Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 10 - Bolivia Trip

Sunday started with an unexpected power outage that left us with nothing much to do. It gave me a good reason to go to church.  There is a Catholic Church just a few blocks away. Come to think about it, I don't think there are many offer kinds of Christians here. I didn't understand much of what the pastor was saying but some of the traditions were the same.

After lunch and a walk around the town, I came back to the power being restored. A Monopoly game had started between a few of the other volunteers and after that game was over we all went to Burger King because when you go to Bolivia, it's a must to go to Burger King.

It tasted similar to North America. The fries weren't as salty but it still tasted normal. I noticed how normal the prices were as they were more accurate to what you would pay back home.

We went home and watched Netflix again. They started a series called House of Cards. It is kinda interesting but but I'm not sure why they have to use Fake presidents for the story. Would be much more interesting if Donald Trump was the show

Weather is getting warmer here as we are nearing the end of winter. Still no sign of any clouds.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Day 9 - Bolivia Trip

The power was out today at the Volunteer house so I'm just getting to this now. Yesterday was my first day off where I have been addapted to the time change and everything.

There are basketball courts just down the street from where we are staying. Me and my friend wanted to go shoot some hoops but on Saturday's there is soccer being played on the courts. After watching a bit we decided to avoid the heat.

I found a computer to use in the late morning, got caught up on the North American news and such and it's where I'm writting my blog from right now. Only problem is that it's a Spanish keyboard so every word is telling me I spelled it wrong and the letters are in slightly a different order.

No meal yesterday but we went out and found a place to eat on the corner. Hambuger was fine but not what I was used to but the price was right.

After a few of us watched the soccer game, most of us went to this Pool party. I haven't played Pool for awhile and I'm still unclear of the rules. Beer tasted good and that was the only thing that mattered.

Days go by fast down here. So cold in the mornings and the sun goes down by 6. Once it is down, it gets dark in a hurry.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 8 - Bolivia Trip

I´ve been at this for a week now and it feels good. I miss a few things like my phone and such but only during some of the day.

Bolivia is a country of just over 10 Million and 60% of the population live in poverty. Lunch seems to be the main meal of the day here, most shops close down for lunch hour.

At 11am yesterday we had our bi-weekly meeting that is mostly in spanish and therefore I only understand a little bit of it.

Lunch was pasta with a patato sauce. It was very good like anything our Bolivian Grandma cooks.

At the school yesterday, we did a craft for the first part and then played soccer. Lots of goals happen when it's only 3 on 3. I really enjoy how talented the kids are all things considered.

After we got back there was a massive Ping Pong tournament held at the house. Singles didn't go very well but I managed to get to the finals in doubles with my Danish partner. Hot Dogs and pop was served along with popcorn. It was the last day for our California volunteer who is heading back to school at UC Davis next week.

We finished the movie Lion last night. A bit of a sad ending but good movie anyway.

The volunteer house is located in a nice area. Lots of shops and places to eat close by. At a stop light in Bolivia, there is a countsown clock that tells you when the light will turn green. I think that is super cool.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 7 - Bolivia Trip t

I haven't shaved yet, the tap water takes too long to warm up. I want to soon though because having a beard makes me feel old.

What I find interesting about Bolivan money is that there are 50 cent peices and 5 dollar coins. Also, when you buy something there is no tax added to the price.

Been eating a lot of the same food but yesterday was the first day I was full after all three meals.

I was placed at the other school yesterday. Kids had fun playing soccer. I was goalie for one of teams. Made a few good saves but didn't get much help from my defense on a few of the goals.

Last night after dinner at a another family run restaurant we watched the movie Lion which was really impressive. Unfortunately, the movie stopped working with 15 minutes to go.

Bedtime is usually late but it feels normal because I'm 3 hours ahead.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 6 - Bolivia Trip

My bed is comfortable, not as comfortable as home but I have slept on worse before. There isn't much to do in the morning because it is very chili. Found Harry Potter in Spanish yesterday.

Breakfast is usually buns and scrambled eggs. It's filling because lunch is usually just around the corner.

Most streets are paved around the area I'm staying. Lots of roundabouts and interesting but old streets  but that makes for a unique atmosphere. Drove past a Burger King yesterday, that was cool.

Lunch was Patato Soup. It was good and there was seconds.

With the kids yesterday we did math and more basketball. This tine we played bumb and steal the bacon. A few players are pretty good considering the lack of coaching they have had. It's sad that a few of them wear the same clothes everyday and looked like they haven't had a bath in weeks.

Last night we ate at a house that the families garage was turned into there restaurant. Chicken and cheesy rice was extremely good.

Right by our house there is a park and there was a band practicing for Bolivia's Independence Day coming up. The band was vey good and entertaining to listen to last night.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 5 - Bolivia Trip

The mornings are cold here. With it being a older house and such it can feel like your living in a cabin. With water being expensive, generally showering doesn't happen every day. When it does, water takes a long time to heat up. The water and the cold evenings are my only complaints so far.

Volunteers are from France, Belguim, Spain and Denmark. There is also one volunteer from California. Some of them speak Good English.

Yesterday morning we went to the outdoor mall. Stores are inexpensive and good selection. If your wondering, fidget spinners are still popular down here.

It's also nice to go for a walk along the streets. Coke signs are everywhere. Weather is perfect, haven't seen a cloud yet.

Lunch yesterday was Roast Beef and mashed potatoes. Fantastic again.

At the school yesterday we played basketball. Limited in the drills we could do because of only 1 hoop and 3 balls it we managed to do a relay drill and a variation of bump. I won one of the rounds to the kids surprise.

Dinner last night was at a pub, food was good but the portion size was small. Our food took awhile and the waitress decided to play a game of Yahtzee while we were waiting for the food. I got a good chuckle out of that.

Starting to know my way around. Feels weird without google maps. Everything is so cheap compared to North America. I'm liking it. Need to find a way to get MLB.TV going as baseball is still on at 1-2 am here. I kinda like eastern time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 4 - Bolivia Trip

Monday was the first day working with the kids. Morning went by fast but I was able to get to the bank and exchange my American money for Bolivanos. They don't take American money despite reading this online. Also, very few places take credit cards.

Returned back for lunch where there was a very well cooked meal of meat, rice, baked patato and vegetables. Very filling and felt good.

After lunch we got ready to go to the school which wasn't much of a school by North American standards. Two classrooms that could fit 12 kids or so. The kids could sort of point out where Canada was on a map.

They colored for an hour and then went to the playground before ending with snack. Snack was a small glass of milk. They were able to understand my broken French better than my good English but they were giviving me attention at least.

The children live in small 1 room houses with no electricity. I assume it must be hard to pass the time.

After we got back to our house, we had pasta for dinner as it was the last dinner for one of the volunteers. We went out to the bar late at night and the bar played good music. The city turns into a ghost town at night because the locals find this weather cold. I'm still in shorts though.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 3 - Bolivia Trip

Sunday's here are usually pretty quiet. Not much is open but our group ventured off to the Farmers market type place. It reminded me of Granville Islands market. Unfortunately, they didn't take American money.

Before we got there we stopped for some ice cream which tasted amazing. Got back to the house around 2pm and enjoyed the warm weather on the deck where there is a Ping Pong table.

A few of the volunteers watched the Manchester United - Real Madrid preseason game. We ate dinner at a hole in the wall place that was very welcoming. I had a dish like Poutine but instead of fries there was small hot dogs. Very tasty.

Went home to find that the Whitecaps game was on TV and after watching a bit of that changed channels to find that Sunday Night Baseball was on while everyone else watched Game of Thrones. All channels are in Spanish but still a good selection. After the game was over I headed to bed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bolivia Trip Day 2

Day Two started with a long lay over in La Paz. In this city, walking up a escalator makes you feel that you are running a marathon. I had a coffee like drink at a place that would make Starbucks feel like a low calorie place.

Layover went by fast and the flight to Cochabamba was quick. Might have seen 12 soccer fields in a short time frame.

Landed and got off the plane and someone was already waiting to pick me up. A nice drive back to the volunteer house. The place is amazing but hasn't been updated in quite some time.

There was a fundraising soccer tournament yesterday at a soccer field that seemed quite competitive but I wasn't quite sure what the winner got. Beautiful sports complex with soccer outside and volleyball inside.

After that was over I basically spent the rest of the night sleeping and unpacking. The city seems plesent with no one in much hurry to go anywhere.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Day 1 Bolivia Trip

The first day of my trip was not as tiring as I expected. Got 3 hours of sleep over three flights that saw me have Pitt stops in Pheniox and Miami.

I was dropped off at the airport just past 6:30ams Seattle time. Airport worker was nice enough to get me in the fast past lane going through security. Had a ciminion Bun at Seattles Best Coffee before I got to my gate.

My flight dragged along despite being the shortest of them all. Sat by someone who was coming back from Alaska. I had a window seat and on the decent was able to see a few spring training ballparks and ASU's football stadium.

In Phoenix, was able to stop for a uneventful smoothie stop and was able to watch a bit of the British Open. Hoping the Canadians made the cut.

The second leg of the trip was a much more enjoyable flight. More legroom and a movie. Couldn't hear the movie because I again had a window seat. The movie was Baby Boss which seemed like a goofier version of Family Guy.

Got to Miami right at Sunset. Most airport TV's had the Tampa Bay Rays game on which I had no time to watch because of how big the Miami Airport is. Stopped for some Pizza at a place called 305. While I was walking to my gate at D15 I passed players from the Honduras national soccer team. Was tempted to call them out on their historically blatant time wasting tactics but I decided I didn't want to ignite an already hated rivalry between Canada and Honduras.

Was able to fall asleep just past midnight local time and was awake for the last hour of flight this morning.

Airport workers know a surprising amount of English and again was put in a fast pass lane during customs before claiming my bag at baggage claim.

Waiting for my connecting flight to Cochabamba. Was a bit bit cold this morning but the sun rose shortly after.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The European Winter Season is Underway

The European winter soccer season began yesterday when two Bulgarian sides starting us off with a 2-1 win for Lokomotiv Plovdiv over Etar.

Yes, two small clubs that won't be making head-waves in Europe anytime soon but this is a sign that the EPL is around the corner.

If you have a HDMI cord, check out this website. Almost every soccer game is on there. This site is perfect if you follow a team in a different country than your home country.

All these leagues will have a Champion that will take part in the UEFA Champions League. This tournament is being revamped for the 2018-19 year which doesn't have the small countries feeling very confident that they can have success.

Most of Europe is happy by just playing in the Top tier. There's likely over 1000 European teams and there are only 78 UCL spots. Do the math.

For the start of a new year, it gives teams new hope that something special can materialize over the new year. For me, the most boring thing in soccer is when Barcelona meets Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final.

I'll elaborate on this later but for now, here is how the 55 different leagues go into the new year:

RankingMember association
(L: League, C: Cup, LC: League cup1)
CoefficientTeamsPlaces in 2019–20 season
110 —Spain Spain (LC)23.00020.21423.92820.1421.71488.9987/74[14]37
220 —Germany Germany (LC)14.71415.85716.42814.5711.71463.2847/7
330 —England England (LCLC1)16.78513.57114.25014.9282.28561.8197/7
440 —Italy Italy (LC)14.16619.00011.50014.2501.33360.2496/6
550 —France France (LCLC1)8.50010.91611.08314.4161.33346.2486/636
660 —Russia Russia (LC)10.4169.66611.5009.2000.80041.5825/5
770 —Portugal Portugal (LC)9.9169.08310.5008.0831.33338.9156/625
891 +1Belgium Belgium (LC)6.4009.6007.40012.5000.80036.7005/5
98-1 –1Ukraine Ukraine (LC)7.83310.0009.8005.5000.80033.9335/5
10100 —Turkey Turkey (LC)6.7006.0006.6009.7000.80029.8005/5
11132 +2Netherlands Netherlands (LC)5.9166.0835.7509.1000.90027.7495/5
1211-1 –1Czech Republic Czech Republic (LC)8.0003.8757.3005.5000.20024.8755/5
1312-1 –1Switzerland Switzerland (LC)7.2006.9005.3004.3000.80024.5005/5
14151 +1Austria Austria (LC)7.8004.1253.8007.3750.75023.8504/4
1514-1 –1Greece Greece (LC)6.1006.2005.4005.8000.20023.7005/5
16182 +2Denmark Denmark (LC)3.8002.9005.5008.5002.00022.7004/414
1716-1 –1Croatia Croatia (LC)4.3756.8754.5005.1251.25022.1254/4
18202 +2Poland Poland (LC)3.1254.7505.5003.8751.37518.6254/4
19223 +3Israel Israel (LC)5.7501.3752.2506.7501.75017.8754/4
2017-3 –3Romania Romania (LC)6.8755.1252.2503.3000.20017.7505/5
21243 +3Cyprus Cyprus (LC)2.7503.3003.0005.5001.87516.4254/4
22264 +4Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (LC)2.5003.6254.3754.2501.62516.3754/4
2319-4 –4Belarus Belarus (LC)1.7505.5005.1253.0001.00016.3753/4
2421-3 –3Sweden Sweden (LC)3.2003.9004.7502.7501.62516.2254/4
25272 +2Bulgaria Bulgaria (LC)5.6254.2501.0004.2501.00016.1253/4
26293 +3Kazakhstan Kazakhstan (LC)3.1253.3754.6252.7501.62515.5003/4
2723-4 –4Scotland Scotland (LC)3.2504.0003.0004.3750.62515.2502/4
2825-3 –3Norway Norway (LC)2.6002.2007.2501.3751.75015.1754/4
2928-1 –1Serbia Serbia (LC)2.5002.7504.2502.8751.00013.3752/4
30322 +2Liechtenstein Liechtenstein (C2)1.0002.5005.0002.5002.00013.0001/1011
31310 —Slovakia Slovakia (LC)1.6252.7503.7502.1251.37511.6254/4134
3230-2 –2Slovenia Slovenia (LC)2.6254.0001.0002.2501.37511.2503/4
33352 +2Iceland Iceland (LC)2.5002.5001.1251.0000.8758.0003/4
34340 —Moldova Moldova (LC)3.3751.7501.2500.8750.6257.8752/4
3533-2 –2Hungary Hungary (LC)0.8752.1251.6251.8751.1257.6253/4
36382 +2Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland (LC)0.2502.0000.7002.6251.1256.7003/4
3736-1 –1Finland Finland (LC)0.5002.4001.0001.7500.8756.5253/4
38391 +1Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina(LC)1.5001.7501.5000.5001.2506.5003/4
3937-2 –2Albania Albania (LC)2.0000.8752.1250.8750.6256.5002/4
40422 +2Republic of Macedonia Macedonia (LC)0.5001.1251.5001.2501.5005.8753/4
41432 +2Estonia Estonia (LC)1.0001.5001.0001.3750.5005.3751/4
4241-1 –1Latvia Latvia (LC)1.6250.2501.6251.3750.3755.2502/4
4340-3 –3Georgia (country) Georgia (LC)1.8751.2500.6251.1250.1255.0001/4
44440 —Montenegro Montenegro (LC)1.2500.7501.0000.8751.0004.8752/4
45450 —Armenia Armenia (LC)1.1250.3751.6251.1250.6254.8751/4
46493 +3Malta Malta (LC)0.8750.1250.8751.2501.3754.5002/4
47481 +1Lithuania Lithuania (LC)1.2500.5000.7500.5001.3754.3753/4
4847-1 –1Northern Ireland Northern Ireland (LC)0.8751.3750.7500.5000.7504.2501/4
4946-3 –3Luxembourg Luxembourg (LC)1.5000.5000.7500.7500.6254.1253/4
50500 —Wales Wales (LC)0.7500.1251.5001.0000.5003.8751/4
51510 —Faroe Islands Faroe Islands (LC)0.8751.3750.3750.3750.7503.7501/4
52520 —Gibraltar Gibraltar (L3C)No entry0.2500.7501.5000.5003.0000/323
53530 —Andorra Andorra (LC)0.3330.5000.1660.1660.1661.3310/3
54540 —San Marino San Marino (LC)0.3330.0000.0000.0000.1660.4990/3
550Kosovo Kosovo (L4C)
Not a UEFA member
No entry0.0000.0000/212
Back to the Bulgaria game, Bulgaria as a country is ranked 25th out of 55 countries. That means they are a middle of the pack league. Yet, PFK Ludogorets Razgrad, remain one of the Top 32 teams in Europe which is a pretty good achievement. 

However, for a night, Lokomotiv Plovdiv was top of the table as they try to the Champions League for the first time since 2004. 13 years. That is European  soccer for ya.