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To Spursland and Back Again: A Foreigner's Tale - Part 3

Okay, so we're back to our winning days. Today was an amazing day in many ways: I got to enjoy my first live victory, and I was able to experience all the behind-the-scenes happenings thanks to a providential press pass. I have much to tell you about it, but that will be then, and this is now.

Day 3

Remember The Alamo, Or Else

Two things are synonyms with San Antonio: the Riverwalk and the Alamo. With jollyrogerwilco and jannieannie in town I was finally ready to visit the latter, so jolly picked me up at 10:30 AM and we headed to Schilo's in time for what these crazy USAians call "brunch" and we Argentines would call plain ol' breakfast, thankewverymuch. There we'd meet jannieannie and my friend Ben, completing the party of four that was going to venture into the warring depths of Texan history.

Schilo's is an interesting restaurant - high ceilings, wooden walls and small columns give it a very open feeling. I can't quite remember, but the food was probably Mexican - that's the default setting for restaurants in San Antonio, it seems. I couldn't possibly have either lunch or a big breakfast at that hour, so I settled for a big ham, cheese and bacon sandwich that will probably stay in my stomach forever and more. But Dale said the pièce de résistance of Schilo's wasn't the food, it was the drinks. Or more accurately, a drink: the root beer.

That's another thing that doesn't exist in Argentina, I think, so I decided to give it a try. And honestly... I didn't like it.

First of all, it's not beer. It should be against the law to call "beer" to something that isn't alcoholic. Secondly, it's very sweet, too sweet, and reminded me of cough syrup for kids. It's not bad per se, but it's not something that will make me go back to Schilo's any time soon.

We did have time for a quick photo, though, and I had Ben take it so he wouldn't pollute it with his non-PTRness. Please excuse my and jolly's ugliness, and focus on Jane Ann's brilliance.

Now that's an awesome pink Spurs shirt, innit?

Finally, we headed to the Alamo. To be honest, it's rather small, which janieannie told me can put off some visitors that expect something grander, something John Wayne-sized. I came without any preconceptions, so I didn't have that problem. jannieannie started telling me about the battle, the context, the main characters, the befores and afters and I honestly enjoyed those few standing walls quite a bit.

For those of you actually curious, the original Alamo was actually quite large, but most of it has been pulled down and built over. Alamo St. and the shops I mentioned in my last post are all within the perimeter of the old walls. Only the fort/chapel and part of the barracks remain, but it's enough to get an idea of what the rest must've looked like.

I bet you're tired of us already, eh?

It's time for you to learn one of jollyrogerwilco's dirty secrets: being a photographer, the instant he grabs a camera he goes a little bit berserk. He kneels, steps on the grass, lays on the floor in the middle of a hotel lobby - whatever it takes to get the perfect angle, the perfect shot. For some silly reason, cameras aren't allowed inside the Alamo, despite the lack of any paintings that might be ruined by the strong flashes. Do you think this stopped jolly? Oh no. He brandished his Canon camera like a mighty dragon saber and took photos anyway, hiding the camera with his body or using us as convenient screens. I know janieannie was ready to bolt at one point, claiming she had nothing to do with the strange guy with the camera.

If you don't think that's risky, know that there were two very serious-looking sheriffs outside the Alamo, and that there was a toy electric chair across the street.

Of course jolly had to grab a picture of the spurs

Before going to Rosario's, as I already told you, we went through the Menger hotel. Since jolly has sent some of his pictures now, I can actually show you a bit of what it's like - minus the humongous moose head, though. Walking into the bar through the hotel's entrance, you pass a hallway with many photos of president Teddy Roosevelt. The story goes that prior to Cuban war Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders stayed in San Antonio for a couple of weeks, and they usually held their meetings in that bar.

Stop showing off, jolly

It's just another nice bit of history that adds to the mystique of the place, and I honestly don't want to leave this city without having a beer in it.

Getting Together At Last

Ben and I made it to Rosario's before anyone else, and not 10 seconds had passed after we had sat down when the waitress approached us and asked us what we wanted to drink. She'd continue to come to the table over and over through the three hours we were in Rosario's, continously asking whether we wanted something to drink, to eat, are you sure, because we have some great Mexican food, really really sure, think about it, I can bring it in like no time, eat eat eat drink eat I'm paid by the orderohpleasemakeitstopaaaaaah. I might be exaggerating just a tiny teeny bit, but regardless, her insistence got old quickly. I've noticed that good waiters in the US tend to be affable, good-mannered, talk fast and try to rush you out of your table. They're perfectly efficient, don't get me wrong, but it's a stark contrast with what we consider good service in Argentina: sufficient attention, silent efficiency, a sedate and elegant pace.

Rosario's itself was... satisfactory, I guess. This might not seem like a glowing review after Wayne and others gushed about it for so long, but the moderm architecture with big, clear windows to the street and high ceilings, all thinly decorated, gave it to my eyes a rather impersonal feeling that I didn't enjoy. By that time I was already tired of Mexican food, too, so despite a rather tasty salsa I was ready to diversify a little.

People started showing up, even though unfortunately there weren't so many of us and we ended up with an extra ticket no one used. Since I know that many of you are as curious as to what our regulars are like -I know _I_ was-, I've decided to describe each PTRer briefly. I hope they don't mind - but please let me know in case you do, guys. I'm also going to add a little parameter I like to call Ability To Understand What The Fuck The Foreigner Is Saying Now, or ATUWTFTFISN. You see, despite what Wayne claims, it has been scientifically proven that my spoken English can actually trigger epilepsy attacks on unsuspecting natives. I suffer from a rare condition that sets a limit to the number of words I can string together before my tongue gains sentience and starts reveling against my order, mucking up even the simplest of phrases. The ATUWTFTFISN rating takes into account the number of times I see my interlocutor's eyes lose focus for a second after I say something, while their minds start wondering: "Was that English? Spanish? It sounded like Spanish. Should I say something? Maybe just nod and hope for the best? Poor guy..." The higher their score, the better they understand my particular brand of lingual violence.

Before we start, a classic PTR-avatar-for-face group photo.


ATUWTFTFISN - 8/10. I think her love for Manu has slowly trained her ear for the chainsaw-like subtleness of the Argentinian accent. She's the ultimate Spurs fan, dedicated, passionate, and apparently knows everyone in the Spurs organization, from top to bottom. She is also the nicest, most helpful lady in all of San Antonio, and she proved her teaching mettle by showing extreme patience while Ben, jolly and I made silly jokes regarding San Antonio de Padua's height. She can captain my team any day. (And if one of you bastards TWSSes that, I'm going to hunt. You. Down.)

ATUWTFTFISN - 6/10. She was across the table, and the restaurant was loud, so it probably didn't help. Still, she looked at me once or twice as if I had just said something really inappropiate. And the worst thing is, I just might have. (We met today and it went much better, so I might have to increase her rating to 8/10.) In any case, bella is simply amazing: she's so full of passion and fire that she can be intimidating. During the game she singly outshouted her entire corner of the arena, which was great for her and not so great for said corner. Have I mentioned she's tied in first place for nicest lady in San Antonio?

ATUWTFTFISN - 7/10. Quick-witted, quick-grinned, even-keeled, good companion. jolly actually understood most of what I said during out time together, but I'm giving him a 7 because at one point I asked what a "potato pancake" was, and for some reason he started explaining what a "pancake" was instead. This devolved into jokes where he explained to me what "water" was, or what a "box" looked like. He's exactly the kind of person you think would be able to have a zillion and one kids and maintain a semblance of sanity. There's never a dull moment around him, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

ATUWTFTFISN - 8/10. A late arrival, but more than welcome nonetheless. She understood my would-be Engrish, showed me around town going well beyond the call of duty, and got on famously with the other ladies on the table. I think she's going to be around for a long time, or at least I hope so.

ATUWTFTFISN - 1/10. Okay, now here's where it all falls apart. I thought I was doing fairly okay during the get-together, considering the loud chatter around us and the multiple conversations going on at once, but my confidence flew straight into Mount Queness and exploded like a bomb with wings. My similes suffered a similar fate. She speaks softly and with a subtle accent, and I speak as if I hated the language. Still, there are quite a few things I can tell you about Q: she's smart, funny, spontaneous, a complete slob, smart, Funny, has a certain airy quality to her I can't quite describe, and in her own words, she's "a delicate flower, for fuck's sake".

ATUWTFTFISN - 9/10. The boss understands, the boss knows. He listens, he groks, he moves on. Wayne can do three things at once in his sleep, even if the law probably says he shouldn't - because eating a burger while talking on the phone and driving can't be safe. Or healthy. But Wayne looks at the big belly of Unhealthiness and laughs - then burps. He's omnipresent, omniscient, omniVore. He's also nicer than you, and if you disagree then you'd better invite me to your home, feed me, set me up for weeks in different houses, work your ass off so that some Argentine freak can have some great vacations, and keep up a blog in the meantime.

ATUWTFTFISN - ?/10. I didn't chat enough with BlaseE to really know how much he could understand me, but what little we talked was a flawless success. So I'm going to claim that he's my brother from another father and mother until further notice. BlaseE has an innocent face, but his eyes are sharp like an eagle's, and you can guess in them an intellect that can slice you in two in the blink of an eye, using nothing but the sharp edge of an adjusted +/-. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

I haven't met any other PTRers yet. I will, though, starting tomorrow with Lauri. I'm scared.

The Game

It all happened too quickly.

After we left Rosario's, Wayne, Q, Ben, jolly and me all hopped onto Wayne's SUV and headed towards the AT&T Center. The Spurs' arena is located east of the Alamodome, and I have to say that the neighborhood that surrounds it isn't nearly as nice. It's not far, though, and since we arrived fairly early we didn't have to deal with traffic.

From the moment I set foot on the parking lot until we got to our seats, I took all the classic photos you'd expect a first-timer to take: I have a shot of the AT&T Center from afar, and another one closer to the door; I have a photo of myself standing in front of the four trophies; I also have one of a Becky Hammon poster in between two trash cans (they shall pay in blood, my dear Becky); I even sneaked in a couple of quick shots of Bonner shooting threes after Wayne talked an usher into letting me see where he sits when he has media passes. And yes, guys, I also took a photo with the Silver Dancers. I know it's against the guidelines of this site to post photos of cheerleaders, but this time I'm putting my foot down. So without further ado, enjoy:


We finally reached our destination: a VIP suite in one of the corners. I honestly can't tell you how good it was, since I have nothing to compare it to. I can tell you what it was, though: comfortable, spacious and not inducive to wild cheering. Stately, if you will. It did impress me that the view was so good, considering we were very high above the court. There might just be some truth to that BlaseE maxim about there not being any bad seats in the AT&T Center. A point against the suites: the gaggle of excited teens that giggled between them loudly while the Spurs where losing their third consecutive game, not paying a lick of attention to the game.

This is a suite - be impressed

The game started, and we had a wonderful first quarter. When it ended I stood up, turned around and told jolly: "My first live wining quarter in the NBA." The good times wouldn't last. I have a lot of things I want to say about the shows during time-outs or in-between quarters, about the crowds and the entire spectacle. But I'll do it in my next post, because this one is already running long (and I want to go out and get to know the lovely city of Austin).

I spent most of my time explaining Ben who the players were, fist pumping into the air and trying to show in the defense cheer, even though it felt a tad alien to me. BlaseE had left us for his nosebleeder seats, Wayne was focused on something or another, or laughing with jolly and Q about some anecdotes I missed, bellasa was going spare with her cheering, jannieannie was a speck in the crowd, sitting in her usual seat way down there... and then we lost to the Bulls. Bummer.

We waited for 45 minutes in the suite after the game ended, just looking at each other and trying to crack a joke, waiting for the traffic to lighten a bit before leaving. On his way back home, jolly's car, who had been acting up all day, finally broke down. If that's not a metaphor for the Spurs that night, I don't know what it is.

At least I got my photo.