South America Blog -- Olivia Reed
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June 5, 2013

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Olivia Reed is next up in a series that will outline U-M's 13-day tour of Brazil and Argentina, which will include nine matches across the two South American countries.

Our time in Argentina has been such a memorable experience thus far. From day one, I knew this trip would be special when we got to the hotel and Lexi Erwin had to ask another guest on our floor, in Spanish, how to even open the door to our room. It turns out we just had to push rather than pull, but Lindsey Lerg insists she tried that.

Today we were able to sleep in again until 9:30 after our late match last night. After having breakfast at the hotel, we walked to Al Teatro Colon, which is the opera house next to the theatre where we saw the tango show earlier in the week. Al Teatro Colon (named after Christopher Columbus) is not only an opera house for operas, ballets and concerts, but a factory as well. It is one of the few theatres in the world that produces items such as hats and gowns. We received a tour from a wonderful guide named Virginia. She explained the history of how the Teatro Colon came to be and the function of each room. One of my favorite facts she shared was that the Teatro used to have widow boxes so the women would be able to attend the shows even in the two years that they were spending in morning. The boxes had a separate entrance that allowed the women to attend the shows without being seen and criticized by the public at the time. We had the privilege of siting in the presidential box and viewing the theater as past popes, presidents and VIPs had experienced the shows. Then Virginia led us to the center floor where we saw the pit for the orchestra and a closer look at the stage. According to our guide, the acoustics of the theatre have been said to be perfect by artists who have come to perform. This means that any little mistake can be detected by even an inexperienced audience member.

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After the tour, we went to a huge mall where we were given money to get lunch in the food court. Many of us ate pasta or pizza after eating so much meat and with more to come after our game. Mark went from eatery to eatery in search of empanadas and luckily found some to curb his craving. Kelly, our guide for the trip, recommended a great ice cream place to us and did not disappoint. Several of us bought different flavors so we could try each of them. I chose chocolate with almonds, and it was one of the best ice cream cones I have ever had. The dulce de leche was also very good.

Once we all grabbed a bite to eat, we returned to the hotel to pick up our gear for the game. Then we took a bus ride out of the city to the capital of the province, La Plata. Upon arriving, we explored the Fundacion Cathedral de la Plata. It was such a beautiful building with high, colorful stained glass windows throughout the church. Being heavily influenced by European design, the outside of the building reminded me of La Segrada Familia. We were able to take an elevator up to the top of the cathedral and take some amazing pictures with the view of the entire city.

We then went to the largest natural history museum in Latin America. Exhibits consisted of the Big Bang to skeletons of every animal imaginable that is extinct. The museum also showcased a lot of beautiful pottery. When we were done going through the building, some of us sat outside in the park. Everyone was impressed by a guy running around the park, going up the stairs of the museum, and doing an ab circuit the entire time we sat there. He was still going when we returned to the bus.

The bus then dropped us off on a street with lots of cafes to choose from to grab a coffee and some food. Jen, Molly, Lindsey and I ate at Messe, along with some of the coaches. I had a caramel macchiato and as a coffee lover it definitely raised my standards. While we were waiting for the bus to pick us up for the match, Mark showed us that we were in the local newspaper. The newspaper had our picture and a story about the game we were about to play which made us even more excited.

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We played Gimnasia Y Esgrima De La Plata, which was celebrating its 125th anniversary as a club. We won the match in four sets. The crowd was the most rowdy and loud audience so far on the trip. They were chanting and had people playing drums in the stands. It was a fun environment to play in and good competition. Once the game ended, we traded jerseys and had dinner with the players and coaches. I sat at a table with Lexi Erwin, Molly, and Lindsey with players from the other team between us. Even though we had a limited knowledge of topics we all understood, we had a great time.

Tatiana Vera sat between Lindsey and I -- and she was hilarious. She spoke in Spanish so fast we could hardly keep up. Every time she finished a sentence Lindsey or I would just look at her with a blank face, nod and agree. Tatiana would then get we didn't understand and we laughed and she spoke slower for us. Gise Dopozo asked if anyone on our team could sing or dance and Lexi mention Krystalyn could sing. With the entire room cheering her on, KG sang part of our national anthem. The girls at our table were so impressed one of them said she had goose bumps. With dinner winding down we exchanged contacts to find each other on Facebook. The combination of great food and company really illustrated how hospitable the people in Argentina have been to us. It has been exciting to learn more about the other players and have them be just as excited to get to know us.

Finally the day wouldn't be complete without everyone arguing over who finished Jen's box of Wheat Thins once we got back on the bus. After a hilarious debate of who had been eating them throughout the day, it was decided Carly, Ally, and Kelly owe Jen a new box. This trip has been an amazing experience so far and I'm looking forward to each day still to come.

For more on U-M's 13-day tour of Brazil and Argentina, including game results, blogs, photos and video, visit our Michigan Volleyball in South America page.

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