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...