Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Trip Home

Monday, August 21, 2017:

Travel day had finally arrived and I still needed to do a few things before boarding my four hour flight back to Los Angeles.

Thus I went across the Anillo Perferico road bridge in front of our hotel to the shopping mall to look for a suitcase strap.

I had packed early for once and thought that my suitcase might explode due to all of the additional clothes I was taking home thanks to the goodies that the Europe Warriors experience had provided.

I got there at 9:00 a.m. only to find that no shops would open until 10:00 a.m. except for one . . .

The establishment that Laurie
and I grew to love during our 1971
honeymoon in Mexico City

We had one of Sunburns numerous Mexico City stores across from our hotel back in 1971 and discovered their caramel or cajeta crêpes the first day we were in the city.

We ate them for breakfast for seven straight days before heading to Taxco and Acapulco for the rest of our honeymoon.

I figured that it was finally time to have an order after all of these years.

 I sat at the counter for
faster service

I got coffee first

Who is that man in the mirror?

Esperanza my colorfully
outfitted server

I couldn't find the cajeta crêpes on the menu so I asked Esperanza about them and she said that they no longer serve them.

The honeymoon magic was gone.

Still, I felt that I was in too deep to just leave after paying for the coffee so I followed her suggestion and ordered the cajeta pancakes instead.

 So close

The cajeta crêpes were O.K. but they were definitely not the cajeta crêpes of memory.

I would also get an excellent hair cut and beard trim later in the mall by a young man named Gustavo. For once, the price was about the same for this service as it is in California.

The Radisson Paraiso
should be a happening spot

El Grito marks the start of Mexico's War of Independence on September 16, 1810 in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo near Guanajuato.

It was Father Miguel Hidalgo, whose statue we saw in the plaza named in his honor in Coyoacán on Sunday, who cried out against Spanish colonial rule rallying mostly poor Indians (Native Mexicans?) to fight and change Mexico forever.

 A final adios to Rickey and Jesús

I love these two men who were a big part of my life for the last 17 days in Mexico City.

At 1:00 p.m., I hopped into Europe Warriors RB and Mexico City native Irving Alamilla's car with Sandro Da Silva and Alberto Pardo for the ride to Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport.

Sandro and Alberto who both play for my former club, the Osos Rivas, were heading home to Spain after spending the past week training with the UNAM Pumas to hone their American football skills while I was headed home to Los Angeles.

My four hour Alaska Airlines
flight was on time

Thus it was time to say a cheerful
goodbye to wonderful Mexico City

 What the . . .

Seat 10C had LOTS of leg room and was comfortably wide enough to boot!

Four hours of comfort flying home it was then.

The only negative was the snack meal they served us, an extremely average, foil wrapped bean and cheese burrito.

After the incredible Mexican food we had eaten for the past 17 days?

Really . . .

 Back in the USA

I was a bit taken aback that it wasn't a picture of President Trump put there by one of his Executive Orders of course.


Before and after every EuroBall adventure, we eat something at Camarillo's premier sports bar, Cronies.

It was almost closing time when we got there tonight but they still made me a club sandwich to properly complete EuroBall X.

Again, many thanks to Jesús Sánchez and Bart Iaccarino for their amazing efforts in making the first edition of the Europe Warriors an amazing 100% first class success.

Europe Warriors II/EuroBall Adventure XI anyone?


Monday, August 21, 2017

A Restful Final Day in Mexico City with Friends Both Old and New

Sunday, August 20, 2017:

Sunday would be our last full day in Mexico City so we spent it seeing new and old friends one more time while dining in style as is the norm on this trip.

Raúl Rivera
President of ONEFA

Raúl is the former Head Coach of the UNAM Pumas who is now the top dog of the ONEFA (Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano) conference.

ONEFA is the major, mostly public, university American football league in Mexico. Most of the private universities belong to the CONADEIP (Comisíon Nacional Deportiva Estudiantil de Instituciones Privadas) league.

Raúl was also Jesús Sánchez's coach when he played for the Pumas.

We started the day joining Raúl and his family for a special Mexico City treat, a Sunday morning barbacoa at a locals only spot that was, as usual for our Europe Warriors, incredible.

Los 3 Reyes Barbacoa y Carnitas
was tucked away in a quiet
Mexico City neighborhood

The long line meant that it was
going to be a good spot

Entry to a sumptuous meal

A tortilla making machine

Place a slab of masa atop those two rollers and voilà, tortillas come out of the back end and are then heated to perfection by the ladies at the grill.

Vegetable slicing and dicing station

She was obviously a well trained professional.

The complete operation was amazing as this family run business ran smoothly from start to finish.

They start to prepare the day's meal at 6:00 p.m. the previous night when they heat up six separate deep volcanic stone ovens and place all of a large adult butchered sheep along with banana leaves and spices in each one overnight to slowly roast to perfection.

In the morning when they open, they serve everything from the first oven until all of its meat is gone before going to oven number two, then oven three and so forth.

At whatever time all of the meat in oven number six is gone, they close for the day.

When we ordered, they were just about to open the second oven.

Los 3 Reyes even had a band 

Here, take a listen

Our entourage was seated at
a long table full of salsas, cilantro,
onions and limes for our meal

They were all key ingredients to the delicious soft tacos we would devour this morning.

Raúl was content to serve us our
soft tacos made from different
cuts of the delicious meat

 One view of our group . . .

. . . and another

Some extremely sated people

With Mike Wood, Alberto Pardo
and the kids who joined us and
their parents for the barbacoa

Cafe de Olla and Desserts


Cafe de Olla

The cinnamon levels were perfect! 

The Cafe de Olla was made
in this humble side kitchen

Our barbacoa was beyond belief!

A huge GRACIAS to Raúl for inviting us to this secret dining gem in the heart of the nation's capital.


With Raúl Rivera Jr.

Raúl is a fun youngster who is full of life and a bit of a card sharp to boot.

We played a game with his collection of NFL cards on the way back to the hotel and I think that he may have hustled me.


Meanwhile back at the hotel, it was time for a few photos.

Raúl Rivera and Jesús Sánchez

With Mike Wood, Raúl Rivera,
Jesús Sánchez and Ricardo Martín

 Ricardo, Raúl and Jesús

The delightful Rivera Family
Maria Fernanda, Karen, Raúl
and Raúl Jr.

Mike and I with Maria Fernanda,
Raul Jr. and Karen

In the afternoon, I was in for another rare treat, a reunion with our old Italian Football League foe and teammate QB Arturo Sánchez and his significant other Yazmin.

Our first meeting in 2008

During that 2008 season, Arturo was the QB for the Palermo Sharks and I was the Defensive Coordinator for the Catania Elephants.

Our clubs played twice that season in the IFL's Serie A and while the Elephants won both contests, Arturo's passing and scrambling skills drove us all crazy.

He was a force on offense.

In 2009, when I was now the Head Coach of the Catania eleven and our Elephants ran into all sorts of QB problems too numerous to mention, we turned to Arturo who was back in Mexico City with a full time job for help.

He dropped everything and flew out to Sicily and, as hoped, his sterling play as our new signal caller saved our season.

I will be forever indebted to Arturo for what he did for the Elephants in 2009, he is simply a quality young man and an excellent QB.

From the "It's a Small World" category, when Raúl Rivera was the highly successful Head Coach of the UNAM Pumas, Arturo served as his QB coach for a season.

Today Arturo is an executive with Under Armour in Mexico City while still playing QB in Mexico's two year old Liga de Fútbol Americano Professional in the Spring. 

The three of us headed to the
Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City

Both famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and noted Communist Leon Trotsky lived in the Coyoacán barrio at one time.

Coyoacán means "Place of Coyotes"
in the Náhuatl language

Here are two mossy green coyotes to bring home that point.

Arturo and Yazmin

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon
Coyoacán was THE place to be seen

Lots of restaurants and shops

Did someone say restaurants? 

Arturo and Yazmin's well mannered chihuahua joined us for some delicious ceviche tostadas and beers at this outdoor table at La Cerveceria.

 Heading to Plaza Hidalgo

Parroquia de San Juan Bautista

Lots of organ grinders
on Plaza Hidalgo

No monkeys though.

Strolling on a Sunday


Kids love petting chihuahuas

Especially this cutie

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Hidalgo was a Catholic priest and Mexican revolutionary leader who is known as the Father of Mexican Independence.

This plaza is named
in Hidalgo's honor

Cool old building just off 
Plaza Hidalgo

 An expert churro maker

Here she has split open a churro for Arturo and is now slathering Nutella onto it.


For me, she is injecting
delicious carjeta into its center

Yum Yum.

Yazmin paid this man
a small sum and the show
was on in Coyoacán

Here's the show

Basically, a little trained canary comes out of its cage and picks two little sealed packets at random from a box.

One packet predicts my future in general while the other one tells me of the love life's future.

I'm 70 years old, I still have a future in general?

I still have a love life future?


But of course we had to visit
this Artesan Market

All items were, of course,
 Made in Mexico

Mexican mole ingredients
Union Shop

 I loved this artist's
face and demeanor

Even this ice cream store was artsy

I continued on my carjeta flavored afternoon with a small cup of the Mexican caramel ice cream. 

Hare Krishnas on Plaza Hidalgo
were a surprise

Saying "Adios" to Coyacán
and some cherished amigos

A huge GRACIAS to Arturo and Yazmin for a nice afternoon. It is always a joy to see these two.

I had yet another wonderful day in Mexico City with both new friends and old, all due to the great times that I have been able to experience because of life in EuroBall.


At 9:30 p.m., the few remaining Europe Warriors met for one last meal together in the Radisson Paraiso's restaurant.

On Monday most of us were finally heading home after 17 wonderful days in Mexico at all different times of the day.

I can not say thank you enough to Jesús Sánchez and Bart Iaccarino for organizing this awesome Europe Warriors project in just five short months and for inviting me along to coach some great young men from eleven different countries.

Hopefully we will meet again somewhere on the globe for a Europe Warriors II experience.