Thursday, August 04, 2011

Travel Report: 2011 LAPT Punta del Este, Arrival

Welcome to UruguayWe’re here. Thousands of miles and many hours later, we’ve made it. Poker awaits.

After that long layover in Chile, there was one more short, sleepy flight to Montevideo, Uruguay which landed late afternoon. Still more journey to go, though, as we were about an hour-and-a-half drive from our destination in Punta del Este.

We pushed through customs without much difficulty, then wound our way to transportation where thankfully a driver awaited us. Along with Brad, Mickey, and myself came two players, one from the U.K. who now lives in Australia and another from Canada.

When the three of us identified ourselves as American, the Canadian -- thinking we were players, too, and not there to report on the tournament -- asked “How are you able to play?” We just shook our heads and answered “We don’t,” leading to a short conversation about how Americans were being summarily shut off from online poker, generally speaking. I didn’t bring up my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class, my grim smile the only evidence of my awareness of the irony.

We speedily hurtled over to the east coast and then northward as both night and a steady rain fell. Eventually the beach came into view out the right side window, the white caps of the waves emerging in the darkness like mouths opening and closing. We were taken to one abandoned-looking hotel and informed the driver it was not ours. He then took us to another, also desolate and from an initial glance seemingly uninhabited. It was the right one, though, and we piled out, entered the lobby -- weirdly unlit, with only a light above the desk -- and checked in.

Dark and wetThe clerk then led us to our rooms, a trip that began in an elevator -- also worryingly unlit -- then wound through a series of eerie turns through the basement, the time passed with jokes about leaving bread crumbs. Finally we were pointed to our rooms, which while hardly on par with those luxurious suites at the Thunderbird back in Lima in April look as though they’ll be adequate. (As long as the water works, as it hasn’t always thus far.)

We weren’t quite able to rest yet, however. There was still the welcome party, a usual first step for these things. While all the travel had pretty much taken us out of a partying mood, we were all in a food mood, there being zero options anywhere close to the hotel for such. By nine o’clock we were back in another van, taking the 20-minute trip to the Nogaro Casino where the party was being held.

LAPT President David Carrion addresses crowd at Punta del Este welcome partyWe found food. And some friends, too, including our PokerStars pals Reinaldo and Sergio and Lynn and Will from PokerNews. We reunited with LAPT President David Carrion, too, who later spoke a bit about the upcoming schedule this week and Season 4 of the LAPT. Was a huge crowd, and the buzz was that we’ll see a relatively large turnout for the $2,300+$200 main event.

We’ll be over at the Mantra Resort, Spa & Casino in a short while for the start of Day 1, a few minutes’ drive from where we are staying. Raining again this morning, although as I look off the beach-front balcony of my room I can spot a little bit of blue sky peeking out.

I do like seeing that sun. Cold, dark, and wet ain’t great for the spirits, especially on the tail end of such a long, exhausting journey.

Thursday morningBut the temps are supposed to be mild this week (i.e., in the 50s), and hopefully the sun will remain out to brighten things up, too. Might even have to wander out on that beach before all is said and done.

But that’ll have to come later. ’Cos poker awaits.

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