First things first: Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and Happy Kwanzaa.
Ok…so I´m back in Buenos Aires, and it looks like I´ll be here awhile. My grand adventure of travelling back to the US through Latin America has been put on hold, although hopefully only temporarily.
Here´s the current situation: I´m back in the city, and hopefully this time I´m doing it right. I have a great apartment in one of the best areas of the city, a job, and I´m hustling hard. Basically, right now I´m not really a tourist, just a quasi-normal member of Argentine society – and the mullet I´m now sporting, courtesy of the hairdresser I last went to, who despite my adamant pleas to cut off the BACK of my hair cut everything else around it -only contributes to this. Alot has happened in the past few weeks, so allow me to try and recount it all….
I arrived back in BA two wednesdays ago from Córdoba. The minute I got in I dropped my bags at my friend´s place and took off for the Paraguayan Consulate so I could get my visa. For some reason or another, this little-known and very poor country requires Americans to get visas – and, thinking I was heading up there after Northern Argentina, en route to Boliva, etc., I wanted to get my visa. Quite surprisingly, the whole process was very efficient and went very smoothly.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, while wrapping things up in Córdoba, a very good job opportunity was brought to my attention. Not just any old job, but a job that paid in US Dollars – the most highly coveted of all jobs. Basically, someone advertised on the Princeton Career website (many thanks to my Princeton connection, you know who you are) that they were looking for someone with the following criteria: 1) someone who was either in Argentina or Turkey; 2) someone who had journalistic experience, and 3) someone who had contact with the 16-22 age range in either of these countries. Hmmm, I thought to myself – I can pretty well fill all of this criteria, but what´s the gig? Not knowing much, I applied for the position, whatever it was, and was accepted. At the time though, I was about to leave Córdoba so I had to decide whether or not I´d stay there and work on this project or screw it and take off travelling. After waiting a few days for the person to contact me again with details, I decided to take off to BA, mostly because I was dying to leave Cordoba and start doing SOMETHING. This whole time I´m wondering or not whether I really have this job – and I still don´t really know what it is. So I get to BA, get the Paraguyan visa, and gear up to leave. Then at the last minute, my¨boss¨ contacts me again with more specific details of my job, so I decide to stay in BA and make it happen. Immediately I find an apartment through Craig´s List, which I owe my life to, but more on that later.
I totally lucked out with the apartment. I happened to wake up early one morning and caught the latest posting to Craig´s List, so wasting no time I called up the owner and stopped by to view it. It´s in one of the currently trendiest ¨barrios¨ (neighborhoods) in BA, called Palermo. It´s right in the middle of Palermo Hollywood - named after the high concentration of TV and movie studios in the area, and Palermo SoHo - named after the high concentration of trying-painfully-hard-to-be-trendy restaurants, shops, and clubs that are in the area. Basically, I´d equate this area to a sort of cross between Lincoln Park in Chitown in Soho in NYC, except as far as I know a large population of young obnoxious foreigners don´t live in Lincoln Park or Soho, just young obnoxious Americans! Anyway, it´s a stroke of good luck that I found this place, because the by the time I had checked it out an hour after I called the owner (who lives there), someone else had already stopped by to see it, two people called during my visit to inquire about it, and Nico, the owner said he received a ¨mountain¨ of emails. Aside frombeing 2 blocks from the subway, a few blocks from the park, close to downtown and uptown, the actual apartment is really really chill. It´s got hardwood floors and really high ceilings, and Nico´s sister is an artist so there are really cool paintings and art throughout the whole place. Also, aside from the great price – 600 pesos a month for a room 3 times the size of mine at 814 church (G-d bless it) – my roommate Nico is 23 and Argentine, and my other roommate Claire is French, so we speak Spanish the entire time.
Anyway, so I have a cool little bachelor pad…back to the work situation. After a little bit of gentle prodding (I promise it was gentle), I find out that a US market research firm needs a short, intensive study done in Argentina. Feeling better about the situation – it´s nice to actually know what you are supposed to be doing – I sign on. Basically I need to conduct 10 interviews with Argentines between 16-22, who live in the city, suburbs, and more ¨rural parts.¨ Being the 20th of December when I get the assignment, and with holidays, student vacation, and New Years all upon us, I figure I have until mid, late January, if not February to complete this thing. Wrong. I´m told the interviews need to be completed and the report needs to be sent in by January 2, at the latest. Uh oh. Immediately I go into action, once again utilizing G-d´s intstrument of getting things done, Craigslist. Although my spanish is really getting nice, I didn´t want to take any chances with this assignment. We all know what happens if you try to mess around with corporate America, or think for you own for that matter…shudder. So I put a posting on Craig´s List for a translator, noting that I need one immediately, and within 5 hours, I have almost a dozen replies. After checking his resume, because clearly I´m the consummate business professional, I decide on a guy named Armando from Mexico whose living in BA with his girlfriend. The next day I ¨interview¨ him over coffee, actually paying for the drinks myself and writing it off as a business expense…my how the times have changed. And just a few days earlier I was agonizing over Whiskey and Coke or Gin and Tonic….but I digress. Anyway, Armando and I hit it off immediately – after little deliberation it´s decided that he´ll be the Dr. Gonzo to my Raoul Duke.
And so, we then embark on a crazy week of interviews, running all around this huge city and its outskirts, day and night. To get the required interviews outside the city, I decide that we should go to Mar Del Plata, a big seaside resort where I know a girl who I met in Córdoba. It was a beautiful day, and fortunately the opportunity arose to mix business with pleasure. After taking the 5 1/2 bus from BA to Mar del Plata at 7 am, Armando and I hung out at the beach until about 6 or so, and then proceeded with our three interviews. We finished around 9, took Maria, my friend from Córdoba, out to dinner, and then catch the bus at 11. Getting in to BA around 4:30, the the situation around the bus station was, as to be expected at a South American bus station in the middle of the night, a bit sketchy. Just as Chris Rock said about MLK Blvd. is true for the bus station, not just in South America, but anywhere. If you don´t believe me, go down to the old Greyhound station on Fayette Street in West Bmore. The fact that Armando had his laptop (and the our entire project on it), along with my iPod and digital camera didn´t make us feel any better…but we finally caught the bus, and I arrived back in bed around 5:30 this morning after a job well done. I just have one more interview and then I need to put this whole damn thing together, which will surely take a few hours, but I think I can get it all done before the big 2-3 on Friday.
Speaking of my birthday and the holidays and all, it´s definitely a bit strange being here without all of my good ol´friends and family. Nico took me and Claire (Frenchy – Peaux, the other roommate) to his Aunt´s house for Christmas Eve, which was really nice, but it´ll be weird having my birthday here and New Year´s without alot of people to live it up with. Last year in Vegas and LA was off the hook…but right now I´m still trying to figure out what I´m doing for the celebration and for New Years.
Anyway, that´s the story for now. I have my apartment for another 3 weeks, but I´m really enjoying the situation in BA now, and, as I´m getting paiddddd – modestly – although sufficiently enough, I want to live in BA for awhile longer and really live it up in the city. I´m thinking about taking an intensive spanish class next month at the University of Buenos Aires, and staying here until mid-February or so, when I´ll take off for my trip.
Other interesting notes, random musings, and/or annoying observations:
-Unbelievably enough, Armando spent a summer in Cumberland, MD – of all places, a G-dforsaken mill town whose heyday was probably the summer of 1885 when the circus came to town – working for a publishing company selling books. The world, as they say, just gets smaller and smaller.
- One of the guys at Christmas dinner, after a discussion on American football, informed me that he´s friends with Martín and Bill Gramatica.
- Totally unbeknowst to me until I randomly flipped it on, the Ravens game was on Sunday Night Football ESPN and I got to see it – great game. Kyle Boller throwing a touchdown? This had to be seen to be believed…Also, I just heard Billick´s staying for one more year. Don´t know how I should feel about that.
- After New Year´s I went to a party with a bunch of French expats at this apartment. Firstly, it´s funny how people from the same countries are so exclusive…i.e. an American party, A french party, etc. Anyway all of the clichés rang true at this party (including the one just made) – these crazy party animals really let down their hair and slummed it, drinking bottles of Red Wine and brie all night long, the usual party fare. Another interesting, if not awkward, moment occured as I was freshening up in the bathroom and found myself staring face-to-face at a portrait of Jacques Chirac. All of this aside, everyone was very cool and no, the subject of ¨Freedom Fries¨ never came up.
- I´ve been listening to the New Kanye West CD. Of course I know I´m about three months late, but I think it´s pretty legit.
- Last week it took a plumber all day to dismantle and rebuild our bathroom wall. While this is completely insignificant, I´m proud to report (Jonathan Clark, future CEO of NYC´s first and foremost plumbing operation, I hope you´re listening) the wide-open asscrack, THE symbol of the international fraternal order of the brotherhood of plumbers, is alive and well in Argentina.
- Lastly: send all hanukah/christmas/kwanzaa/bday contributions to my mother…I can promise a good return on your investment, in the form of distraction from work through more blog entries…Hey, the more you pay, the more you laugh, and tell me, what kind of sick person doesn´t want to laugh? Are you sick?!