I am currently in Valparasio Chile. It is an interesting place, big port and naval base, and an UNESCO heritage site. I have been here for a few days, and leave tomorrow for the north of Chile. Hopefully to see some copper mines, sawmills and the world’s biggest telescope.
Anyway, a summary of the last few days in terms of their sporting significance is as follows:
After Spanish classes ended I went to play a game of squash with my friend Rogario. He plays a bit in Brazil and I did tell him my story about my losing to a 70 year old man in the past. But my Spanish numbers might have been wrong… 70? Maybe sounds like… 50? Was the age lost in translation? Anyway I squeaked a win which was fun despite a month of eating steaks and drinking red wine, just with an excessive amount of sweating.
After squash, we were returning the racquets. The house the courts are in, yes a house, has a lounge. I was passively annoyed because of the cigar smoke outside of the court. This is an athletic club after all, so it seemed a little out of place. Anyway, there was an older guy and his sidekick there and he was impressed that I was from Canada. He is named Enrique and is a Chilean industrialist who owns factories that produce pipe and parts for Caterpillar heavy equipment apparently. I can geek it up on heavy equipment all day so that was fun chatting, but he demanded we stay for drinks because he was celebrating the birth of a grandson. So anyway, squash turned into a mix of Spanglish with huge Cuban cigars all around playing darts for two hours. It was very fun. It was my first game and I almost repeated my awesome beginners luck that I had in my only game of horseshoes in Santa Cruz California 5 years ago. It would have imparted Canadians with the ringer title for decades but the wheels fell off halfway through…. And similarly, and reminiscent of my old squash defeat, I lost in darts to a 70 year old man.
After the darts, it was BBQ time. There was Canadian guy there originally from Turkey named Ersin. I declared that Canada was a soccer powerhouse and would easily take the 2014 World Cup. The Europeans were somewhat offended until they figured out I was joking. Anyway they knew of curling and wanted it explained. Ersin explained it properly. I got more creative and added this for specifics:
We really admire Florida, the land of Cadilacs and very old Canadians. And shuffleboard. And we wanted to emulate this inert culture by putting Shuffleboard on ice because, well, ice is awesome. And make the game played with a leader. Who yells and his or her subordinates. Their job is to sweep. That’s it.
Sport: Scamming Gringos
I went out a group from the international students residence that I was staying at for the Spanish class. Anyway, it was Wednesday night and I made it to 2:00am before leaving. I was the only one in sight going out not in, so again, pretty nocturnal culture. I got a cab and the guy was dodgy, some neckless greasy guy with long hair. So I was friendly enough and chatted with him in Spanish, but kept an eye on him. He was behaving rather oddly. I had to make it clear that I was stone cold sober and not born yesterday.
Sure enough he tried a few wrong turns but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told him where to go. When getting home, I gave him a $10,000 Chilean peso note for the $6000 ride. He did the magic trick and switched it for a $1000 note, and claimed I owed him $5000 more. $10k is only about $20 Cdn, but still. Even then was polite and told him I wanted my change. It’s not difficult to know one is in the right because like Canada, the notes are colour-coded. He was a terrible actor. This had been going on for about a minute and the strategy was not working. Time for a new strategy. It was not fully in Spanish and it reminded me a little bit of this scene in The Kings Speech:
Lionel Logue: Do you know the “f” word?
King George VI: Ffff… fornication?
When the dust settled I got what I wanted. But I forgot to get his details which is unfortuante for the next person.
I had a cool Brazilian roommate for the week named Marcello. He chronicled one of our incoherent discussions on his Fb page.
It is basically (*Portuguese*):
I am sharing a room with an North American guy in a Spanish language country… I am like, want to come to a party with the guys in the other room? He’s like, naw, but you guys are cool.
Alternate title: Being smart enough to avoid huge $$$ at the dentist
Brazil is like Canada with a mixed martial arts being really popular. Marcello always has his friends in the room consistently, and one day a guy was there named Decio who was really excited about his new ‘UFC’ gloves. They are the articulated ones, maybe 4 or 6 oz or so. So anyway they wanted me to try them out too since the are, in English, Spanish and Portuguese, ‘cool’.
This in Canada would be very predictable – we’d all have to show what we know and learn some new stuff! Clear out the room and make a ring! But there was a very intelligent element of restraint to the whole thing. It is so nice to be slightly older and wiser. The Brazilian guys obviously don’t want to subsidize Chilean dentists either.
Sport: Botched Batman Jokes
I have met 4 people more than once, accidentally, in multiple cities now. I just had my first three-peat the other day, in Santiago. He is an 18 year old English guy named Tom who is an aspiring astro-physicist attending Cambridge this fall. This is where Stephen Hawking studied too, so sounds very cool. This also means I have a high probability of seeing Tom at the big telescopes in northern Chile. Last of all, he also looks like he is 14 or so, so credit to him for doing so well in South America by himself.
I saw him at a big BBQ at one of the hostels that I was not staying at, but Rogerio and I plus a French guy named Vincent invited ourselves to it after Spanish class on day. Well, we paid our way in, but BBQs here are cheap and great. We talked for a while when I hear this ominous “hello Bryan”, voiced like a Bond villain. It is a menacing looking kid…. who looked 14…. it was Tom. So that was cool (he had a haircut that made him look at least 15 or 16 now, so that was good and was also the reason why I did not recognize him at first.)
Anyway, poor Tom was in Valparasio with a friend. Then two guys come out with a gun and demanded they give their bags over. Tom was not happy with this, and did not comply. He kept his bag, but got punched and need stitches as a result. His friend’s bag got stolen. What was good though was that the cops arrested the bad guys and after a quick visual ID they are going to jail. Also the bag was recovered. Tom then says he will come back to the city soon. He wanted to see it properly.
I had already expressed my sympathy and admiration for his making it though and wanting to come back. As such, I thought maybe I could get a Batman joke in now. I said, with mental pictures of retro Batman’s “POW”, “BASH” captions going on in the background. Me:
Wow. You are brave. But that is the best kind of return. Yes….. that is definitely the best return… to exact sweet, sweet vengeance…!
Tom looked at me and said nothing for a few seconds. Then he patiently lectured to me that:
My friend. You must however understand that, well, these individuals have already been arrested. They are in jail now. Vengeance is thus unwarranted. I am strictly interesting in seeing the city…. not in vengeance (*this last word pronounced in disdainful proper English).
Ok, my absurdest humour is a little off-base sometimes.
Last of all, I will close a photo that I took in Ushuaia.