After an Argentinian immersion weekend, we returned to the turf this morning for practice with our Casi coach, Mary. We focused on defensive skills, continued to work on shooting, and tried to implement new techniques into our field play. A pretty typical morning until… the ride home. As we pulled out of the parking lot, pedestrians were madly waving at us. We thought it was funny, but when they started chasing us we figured we left something behind. Nope, flat tire. And as someone said¨”It wouldn’t be a Bowdoin FH trip without a bus problem” (we have bad bus karma I think).
Eventually, the problem was resolved with a bus switch, but not until we 1) tried to drive on the flat until our tire shredded 2) our driver tried to change it with some very nice guys in yellow jumpsuits, aka Argentine Triple A and 3) we sat patiently on the guardrail of a major highway entertaining ourselves.
The flat tire, though, only set us back a half hour and a few showers, as we went from practice to our community service afternoon. The trip that followed was absolutely eye opening and rewarding due to the abject poverty that exists in Argentina, and we were so grateful to be able to make it part of our trip. The afternoon began with a tour of the community center and church in a very poor area of Tiger (a town outside the city).
The center was so welcoming as they showed and told us about the work they do. It is a fantastic resource for the locals, as they act as an after school, homework help center, and play space for the areas most disadvantaged children. They also teach carpentry and furniture decorating skills to the older kids and teens to give them a trade to practice if they cannot find other work. Amazingly, the center also doubles as a special needs school for about 30 kids, and a medical and dental clinic run by volunteers. The free care gives children and their families access to critical medicines, check-ups, and even teeth cleanings, that they would not have otherwise.
After the tour, we then spent time talking and playing with the kids. Unfortunately, our 20 gifts were not enough for the 80 plus kids at the center, so we left them with the adults for communal use. Some of our Spanish speaking teammates put their skills to work garnering admirers and new best friends, while others simply joined in obstacle courses (Go Nicky!), dodge ball, futbol, and tag. Everyone, though, had their own favorite moment to share when we left the center. After playing for a while, we held a FH demonstration, which was a huge hit!
The afternoon ended with snack time for all the children, and then our own snacks inside with the volunteers (again delicious pastries and top notch hot chocolate) during which we were given candy and hand painted thank you notes for our visit. It has always been said that th less someone has the more giving and generous they are, and this became quite evident today at the center. I know we all felt a renewed sense of gratitude leaving the kids and the area despite it only being an afternoon.
Back to FH though… quick food pit stop and an hour later we arrived a CUBA (Club Universidad de Buenos Aires) for our 8pm match. The team was by far the best competition of the trip as we fell 4-3 after trailing 3-1 at the half. Some sore muscles and a brisk night made for a tough warm-up, but we definitely rose to the teams high level of play by making defensive adjustments and including many of our new skills. CUBA´s goals came from two corners, a reverse chip shot to the top corner, and a shot from the top of the circle that grabbed the corner of the goal. Lindsay scored the first goal for us off a great sequence from Ashley to Maddie. The second goal was all Maddie at the stroke mark after Julia and Kate brought it into the circle. And the third goal came off a beautifully executed defensive play by Jessie that allowed Maddie and Jessie to combine for a potent offensive play.
The after-match reception included our usual gift giving and food, but this time we received some great CUBA banners to each hang in our room. Anyways, we are off to bed…as they say in Buenos Aires, not adios, but Cioa!