this!!

She looked a little different than she did in Baywatch

That's her brother running with her who is an experienced runner.  He was being positive with her, but she was clearly not happy.  She hadn't had a lot of training and for being 46 I was impressed at how well she was doing, all things considered.  Once she stopped to walk, I couldn't pass up the opportunity and even though I hate being that guy, I had to ask her if she'd pose for a picture with me.  She politely declined and I told her, "No worries and good luck".  

That gave me a renewed energy once I hit Central Park.  The crowds were going bonkers and at that point I was running/walking 70/30.  My left foot started feeling like it was on fire, no doubt because my left leg was doing most of the work pulling me forward, but I had to keep going.  I saw 3 more friends and when I got to the bottom of the Park, I couldn't run or walk because my left foot had developed an serious blood blister .  I took off my shoe and started walking.  I was only a mile from the end, but I needed a break from that pain in my toes.  At least I wasn't thinking of my knee anymore.  

So many runners gently tapped me as the rain by to keep it up.  Between them, the insane crowds and the witty signs, I've never been surrounded by so many positive people.  I remember seeing a woman who had collapsed near there and I felt bad for her being so close to the finish.  

After 5 minutes of walking I put my shoe on and ran the best I could to the finish:

A few more steps, a few more steps

I crossed the line in 5 hours, 7 mins, well after of my goal of 4 hours.  I was happy, cold, relieved and in pain, more from my foot than my knee.  I took my shoe off again, grabbed the finisher's medal, a heat shield and walked the long miserable walk to exit the Park.  It took me an hour to get home by the subway and get into an ice bath. I was disappointed that I couldn't run the race I had visualized over and over, but given the hand I was dealt, finishing felt like an accomplishment.  I was really impressed with the crowds and so grateful to all my friends that braved the cold, windy conditions.  Definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life and one I can check off the Bucket list.  

That's me in Brooklyn.  I don't know why my hand looks like Miley Cyrus'.  I can't take a normal picture anymore.  

P.S:  Best Marathon signs:

"Bloody nipples turn me on" - held by a woman
"Faster, faster.  Don't stop, don't stop.  (That's what she said)" - held by a man
"You're running better than the Government" - At mile 25.5. Think a Leprechaun was holding it.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Leprechaun land

Ahoy mate.  Rather than flip flopping blogs and posting on the other one just because it's in the northern hemisphere I'm going to stick to this one now and going forward. After all, I don't want to confuse what few readers I have.  The catalyst for this trip guessed it.......a wedding.  I'm fortunate that my friends choose exotic places to get married, but I've made them the promise that there's no destination short of the moon I won't go to celebrate a matrimony.  I once even went to LA and then to India 6 months later for the same nuptials.

This time it was for an ex-coworker of mine from London and a good mate of mine, Mark Williams.  After many, many years of dating the finally decided to tie the knot in a small town in Southwest Ireland called Adare.  It was my first time in Ireland and my only real goals on the trip were to A) find a Leprechaun  B) steal or at least negotiate with him for his pot of gold and C) have a Guinness.  The wedding venue was a manor and from what I can tell, it is the main attraction in Adare.  Initially, I was led to believe it was a castle, but in my strict definition of a castle, there must be a moat and a drawbridge.  Bonus points for something deadly swimming in the moat.  This one had water on one side and even though it didn't qualify as a castle in my book, it was nothing short of spectacular.

That out-of-place looking tree on the left is a Lebanese cedar that someone planted 100 years before the US existed.  

This picture is self explanatory.  That's my ex boss hanging out in the Pet Cemetery. 

Of course there was a wedding and it was glorious.  The bride looked beautiful and my mate, well, he looked good too.   

The blurriness of that picture is a direct result of me figuring out how to use the spiffy new camera my sister got me.  I think I was using about 8% of it's functionality during this trip so the good news is that it can only go up from here.  The important thing is that the newlyweds look happy cutting the cake and my mate is flashing his usual ear to ear grin.


Nothing like a gong to signal when it's time to move from one room to the next.  This was used about 5 times during the course of the night.  Really, there's nothing like it, I'm serious!   

On the list of things I shouldn't have taken a picture of, but did anyway, here is the beautiful bride helping out a fallen wedding guest who had a little too much Jameson and Guinness. It was a fun night filled with dancing and other shenanigans (that seems like an Irish word to me), but there was no leprechauns around.  

The next day I went to check out the golf course and to see if there was anything menacing in the river.  There wasn't anything so I posed on the bridge instead.  

After the weekend, I got a ride with the Best Man to Dublin which was 2 hours East of Adare.  I was initially surprised at how small a city Dublin is.  It wasn't the huge metropolis I was expecting, but this gave it a cozier feeling and was undoubtedly a good thing. 

It was there that I accomplished my 3rd goal.  I have never been a big Guinness fan, forcing it down once a  year on St. Paddy's day.  However, the rumor that it is better in Ireland is unequivocally true!  I love to taste the beers of the world wherever I go, and over there it was so much smoother going down.  A real pleasure. 

After Dublin I was so tired of planes after having taken a 14 hour flight from Argentina a couple days before my Ireland flight that I took the ferry over to the UK.  I later found out that most Londoners don't  know you can take a ferry to and from Ireland.  I'd shake my head, but most Floridians don't know the capital of Florida.  

Hey!  Look what I found on the ferry?  It's the newlyweds looking much more relaxed and chilled out.  Always much better to spend time post wedding with those that just tied the not.  Mark hates ferries, but they were able to load their car onto this one so he did it + fared quite well on it.  I have to apologize for basically wearing the same thing in every shot.  Even though my suitcase weighed a ton I only packed two sweaters and this was the warmest.  I normally don't care how much it weighs, but one wheel broke off on the way over so I was left carrying my luggage like it was the mid 80s for ten days in Europe.  They say the caveman invented the wheel + why it took till the 1990s to apply it to luggage I'll never know.  

After the ferry, I decided to take a train to London.  In case you're wondering, it takes about 2 hours and requires 2 transfers but like most European trains it's comfortable and easy.  On this ride there was a bonus of some unexpected entertainment going around my seat.  Even though I had my ipod in and was trying to catch the sunset scenery I could sense some mischief going on around me.  Basically there were two women and a child sitting in the same row on the other side of the aisle from me and a drunken guy in the seats in front of me.  I thought they knew each other at first.  The women were drinking too out of a flask + between the think accents, drunkenness and  cursing every other word, I could make out a tenth of what they were saying even though it was English (I think).  It was worse than being in Brazil and hearing Portuguese around me.  Anyway, after about 50 minutes of animated speaking someone alerted the police and they took the drunk man down.

This all happened behind my seat so I had to sneak pictures without the bobby seeing.  After being cuffed, the guy denied he said anything offensive and that he only wanted to get to London.  

Moving right along, I spent 5 days in London staying with my friend Ali, her husband and their adorable 4 year old Emma.  I even did some babysitting which was fun and got to see lots of friends.  I barely consider London an international city so no pictures from that one.  

I stopped in Scotland for a night to complete the tour of the UK and although it rained I had fun.  Their accents are the least decipherable of anywhere in the UK.  On my way back I had to go through Shannon (where I first landed) and had a half day to kill.  I was going to see a nearby castle, but it was a beautiful day and I was feeling ambitious so I went to the airport, compared all the car rentals and got on the road.  I was worried I would wreck since they drive on the other (not wrong) side of the road, but I took my chances and headed to North West Ireland.  My destination was...

The Cliffs of Moher

Like most natural marvels, pictures can't adequately convey the feeling of being there.  I had seen many pictures of the Grand Canyon and they looked cool, but the first time you see the Canyon in person it is breathtaking.  These cliffs were close to that level of magnificence, just not on the same large scale.  

 This is yet another of the 28 finalists for the New Seven wonders of the World.  To see the latest rankings go to  Surprisingly, the Canyon is not ranked very high at the moment.  Guess I have more to experience.  

I returned to NY not finding any leprechauns or pots of gold but was rich on experience (is that cheezy enough?).  The Irish people were very warm and helpful in every possible way.  I enjoyed seeing their country + the Irish bars in New York are reasonable facsimiles for food and Guinness, but I can honestly say that nothing beats the real thing.  

The Best Beef Stew I've ever had. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's the little things.

As my stolen summer days in Buenos Aires wind down I thought I'd take the camera out and document some of my travels around the city and what make it so great.  As Vincent says to Jules, "It's the little things...."

This is an ad on the side of the street for the recently released movie "No Strings Attached" (it was better than expected but I don't believe Natalie got any Oscar nominations or awards for this one).  Anyway, the poster made me laugh because literally translated it means "Friends with rights or benefits" which is pretty different to the English title even though the gist is the same.

Here is a picture from Puerto Madero a nice and very touristy spot of Buenos Aires.  Maybe it's the nearby buildings or brown water but if I didn't know any better, I could almost say it's the Thames River in London. Just on the other side of the river where I was standing was:

I don't believe the Thames has a Hooters on it.  The wings in Hooters are better than the articles in Playboy.

One nice thing about Buenos Aires these days is that this ad is everywhere.  That's Evangeline Lily (aka Kate from LOST).  It made me happy and simultaneously nostalgic for Lost but I won't get into that now.  

Taking a break from culture for a second I came across this guy:

Argentinos love their dogs just as much as New Yorkers do.  They just don't pick up after them nearly as much or effectively.  That is one little difference that I wish wasn't a difference at all.  Anyway, this dog looked like he had a beard and won for most adorable I had seen there or anywhere in a while.  

Switching gears, I found this restaurant in Palermo Soho which is one of my favorite spots in the city.   It takes its name from Soho of NYC and in my opinion is better.  This is an Aphrodisiac restaurant + the first one I've ever seen.  While I like the concept, I'm not sure it's so much the food as the wine that goes with it.  I've only heard of 2 foods that potentially have aphrodisiac qualities, oysters and chocolate, and oysters weren't even on their menu.  Still I applaud the novelty of the idea and hope they were fully booked on Valentine's day. 

Also in Palermo Soho was this band.  The trumpets and wooden guitar in the middle were a nice touch + there were around 100 people gathered around them on that day.  I stayed, listened for a bit and left fired up. 

And thus concludes my short stint in Argentina this year.  I must return to the northern hemisphere to go to the land of leprechauns and pots of gold for my next adventure.  I promise to have new and sharper quality pictures thanks to my sister.  Buenos noches amigos....

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Dog days of Summer

While I'd like to make the focal point of today's blog something we've not covered before like that nutty Superbowl halftime show or quantum vs. classical physics but instead it's going to be about, yes, tennis.  (At least it's not more LOST).  The twist this time is that it's not about me playing (I use that term loosely).  This week last year I was in Rio learning about the craziest party in the world hence I missed the annual tennis tournament that rolls into town here for the week. It's no Lipton, US Open or Wimbledon but it has it's own charm and some of the best red clay courters in the world.

I was so eager to check it out, that I went to both days of Qualifying.  These are the days before the tournament even starts where 32 guys you've never heard of try to win 3 matches in a row to get one of 4 spots in the main draw.  These dudes are literally playing for a paycheck and it's not really a big one at that.  That doesn't mean the competition or skill level is any less intense.

That's one of the final qualifying matches in the nice stadium they have for the main matches.  There's a few things to be gleaned from this picture.  The first is that although the stadium looks empty, most people were sitting on our side or behind me in the shade to escape the hot hot heat.  I know I won't get any sympathy from my New york mates but I think we went 5 days in a row with not a cloud in the sky.  The sun just beats down on you till 730pm at night.  The other thing to note is LOOK AT WHERE THIS  GUY IS HITTING A FOREHAND FROM!?  He's a good 2 feet outside the doubles alley.  There is such stroke as a backhand but some of the players here will do anything use their strength and this guy hit a winner inside out from there so what do I know?

My buddy Pedro is good pals with the coach of a russian player named Igor Andreev.

I took a picture in his first round match when he came to net because that doesn't happen often especially on the slow clay.  Unfortunately, he lost that match but he is still alive in the doubles which is good for free tickets. 

In case you forgot what Pedro looks like he is the same as last year.  We've been hanging out every day and he's not quite tired of me yet, but I'm working on it.  One day we went to the tournament with all of the kids he trains.

That made me nostalgic for my days of teaching kids.  Screw you Wall St. for making me jaded and bitter.  Actually I'm not that jaded nor bitter but David Ferrer looks like it with that face he's making in the background.


In a nice touch they also have night matches here as relief from the incessant sun.  That's an up and coming player named Alexander Dogopolov.  He made the quarters at the Aussie Open already this year and has a very unorthodox game.  That is him right after he makes contact on a serve and look at the air he gets.   Who says white guys can't jump?  He lost this match of course, but I think he can make a serious run at Wimbledon given the way he plays.  Remember you heard that here first.
When we weren't suffocating in the heat we were doing what most Argentines do for dinner in groups. 

That's right, an ASADO.  It's very similar to an American style BBQ except the grill looks and works a bit different.  Here Pedro is supervising something.  

Here, I'm not sure what he's doing but the rest of us are happy after the tasty burgers.  

Aside from the above everything has been very tranquilo.  The girls whose Iphone I found took me to an Argentine brewery which was very nice of her as payback for returning it (as well as getting me two bottles of wine).  I'll take that over the $50 cool hard cash any day.  It rained all day today which was sorely needed so I stayed home and traded RIMM stock at options expiry making 5 positive trades which I'm fired up about.  We shall see what the weekend brings.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Back to basics....again

Buenos dias muchachos!  In an effort, to confuse my loyal readers (the 3 of you know who you are), I have switched back to my original blog URL because, well, I'm back south of the equator and this was the reason I started the blog in the first place.  Unlike last year, I wasn't even planning a trip down south.  I was starting to get serious about either growing the company I started or finding a jobby job.  When New York was getting pummeled by it's 10th snow storm in mid January, I couldn't take anymore.  Don't get me wrong, I like snow when it's falling.  As a native Floridian, the number of times I saw snow was exactly the same as the number of Super Bowls I've played in.  So even now, it's still a novel and enchanting event.  What gets old quick is the slushy sidewalks and dirty snow that lingers in the days that follow, making the trip down the street to get lunch a chore.  "But Alex", you say, "that's what delivery guys are for".  This is true however then you don't leave your apartment for days and begin to get depressed and/or slowly lose your mind.

But I digress, I am back in Buenos Aires this time for a shorter but no less exciting stay.  I landed yesterday and wasn't thinking too much about it, but now that I'm here and the jetlag is fading I had forgotten what a wonderful place this is.  It truly does feel like anything is possible here and that feeling is nearly impossible to convey in writing (pun intended).  That might seem strange coming from someone who lives in New York (where dreams and people are made), but there is something inspiring in Bs As.  It might be the extreme creativity that people possess, or that speaking another language is a challenge and makes everything more interesting for me.  Life seems easier and this year I have friends from last year and that makes a substantial difference.  It's probably just the fact that it's summer. 

For those that are new to my experiences here, let's quickly recap.  I am staying in a little part of the city called Las Canitas where the nightlife goes all ummm.....night.  I am staying at the studio of this guy:

That's Dominic and the little meatball (his words), Dante

His studio has a pool on the roof that welcomes gringos like me

30 feet away is a restaurant called Campobravo which makes excellent empanadas and steaks like this one.  I took this picture (and the others) a year ago but had this exact meal tonight.  Those are garlic fries and that sauce is grioja (tomatoes, onions and olive oil) and tastes as good as anything I've put on steak (including Lugars steak sauce).  Delicioso!

30 mins away by foot is the most famous tennis club in Buenos Aires where Guillermo Vilas plays (who the club is named after) and Juan Martin del Potro (2009 US Open champ) among others.  

Also there are yoga and tango lessons I take as well as a casino that is thankfully far enough away for me to consider going frequently.  I almost died and got punched for the first time last year down here, so if I'm not careful I can find myself in a predicament.  I hate carrying my camera with me everywhere for this blog (I'm already recycling pictures) so I might do more talking this year. 

So far, only one thing of note is worth mentioning.  After 18 hours of  travel, including a Brazilian layover, I arrived discombobulated.  I went to get the cart for my luggage (they are free here) and while waiting I noticed a small pocketbook in the basket of the cart I chose.  I looked around to make sure I wasn't on candid camera + opened it.  Inside were some papers, cigarettes and an Iphone.   Now, this is the 3rd time I've encountered an Iphone left by itself in a public place.  Each time little angel and devil popped up on my shoulders for a minute about what to do since the devil knows I want an Iphone.  However each time, the angel wins since I know what a nightmare it is to lose your phone, and I return it a few days later.  The going rate apparently is $50 since I received that both previous times.  I was curious what it would be in another country and found out today when the owner came by.  Apparently it is worth 2 nice bottles of Argentine red wine. 

So now that you're all caught up, we shall see what 2011 brings amigos...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Home sweet home

Chapter II - After my month long hiatus in organizing my US life anew, I am back!  Even though I don't like the word, I missed "blogging" as I do with most of my activities in South America.  It is nice to see my friends, sleep in my own bed, return to all the wonderful technological and American conveniences, but I yearn (and I don't often yearn) for my days south of the equator.  Things here are familiar and while that is always nice, the feeling of every day excitement has subsided.  The fervor and enthusiasm at the outset of every day when in South America has been replaced with the normality and commonplaceness of my life in NY.  It's weird to say that, as New York City is anything but common and predictable.  However, I've lived here for 9 years so even the most dynamic of places becomes the norm if you live there long enough.

In deciding whether or not to continue my blog, I have been thinking about what form I want it to take.  My first crack at it was a learning experience and kept my camera pinned to me most of the time.  I am expecting this chapter will have less pictures and storytelling.  Instead it will be more introspective and focus on thoughts and feelings since returning to the US and leaving the paradise that was Buenos Aires and the other cities I visited.  I am hopeful it will continue to be interesting and entertaining to those that are nice enough to take time out and read my posts.    

In addition, to the chagrin of those that don't watch the show, I will be writing about my favorite show of all time, LOST as the show nears its conclusion.  There are only 4 episodes left in the 6 roller coaster seasons it has been on the air so my goal is to capture my sentiments and ideas as they unravel the last mysteries of the show.  I'll only get one crack at this and I'm expecting big things as it ends once and for all.

My new blog will be viewable on a different address, same domain at  This is the first entry of it.  Thanks again to everyone that followed my first one.

Hope everyone has had a good winter and is enjoying an even better spring!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last Tango in Buenos Aires

I'm officially back stateside with my family in South Florida.   I bet you thought I wouldn't write one last blog on Argentina before calling it a trip.  Or maybe you didn't think anything like that because you have more important things going on in your lives, but nonetheless here I am.  It's bittersweet to be home as it is great to see my family and friends again and also to have all the modern conveniences back at my disposal.  However, I sorely miss the atmosphere and richness of Buenos Aires and all the new friends I had made South of the Equator.  On that note, I decided to make a list (not a Top Ten one) of things I will miss and things I won't from my favorite South American city:

Let's start with the things I WON'T miss (this is a shorter list!):

- SMOKING!!  Almost everyone smokes down there all the time.  Clubs, restaurants, buses, on the street, underwater.  I forgot how awful it is at the end of the night you almost need a shower.  And kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray, not that I know anything about that. 

- The pollution.  They have lots of buses that are not exactly the green ones we now have in NY.  Hoping this will change over time. 

- Very few things starting on time when they are supposed to.  I guess that's part of the charm too.

- having to download LOST every Tuesday night after midnight.  I potentially have 10 viruses on my computer (don't worry they can't come through this blog).

- Red clay bounces during tennis.  Made me feel like a beginner sometimes.  I see why the Americans can't win in Paris every year.

- Argentinian sushi (cream cheese in all the roles...Yuck!)

and....onto the things I WILL MISS MOST about Buenos Aires:

- The silly thing  I will miss the most is EMPANADAS!!!  I had one as an appetizer (and sometimes the main course too) with every meal I could.  Those little meat filled pastries don't seem to be as tasty outside of Argentina.

- Tango!
Learning and watching it was a lot of fun.   I am still a work in progress when it comes to my own version, but I definitely now have a greater appreciation for that dance and how difficult it is to make it look so beautiful and effortless.

- The serious answer is the warm people and weather.  Almost everyone down there was extremely helpful and amicable.  I am still not used to it.  As for summer, who doesn't like that?  (Eskimos?)

- Seeing new constellations and old ones like Orion appear upside down.

- Smiling every time I watched the water spiraling in the opposite direction in the shower or sink.  It was cool.

- 30 cent subway and bus.

~ 2 hour shifted later schedule.  Peak dinnertime was 1030pm and peak going out time was after midnight, weekdays too!

- Speaking Spanish all the time.  Life just seemed more interesting in another language.  I liked the challenge.

- Watching my Spanish improve while my English got worser.

- Slower pace of life. I believe it fosters creativity and is one reason there is so much creative talent in BA.

- Playing tennis (sometimes badly) on the red clay.  Thanks to Pedro for kicking my butt a few times.

- Amazingly tasty (and inexpensive) steaks.

- Walking past this statue every night:

     I'm not sure what she's doing but those look like fingers on the ground and I can swear she's smiling. 

- My cheap phone that took me 10 minutes to text one sentence.

- Relearning the art of conversation even if most of the time it was in another language.

- Seeing random cars from the 90s on the street with other normal cars like the Z328 or a Toyota Celica.

and lastly,

- that feeling of excitement waking up every morning even though I didn't know how the day was going to go.  Can't put a price on that one. 

Now that my adventures south of the equator have come to a close, I am undecided as to whether I will continue writing a blog.  If you have an opinion one way or the other feel free to share it with me by commenting or sending me an email privately (if it's "Stop you are terrible!" I'd prefer a private one).  Thanks to everyone who signed up and read these posts regularly or gave me feedback.  I had a special time down there and hope to keep the good vibes going in the northern hemisphere!