Sunday, January 22, 2006

I made it out of Uruguay in one piece, if not at least a little worse for wear from the experience. I have never really been that into beach towns anyway-they always remind me of the things about my hometown that irritated me, and the cheesy aspects of where you stay "at the beach" i.e. thin walls, really old shitty mattresses, and a persistent odor of mildew never struck me as exactly charming. nevertheless, i am glad we went, and I want to offer a few parting observations before I move on to my current locale.

First, in SA the women seem to really like to have as much of their butt showing as possible at the beach, and as little of their face. To be specific, the bikini bottoms are small (not exactly thongs, just like typical american bikinis but with half of each butt cheek missing) and the sunglasses are ENORMOUS. I mean like so enormous you would see it on a tour de france rider during a time trial and they look so silly you can only rationalize it by assuming there exists some profound aerodynamic benefit that scientists found to justify the fashion.

But it is not like these girls were exactly moving that fast. most spend 6-10 hours a day at the beach, lying around, like everyone else, young old skinny or extremely chubby. A bit sedentary of a place for my taste, but maybe that is exactly why I needed to go there to force myself to sit still for more than half an hour.

So, even in my condition I made it back on the bus and boat ride to Buenos Aires okay, and got a great night´s sleep. We encountered a British guy named Naveed who was dressed like a straight off of Broadway (seattle people) hipster gay guy, but since he was Euro of course he turned out to like girls. and when I say like girls, I mean constantly leering at them and talking about them. He turned out to be just off a term working for The Mirror in londong, and then heading to Dubai to work for the gulf news. If you don´t know anything about Dubai, check it out: the place is like Vegas but gorwing faster and some might argue more ostentatiously, and in the middle of the Persian Gulf, basically out of nothing. The New Yorker did a great article on it a few months ago if you need a good start.

He was really nice and offered to introduce me to a couple of people he knew in BA (argentine and english) and gave me heaps of recommendations for apartments., clubs, neighborhoods, and the like. It seems like life is encouraging me to consider freelance journalism, as I have encountered and been befriended by two freelance journalists in the last 3 days, and Andy keeps telling me what a great thing it is tp dp as as Expat. I´ll keep you posted, but the closest I have ever gotten to print journalism is when my sister wrote that libelous piece about me in her¨"high school views" column in Morro Bay. Maybe they will let me put a sexy picture up with my column too.

I am now in Bariloche, which they say is the Mountain Destination for Argentina, a la Tahoe. it is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Also, our hostel, might very well be the nicest hostel on the planet (if you are curious, check out the site: ). We have perfect weather right now, and there are these awesome looking mountains around here that really make want to climb-Cerro Catedral is teh main ski mountain, but it has this really jagged toothy ridgeline that looks like a mini torres del paine, and this other mountain Tronador (3400 meters or so) that looks stunningly similar to Galcier Peak in WA. I think I can do both-they are pretty much walk-ups with huts halfway up.

so back to this hostel: The people are super, super easy going here (kind of reminds me of the berkeley co-ops except way cleaner), and the first night we got here they did a parilla, this traditional argentine wood burning barbecue. Being the cook that I am, I was totally into it, and when I went out to check it out they literally had half a lamb propped up (standing, I don´t know if it was practial or solely for dramatic effect) and an enormous cut of beef which i couldn´t figure out in tanslation, but it might have been brisket or flank steak, though it seemed too thick.

So they are all passing around this huge plates of meat (dinner started at midnight, so no kidding about the argentines doing everything later) and they also made a nice salad. since it is summer down here the tomatoes are great, by the way. Everyone is really really nice, and when I asked about running some errands in town, one of the guys insisted on coming with me to show me around.

Andy and I met this australian girl named Sharona who we ended up hiking with yesterday, who was friendly and kind of a hippie as well, but she is doing freelance stuff for Australian Broadcasting compnay (ABC) and the BBC Radio. she actually has a law degree and studied a sesmeter at Harvard, but like most of the people my age I know going ot law school has no interest in actually being an attorney. We got to know each other a bit and we are both planning of living in BA after some time in Patagonia, so maybe we will be friend there too. You just encounter a gazillion people travelling, and with email being so easy you can actually reasonably stay in touch. While on teh trail I actually met this guy named Ian from Venice (California) who just graduated from Santa Cruz who is down here for a year doing Ornithology fieldwork. We did the standard exchange of email addresses in case I get back to Bariloche and want to do some rock climbing. He knew a couple of people from Morro Bay, and had actually surfed there, but no one I remembered. Small world, no?

One final thought-I have now been gone a week, and I feel like I am JUST starting to decompress. A nice change from feeling like I have to hurry back to work or cram relaxation into a lousy 10 days a year. This last week has been a bit of a roller coaster emotionally, and thanks to sketchy beach food, phsyically, but I am finally feeling clearly-at least for the time being-that this is really fantastic and was absolutely the right decision, despite how nervous, confused, or torn I felt before I left.

So, anyone reading this, I strongly recommend coming down to join me.

Until next time,

P.S. Email me, people!


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