December 17, 2006

Oracle Gets Down
Mar del Plata, Argentina

THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP—the sound of the bass could be heard through the closed door of the nondescript restaurant. Multicolored lights panted the drawn curtains. This was spot—Oracle's unofficial holiday party was inside, and I was on the list.

This was absolutely nothing like any other corporate event I've seen. I always looked forward to formal (and decadent) holiday celebration that the Apollo Group would throw in Phoenix every December, but it never had 1/10 the energy found at this party.

I walk in—an open bar to my right (with a pair of bartenders mixing or blending your pleasure); a loud dance floor in front of me, with a mass of young professionals acting anything but (professional); and in the back I can see some folks lounging on comfortable couches. It was as good as any nightclub I've been at in Latin America.

Things could get a bit wild in the early hours of the morning. At one time or another the dance floor felt like it was being controlled by a bunch of crazed soccer hooligans.

An interesting twist in the evening is that I basically needed no introduction. It's a little odd walking around a place already being known by most of the crowd, when you've never had any acquaintance. I spoke with a guy later in the evening who told me he had asked someone at the party Who that foreign guy was over there dancing, when he got the reply That Tom's son! He probably omitted the …acting like an ___ from the full answer. (grin) Why do I have a feeling like I'm going to end up in an internal newsletter, or something…

There was a good sized group for the narrow restaurant, probably 50 or 60+ people. Most everyone was in their 20s, married or in a serious relationship, and worked for Oracle as a software developer, marketer, or manager—some for upwards of eight years.

Quite an experience—I left at sunrise.

Sushi and Spice and Everything Nice

Yesterday afternoon, before the Oracle party, I made my way to the BsAs China Town. Buenos Aires might be compared to Manhattan a lot, but the China Town from New York this most certainly was not—more like a China street.

I entered into a supermarket and jumped into another world—it was crazy seeing the mixture of Chinese products with items labeled in Spanish.

Spices—but not just that—spicy spices. I'm in love. I haven't seen a market carry these types of Asian flavors for a long, long time. I've missed it.

Sushi

You should have seen the look on my face when I actually found sushi that I can afford. You can buy these large uncut rolls that range from AR$5.50–7.50 (US$1.80–2.45). I died and went to heaven. I ate two big rolls, and enjoyed the first sushi I'd had in well over a year.

Visiting this simple market has pretty much solidified my decision on what direction I'll be flying when I leave this continent—I go west, to SE Asia!

Success

Two successes this week. The first is that I made it to the American embassy and got the extra pages inserted into my passport. Citizens of the U.S. are fortunate in that we don't have to get new passports when our pages are all used up (like most other countries), the amendment (taping) of new pages is done for us at no charge.

I now have a thick little booklet in the middle of my passport that has enough room for 100 normal sized stamps—that should hold me for another year or so.

The second success was with the illusive immersion heaters that I was searching for in Bolivia. In BsAs the average price I was able to find was somewhere around AR$3.50–8 (US$1.15–2.60), but I needed cheaper.

Amazingly, I managed to find a little store in downtown that sells them for AR$1.50—about US$0.50—half the price I was about to find in Bolivia. I successfully trialled a sample, and Andy gave me the green light to buy 400 of them.

I put a small deposit down with a surly Asian man (who wrote my receipt out in Chinese or Korean characters), and should be able to take possession of the heaters on the 21st (to mail off to Andy). I'm a happy boy.

A New City

I decided that I needed a little vacation from Buenos Aires, so I scrapped myself together this morning (those open bar parties can be hellish the next day), packed up, and made my way to the bus terminal.

I had a headache, and fighting the crowd for a (US$14.50) ticket didn't seem like such a good idea when I finally got there—it seemed like the whole of BsAs was busing down to the beach city Mar del Plata. Buses were sold out until later in the afternoon.

I thought it was just the massive weekend crowd heading down to the beach (6 hours to the south), but what I came to learn was that the Argentinean equivalent of Metallica was playing to a massive crowd at my destination.

I arrived tonight at the tail end of an intense storm that had almost drenched me, and had knocked the power out to the city. A bus terminal at night with no power is not where you want to be.

I pulled the closest hotel out of my guidebook and walked (everyone was clamoring for the three available taxis). I ended up being shown my room (the last bed in the establishment) by candlelight—in a dilapidated hotel that has been outfitted with bunk beds instead of doubles. For this I am paying AR$20 (US$6.50) per night.

I'm not sure what to expect from this city, but new locations are always at least initially stimulating. The trio of Texans in my room tell me the water is pretty polluted, and the nicer beaches aren't within walking distance. I'm thinking about Brazil…

Comments:

Anonymous

December 18th, 2006

You cant compare the beaches in brazil to those in mar del plata.I love mar del plata but you wont find good beaches there, there is a lot of stuff to do especialy during summer.

Argentina

Craig | travelvice.com

December 19th, 2006

I figured you couldn't. I haven't been to Brazil yet, but will be well on my way by this time next month (that's why I was thinking about them…)

By the way, the newspaper says 35,000 people attended the rainy open-air concert the night I arrived.

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