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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Women's Basketball: South America 2009 blog


Sunday, Sept. 13

Today began with out last breakfast of the trip abroad at our hotel in Santiago.

Mid-morning we left for a tour of the north/upper side of Santiago, and visited several upscale neighborhoods. It was interesting to see different types of areas, one which could easily be comparable to Los Angeles. It was exciting to imagine the type of lifestyle that the upperclass of Chile lived in, especially when comparing it with the lower class housing which we also had a chance to see.

After touring the neighborhoods we drove to a handcraft fair with vendors selling items ranging from chickens, rabbits, china, and hand woven scarves made of goat hair. We snacked on delicious avocado sandwiches and our teams favorite of the trip, meat-filled empanadas. We left the fair with gifts for our friends and famly and headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out, for the last time.

After we packed up we drove to the top of a large hill for one last view of the city. The view was absolutely beautiful, another incomparable experience to add to the list over the past past nine days.

We continued driving to a large Chilean Mall, which upon entering into a Macys-look a like store we felt we were back in the familiarity of the U.S.A. With the exception of a six American dollar caramel macchiato from Starbucks, many of the stores were similar if not identical to those you would find in an American mall.

With team purchases ranging from Cola-Cola soccer jerseys to beautiful leather purses, we left with our expectations filled and our wallets empty. Leaving the mall we drove to the Chilean airport where we said goodbye to what I personally, and I think so many of us would consider ten days we will truly never forget.

- Dana Kaplan


Saturday, Sept. 12

Today was our first whole day in Chile and it was full of fun!

We started out the day with a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel and headed off bright and early for our Santiago city tour. We first took the subway to the downtown area. The subway was surprisingly clean and Carlos, one of our tour guides for the day, explained it was one of the oldest working subways in the world.

Once we arrived downtown we split into two groups and walked around the neighborhood for a few hours. We learned about both political and social aspects of Chile as we saw the sights. For example, we learned their President Michelle Bachelet is the first democratically elected woman president in South America.

We also passed by a famous Chilean actor shooting a soap opera in the main square! After seeing the sights downtown, the groups met up and had lunch at a small seafood restaurant, where the locals eat, which was awesome!

We then had the opportunity to walk around the huge fresh seafood market and then we went to a handmade crafts market both of which were very lively and exciting!

Finally, we headed off to the soccer game! Chileans take their soccer seriously! There was tons of crazy fans and team spirit, which we took part in, rooting for the home team of course! It was a blast to experience the Chileans passion for soccer! After the game though, we headed back to the hotel and the night is ours for dinner on our own. All in all, a great day!

- Taylor Simpson


Friday, Sept. 11

Our day began quite early as we had a long journey ahead of us. We set out from our hotel in Mendoza, Argentina en route to Santiago, Chile. A spectacular scenic tour awaited us as we wound our way through the countryside and into the Andes Mountains.

Momentary setbacks put us a little behind schedule one of which included a small group of protestors. Argentineans of the mountain ranges are finding it difficult to battle large companies that wish to invade the area in search of gold. They fear that the natural majesty and cleanliness of the land may suffer during this process. No action has yet been taken concerning this matter and the land's beauty remains.

The two lane road that took us through the mountains was unexpectedly populated. A great number of trucks, cars, and tour buses ascended the mountain side with us along its sharp curves and sleep slopes. Railroad tracks were spotting curving through the valleys as was the original mountain road no longer in use today.

Not long after stopping for an amazing photo opportunity, we arrived at the Chilean customs checkpoint. After a rather lengthy delay, we finally crossed the border from Argentina into Chile. There were virtually no customs issues to report except for maybe Stacey whose makeup was mistaken for dangerous explosives.

Our descent down the mountain and into Chile began just after leaving the checkpoint. We carefully crept our way along, past beautiful ski slopes saturated with adventurous skiers and under an incredible ski lift. The snow soon began to fade and the desert, full of cacti, met us at the base of the mountain.

We stopped at a street side café to enjoy a much needed bite to eat and continued on to Santiago. Despite arriving a bit later that expected, we are very excited to spend our last few days in a bustling city. After ending the evening with a very hearty and delicious meal, I look forward to more wonderful things that the city might have to offer.

Also, I would like to highlight two important birthdays that are being celebrated today. The first is our very own Sophia Senyo! And, the second is my Mom, Karen. I hope both of your days were fantastic. ¡Feliz Cumpleaños, chicas!

- Karly Kasper


Thursday, Sept. 10

Tonight was our best dinner yet. When we first got there all of the girls sat on one side and all of the guys sat on the other. Coach McGrath quickly made us intermix with one another at the tables. We talked about rafting, hiking, and the wine tasting.

The coaches and John Bonelli each made a toast thanking everyone for such an amazing trip. They spoke of how amazing all of our experiences were. We feel lucky and privileged to have had such a wonderful dinner, with such a wonderful crowd. The dinner was an incredible memory, but the beginning of the day was also great.

While the men's team went rafting and hiking (which they say was a blast, despite the chilly waters), we were enjoying life at various wineries. The first winery was a larger one, a museum in fact, and we were lucky enough to have a fine tour guide to fill us in on everything we needed to know.

After the first winery, we traveled to a second one. This one was a small winery, privately owned by the Antonelli famliy. Mr. Antonelli and his family gave us information about his winery, fed us, and made us feel very comfortable in his home. It was a fantastic experience, something we will always remember. Two wineries and a fine dinner, as Ice Cube would say "It was a good day" (the boy made me say that). We are so excited for the few days we have left in Santiago, Chile! Adios from Mendoza, Argentina!

- Bryanne Halfhill

Today we went to two wineries. The first one we visited was La Rural. This is one of the bigger vineyards in Argentina. Our tour guide was telling us that it was one of the oldest vineyards. It was originally owned by an Italian family known as the Rotini Family. Their family crest was in the old wine cellar along with the other antiques. I think the official name of the vinyard was Bodega La Rural, and the museum was Museo Del Vino. The website for the vinyard is www.bodegalarural.com.ar.

The vineyard/winery is set-up as an outdoor museum, where parts of the compound are still used for making wine, while others are used for wine tasting and tours. Coach Sain was telling us that the newer area would be a chemical engineer´s dream, in which case Micaela replied that was a very nerdy remark. Anyways there are apparently two ways to grow grapes or grow wine.

At this vineyard they used the upper style where the vines grow tall and connect at the top almost making a roof. And the other style was lower to the ground. At the end of the tour we go to taste some red wine, and in the room there was a mini-art gallery. The artist paints real life portraits of the people who live in the desert and their culture. These paintings were really interesting because they showed the pueblos and other characteristics specific to their culture they is not often seen.

The second winery we visited was alot smaller than the first one, but I think we all enjoyed it more because it was more personal and it seemed like it was straight out of a story book. It was owned by an older man and his wife along with some other people they hired, but all in all there is only about five people who work the vineyard.

The man said he had been working with wine since he was in high school which he estimated to be around 47 years.The vineyard was called Familia Antonielli. He taught us how to smell and taste the wine and basically said it all comes down to whether or not you like the taste. All the other stuff (like the swirling your cup, gurgaling, etc.) helps but if you like it ...you like it....if you don't...you don't. Anyways this part of Mendoza was more rural and desert like, but extremely beautiful.

After we finished our tour and the wine tasting, they gave us lunch with fresh empanadas straight out of a man made oven, which I think made it better, becuase they were by far the best empanadas we´ve had including yesterdays at a restaurant we went to. But, his family and neighbors were very hospitable and we had a great lunch with dessert. From both vineyard we saw the the Andes Mountains, which is great sceneary for them to have all the time. And, the water that comes from the snow on the mountains is used for irrigation for the whole town.

Also, another fun fact is that there are no natural growing trees in Mendoza, they were all planted, so there is one tree per person, I dont know if they plant one everytime someone is born but yea. All in all it was a good day and it was really nice to see both vineyards. It was a good way to spend our last day in Mendoza.

Also quick birthday shout out to Stephen Palmtag on the men's team.

- Sophia Senyo


Wednesday, Sept. 9

Today was definitely one for the books as our excursions toward the Andes were the absolute highlights of our trip so far.

First, we took an amazing scenic bus ride through Mendoza to get to our initial destination. Once there we met Krusty, our handy dandy rafting guide, who led us through our excursion on the Mendoza River who we later learned was nicknamed after the character from the Simpsons for his similarity in appearance.

There was some initial shock regarding our attire (wetsuits, windbreakers, gloves, life jackets, helmets, etc.) as everyone was a bit caught off guard by the size differences between Americans and Argentineans. We were all feeling a bit strange wearing XXL gear but our post- player Anna, felt surprisingly invincible in the chic ensemble and was eager to get started so we grabbed our oars and got down to business.

Halfway through the adventure, our point-guard Jamie took an involuntary swim in the river as she fell off the raft and into the ice-cold class 3 rapids as we traveled through the treacherous stretch called the "Mother-in-Law Rapid."

We all made it safely through the one-hour adventure down the river after racing and even beating the coaches' raft back. (Coach\Editor's note: this is not accurate!) After this eventful and surreal portion of the day we ate a great lunch and warmed ourselves by the fire to prepare for our next adventure- a once in a lifetime opportunity to hike through the Andes Mountains. The views were absolutely breathtaking as we looked out over snowcapped mountains and pristine lake. We urged Jota Pé, our tour guide for this trek, to extend our rocky climb so we could see a gorgeous waterfall. The extra effort was well worth this special prize.

Overall, the day was a huge success and our favorite day so far. We got to experience one of the greatest beauties of South America and the best part is we are only halfway through our trip! Tune in for tomorrows blog to hear about our winery tours and to see what else Mendoza has in store for us! ¡Adios!

- Meg Herrick and Sarah Herlihy


Tuesday, Sept. 8

Hola, hola from Argentina! After traveling around Buenos Aires for three days, we decided it was about time to move on to Mendoza. Right as we stepped off the plane, we could not help but realize we were not in a bustling city anymore, but rather in a smaller city in the foothills of the Andes. After a bumpy flight, we headed to Mi Tierra, a nice restaurant featuring traditional Argentine meats and empanadas.

Despite the incredible deliciousness of our lunch, I can´t help but admit that the highlight of our day was yet to come. We were lucky enough to be able to lead a free basketball clinic for about 40-50 Argentinian boys. The boys were all different ages, ranging from about 8-17. We had four stations: passing, shooting, ball handling, and 3-on-3. I was quite excited to be on the coaching staff of the 3-on-3 station. I might be biased, but I think we were the best station. Tres versus tres=great hit.

I must say, though I´ve worked at basketball clinics in the past, this one was particularly challenging, because of the language barrier. I´ve taken Spanish in high school and college, and I definitely was at a loss when trying to cheer the kids on at the tres versus tres station. I´ll have to call up my teachers and tell them the importance of learning to say "pick and roll" in Español. We also learned the hard way that one does not show the number three by using their last three fingers. It turns out that holding your fingers up that way after someone drains a three does not convey any sort of celebration. But, despite some embarassing cultural snafus, we were able to communicate with the boys, play some basketball, and have a great time doing it.

Everyone was feeling good at the end of the clinic. There were lots of high fives and cheers, and we even got to play an enormous game of knockout. But after signing a few autographs, playing knock out, and having dunk contests on 7-foot rim, we sadly had to leave. The clinic really was a great experience for both our teams. It was a really great to be able to hang out with the kids, I just hope they had as much fun as we did!

- Anna Woods


Monday, Sept. 7

Today we went on a tour of Buenos Aires and visited several interesting neighborhoods and landmarks.

We walked around an area called Caminito which is where the Tango originated so there were several Tango dancers performing on the streets. After our tour we had a great lunch in downtown Buenos Aires then rested at our hotel before the game.

Tonight we had our big game here in Buenos Aires which turned out to be quite an experience. Unfortunately we lost by three points after being up for most of the game, but we enjoyed learning the style of basketball adopted by the Argentinians.

After the game we had sandwiches with the girls from the other team and worked on our Spanglish. They were extremely nice and interesting to get to know which made for an awesome experience. They were a professional team and are playing in their league´s championship game on Tuesday so we wish our new friends the best of luck.

Tomorrow we´re off to the other side of the country, Mendoza and are really excited about it. Also, as of five minutes ago Argentina time it is officially the 22nd birthday of our very own Micaela White ... Feliz Cumpleanos, Micaela.

- Molly Hackney


Sunday, Sept. 6

Our first official day in Argentina took us to Estancia where we got to ride horses and eat authentic Argentinian food. The gauchos (Argentinian cowboys) showed off by doing tricks while riding their horses which ultimately resulted in the girls team having infatuations with these Argentinian men and Bryanne falling head-over-heals in love with Jorge, the ultra-masculine gaucho.

After the short little "show," both teams got on the horses. While some players were able to keep their horses in line, others like myself, had horses that had other things on their minds. My horse, Patron, wanted to do anything but follow the group and Jake´s horse actually bucked him off, throwing him in the air. Having two basketball teams on horses, circling the yard at Estancia was interesting to say the least.

After the horseback riding, we had another meat-filled Argentinian meal. The gauchos, now waiters, brought around plates and plates of meat. Some of the meat was recognizable and some was a little different. Joe and Stacey were the only two adventurous enough to try the blood sausage, which was black and oozed black juice. I have no idea what meat was used to make the sausage, but by the looks on the faces of the two, it wasn´t too tasty.

Our last major activity of the day was a street fair in a different neighborhood. The street fair not only included many of the same things we saw in the fair next to our hotel, but many of the vendors sold antique mirrors, cigarette cases, jewelry, etc. which almost looked like family heirlooms.

The entertainers on the street were great! We saw people on stilts, people posing as statues, and an old woman banging on pots with a sign that said, "Show me the money!" After meeting with everyone on the bus, the popular item of the day seemed to be the Argentina soccer jersey. All in all, it was a great day in Buenos Aires!!

- Kaitlin Devaney


Saturday, Sept. 5

Our big trip has definitely started off with a bang. On Friday, we left for O'Hare to fly to Argentina. Everyone was really excited to finally leave for this trip that we've been planning for months.

We jumped off the bus and hurried into the airport, ready to fly to Miami and then to Buenos Aires. Then we found out our flight was delayed and spent two to three awesome hours in the airport.

When we finally reached Miami, we found out that our flight had left without us. While we were told that we would be able to leave on the next flight to Buenos Aires, that flight was overbooked. So then we spent 2-3 more awesome hours in the Miami airport hoping that everyone would get a seat. It was a close call, but eventually everyone was on board and eating those cute little airplanes meals (I recommend the pasta dish).

We finally reached our hotel on Saturday around 11 a.m. We all explored the area on our own for a few hours. Across the street from our hotel is a really beautiful cemetery where Eva Peron (Evita) is buried. Some of the tombs are hundreds of years old are over thirty feet tall.

We all met back up for dinner at a steak buffet whose sign depicted a smiling cartoon cow. After dinner we were dropped off in in the Palermo neighborhood so we could experience a different part of the city. This was an interesting and happening area, especially since the Argentina v. Brazil soccer game was being played a couple of hours away. After that, we cabbed it back to the hotel and got some sleep so we could be ready for our first whole day in Buenos Aires.

- Jamie Stinson