An eventful week in Argentina, and one more yet to come

MAR DEL PLATA – It’s been a week since my journey to Argentina began with an unplanned night in a hotel near Intercontinental Airport in Houston, necessitated (and paid for) by an unnamed airline (Hint: An international flight out of Intercontinental) because of a maintenance problem on the aircraft.

Since that halting start I have:

– Taken an unplanned bus trip from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata, courtesy of a flight canceled by volcanic ash in the air.

– Discovered I had booked myself into the same hotel that is hosting Team Argentina, a fortuitous coincidence.

– Hailed a taxi after the first night of play, a cold, rainy night at that, the ancient auto sputtering to a halt trying to drive up a moderately steep hill, the driver then backing down in neutral before letting me out to walk the final few blocks.

– Become a bit of a celebrity in the press room because I’m the reporter from San Antonio who covers Manu Ginobili; two young interns waiting for me to file my tournament summary one night so they can get the URL for SpursNation and follow my reports.

– Eaten a steak nearly two inches thick.

– Been stopped by Luis Scola on my way to the elevator in the hotel, the Rockets forward approaching with an incredulous look on his face, asking “You are the writer from San Antonio for the Spurs, yes?”

– Made an online reservation for a car to drive to Bahia Blanca, then discovered the agency listed on the reservation no longer represented the international company that booked it. Sent to the agency that had taken over such bookings, I was handed the key to the agency owner’s personal car because the rest of his rental vehicles already had been taken out.

There has been some amazing basketball, as well, and not just from Team Argentina, and the competition thus far was merely the first round of qualifying games.

There’s another week of action here in Mar del Plata, a city that loves its basketball and has made visitors here for the tournament feel welcome.

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