Email 6: A day in the Life, BA

I wasn’t really sure where to start with this email, as daily life in BA becomes more unremarkable, but I know I love reading about ANYTHING written by travelers when I’m at home so I figure I should make the email happen.

On Saturday we woke up in our friend Nathan’s apartment. The futon was lumpy so Azure sleept on half of it while I sleept on a single mattress on the floor. It worked fine, the air conditioner is a must and the sound puts me to sleep. It gets bright and hot early here, by the time we woke up (11am) it was already in the 80s, it had been bright since 6, but they have these metal shutters here that can block out 99% of the light so you can actually sleep until the afternoon and have no idea what time it is. On Saturday we took a cab to Rob & Autsy’s hotel, then crossed the street for the same breakfast we’d had every day that week: the “Training” breakfast… fruit salad, yogurt with frosted flakes, toast with cream cheese, a shot glass of orange juice and a cafe con leche (latte). I rarely drink lattes when I’m at home, but I rarely go without one a day here. The cafe is in the lobby of a hotel and it’s on a main street corner. It has enormous floor to ceiling windows and reminds me a lot of a Parisian cafe. The waiters are idiots.

We went to Recoleta Cemetery that afternoon. I went in and took a bunch of pictures (which you can see at http://quarteryear.blogspot.com) while Rob, Autsy and Azure walked around the flea market that’s set up outside. It’s actually a very nice part of town and the flea market has a ton of stuff, from hand-made leather goods to clothing and art and bags and lots of things you’d never even imagine. A couple weeks ago I bought a nice white jacket that I’ll definitely be sporting at home. The market is pretty well known, I think, and I’ve met a lot of Americans there. When we were on the see-saws, Rob and I traded jokes with some guys from LA who were next to us. One of the guys started asking me about our trip and where we were going, but that’s no fun. It would have been better to just joke a lot then go our separate ways. There’s an art in developing travel relationships. Many are transitory, occasionally one is special. Recognizing the context of the encounter helps you figure out the nature of the relationship. The guy who asked me about our plans was a young traveler, new to the pace.

After taking my pictures, we met under the huge tree – Rob was playing some guitar in the park – and went our separate ways. I think both couples went back and had a siesta to escape the ridiculous heat of the day. It’s been in the 100s here. At 7pm Azure and I went to El Alamo, the American bar, to watch the Seahawks. Rob and Autsy arrived about 20 minutes later. The Alamo has this smart promotion where women drink for free (yes, for free) M-F, and men drink for cheap all the time. I got a cheap whiskey or six, Azure had her share as well. We watched the Hawks intently at first, then a little distractedly in the middle, then intently at the end. Rob and I had great conversations throughout the night, as per the usual.

That night I met a dude from Omak, Washington. He was amazed not only that I’d heard of Omak, but that Azure and I had been there about 6 months ago. It blew his mind. He had dreadlocks and was rooting for the Hawks, so I made him for some kind of hippie Seattlite, but he was Eastern Washington through and through. He asked why we went to Omak and I told him it was to look for “Apocalypse property…” you know, land we could run to if things weren’t going well. He was way into it – “That’s exactly it, man! Everyone on the East side of the mountains knows that’s going down a lot sooner than anyone thinks, it’s coming SOON and everyone on the West side is going to be screwed!” He said he was 1/3 Native American (impossible) and his French side had been in Omak since the 1500s. How? They came over with the Vikings. The Native American side was there for 20,000 years, which is before the last Ice Age. I joke and judge, but all my historical knowledge is informed by misogynist & racist industrialists, so what do I know.

After the game we went to a restaurant called Sudestada that makes Southeast Asian cuisine, though it’s more of a modern take on it, in my opinion. It’s tough to cook here – I had this idea one night that I’d make a stir-fry in Valparaiso and got together onions, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms and chicken. We took it to the kitchen but the knives were SO dull that I literally used a spoon to cut some of it, even tearing up the mushrooms and peppers by hand. Then they didn’t have a frying pan, so we had to use a pot. But the pot was so thin that it burned really quickly on the gas stove, so we had to put water in the bottom and cook everything together on low heat (as opposed to timing it right). The result was the same bland shitty veggies we’d been served throughout Chile. The tools design the craft, I guess. Sudestada was good, I think I may have made a drunk fool of myself, but I was entertained.

It occurred to me while writing this that we’re living a life very similar to the Parisian ex-pats in the 1920s – Ernest Hemingway specifically is who I know about. They’d have breakfast with a friend, then take a cab to have lunch and a drink with a friend, then take a cab to have more drinks with more friends, then take cabs to have dinner and drinks with friends. We’re not really taking part in actual BA culture, I believe, but we’re kinda living on its surface like a slick of oil on a pool of water. We’re just living luxuriously and playing. We could never ever know BA the way I know and love Seattle nor the way Buenos Airesians know their city. I can love Paris but it’ll never be mine. Buenos Aires is a great city and we’re really enjoying ourselves, probably in a way that many people here couldn’t.

It’s tough to write about the things we see around us because we’re getting used to shot glasses of tonic water with our coffees and putting your hand straight out to hail a cab and all the other minor things I can’t remember right now. Something I remember distinctly about applying for colleges is that I wanted to go away because I not only knew the fastest route from point A to B in Bellevue, but I also could do it with my eyes closed. I didn’t notice the beautiful, impressive things in Bellevue/Seattle (like evergreen trees… I hope you’re all taking time to enjoy them in the wind), and I felt I needed to go away to appreciate that. It’s true, I think, and thank god it’s temporary. I appreciate Seattle more and more every time I go away and never do I think I wouldn’t want to come back. Nothing touches the beauty of being surrounded by lakes and mountains on all sides, nothing. But getting to know a new place is so rewarding… I never had any concept what a street looked like in BA. It’s so empowering to go to these new places and not just sit there and cry… to actually function.

Anyway, we’ve updated our blogs a couple times and have uploaded a bunch of photos to Flickr. The set linked below (“Recent”) is a selection of our most recent uploads, so you don’t have to sift through the crap to find the good photos.

I hope everyone’s happy and healthy!

Take care,

Mike

Quater Year: http://quarteryear.blogspot.com
Chicken Wall: http://thechickenwall.blogspot.com
Flickr (Recent): http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikegoldstein/sets/72157603670152526/
Flickr (All): http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikegoldstein

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