Current Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:15 p.m. (Buenos Aires)
Current Itinerary: Flying back to the USA on Aug. 22...I'll be in Houston by the end of that week, then home to visit the fam...planning to be in Boston just after Labor day.
Note #1: Hello out there everyone! I'm still doing well here in BA, but my days are numbered. I've added some pictures to the website since my last journal and I also posted two journals from April that I never sent for anyone who cares. I'll be seeing a number of you soon.
Note #2: Ricky Williams, do your thing. I feel ya!
Written Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Well...it's a rather big today...hmmmm...maybe that's an overstatement. Anyway, I bought a plane ticket home and now have it in my possesion. I'm heading back to the USA on Aug. 22. That's just under two months from now. I guess I have pretty mixed emotions about the whole thing. I really miss my friends/family and want to be able to see them and pick up the phone and call anyone I want. That aspect is great. However, I'm scared about what it will be like to readjust to living in the US. Tomorrow will mark 17 months for me outside of the US. I'm curious to how it will be when I get back. I plan to live in Boston with my friends Dave and Carla. I think that will be cool. I've always wanted to live on the east coast for awhile. I'm certainly not looking forward to the winter...but it's all good.
My friend Chris/Denver is leaving tomorrow which sucks. He'll travel awhile, be back in BA for a couple days, and then head off to the US. As I've said before, he's been my best friend her in BA...even after almost a year and half, I still haven't gotten used to having to say goodbye all the time. I definite downside to being on the road.
I did meet another pretty cool guy a couple weeks back that I think will become a pretty good friend. His name is Martin and he's from here...we actually met in a pretty round about way. Tony had met this guy, Enrique, from Chile when he was traveling in Italy last year. It turned out this guy came to BA for business a couple weeks ago and he mentioned it to Tony. He gave him my number and the guy called me up to go out for a couple beers. He was a pretty cool guy and we got along well. We were going to have a couple beers, but as happens all too often, that turned into many. We ended up at this bar here called Kilkenny, which is a rather popular place in general but also many foreigners go there. I've compared it before to O'Malley's in SP.
Anyway, Enrique was on the prowl big time that night and ended up hitting on this girl who was a coworker of Martin. When I went to play wingman, Martin sort of stepped in as interference, but we hit it off and all ended up friends by the end of the night. Last week, he and I met up again in Kilkenny for a few beers and it was a blast. It turns out that he can call the US free of charge and was nice enough to let me call up my folks to say hi quickly. It was cool. Anyway, he's a great guy and hopefully we'll do our fair share of partying together.
There have been a couple interesting subjects come up in a few of my classes lately that I think warrant some comments. One thing we talked about is that "Super Size Me" movie that seems to be gaining fame in the US at the moment. For those who don't know, it is a comical documentary that follows the story of a guy who eats McDonald's for every meal for 30 days. Of course, his health deteriorates at an alarming rate, highlighting what every single one of us already knows...McDonald's isn't good for you. I think it is a pretty clever idea for a movie and probably provides some decent comedy, but who in their right mind would eat McDonald's for every meal? I prefer to look at it like this (as with many things in life): McDonald's supplies the option, you supply the judgement.
On a more serious note, a couple weeks back I was stopped by the police on the street...and I think we all know the reason. I was doing nothing but walking to one of my classes. He basically asked me if I had any drugs and searched my backpack. Later when I got to my class, I told a couple of my students what happened and they were pretty surprised. Not only did they agree that I was blantantly harrassed, they also told me that it highly illegal for them to search me without cause, and anyone who is from here knows that. Just another reminder for the people down here...racism lives and breathes. Now, I was not terribly upset by this incident but it did stick in my gut for awhile. I kept thinking about how if I wanted to get needlessly harrassed by the police, I could go back to Bloomington/Normal, where throughout highschool and college I was pulled over no less than 15 times for absolutely nothing. I remember once when I went home from ND I got pulled over twice the first day I was home! Anyway, I bring it up because I have found that people (both in Brazil and Argentina) tend to be under the false impression that racism doesn't exist in their countries. I was discussing it with my students, and atleast in Argentina, I think the reason is that they have almost no minorities, so it's like there is racism but they don't even know it. Anyway, I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression and think Buenos Aires isn't a good place with tons of great people. In almost all situations I feel pretty comfortable here, but let's not kid ourselves.
Written Tuesday, July 6, 2004
It was another fantastic week here in BA! Man is this place growing on me. This Sunday was the fourth and I got together with a few American friends of mine to "celebrate". We went to a bar in Plaza Serrano and drank all day and tried to be obnoxious as possible...singing the national anthem and other patriotic songs. Seriously, it was a good time with my friends Ellen/New Jersey and Carrie/Houston. I met Carrie through Chris/Denver and did not know her in Houston. She's here studying in BA for a year and is a cool girl who is amazingly well travelled for someone who is only 21 years old.
Anyway, this coming friday is Argentina's independence day so I get to celebrate twice in the same week! Right on.
So as you might guess, there are very few places here in Buenos Aires where one can get into a pick-up game of basketball. Well, it just so happens that my friend Andrea works at a club. I should explain that...it is not a club as we would think in the US where there is music, dancing, and a bunch of young folks (or old guys like me) doing more than casual drinking. Here in South America, club refers to more of what in the USA we would call a "country club" where people go on the weekends to relax and/or do all sorts of athletic activities such as swimming, volleyball, raquetball, golf, etc. In Brazil, where there is a greater seperation of wealth, being a member of a "club" is more of a luxury and some can be quite exquisite. Here in Argentina, where the middle class is far bigger, many people belong to these "clubs" and frequent them on the weekends with their children. Anyway, Andrea works at "Club de Amigos", which is probably one of the only places where you can get into pick up basketball game. She invited me to come and play, which I did and it was fun. Unfortunately I ended up twisting my back pretty bad and it put me out of commission on Saturday night. I could hardly walk...arrrrrgghh...I'm getting old I guess. Anyway, it's starting to get pretty cold now, but if it stays warm enough I'll try to get out there once a week.
Written Sunday, July 11, 2004
It was a long weekend but it wasn't terribly eventful on my side of things. It got unbearably cold on Thursday night and has been that way since. My apartment is like a freaking meat locker and since there is no heat, there is no relief. The other night, the themometer on my clock in my bedroom read a toasty 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 Ferenhiet)...that is not exactly warm for an INDOOR temperature. I'm not sure if I can put up with another month and a half of this.
Friday was Regina's birthday. I haven't spoken about Regina yet (or maybe I mentioned her briefly) so I'll explain: She is the Aunt of Daniel (one of my roomates) who owns this apartment and lives across the hall. She's somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 years old and is a nosey old nag that never leaves us alone. She comes over about 15 times a day and you can't get anywhere without her asking you 35 questions about where you're going and when you're coming back. To say she's overbearing would be an understatement. On top of that, she comes over here and just constantly babbles. She keeps this running dialog of everything she's doing while she's doing it and talks outloud to no one in particular (oh wait, I guess I do that too). Needless to say, this woman gets on my nerves and is another reason I gotta get out of this apartment. I guess I have so little time left it doesn't matter too much, but it would be nice to spend my last month somewhere else. The apartment is pretty nice, but my roomates and overbearing neighbor leave something to be desired.
Saturday not too much happened either. I was pretty much here all day. Here's something rather interesting...we recently got cable TV here in the apartment so I now have access to MTV, E!, TNT, and other channels of the like. They are latin America versions but still show most of the same shows with subtitles. It is amazing how little I know about pop culture in the US these days. I'll tell you one thing...one advantage of being out of the US is not being exposed to ridiculous shows like E's "Celebrities Uncensored". Now I understand why celebrities get so pissed with the paparrazi. Good lord. Anyway, something funny about that show was that there were atleast 5 people on it that I've never heard of. Sort of gives you a look into how fast who is "cool" changes in the view of the American public. It's been almost a year and a half for me and I was already lost through half that show! Another year and I might not know who any of these "celebrities" are anymore. Sort of underscores a point a made back in my Belo Horizonte journal about how the public perception is what really makes someone famous.
There is another channel here in Latin America called the "Sony Channel" that shows all the shows from the USA that come on in Primetime on all the networks (i.e. "The West Wing", "Alias", "CSI", "Friends"...you get the idea). Anyway, I would say that I've never heard of a good 25% of the shows that come on. I mean, Whoopi Goldberg has her own television show? Who approved that one? Anyway...as I said...I'm very out of touch with the pop culture of the USA and it is a strange feeling that reminds me just how long it has been since I left.
Written Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Well, it's been a rather mellow couple weeks for me...well except for last Friday when I went to Silvina's (friend of Andrea) birthday party in San Telmo at a cool bar called Moliera. Very good time.
Anyway, I've been spending a lot of time trying to put together some details of my trip back to the USA. I fly into Miami, so I need to fly to Houston to see some people and pick up a lot of stuff...namely my CLOTHES. You can't have an idea of how old it gets wearing the same 7 or 8 shirts for a year and half! I think I'm gonna burn all this stuff when I get home! It's especially bad now with the cold weather here in BA because my options are even more limited. Anyway, after H-town I'll head to Chicago to visit my family and then finally on to Boston. It's sort of a pain having things all spread out and trying to get them into one place. I guess I'll have to deal with that though. Something tells me that a lot of the pains of being out of the country for so long will become evident when I return. Oh well, I don't think I have to tell you that come what may, it was worth it. Besides, I'm sure there are a lot of good things that will be nice to have back...like living in a house with heat! One thing I'll never forget to appreciate again is how good customer service is in the US. I think the first thing I'm going to do when I get back is go and buy something and then return it (you have to live down here to understand).
Anyway, I know for sure that I'll be in Florida from the 23rd to the 26th and then I fly to Houston (ALERT to Houston folks...I'll be there the evening of the 26th, so be ready. There will be a more detailed e-mail later just for you...but I'll say now, be ready for my triumphant return to La Strada on Sunday the 29th). I haven't solidified any plans beyond that but it looks like I'll be in Chicago labor day weekend and then head to Boston that Monday.
As the day for my return approaches, I'm becoming more and more excited...and afraid. I think it will be a very big challenge to get back on my feet. ANOTHER new city. I guess I should be getting used to that by now. It'll be different though since 1) I'll be in the USA, and 2) I'll have the help of Dave and Carla and a few other friends in Boston. Because of that, I think, this time, the challenge will be more emotional than anything else. But I welcome it...and I know I'll be alright in the end (knocking on wood).
Somebody call me in mid-October and remind me of that.
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