Christmas Came Early
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This year Santa Claus is Argentine, and his busy elves are my father.
My dad is remotely managing a team of Oracle software developers here in Buenos Aires. His friend and #1 guy is Mariano, the point man (manager) of the group. They've been working together for years.
Mariano was recently up in the U.S. on business, and was kind enough to courier down some items for me, which have been awaiting my arrival in BsAs. Santa himself couldn't have done a better job. The story told of how he got my items through customs was most entertaining.
Mariano and his family (wife and two children) picked me up at my hostel last night, and whisked me on a little tour of the city and a fantastic dinner. He and his wife are so friendly and easy going, I can see why my folks like them so much. Mariano reminds me of a mix between my dad and my friend and photography mentor, Craig Strong.
It was great hearing a few stories from Mariano about when my father and Windy (step-mom) occasionally come down for a visit.
I heard about how Windy is known by the Hilton staff, and can confidently run around a foreign city without a command of the language (a part of her personality I haven't seen). How my dad needs two full days in town just to meet and greet everyone who knows him, and how he can silence a room on a teleconference call by dropping in an unexpected word or phrase in Spanish (in an otherwise English conversation). Or perhaps how the two of them practically lived at Freddo, a local ice cream chain. I got the dirt on you two down here! (grin)
Dad really likes BsAs—I think he could see himself retiring here.
I was invited to the Oracle Christmas party on the 15th, which I'd love to attend. The week following I'll take a quick tour of the offices, as I'm curious what the setup is like for the 200+ local employees.
OK, the goodies. There was no unwrapping involved (as Mariano had already removed it to help pass though customs), but it was still exciting—I had almost forgotten what the items were I had requested.
The big one on the list is the replacement for the HP Jornada that was mailed to me in the Caribbean. I use a PDA and collapsible keyboard to write for Travelvice, and the Palm TX is the next step towards perfecting the equipment that I carry.
I bought the TX off my brother, who found it used on Craig's List for a bargain (but wasn't using it as anticipated). The huge motivator for doing this was the built-in wireless Internet (Wi-Fi). As free access points become more and more common, this little feature is really going to become enjoyable (and hopefully a money saver).
Other great items included:
- New sandals (the exact same that I bought, and have loved, in the Caribbean, but finally fell apart in Chile after daily wear);
- Accessories for the TX (keyboard, hard case, small SD memory cards);
- A package from Shoel (my "Delta Force" diving buddy met in Honduras, living in Canada) containing a military-styled hat and DVDs packed with new music to listen to);
- A new collapsible toothbrush;
- A new battery charger and rechargeable batteries;
- Two 512MB flash/thumb drives (to replace mine that went missing in Salta);
- Stuff for an upset stomach;
- New military-grade pants (fantastic to travel with);
- Secret pockets that I sew into my pants and shorts (to keep from having to wear a money belt); and
- A Skype headset—every single backpacker should have one with them.
I've got a nice bag of extra/replaced stuff from my backpack to give to Mariano, which he said he'd have no problems holding until dad shows up in town again.
New clothes, toys, and a slimmer more efficient backpack—what more could you ask for Christmas?