Current Date: June 17, 2004 10:00 p.m. (Buenos Aires)

Current Itinerary: No movement planned for the near future.

Note #1: Whoa! That last journal [note: journal has been removed] certainly struck a cord! I didn't expect such a reaction. Many comments centered on what were my thoughts on the US going to Iraq in the first place (which I specifically did not address since I already did that). You'll find what I wrote just after the war started (last April) here:

http://www.thecooperchronicles.com/thequest/thequestjournals/thequestjour026.html#iraqwar

Of course, I welcome any and all comments, negative or positive.

Note #2: This and all journals that come until I leave BA will be more like weekly/byweekly updates rather than the usual daily account. I'll do my best to keep up with them. This is all from May...what I've written in June so far will come over the weekend.

Date written: May 9, 2004

Well, it's been a few weeks since I've actually sat down to write anything, which doesn't even make sense because it's not like I've been working or anything. I mean, I've got an inordinate amount of time on my hands. I guess I've been working pretty hard on the website the last few weeks, which is good. My lack of funds has pretty severely limited my activity over the past weeks anyway. In one light, that is a good thing. I haven't been going out much or drinking much, as I have been saying to my friends, my body certainly needed the break! Also, I joined a gym and have been working out again...so I feel pretty good about that one.

So it has been a little tough going at the start here in BA, not because of a language barrier this time, but more because a job and an apartment didn't fall into my lap, and I am much more financially restricted than I was when I first got to SP. I'm still going through that "I just got here and don't know much about the city or know any people" stage but that aspect has been easier this time. I guess I needed some alone time and didn't really realize it, but I have appreciated it quite a bit. I guess there have been some lonely times too...but not too many. For the first weeks I was here, Anthony was around, which was great. I also had Andrea, who helped me out a ton and has been a good friend for me here.

Three weeks ago I moved into an apartment with 2 other guys, Daniel and Fabian. They are both from a small city in the north of Argentina. So far I don't know them THAT well, but I can say that you can see they certainly have a small town mentality. I'm not saying it's good or bad, but very different. They have a LOT of questions for me as a foreigner (which I think is great) and they just can't seem to wrap their minds around why I would come here. Daniel is my age and works some sort of office job in the centro. He's a pretty quiet guy but he's warming up to me. We don't see each other much because he works from 11 until 10 everyday and usually doesn't come directly home. Fabian is a bit older, maybe 37 or so, and he owns an autoshop near where we live and he's never here really either because he stays at his girlfriend's place. He's a bit more of a character...very energetic but a little strange. I like him though and he's taken me out a few times. The 3 of us share a one bedroom place, but it really seems more like a live here alone since nobody's ever here.

I live in a neighborhood called Belgrano. It's a little far from the centro and some of the "action" but it hasn't been too much of a hassle. Buenos Aires has an unbelievable public transit system and getting around by bus and subway is pretty easy. You have to be a little patient at times. My apartment is really nice though and I think I would be tough to get as nice a place closer to the centro. I'm glad I found such a good deal.

As I said before, not much has happend since I moved in here since I've been suffering from lack of funds and I don't really know many people. I found a pretty cool salsa place near my house called "Azucar". I think there is a club in every single major city (with a decent latin population) with that name! And it's almost always a salsa place. Another "every city has one" club name is the Roxy. Are we that starved for new names?

Anyway, last week was a good one. Andrea got ahold of some tickets to this fashion show in a pretty posh place here in BA called "Opera Bay". We went and had a good time...but the key (besides wall to wall models) was the OPEN BAR (there might not be a better two word phrase in the english language). We had a blast there and then went to Downtown Matias, which you might remember I mentioned in my first BA journal. Afterwards, Andrea headed for home but I was still fired up so I went to this hip-hop club called Fetish that I had been to a few weeks before. I was at the bar ordering a drink and this girl came up to me and says, "I remember you from the Tango City Hostel!" It turned out to be this girl, Brittany from Memphis who I had met because of this guy Mat/England in the hostel. She was with a bunch of other people who are here in BA studying Spanish. We all ended up dancing the whole night, which was great. I hadn't really been out in a couple weeks before that so I needed it. What was cool was that we had another mutual friend from the hostel, this guy Burton (also from the US but I can't remember where...I think Cali) who I thought had left BA and gone to Brazil, but she told me he was still around.

The next day I dropped him an e-mail and we made plans to meet up at Gibraltar, the bar near the hostel. I got there a little late but it was all good...it turned out Brittany and Maya (from the night before) were also there. The highlight of the night came just after I got there when Adriana called me from SP!! It was so great to talk to her!

Around 1:30 or so we all headed out to this club called "Buenos Aires News" but the line was half way around the world so we aborted that mission. We ended up going to this cool barrio called Las Canitas, that has a ton of bars. We just went to a little bar but ended up staying there until about 5:30. I met this stunningly beautiful waitress named Maggie and talked to her most of the night. We also hung out with some Israelis that we met. I had a great time though and it seemed like I was returning to my old ways again. I didn't mention I had gone out with Fabian on Wed. night so that was three strong nights in a row.

Last night (Saturday) I didn't really do anything (although I had the urge) because I figured I had gone out enough. Plus I didn't really have the cash to do it. I'll probably just chill over the next couple days and try to catch a couple of the NBA playoff games. Anyway, that's a brief update of what's been up...more to come.

Written May 21, 2004

Well, things are slowly but surely picking up. I've been working a little the past two weeks...teaching English of course. It's been really fun actually. I owe a big thanks to my buddy Tim from ND...he knew a girl who runs a company down here that does teaching/translations etc. and put me in contact with her. Basically her companies sends English teachers to give classes at companies here in BA.

My first classes were last week at a company called Diebold (American company that makes ATMs). I had a great time...I mean, we really only
talked this time, sort of that "getting to know each other" first day
thing. The first group I had speaks okay, and understands me with
pretty much no problem. The second group is really good though so I
can tell we'll pretty much just talk the whole time...but that is
really what they want...to have conversations and keep their skills
sharp. Again, it's an American company so many of them have to use a
considerable amount of English. It was really fun to be back in the
"classroom" again. I like the energy of being in front of the room
and sort of leading a good discussion. I also love getting to know
new people and if there is forum where I get to sit there and tell
stories, well, I'm not exactly complaining about that either.

This week I had another class at an investment company called Delphos that was so much fun. They are trying to get some European clients and two of them were heading there next week and needed to work on their presentation. I really enjoyed meeting both Maria and Agustin. I got a great look at what happens in these investment firms and how things work. It seemed like it was kind of fun actually, but that's easy to say when you get to play with millions of dollars of other people's money! Anyway, I think giving those talks would be something I could do well because it is a lot more about knowing how to stand up and talk in front of people than anything. The numbers and reputation of this small firm speak for themselves...the trick I think is presenting to others in a fresh way and not making it sound like you're standing there for 30 or 45 minutes talking about how you got a 4.5% return for company X in April and lost 1.4% in May. I felt like I could have gave that talk for them by the end, and probably could have done a pretty good job even though investments isn't my area of expertise...but that is because, like I said, the point is really just to sell the company. Interesting. Very interesting. I have always felt like I could never be a "trapped in an office" type...but the environment at Delphos seemed so cool that I don't think anyone there has that feeling. That is the advantage of working for a smaller firm. I remember Rene mentioning that same sort of thing when he left PWC and came to work in Houston. Of course you do give up some things. I remember one thing he said that was pretty funny. "Last month I was flying first class from NYC to Houston everyweek...no I'm in charge of the watercooler for my office. Things really change when you go from the bigtime to the small time."

Anyway, the class was a blast, but was only supposed to be for this week, but I really hope to get work with them in the future.

This past weekend I came down with a pretty bad flu. The weather has turned pretty cold here...which means more runny noses and viruses floating around out there. I seriously am getting old because I was completely incapacitated on Monday...I mean, my head was killing me, my whole body ached, and I just couldn't move out of bed. I was absolutely miserable. That night, I got some medicine from Fabian and Regina, which made me feel a bit better, it was bad. I probably slept for about 25 out of 30 hours. Not fun. Even worse was that on Tuesday night, I was feeling a little better (still rundown) but I was awake all night because I had slept so much. I hate that. Anyway, the cold weather is not something I'll be getting happy about or enjoy dealing with over the next couple months. It doesn't snow here or anything, but it stays much chillier than I prefer and we don't have any heat in our apartment. It is quite common in these regions of the world to have no heat or AC in homes. First of all, it's expensive, but also the are no REALLY extreme temperatures. Looks like my pampered upbringing has spoiled me:) Seriously though, we really do tend to take a lot of little things for granite in the USA. Let me just say something here by the way (for those of you that don't eat out), my vote for the most underrated ubiquitous kitchen appliance of my lifetime goes to the microwave. No microwave and leftovers is not a good combination. Just trust me.

I've still been pretty consistant with going to the gym...although while I was sick I didn't go. I can't believe how my energy level has picked up in the past weeks. I realize now that I was just wiped out physically from all that I'd done over the past year and I had to rest a few weeks...and I mean really rest. Not just not going out for 2 or 3 days...I needed WEEKS of downtime. It's done wonders for me and I feel great.

That's about it for the moment. Just trying to keep up with atleast weekly updates. I regret that I didn't do that in SP because there are a lot of things/people/events that will be forgotten.

Written Thursday, May 27, 2004

I just got done watching the documentary "When We Were Kings" and it was fantastic. For those who don't know, it chronicles the events surrounding the Ali-Forman fight in Zaire. It's funny but the end sort of reminded of watching the end of a Rocky movie...you know who's going to win yet you get that twinge in your spine like maybe he's not going to pull it off. I was on the edge of my seat like the fight was actually happening live! If you don't get chills watching the end of that fight then you have no soul.

Anyway, I didn't sit here to write a movie review...but I will say if you've never seen it that you're missing out. There are two things I wanted to talk about that related to that movie. Back in the summer of 98, I was at ND working in the lab just before moving to Houston. At that time, the Bulls were making the push for their 6th championship and there was a lot of talk about Jordan retiring at the end of the season. My boss and I were discussing it one day and talking about whether or not any other athlete ever had or will have the impact that Jordan had on his sport and the world. I was saying how Jordan was/is so much bigger than basketball. Anyway, my boss stopped the discussion pretty abruptly saying how nobody could ever be bigger for a sport than what Ali was for boxing and the world. He talked about what Ali meant to the black community, the white community, politics and the realm of sports in general...and that was right were the discussion ended. There was nothing else to be said. It is difficult for people of my generation to get a grasp on the persona that was Muhummad Ali since our visions of him are quite different from the man he once was. Sometimes you catch a special or a documentary on TV though, and I start to understand what Dr. Castellino was talking about that day...I understand why he got a little excited and had that gleem in his eye and that smile on his face when talking about Ali. He truly was the greatest.

The second thing I wanted to talk about from that movie was something Ali said that was well put. There was a lot of talk during that time about what it meant to have that fight in Zaire...there is a part at the end where Ali is talking about poverty and he said something to the effect of (quote is probably not exact...go rent the movie if you want it perfect):

"They have a certain dignity in their poverty that we have long since forgotten in the US."

I had that same observation about the people in Brazil. You get a sense that many of the folks seem to be more of the attitude to be happy with what they have, rather than bitch about the things they don't have. I've noticed this is not the case here in Buenos Aires. Every day there seem to be demonstrations in the streets and news seems to focus much more on the negative state of affairs in the country from an economical standpoint. (note for those who don't know...at the beginning of 2002 the economy in Argentina basically folded and the value of their currency has been cut by a third...it hit the country VERY hard and the wounds are still fresh) After being in Brazil, I realize that this is somewhat of a "first world" perspective on things. It's too bad that we often forget how good things really are for us...my travels have really made me understand that I my appreciation for the things and opportunities I've had has grown immensely. I thought it was pretty interesting that 30 years ago, Ali had come to that same realization. It gives us all something to think about.

As most of you who know me are aware, I certainly did not grow up in the greatest of economical situations...but I think about my attitude towards that and I know that most of my life I was looking at the wrong side of my situation...not realizing or really appreciating all the things I DID have. Those aspects of who I am are changing drastically as a direct result of my travels and I believe is part of the reason I came on this trip.

This past month has been yet another great one for me...a good month of "cleansing" and one of personal growth. I continue to marvel at the joys and enlightments I gain through these adventures. I'm truly blessed to be able to experience them...and I appreciate it more and more with each passing day.

AC

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