After returning from Monte Hermoso, I came down with an illness. Nothing major. A slight temperature and I missed a day of work. Unfortunately, the cough lingered for two more weeks after which I was struck with a stabbing pain in my throat. The pain was accompanied by a general feeling of weakness and was debilitating enough that a trip to the doctor was deemed necessary. They have socialized medicine here, and also they don't. Um, what I mean is, they definitely do, but if you have the right insurance plan, you get to pick your choice of hospital and doctor. Lucky for me, my company has set me up with the good insurance plan. Again, I have no idea how all this works (and my company apparently doesn't know my name because the insurance is listed under Adrew Reed). Not having a doctor of my own, the emergency room was the easiest place to get one. I always dread trips to the ER because it always means you're going to be there for at least two hours. But I quickly bounced from the triage to the clerk who presented me with this bill:
That's right - 0.00, but it's much cheaper when you convert to dollars...
From there, I had to wait for my number to come up on the big board - like at a busy hardware store, only it wasn't busy, so I was called very quickly. The doctor took a quick look at my throat, said, "Tenés infección en tu garganta. Antibioticos." He then sent me on my way, prescription in hand. All in all, the entire visit took about 15 minutes. That's amazing. Perhaps it was a slow day being that it was Christmas Eve and all, but whatever the reason, I was totally impressed. So my first warm Christmas was spent in bed, trying to recuperate. Unfortunately, the pain and weakness didn't pass and I returned to the hospital again on Saturday, just in case. Finally the antibiotics kicked in Saturday night and I began to feel whole again.
But don't expect me to complain that I'm only picking up bad germs here. As I've mentioned previously, I've met a ton of incredibly cool people here. Furthermore, one of those people turned out to be a beautiful porteña named Belu who I can now proudly call my girlfriend. Without her, I'm sure I would surely have never figured out the health care system here, let alone countless other recent dilemmas. In sum, she's great and I feel really lucky to have met her. Surely there will be more postings (and eventually some photos - I promise) where she figures prominently.
I recently joined an Ultimate Frisbee team. The team is brand, spanking new, so you could argue that I helped found a team, but that would be really misleading as I've done zero heavy lifting at this point. So far, we're seven strong, and the enthusiasm, organization and dedication shown by the members has been impressive. This is my first regular team since my last campaign with Dirty Thirty, way back in spring of '07. There are now three teams in the whole of Argentina, so there's hope that this will help build the popularity here. Our name is Big Red which is a double-ententre as "red" means network en español. Expect many updates on the progress in the future. For now, we're still forging everything, but have hopes for rapid development and great big fun, too. For me, I still need to get my throws back, but the practices will surely help with that.
With a shoutout to all my Nebraska and Wisconsin homies!
I'm kind of a fast walker. OK, that's not true. I'm one of the fastest walkers on the planet and various friends and family often complain about it. I've got long legs and I just can't wait to get places. What can I do? Some people here walk more quickly, some don't, but the strange thing is how they manage to spread themselves out all across the sidewalk. Inevitably, if you are trying to walk past someone, they are in your way. My theory is that people walk this way because the roads are exactly the same. Lanes markings are mere suggestions, and whenever possible, drivers prefer to get in each other's way. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario. I have no idea if people drive the way they walk or vice-versa. I generally don't let this bother me, but there is one place where it drives me bonkers. I used to love going to the grocery store, but here it's always an unnerving proposition. People leave their carts right in your way and have never move them for you. They will wander right in front of you as you peruse the shelves, too.
Actually, that problem pales in comparison to the delays in the checkout aisle. The other day, I waited in the checkout line for 33 minutes. I timed it. I should note that when I got in line, I was 4th, and only one of the people in front of me had a full cart. Also, this was surely the fastest line available. I can't imagine how much this is harming the Argentine economy, but if it happens nationwide every time someone buys groceries, you can imagine that it adds up to a colossal amount of wasted time. I keep planning to do my shopping online, but haven't managed to figure that out yet. Maybe that can be a new year's resolution...
We'll finish up today with a brief discussion of Los Pitufos. Pitufos are the Spanish-language version of The Smurfs. But they don't throw the word "pitufo" into every sentence which kind of ruins the fun, right? The interesting thing is that many people here belive that the Pitufos represent the Seven Deadly Sins, and that Gargamel is actually a monk who is trying to take care of them for the good of all humanity.I guess you can see how this would go:
- Lust = Smurfette
- Gluttony = Greedy Smurf
- Greed = uh, also Greedy Smurf?
- Pride = Vanity Smurf
- Envy = Nosy Smurf
- Wrath = Grouchy Smurf
- Sloth = Dreamy Smurf or Lazy Smurf