Sunday, March 21, 2004

Since Buenos Aires and Rosario are the 2 largest cities in Argentina and they are only 4 hours apart, I knew there would be several buses/day and I was in no hurry to get up that morning to leave Rosario. I got to the bus station around 11 and caught a bus that was leaving right away. I was pleasantly surprised on the bus...they showed a movie, "Bloodwork" that had been made from a book by one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly. Great book...subpar flick, but I had really wanted to see it.

I got to BA at 3 and gave Andrea a call. I'm not sure if I explained this before so...Bert, Sunny and I had met Andrea 3 weeks before in the bus station in Rio. After she said she was from BA, I told her I would be heading there in a few weeks, and she offered a room in a her apartment for me to stay in. We kept in contact over those weeks and she knew I would be arriving that day, I only needed to work out how to get to her place.

It took awhile b/c the subway was closed for a few hours due to a soccer game (don't ask) but I finally found my way and after a 15 minute walk, found the apartment. I was more than pleasantly surprised when Andrea greeted me at the door in a bikini!! See how it all works out for ME!!! She lives in a great apartment in a neighborhood called Palermo with two friends, Barbi and Paty. Barbi wasn't around at that moment, but Andrea and Paty were laying out on their roof top deck. That's right, I had been in BA for total of and hour and I already had a place to stay, with 3 girls and I was sitting on the roof of their place drinking a cold beer, basking in the hot sun. Life's pretty tough.

We talked for about an hour or so and then I relaxed a little while the girls got ready. It turns out there is this great plaza a few blocks from their house (Plaza Cerrano) that has many restaurants and bars that turns into a "market" on Sundays. It was a VERY cool scene. The bars literally turn into clothing stores...for Houstonians...sort of like Dean's clothing store bar downtown, except there are actually MANY people there shopping. It is a perfect combo because all the bars are cool...one even had pool tables, so while the girls shop, the guys can chill and have a beer. So that is basically what happened...I spent most of the time walking around to different stores talking to Andrea. We lost Pati at some point as she was actually shopping pretty intently. That was really the first night I got to know Andrea. She is such a great girl. We talked a lot about Brazil (one of my favorite subjects of course)...she's travelled there a couple times and absolutely loves it too.

We went back to their place around 8:30 or so. We were supposed to go out to this Irish Pub that night to see a few of their friends who play in a band. We stopped in an internet place so I could write Anthony (my friend from Houston who is traveling also) and tell him where to meet us (you might remember from my last journal that he is in Mar del Plata and is on his way back to BA). Andrea then went to meet up with a friend and Pati left to see her parents, so I was to ride with Barbi and a friend of hers to the bar and meet the others there. This guy who picked us up had this awesome, old school, bright yellow ford pick up. I deemed it "the bus".

We got to the Downtown Mateus Pub around 11 and it was a cool little bar...but it was a bit too small to have a band inside. Still, I met some other friends of Andrea's, promptly forgot all their names, and waited for the band to start. It was a good band but I constantly had one eye on the door waiting for Anthony. He finally arrived after the band's first set and it was GREAT to see each other. We sat at the bar, spitting stories for the next 3 hours or so. A quick background...Anthony and I met in Houston a few months before I left. We learned pretty quickly that we both shared a passion for travelling, meeting new people, and other cultures. We spent a lot of time together that last month I was there especially and became pretty good friends. He had told me over a year ago that he was aspiring to do the same as I...leave everything and hit the road for awhile. It turned out a year later, he did just that...but only had about 3 months to travel in South America before having to return to the US. I had coordinated my arrival in Buenos Aires so we could meet up. He’s been on the road since February and has been to Peru, Panama, Uraguay, and several places in Argentina. Now he’s staying in Buenos Aires for several weeks, taking Spanish courses, partying as hard as possible, and doing a bit of travelling on the weekends.

Around four, we all headed back to "our" place in the back of "the bus". Anthony and I hung out for another hour or so on the deck upstairs just talking and enjoying the moment. I get pretty excited when I get to see friends from home and lord knows I love to tell stories! He went home sometime after 5 and I hit the sack. It was a great first day in BA!

Monday, March 22, 2004

Woke up around 2 and immediately realized I had made the horrible rookie error of forgetting to buy water the night before. Dang it, I'm usually good about remembering. Oh well, I stopped to do internet for a while but ended up spending two hours there. So much for accomplishing something with the afternoon.

Back at the house I worked on journals for awhile, showered, and chilled. It was already almost six by then. It's amazing how fast the day goes by when you wake up so late. I was supposed to meet Anthony at his place around 6:30 but I underestimated the time it would take to get there by subway. I didn't realize it until I was about halfway there but there was no way I was going to be able to make it on time to his place and then be able to return home by 9 b/c I had Andrea's key. Since I couldn´t make it all the way to his place, I decided to hop off the train where I was, at the Cathedral Subte stop. I was pretty impressed...I happened to get off in the middle of a very good pedestrian mall. I walked up and down for about 45 minutes, making note of a few things because I wanted to return the next day when I had time to buy some stuff I needed. I had my first hotdogs in Argentina (smaller and far less gratifying than in Brazil) which were pretty good. I also checked out if it was possible to get a BA phone number on my cell phone that I had already bought in SP...affirmative, but it was too late and I would have to do it the next day.

I went back home at 9 to wait for Andrea. I also called up Laura, a girl from BA that I had met in Natal last year. We had kept in contact and she knew I was in BA. I also called the guys, Alex and Rene, who you might remember from my stories of he "So Easy" bar in Pipa. I was really excited about seeing them again but they said the couldn't do anything until the next day.

I talked to Anthony and we decided to go out to the plaza near my place that night...since it was a Monday, we knew it would be pretty chill. After Andrea got home from work (she works until 9 every night), we went to a nearby bar to wait for Anthony. I had my first authentic Argentinian drink, made with Gancia. It was a little on the sweet side...certainly not a caipirinha!

After Anthony arrived, we went down to the Plaza Cerrano (the same one from Sunday) but as expected, it was pretty dead. The only place that had people was packed with gringos, but oh well...we sat there for a couple hours anyway, shooting the bull. Again, having a friend from home has really lifted my spirits...it has been great to trade stories but more importantly to spend time with someone who is on the same wavelength. Although it seems like not much happened, the significance of the evening should not be underestimated.

I headed home around 3...got lost a little on the way, but eventually made it back.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Got up around 9 with a few things in mind on what I needed to do. One thing that was high priority was to try to get my cell phone activated. I also wanted to buy a couple things...including replacing my beloved sandals that I had lost somewhere between Rosario and BA. I'm sure Mark and Bert are happy to hear about their demise:)

After getting the phone line taken care of, I was searching around for awhile...while in a mall I passed a cinema that was showing several movies I wanted to see. I decided to forgo the other things I was going to do and see a movie instead. It is great passing each day knowing that there really isn't any pressure to get things done. I've got plenty of time on my hands at the moment, so I might as well stop and see a flick. The only other movie I had seen since December was "21 Grams" (which I loved). This time I saw "Mistic River". I also thought it was pretty good but it didn't live up to the hype I had heard about it. After the movie there wasn't time to do much so I went back home so I could make some calls and establish a plan for the evening.

I talked to Alex (from So Easy bar in Pipa) and he said he and Rene would come over to where I was staying and that we could all go out to dinner. That was perfect because I had already made the same plan with Anthony and Andrea. Anthony came over around 9 and Alex and Rene showed up shortly after. It was GREAT to see them again. I never thought I'd be going out with these guys again one year later in Buenos Aires!

We all headed for dinner (me, Alex, Rene, Anthony, Andrea, Barbie) at a great place in Palermo. Later on, I friend of Anthony's, Chris showed up too. He's here studying and is from Colorado. We ate several different types of meat, drank beers and joked and laughed for a couple hours. It was my best dinner in Argentina so far, both with respect to food and company.

After dinner we walked to a nearby bar where there was supposed to be a birthday party for a guy Andrea and Barbie knew. During the walk to the bar, I was talking to Chris most of the way. He reminded me of my buddy Dave (2) from H-town because when he meets somebody he thinks is interesting he asks them a lot of questions. Chris seemed pretty interested in my story but bugged me a little because he seemed far too concerned with what I would do when my travels were over. I got the sense that he thought I should be back home by now (a sentiment I seem to be feeling from others lately...topic for another time). Anyway, I came away with the feeling that he wants to do the same as me, but is a little afraid of professional repricussions of having that one year or so gap on his resume. I don't think I have to tell you what I told him. I will say, I do have some of the same concerns and I know it will be difficult for me to re-enter science as many people in the position of hiring/admitting will probably not be able to understand the personal reasons behind this trip simply be looking at a resume. I have faith that things will work out though and know that I am more than qualified professionally for MANY jobs/programs. Anyway, this is a discussion I’ll save for later.

Anyway, the bar we went to was not exactly jumping, but we stayed there drinking for about an hour anyway, just having a good time amongst ourselves and Alex and I were trading stories from the past year. They are such great guys and I hope to spend a bunch of time with them when I get back to BA. Alex is only staying for about another month or so though and then heading to Europe to return to his job bartending in Ibiza.

We eventually left there and went to another place that wasn't really happening either. It didn't matter though because we had such a great night together. Finally crashed around 4.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Woke up in the early afternoon and ended up heading back to Calle Florida to finish up buying the stuff I put off because of the movie yesterday. I bought some new small speakers to replace the ones I left in the cab back in Iguazu and also picked up one of those large wall maps of Buenos Aires. I've had a little trouble orienting myself...even though I've only been here for a few days and it seems that Argentines share the Brazilian trait for sense of direction...i.e. they have NONE.

I went back to get ready and then went to meet up with Anthony at the dorm he was staying in. We had a couple beers while he got ready and then went out to this place called "Opera Bay". It took us a while to find it but it didn't matter anyway. The place was WAY too pretentious for my tastes...most people going in were from an after work crowd and wearing suits...which makes sense BUT you basically can't get into the place if you're not wearing one. It's been a VERY long time since I was in a place that had a dress code and it really annoyed me. I think back and remember that a LOT of Houston was like that too...but after spending over a year away from it and with Brazilians who are far less image conscious, my view had just changed. I've really noticed that about Anthony in these last few days...you can see that Houston mentality...wanting to go to the most expensive places with the most fashionable crowds. It is a little weird...it has been sort of a culture shock for me...even though where I am is closer to where I'm from...if that makes sense.

Anyway, after being turned away, we went to another place called "Asia de Cuba". It was very early an it is also a rather exclusive place...but thanks to some very smooth talking by Anthony, we managed to get on the list to return later that night.

After a quick bite, we went to this club called "Museum" which ended up being AWESOME. They had this very cool percussion stage show where the people used pails, basketballs, and plastic drums to make some cool music. It was pretty impressive. The place was pretty packed and played good music afterwards. We met up with some people from Anthony's school and we all danced for several hours. Around 1, Anthony headed for Asia de Cuba...it was a pretty cool place too and we had a blast, took tons of pictures, and danced like crazy. We were there pretty late and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to get up the next day for Mar del Plata. Oh well...we had such a great night it didn’t matter to me!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I woke up pretty late after our night out and wasn't in the best of condition to do any travelling...Mar del Plata could wait another day. I headed to the internet place and to get some lunch. I ended up spending like four hours at the internet place and not doing much else throughout the day.

That night was a whirlwind tour of many BA clubs! Unfortunately I forgot to make notes of this day so all that we did that night is a little sketchy now...but I remember we went to atleast 5 different clubs/bars. We went to "Club 69" which seemed to be rocking pretty well but was WAY too crowded. We made a pit-stop in las Canitas and spent some time at the "Soul Cafe" and at the end of the night ended up in "Buenos Aires News" which is one of the hottest spots in the city. Anthony talked our way into the VIP section but it was not pretty in there as we were quickly hit on by a transvestite prostitute. We immediately got the hell out of there and headed to the dance floor. We spent the rest of the night there but it was not as impressive for me as it had been when I was there in 2002. Nevertheless, we certainly did as much as we could that night and headed home around 5, which was tough for me since I was heading out to Mar del Plata the next day.

My week in BA had certainly been full of partying pretty hard. It was AWESOME to hang out with Anthony that week. I tried to convince him to head to MDP with me for the weekend but he was going towards Rosario. We would meet back up in BA...in one or two weeks to party some more though. I have to send out my heartfelt thanks to my new friends, Andrea, Barbie, and Pati who let me stay in their place for the week. Adios for now BA...but I'll be back.

AC

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