Friday, October 11, 2013

Present day happenings

September was chock full of tournaments! First weekend were the Spanish Championships for the second division, a tournament hosted by my team, Quijotes + Dulcineas, here in Madrid.

Reca and I helping set up for the tournament
 (Photo credit to Herm)

It being second division, Sancho, the ‘B’ team of the Quijotes, played in the tourney. I played as a tyro (a player already signed up for different championship tournament, a team can only have two) for this second division tourney. It was a great weekend and Sancho really came together. We came in 8th position, out of 14 teams.

The following weekend was Madunina, a tournament just outside of Milan, Italy. We played with a slightly short team, almost playing savage.

We finished in 3rd place out of 16 teams!

...and won best costume! 

For obvious reasons...

Before leaving Milan, Herm and I decided to stay for an extra day to check out the city.

Some stylish Milanese police.

Herm gave me a photography lesson and these were my attempts. 

Last, but certainly not least, were the 1st division Spanish Championships in Sevilla. We hopped on the AVE on the Friday and two days, and six 90-minute games later.... WE WON!! Quijotes + Dulcineas are the 2012 Spanish Mixed Champs!
I ended the weekend with somewhat of a bum knee but it was an amazing tournament full of intense games and some awesome play by the Quijotes.

 Photo credit: Left, to Justin and right, to Frisbillanas del Universo, the tournament hosts

Check out some game tape from the tournament!

Ultimate was not the only thing I did throughout September, it also marked my first month in my new apartment!

The move (which actually took place last June...) 

After searching online and going to a ton of apartment visits I finally found the perfect place. 

Moving via public transportation in a big city is usually a drag...but luckily Reca helped me out! Despite the help we still ran into a bit of an issue with the old elevator in my Reca's post for all the details. 

I now live in Ópera which is a great location since it involves only one metro stop to Principe Pio, where I take the bus to work everyday. The rent is much better than my last apartment and the place has much more character! 

The door to my new apartment!

Soon after moving in I decided to paint my room and Reca was on board to help. It was a tough decision but I had narrowed it down to yellow and navy, or green and navy... On our way to the paint store I found my inspiration!

My inspiration.

And so green it was. 
Sequence of events...

I also added some blue. 

Reca all tuckered out from painting. 

The last weekend of September Reca and I participated in Madrid Corre por Madrid, 10k run through the streets of Madrid.

Reca and I carbo-loaded the night before and woke up early to get to the start line in Retiro park. I finished in an hour and 3 minutes, not bad for having a bit of a bum knee. Check out the link to see my finish, on the right side, (rather hard to spot...), 1:03:25 on the live digital timer.

A sweet month ended on somewhat of a bitter note as the morning after the run Rebe, unbeknownst to her parents, returned to the United States.

Monday, May 6, 2013

April training on the pantano

A common complaint heard from Madrileños this fall has been about the abundance of rain we've had. What may be a reason for complaint to some isn't for others, as those who sail the Pantano de San Juan are thankful for a high water-line this season. 

The pantano last season: 

The pantano this season: 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mid-March on the Med

This past March I once again had the opportunity to take the RCNM Optimist Race Team on a weekend training session in the Mediterranean. Taking advantage of a long weekend we left on a Friday for a four-day trip.

The trip to Burriana, a town close to Valencia, was a bit rough as the team truck suffered a flat tire only a half hour from our destination...

An early start on Saturday morning, we unloaded the trailer,...

rigged the boats,...

briefed the on-water session...

...and we were ready for some sailing!

 After two and a half days of sailing through weather of all sorts, it was a successful weekend for the team.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A year later and back in the Canaries

After many trips to the UK this past year I have become aware of how much of a wuss I am when it comes to the cold... An embarrassment to all Canadians at home and abroad, I was thankful to be heading to a warmer climate the week after the UK exchange trip. I was off to the Canary Islands for a beach hat tournament called TIBU, Torneo Internacional de Beach Ultimate. After attending the tournament last year and having a blast it was inevitable that I return for a second year.

Post-layout at TIBU in 2012

Photo credit to Herm

The tournament is held every year in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and is a 3-day tournament, Friday through Sunday. Arriving late Thursday evening we were just in time for the welcome party and, as it was a hat tournament, the team lottery.

A sandy Herm enjoying the little shade to offer on the beach. 

Aman, fellow Quijote, and I, after laying out/face planting to catch a disc...

All photo credit to Herm

After a full day of games, with the occasional break for a free massage, each team went their separate ways for dinner and assembled later in the evening for the costume party. The theme, slightly unconventional but appropriate to current events, was Higgs' Boson.(For those unfamiliar with it check out this video, as shared by the host team, Atis Tirma.) Players not sure what to do with the theme came up with some interesting ideas, most involved polka dots, lab coats, or, for Herm and I, crashing into to each other and throwing out a paper plate with "Higgs' Boson" written on it...

Tournament organisers as 'Boson Catchers'

Photo credit to Atis Tirma

Photo credit to Heidi, our team captain
Unfortunately, my team (pictured above) lost every single game at the tournament... a humbling experience to say the least. Nevertheless, the tournament was a ton of fun once again, especially as Herm and I celebrated our one-year anniversary.
Herm and I at TIBU in 2012.
Photo credit to Rebe

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Canadian chaperone in England

Now in the beginning of April this post is long overdue. The week after the tournament in Catalonia in February I was off to England to chaperone a school exchange trip. I was involved in planning the trip with two other teachers at Gabriela Mistral. It was a group of 29 students who were coupled with English exchanges from the Alton Convent School, an all-girls Catholic school in the small town of Alton, an hours drive south-west of London. The students were billeted with the families of their exchanges.

Preparation for the exchange involved getting the students to keep a Travel Log which would include entries prior to the trip, daily entries during the trip and post-trip entries.
We arrived at Gatwick airport on the Thursday and we hopped on a bus to Alton. Once we arrived our students had the chance to meet their exchanges and attend their afternoon classes with them. It was an eye-opening experience for the Spanish students as the English education system, especially that of a private school, is quite different from that of the Spanish. At the end of the day the students went home with their exchanges and the other teachers and I stayed at a local hotel, The Swan. The hotel was quite interesting as it dated back to 1377 and received some famous guests such as Jane Austen and Queen Elizabeth.

On Friday we were off to Winchester for the day to do some sightseeing. One of the other teachers had prepared a scavenger hunt for the students to carry out throughout the day.

Our students spent the weekend with their exchange families and so I was off to London to see Herm. I met the students again when they came into the city on the Monday. I was in charge of planning their day in the city and so I had prepared a Student's Package which included the schedule for the day, a questionnaire and a map.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the city, the walking tour not so much, their interest was focused on getting photos with red telephone booths and buying everything with a Union Jack on it... Nevertheless, the trip, although nerve-racking at times, went really well and the students had a wonderful time. The English exchange students will be coming to Madrid at the end of April and the teachers and students involved have been preparing for their arrival since our return from England.
Check out Alton Convent School's website about the exchange!

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013 sailing season has begun!

These past two weekends I have been coaching the Real Club Náutico de Madrid Optimist Race Team, a team I started coaching last year after miraculously discovering the sailing niche in otherwise dry Madrid. Despite the agreeable weather Spain's reputation promises...the conditions have not been great.

The first training session last Saturday, February 23rd boasted a steady 35 knots, gusting to 50...and cold, oh so cold. Suffice to say not weather Spanish kids aged 10-13 can hack.

After a typically long Spanish lunch the wind died down enough for us to head out. The kids, however, were not keen and didn't last long in the cold. 

The second training session's conditions weren't any better. Thankfully the cold wasn't present but unfortunately neither was the wind...

Thanks to the kids' keen coach, we head out nevertheless, getting in a few tacks every occasional gust.

The next time the team and I meet we are off to Burriana once again, to a training centre on the Mediterranean coast. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Un cap de setmana de diversió a Catalunya (A weekend of fun in Catalonia)

First weekend of February I had the opportunity to participate in the Liga Catalana, the Ultimate Frisbee league in the autonomous community of Catalonia. Interestingly, Catalonia is much like Quebec in that a good portion of its population is independentist. Its capital is Barcelona and, along with Spanish, its official language is Catalan.

Foto credit to Wikipedia.

Fellow guiri and Dulcinea, Chelsi, often participates in their league and decided to organise a women's team to enter in one of the Liga Catalana's weekend savage tournaments. Beach Ultimate is played 5 against 5, and savage means that there are no substitute players, always the same 5 on the field throughout the whole game.  It was my first savage tournament and was a ton of fun.

Photo credit to the Liga Catalana.

Our team was composed of three Quijotes players (Chelsi, Rosa and I) and two players from Catalonia (Anna and Esti). A rather haphazard team, we were the self-proclaimed Arreplegades, which, as I understand it, means 'the pick ups' in Catalan.

The tournament was on the Sunday and took place on Castelldefels beach, south of Barcelona. We left Madrid the Friday prior and returned Sunday evening. In an attempt to keep things cheap I was lucky enough to stay with an Arreplegades and Quijotes team-mate, Rosa. A native Catalonian, Rosa is from Centelles, a town north of Barcelona. Their annual Carnaval festivities were taking place while I was there (pictured left). Throughout my stay in Centelles I was exposed to a lot of Catalan, either chatting with Rosa's family or friends. I found the language to be a mix of French and Spanish and although I couldn't understand everything I was able to understand the general topic of conversation.

Talking with Rosa's family, who are pro-separatism, gave me a perspective on the province of Catalonia I had never been exposed to before. Being from Quebec, the controversy of separatism is not a foreign concept to me. However, being non-separatist myself, it was really interesting to listen to their thoughts and ideas about the topic.

The name of the tournament was Campi Qui Pugui, which translates to Every Man for Himself.
Never having played together, the Arreplegades went in with no expectations. Despite that and an extremely breezy day (pictured right) we ended up making it to the finals, winning all of our games in pool-play. Once in the finals we unfortunately got killed... don't remember the score, probably because I've blocked it from my memory... An awesome day of savage play nonetheless! After the long day of playing we hopped in the car all sweaty and sandy and made the 6-hour drive back to Madrid.

Photo credit to the Liga Catalana.

The Liga wrote up a summary of the tournament, for anyone who can read Catalan... if you're missing that skill set you can simply check out some photos from the tournament.