Mar del Plata, Argentina
When Change100 heard that I was going to Argentina on an assignment, she immediately started teasing... "Dr. Pauly and the Vicodin Diaries."
Of course, for you non-revolutionists out there, she alluded to Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries and my fascination with the revolutionary who helped thrust Castro to power in Cuba in the 1950s and was later hunted down by the CIA in Bolivia.
I was bubbling over with excitement about the assignment (as opposed to apprehension and contempt which seemed to plague most poker media these days) mainly because several of my friends were scheduled to work the event including Change100, Otis, Joe, and Alex for PokerStars and myself with MeanGene for PokerNews.
Plus, you never know what might happen in South America. Heck, the last time I covered an LAPT event in Mexico... the federales shut down the event. I hate to think that I'm a cooler. Then again, that could be a profitable business. Professional Cooler. Entities will pay me to stay away.
On Easter Sunday, I went to the pseudo in-laws house for dinner. I heard about the now infamous knife-throwing prop bet that went down the last time Change100 covered an LAPT prop bet. I did not want to show up in Argentina with a disadvantage. I'm more than confident in my deft lime tossing skills, but I haven't thrown a knife since an incident in Jamaica that occurred fifteen years ago. (You can read about that in my unpublished novel Gumbo if/when that ever gets published). Alas, Change100 found me a suitable knife and I went into her parent's backyard in Westwood and I hurled the knife at a lemon tree. On the second throw, the handle cracked. On the third? It broke apart. Karmic payback for trying to throw knives at trees on Easter Sunday?
During the Easter feast that Change100's mom whipped up, I was bombarded with text messages from G-Rob. He went to see The Dead tour opening concert in Greensboro, NC. We were also prop betting on the song openers for each set including the encores. During the Phish reunion shows in Hampton, VA in March, I was wagering significant amounts of money on what songs the band performed at different times in the show. The Joker won a huge pot on the last night and G-Rob edged me out in heads-up betting. On Easter? G-Rob and I ended up chopping.
Once I arrived in Buenos Aires, we started prop betting before we even cleared immigration. At the front of the line there was a kiosk that flashed numbers designating the next immigration booth that was available. I turned to Change100 and said, "Odds or evens? Which one will I get?"
She said odds. It turned out that only one of the open booths was odd-numbered. I was a 5 to 1 favorite to win the bet... and I did.
Change100 got some money back at the second airport in Buenos Aires. We had to drive across town and catch a flight at the domestic airport. We did not have a gate assignment, something that would not be revealed until a half-hour before the scheduled departure. She picked odds and our gate was originally 5 but they changed it at the last minute to... 11.
I'm anxiously waiting for Otis to arrive so I can take 1,000 Pesos off of him in throwing things prop bets. I actually saw a kid on the side of the road selling a sack of papayas for $4. I'm going to find him in the morning so we have plenty of ammo to gamble on. Papaya Tossing is the new Lime Tossing.
Of course, we don't know if Otis will arrive. His original flight out of G-Vegas was cancelled which meant that he missed his connecting flight to South America. Our assignment is located in a beach resort town south of Buenos Aires approximately 5.5 hours by motor vehicle or a 45 minute air flight. I had to book a separate domestic flight from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata on Tuesday morning which flew out of a different airport in Buenos Aires (similar to arriving at JFK and then having to head to LaGuardia to finish up your journey). All of the other Buenos Aires > Mar del Plata flights were sold out on Wednesday.
Otis was supposed to arrive on Tuesday morning, but since he got screwed, he found himself in a tough situation... and the inevitable horror of having a 5.5 hour bus ride ahead of him since there were no available flights Wednesday to Mar del Plata because the LAPT kicks off on Thursday and hundreds of online qualifiers and players filled every seat.
The TDs (Greg and Mike) arrived on Easter Sunday and discovered not a single available seat on flights (because of the holiday) so he took a cab from the airport in Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata.... a good 5.5 to 6 hour drive. The taxi cost him $1,200 USD.
Alas, Otis was looking at a 5.5 hour bus ride. Originally, PokerNews arranged me to travel on a bus from Buenos Aires > Mar del Plata. I could only imagine what a bus ride in South America would be like... chickens flying around, crying babies with snot crusted on their face, holes in the floorboards with dust swirling all around... not to mention, a gaucho with a blade in the back row challenging anyone who wanted to use the toilet to a fight to the death. So instead of riding on a dilapidated bus without AC while sitting in my own warm piss, I decided to avoid a shanking in a scene reminiscent of a Jose Luis Borges short story.
I paid money out of my pocket for a flight to Mar del Plata to avoid the plight with the unwashed masses on the lengthy bus ride. The flight only cost about $130 more than the bus and I'll more than make up for that difference in prop betting with Otis. Then again, there's plenty of local soccer, er football, to wager on if I can find a legitimate local bookie.
Sadly, MeanGene is booked on one of the buses from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata. I can only hope that he'll arrive in one piece. Please pray to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, and ask him, the Virgin Mary, and the entire choir of angels in heaven to protect MeanGene and Otis on their passage to the coastal town of Mar del Plata.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
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