First things first – I´d like to thank all of my fans, my family, my friends, and of course J.C. for all of my success – my site has hit over 5,000 visitors. Thanks everybody, and, in the immortal words of Dirk Diggler,
¨Wow. I dunno what to say . . . I guess. Wow. We can always do better — and I’ll keep trying if you keep trying so let’s keep ROCKING AND ROLLING.
Disclaimer: This should be one of my racier blog entires, so if you may be offended or may possibly hold anything I say – which is all in good fun – against me in the future, please stop reading. Otherwise, enjoy.
Anyway…where to begin. There´s so much to tell and yet at the same time none of it seems that exciting to me, because I guess I´ve really settled in here, so nothing is that novel anymore, just business as usual. I´ll try to recount the past few weeks as best I can in a somewhat organized fashion, but it´s been a crazy few weeks so try to bear with me.
As I write this I´m currently ¨sexiled¨ from my room – yes, that term that once characterized Freshman year has come back. Basically, being at this hostel is like summer camp, except without the adult supervision. Well, the owner of the hostel is pushing 40 years old, but has all of the maturity of Rodney Dangerfield at a gynecologist convention. He´s quite the interesting character – after my simple request that he order me a chicken dinner from this place that one of his ¨amigos¨ works at, he informed that this would simply be impossible – last night his ¨amigo¨ walked in on him with another group of ¨amigos,¨ and has been pretty broken up about it since. Something tells me he wasn´t debating the merits and demerits of nuclear non-proliferation with his buddies…Anyway, this owner is quite the character, in every sense of the word. While compulsive liar, raging man-whore, and all-around ne´er-do-well all come to mind, he´s also a nice guy who genuinely cares about the hostel and tries to make everyone to feel at home. Then again, it wouldn´t be too far of a stretch to use all of the aforementioned terms to describe our last President, and look how popular he was…but I digress. Anyway, with a man such as this at the helm of the ship – and of course the ship is located in the ¨zona roja¨ (red light district, seeing transvestites is now an occurence so common it no longer surprises me) – there´s bound to be good stories. Fortunately, most of the more interesting ones don´t involve me, so I´m free to observe and muse over all of the events that transpire in this crazy place down by the river.
Last night I had my first run in with the police. I have to admit I´m a bit surprised: 1) it took so long for me to have an encounter with them (not because I´m doing anything wrong, but just because), and 2) everything went as smoothly as it did. This is South America, lest you forget…in fact, I´m informed you didn´t ¨really¨ experience South America if you haven´t bribed any cops. Anyway, last night I´m walking home to the hostel around 12ish – my normal ¨hardass I-don´t-smile¨ face in full force – when I spot 3 cops on the corner. We were the only ones around, so it would have been pretty shady if I crossed the street in the middle of the road, so I keep on a ´truckin. As I pass by the group, they demand that I stop. One of them starts in on me in rapid-fire spanish – most of which I understand – but I just play dumb the whole time. Seriously, I think this was clutch. If they know you understand Spanish, then it´s all that easier to shake you down, because they know you understand them. If they need to speak in English it´s that more frustrating for them, and any possible outcomes: 1) shaking you down, or 2) taking you ¨downtown¨ suddenly become much more complicated…thus, option number 3) letting you go and not dealing with the headache of translation and paperwork, suddenly becomes much more attractive. So they grill me in broken English for 5 minutes or so, and I conjure up the ugliest American hick accent I can possibly think of when saying the ¨few¨ spanish words that I know (think POR FAY-VOR, GRAH-SEE-US, huhuh), playing it off that I´m a student whose just beginning to take spanish classes. They demand ID, which I have, in the form of my license – which is nice, I thought for sure I´d be ¨fined¨ for not having my passport – and then they let me go. After the first few minutes, they actually turned out to be pretty nice. I shook their hands and left…glad to be done with it.
Anyway, the past few weeks have been more or less the same, as I described in my previous blog entry. The work has been few and far between, and shows no sign of getting any better. Even if I had work, I don´t think it´d matter too much – these students are flakier than the Pillsbury Dough Boy (sorry, it´s late guys). Last Friday I got message from a woman expressing a strong desire in learning English, so I call her back first thing on Monday. We talk on the phone…¨Oh you want 5 classes a week? Great…for work? Great…You´ll meet me at the mall at 5:00 today for our first lesson? Great!¨ So there I am, sitting at the mall for an hour, waiting patiently for this woman who said she wanted 5 lessons a week for a month – no small commitment. I never would have stayed till :20 to 6 if it weren´t for all of the eye candy walking around the mall, but I do, and then I leave after leaving both a text message and voicemail on her phone. Later that day: no call, nothing. Fast forward to today, Wednesday night: Nada. The icing on the cake was that on Monday I was supposed to meet with my (reasonably reliable, aka 60 % of the time) other student, who didn´t bother to call me to cancel either. I had to text her Monday night just to have her inform me that ¨she couldn´t make it.¨ The only reliable student I had was through an institute when I coached this woman whose interviewing with Intel to be head of their Córdoba operations – not too shabby – but that was only 3 times.
Otherwise, I´ve been working odd jobs at the hostel – translating, going to the bus station at 6 am to try to get people to come here, cleaning, serving as doorman, tutoring the owner and his nephew (who also works here) in English occasionally, and calming the often highly-overstrung Israelis down as the Jewish liason-at-large from the hostel. While of course it doesn´t pay, I´m anticipating a well-deserved reduction in price from my rent once I leave here. I´ve been here exactly 5 weeks, and that´s not too uncommon here. Right now there are a pair of German girls and an American guy who have been here for a few weeks too. In an other interesting side note, I´ve become really close with the German girls and I´m taking them to Chabad House this Friday for Shabbat services. I don´t want to get into a whole dissertation on that subject right now, but they are really cool girls and genuinely expressed an interest in Judaism, so I´ve been teaching them about it. Also, my Swiss friend Tobias (the one whose in love with a Brazilian woman whose married to the prosecutor of her city) left to go to Brazil and be with his woman for good, depriving me of probably my best friend since I´ve been here. The atmosphere here is great though, which is the reason I think I stay – I haven´t really pinpointed it otherwise, maybe because I find everything so damn amusing. It´s like the movie ¨L´Auberge Espagnole,¨ South America. When I went to the bar saturday night, out of 7 people 6 were from different countries: Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, U.S., France, and Argentina. Add to this the steady stream of Israelis who come through here every day, and there´s never a dull moment.
Thanksgiving two Thursday nights ago was really fun. Oddly enough, for the first time since I´d been here, other Americans came to the hostel – 3 of them, all separately (one heady girl from Alaska, a guy from Sacramento and a guy from Arizona). Hmmm. Anyway, we couldn´t find any Turkey, but we did go to a ¨parilla,¨ which is basically and all-you-eat beefest, but you get to choose which cuts you want. Add into the mix salad, bread, water, and bottles of wine, all for the price of $10 USD per person, and you have a lovely expat-Thanksgiving dinner.
Because I think I´m leaving soon, I´ve been a bit more ambitious in my daily activities. Last week I visited most of the old colonial churches around town, and within the past two weeks I´ve gone to the ¨beach¨ three times, including today. Basically the ¨beach¨ is this river thats about 1 1/2 hours out of town…it´s got a slight riverbed with sand and it´s right next to the mountains, so it´s really beautiful. Last week everyone from the hostel made it out there, prompting the owner to lock up the hostel. It was a great day – about 15 of us sat hanging out by the river and aside from an asado (Argentine BBQ) we were all treated to the site of my Korean friend Kim belly flop of a 15 foot rock ledge…in his words, ¨mucho, mucho dolor¨ – it was a site that would´ve made the BumbleBee Man proud. I´ve also been going to different parks around town, because 1) they´re free and 2) if you have nothing really to do, they´res no better way to pass the day than listening to music and sipping maté, the Argentine national drink and a national obsession. Here´s what maté looks like: It´s billed as being better for you than coffee with all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks – true perhaps, but I know two things to be true, 1) it´s a nice little ritual, sitting with your friends and passing the maté around…and 2) if I drink too much it gives me the runs (but then again, that´s not saying much).
In another note, the past week or so I´ve been hanging out with the ¨hip hop¨ crowd. It´s kind of interesting going to a party and seeing guys wearing doo rags and gold teeth…but the rap-wannabe scene is in full effect, 5,000 miles away from homebase. It´s interesting to note that the ¨skater¨ scene kind of cross-breeds with the hip-hop scene…the skaters all like rap music, and alot of the ¨G´s¨ skate. I don´t know what to make of it, but it´s nice to hear some good American rap being pumped out, as much as I do love electronica, Argentine pop, and the 4 english songs they play, literally 10 times a day, every day. As much as I hate to say it, it really does show the power of TV – I´d be willing to bet most of these ¨hip hoppers¨ don´t understand even half of the slang that´s put out in the rap songs, much less seen a black person in their entire lives, but you´d never get that impression from going out…they eat it up. Dr. Dre video´s playing the background, punctuated with the occasional freestyle in Spanish are all fair game. Allright now I´ll stop being a hater and just appreciate being able to get down to Mike Jones and Cincuenta Centavo on occasion.
What else…hmm…ahh, love life. Well because I´ve been going out so much – actually made it back home at 9:30 am Saturday morning, latest all time – I´ve been meeting alot of people, but nothing worth mentioning. I´ve been going out occasionally with this girl I met when I was here a 2 months ago, but I´m not really interested…although it´s always a great opportunity to practice my spanish. I´ve been talking with the girl who works at the restaurant across the street from the hostel and we´re supposed to go on a date one of these nights – she´s really pretty, too, jajaja – but we keep missing each other. I think I´m leaving next week though, so there´s not too much time for anything to happen…but all I know is these girls are such heartbreakers. I know I won´t shutup about it, but it´s true -the women here are so beautiful. The men let them know it too – from the 10 year old boy to the crippled 80 year old, Argentine men are well versed in the art of the lecherous stare and catcall. It´s almost comical watching a pretty girl walk down the street and seeing how many men (including the ones with their wife and children) literally stop what they´re doing and turn around to stare, if you didn´t find yourself inadvertently doing the same. Whereas at first it was all great eye candy, as my luck has played out, I find myself almost disliking seeing beautiful women walk by, as it just serves as an utterly painful reminder of my lack of success…sigh.
Lastly – about my plans. I still don´t know what the deal is, but I´m about 75 % sure I´ll be leaving Córdoba at the beginning of next week to go travelling. I´m enjoying the city and as much fun as I´m having, I feel like I´m wasting my time and money being here much longer. It´s been really nice to ¨set down roots,¨ so to speak, and really make friends with locals, but with my limited money (and not time) I need to experience other places and other things. I found out two weeks ago I can change my return flight from BA to almost any city in Latin America for $50, which means if I´m in the northern part of the continent or Central America I won´t have to spend $500 and fly 8 hours back down to BA just to go 10 hours back north to Baltimore. Right now I´m toying with this crazy idea of coming back to the U.S. overland through Mexico…but we shall see. All I know is, before I go anywhere I need to head back to Buenos Aires, where I have a huge suitcase full of crap sitting in my friend Jordan and Sam´s place. I brought alot because originally the plan was to stay in BA for the whole year and settle down, but my how that has changed. Now I´ll need to pack my entire life for the next 6 months (mas o menos) into my backpack. Also, I´ll have to buy some crucially important items to accompany me on my grand journey up north, i.e. bug spray and 2 – ply toilet paper.
Anyway I think I should be allowed back into my room now – and if not, I´m going in anyway, it´s 4 am and I need sleep. That´s the deal for now, but I´ll be sure to keep you posted when I find out more definite plans.