Just so you know who we’ve been rolling with for the past few weeks, I decided to do a character sketch of all the major players, who interestingly enough were all at the same restaurant last Tuesday in many ways out of coincidence. It is a huge city, but small if you have the same favorite places.
Maya & Tom Frost
Maya is Mike’s maternal first cousin. She and her husband, Tom moved to BA almost 2 years ago. They met while teaching abroad in Japan in the 80s and have 4 daughters (in age order- Taeko 21, Tara 20, Teal 18, Talya 17). They lived and worked in a suburb of Portland until 3 years ago, when they decided to move to Mazatlan, Mexico. After a year there, they found that there wasn’t enough of a life there or at least one that they wanted, so let their youngest daughter, Talya pick their next city of residence, since she was the most influenced by the moves, being the only one still attending high school. She picked BA and here they are. We have been staying with Tom and Maya off and on for the past 3 weeks. When we got here, we though we were going to stay for a couple weeks and get an apartment of our own. Those thoughts soon vanished when we figured out how amazing they were and how nice they were to us. They have a great 3 bedroom apartment in the Belgrano neighborhood of BA. There are several photos taken here, including the rooftop BBQ that we used on Christmas day. Since they have a spare bedroom, we have pretty much moved in.
The youngest of the sisters, she is the only one that still lives at home here in BA. She is finishing her 2nd year of college here (similar to running start) as a 17 year old. She has so many stories about her high school experience because she has never actually been to high school in the states, only in Mexico and Argentina. She is now fluent in Spanish and takes care of us all in that respect. She is extremely mature and patient and hopes to work in conflict resolution. She is applying to colleges now, so it is fun to see what she is doing for her essays, which has sparked several interesting stories, being enrolled in a Mexican high school without speaking Spanish, traveling through India when she was a 2nd grader, etc.
Taeko visited for 2 weeks, but left on Saturday. She currently lives in and works at a free health clinic in Harlem, where she counsels patients. She encounters more life-changing situations each day then most people encounter in a lifetime. She has an extremely high tolerance for stress, which helps her tremendously in her job.
In the interest of full disclosure, Nathan is the ex-boyfriend of our really good friend, Aviva. Yo Aviva! After they broke up, but I’m not sure because they broke up he moved to BA 2 years ago. We had met him when he was living in Seattle during a couple different game parties. Mike and he have the jewish bond going, but other than that and those few amazing nights of Mafia playing, we didn’t really know Nathan that well. We met up for the first time at his apartment and I’m pretty sure he had no idea who we were from the emails. It didn’t really matter. He turned out to be an extremely interesting and friendly guy. He is currently working here in IT or something that sounds a little boring, but is also really into his side project, which is creating murder mystery type events, but without the murder. He is really into creating games that don’t necessarily reinforce the “us versus them” mentality. This is a long-discussed topic that is really interesting that I won’t get into here because I don’t transcribe my conversations. We ended up staying with Nathan for 4 nights to give Tom and Maya a break and to get to know Nathan better. It was really nice and were able to have some great evenings together.
Steve Nelson and Crew
I met Steve at Evergreen Junior High School in Redmond Washington. We were friends through HS and into college. We had lost contact, but through the miracle that is Facebook, reconnected a couple months ago. It turned out that he was going to be traveling in S. America for 2 months starting at the end of December. He and his 5 friends spent this last week in BA, but are leaving tomorrow. It was nice to see him when we did and will maybe see him again throughout S. America, possibly in Brazil. Stay tuned.
Autsy and Rob
Autsy, whose real name is Jennifer Sung got into BA last Tuesday. We lived together for 2 years in the dorms at UW. She now lives in San Francisco and got laid off from her job in November (don’t worry, the good kind, she is still getting paid and she had been hoping to get laid off for 2 years now). She and her boyfriend, Rob traveled with us in Europe the winter before last and we stay with them whenever we go to SF. Rob is leaving on Wednesday to go back to work (he didn’t get laid off) and she will be traveling with us for 2 months until the end.
Hopefully, this quick reference will be helpful when reading this blog- past present and future. It is these people that have defined the trip for us. More so than the culture shock, the language, the food or the city. They are the reason that this blog goes unupdated for days at a time, we are just having too much fun with them.