Monthly Archives: May 2013

101 Things About Argentina: Part II

This is a continuation of Part I of my list of things about Argentina.  Start there if you haven’t read it yet by clicking on the link 🙂 So, without further ado:

26.  You put your picture, gender, race, age, and marital status on your resume (curriculum); if you don’t, employers might think you’re hiding something.

27.  Shoe store right next to a fruit/veggie stand right next to an apartment complex—not weird.

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28.  Someone casually lights a cigarette in the school cafeteria, right next to the “Prohibido Fumar” sign; no one casts a second glance.

29.  You panic about a big group project the teacher assigned.  No one starts talking about it until the night before it’s due, and nobody does a single bit of work until the morning of.  The presentation is bound to crash and burn, but the teacher forgets there was any homework at all.  Two weeks later, he remembers, but forgets again the next class period.  If you’re interested for future reference, this is a potential method you should consider if you’d like me to die of a heart attack someday. <–This might just be Universidad Belgrano…still investigating.

30.  Pigeons are more common than ants on a spilled Slurpee. They’re impossibly uglier too.

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32.  You think you must have something in your teeth if you get through the day  all the way to the bus stop in the morning without at least six or seven comments of “princesa“, “linda chica“, or “Te acampaño o te persigo?

Actually, my favorite piropo (these types of comments/pick-up lines) happened to me a couple of weekends ago while I was standing at a bus stop with my friend Marianita outside the city center in Olivos.  A little truck with three or four guys, all in their mid-twenties or thirties pulled across the road and into the wrong lane and rolled down their window.  “Perdón chicas, pero estoy media perdido,” said the driver (Sorry girls but I’m a little lost), “Me pueden decir como llegar a tus corazónes?” Could you tell me how to get to your hearts?  Then he drove away with a wink.  I was left a little bit confused, my naive mind calculating how to get to the center of the city exactly from where we were.  It clicked within a matter of seconds though and both Marianita and I coughed a little from the cheesiness of it all.  I don’t necessarily like the piropos, though.

Most are harmless enough and the guys in the truck made me smile at least, but sometimes they’re just gross and disgusting.  I don’t think it’s common to have this happen to you, but last Tuesday I was walking by myself on Santa Fe coming back from the gym at around 10 PM (still dinner-time-ish) and a young guy around my age followed me for about a block asking for a kiss and actually grabbed me. I whirled around telling him to go away in more explicit language and raised my arm when he got close to me again…  The streets were strangely empty but a watching doorman pulled him away from me, made sure I was ok and told me to continue before I got a chance to slap the jerk harassing me.  I shouldn’t have spoken English to tell him to go away, but the words that come out of my mouth in those situations aren’t necessarily well thought out.  He’d effectively pissed me off though.  Anyhow, I don’t think it’s a really common experience to have and the guy seemed drugged or drunk :/

33.  You’re a shark and seats on the bus are the minnows.

34.  You have a separate bag for your mate supplies and a mental map of refill stations throughout the day so you don’t run out of hot water (or at least for some Argentines.)

35.  By the end of the day your purse is full of ads for learning English, painting your baby’s bedroom, pizza delivery, and various other promos you were too polite to refuse on your five block walk home.

36.  Empanadas, dulce de leche, and medialunas all have their own food groups, here’s my personal food pyramid:

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37.  Two pieces of bread with jam and a single half mug of Nescafe fills you up like a regular meal used to in the United States.

38.  A little girl comes up to you in a restaurant where you and your amigos are morfando una pizza and asks you for a slice.  She won’t leave until you oblige, and then she goes outside and eats it in front of the window.  She’s not homeless or anything (she’s wearing a private school uniform…), only craving pizza and feeling bold.

39.  Pizza is delicious (as proved the little girl in #38), but delicious in Argentina for a more gourmet reason than the United States (still miss my Papa John’s Special Garlic Dipping Sauce: aka butter mixed with a bit of cream and powdered garlic for use on already artery-hostile pizza.)

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40.  Someone puts a pair of socks on your lap on the colectivo with tape across them spelling out “ADDIDAS.”  He follows with a presentation involving tying the socks to the bus seats and comically stretching them as far as possible to prove that they are sturdy before emphatically announcing that they are offered for a limited time and ONLY FIFTEEN PESOS FOR NOT ONE, BUT TWO, that’s TWO durable pairs!!!

41.  Red lights outside of the city center are just suggestions.

42.  Almost all of the cars are manuals.  For this reason the lights go from green–yellow–red–yellow–green.

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43.  It no longer surprises me  when my bus driver gets road rage, slamming on the brakes and calling a fellow driver an “hijo de puta” with a characteristically Italian shake of the fist.

44.  Mayonnaise obsession.  Seriously, a whole aisle in the grocery store is devoted to mayonnaise.  Since ranch dressing is virtually nonexistant, guess what the choice topping for salads here is?  Not kidding.  I used to think this was weird and gross.  Now I don’t know what a meal is like without mayonnaise.

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45.  I may have mentioned this before but milk is usually purchased in bags like the ones below.  Yes, they do have cartons (although they’re square and weird), but I’ve yet to see a typical plastic bottle or translucent jug like the ones so common to the USA.

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46.  When I order a whiskey/7Up I don’t get 7Up with whiskey, I get whiskey with a couple shots of 7Up.  Sometimes they give me the can too just in case I want to dilute my drink after the first shocking sips.

47.  You have to light the oven and the stove with matches, a task which took me many fortnights to master.  I still fear lighting the pilot light on the oven, actually….

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^^Our box of matches next to the oven/stove

48.  The doormen water the sidewalks early in the morning  just in case the grass decides to peek through the cement surface one day.  These porteros will be there to tenderly care for such growth when it comes, I’m sure.  Maybe it’s a city thing, or maybe it’s a preemptive strike against the dog poop that is seeming to invade the city, qué sé yo

49.  Everyday one plays a life-size version of Minesweeper walking along the streets of Buenos Aires.  Ironically, the parks seem to be eerily clear of feces, but the same cannot be said of the sidewalks.  Walking in heels is quite the feat among the cracked, uneven tiles with the occasional sneaky bomb of dog poo that make up Buenos Aires’ sidewalks.    I guess when you’re a dog walker with 20 dogs in tow you might find it a bit tedious to bag it ALLLLLL (see #5.)

50.  Electronics are insanely expensive because of import taxes.  I bought my Droid Razr (which got stolen a few weeks ago 😦 ) in February of 2012.  It came out sometime in 2011 I think.  Right now in the US, you can get one brand new without a contract for about $200 (free with a contract.)  This one pictured here is the equivalent of $520 WITH a new or renewed contract.  I hate to think of what it would be unlocked!

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To be continued…

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101 Things About Argentina (or wherever it is): Part I

A lot of you often ask me about what’s different about living here in Buenos Aires from Fort Collins, CO, USA.   This blog is going to be the selective results of a cumulative list I’ve been making in my notebook.  (The length got out of hand so I’m going to publish them in 4 parts.) Some are things that give my dimples a reason to appear , some are just crazy things I’ve seen/heard, even more are little differences about my daily life, the rest are just a mezcla of all of these things 🙂  They all sum up to pure awesome though and reasons that the last 10+ months have raced by.  So here it is:

101 Things About Argentina/the city/plain old differences From a Yanqui Perspective (In a totally disorganized order) Part I:

1.  “Qué sé yo…”  Ok so I have several favorite phrases but this one is definitely top ten. (What do I know…) Argentines use it in place of a shrug or sometimes just as a filler phrase–kind of like the way we say “like.”  Kind of…qué sé yo…

2.  When you’re 20 minutes late to class but don’t have a single worry because you’ll probably still get there before the professor.

3.  Dogs are often better dressed than I am:dog shirt

4.   A dog wearing a rain jacket (Ok seriously, I wish I had time to snap a picture but I didn’t…I was too busy trying to get to shelter.  Stupid dog looked dry as a Colorado summer though.)Dograinjacket
<<Only the dog was impossibly uglier (no offense intended, but I’m still pretty bitter…)

5.  Twenty (that’s 20) dogs being walked by one talented person.  That’s the record that I’ve seen anyways.  It’s usually anywhere from 10-15.IMG_0813

6.  “Ojo, ojo, cuidado, cuidado

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7.  When random people on the streets hear me speaking English (shame on me!), they sometimes high five me.  I didn’t realize actually how often this has been happening to me until a couple of days ago when I was walking down Pueyrredon with Sol and she found it strange that a random man tried to high five me and I ignored him.  She gave me a weird look and asked if I knew him; she probably still thinks that we have some long complicated history and he’s gone into my non-existent pile of “your-dead-to-me”‘s.  If any of you know how much I love high fives, just beware that I’m still going to be slap happy when I come back, no matter how many random strangers sacrifice their hands to me in the spirit of Statian stereotypes.

8.  <– This is the number of grocery stores within three blocks of me. 🙂 Win.

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^^Disco gives you cool coupons that I will probably never use but make me feel like I’m saving money.  (My favorites are two kilos of ice cream for the price of one!)  It’s two blocks from my house 🙂

9.  Traffic on the city streets is almost entirely made up of colectivos y taxis.  This is on Santa Fe, a few blocks from my house.

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10.  Hailing the colectivo was particularly difficult to me at first.  Now, of course, it comes naturally but I felt like an ungrateful, rude b***h doing it ten months ago.

11.  Pedestrians don’t have the right of way.  You will get run over.  Do not pass the curb.  Do not collect $200 pesos.

12.  You can buy a nice bottle of wine cheaper than a less-than-quality beer.  I have nothing outright against Quilmes or any of the common cheap beers, I’ve just been spoiled by Fort Collins microbrews.

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^^Maxi, Lena, Pato, and Nico drinking the appropriately named “Norte” brand of beer during our trip through the north of Argentina

13.  Save your beer bottles!  Two prices are listed at the grocery store for beers–the cheaper is only attainable if you brought your old beer bottle back in 😉 Hooray for recycling!

14.  You buy some of your groceries at a Chino, some at the supermercado of your choice, some at a fruit/vegetable stand, and I suppose if you eat meat, the rest at the butcher shop.  Probably all of it is delivered to your doorstep.

15.  Although I don’t smoke marijuana nor am I in a cult, every time I drink mate with Argentine friends I feel like I’m a part of a ritualistic ceremony involving the complicated preparation and consumption of drugs.

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^^I look like a total dork in this picture but whatever.

16.  You might lose friends, offend family members of friends, or even potentially get shanked for wearing the wrong soccer jersey in the wrong place at the wrong time.

17.  You’re ushered to your seat at the movie theater and usually expected to tip him 50 centavos or so…that’s about 15 cents less than your grandmother used to stingily give you for mowing the lawn (a quarter…)

18.  I like the spanish version of this song better.  Plus Aladdin has an adorable Spanish accent, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself for being able to notice it.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell any different accents when I got here.  Now I have a good handle on Spanish, Argentine/Urugayan, Colombian, Mexican, and Chilean.  The others are coming.

19.  There are very few taboo subjects; everybody poops I guess.

20.  The club is dead before 2 AM

21.  Strangely named food products that make me laugh:

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22.  It’s uncommon to give birthday cards, but birthday letters…at least from what I’ve seen.

23.  Common terms of endearment include: gorda (fatty), negra or negrita (black or little black one), and flaca (skinny)

24.  It totally makes sense that flower stands also sell Oriental trinkets and incense.  You hardly ever see one without the other in the city.

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25.  A typical McDonald’s hamburger costs $10–and yes, that’s AFTER converting it from pesos to dollars.  The Big Mac is the only regularly, for Mickey D’s anyways, priced thing on the menu, but only because of the BMI (Big Mac Index dictates all Big Macs around the world should be equal in price, no matter the country or currency.)

To be continued…

Sleepless and Spaceless

I roll over again and shimmy myself into a comfortable position.  161…162…163…  Maybe I should go to 500 this time. 169…170…171…  Screw that.  Lying here doing nothing is stupid.  I’m getting up at 300 if I don’t fall asleep—no, 250.  184…185…186…187…  oh, who am I kidding?  I’m getting up now.

And so went my night last night.  I’d gone to bed at about 11 PM but only to lie there thinking about my future and other deep things for an hour and a half.  After that, I tried to pretend my mind was a zen garden.

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I’d drag my rake through the sand of my mind, position the rocks, which represent my current preoccupations, in a circle, in a line, in a seemingly non-ordered scattergram.  Blah.  I am not a sand box, although my worries do sometimes feel like rocks in my head.  So I started counting because that sometimes helps me fall asleep.  I used to try and do the alphabet backwards…but I’m way too good at that now.  It doesn’t matter if I count backwards and in Spanish either.  It’s getting more and more difficult to trick my brain into self-shutdown.

I decided this time that if I had to be awake, I might as well make something of it.  I’m always feeling “too tired” to do things during the day so, if I was doomed to stay awake, I shouldn’t just lie there.  There’s only so much time I can spend raking my zen garden.  Plus, lying there feels so unproductive…and we all know that productivity is the capitalistic core of life, right?  Oh yeah…no more deep thinking either.  Stop it.  It’s a wonder I’ve been able to sleep at all this week with the chaos that engulfs my room right now anyways.  I decided some spring winter cleaning might help me feel organized and carry over that sensation into other aspects of my life.

I organized my closet, my cupboards, my shoes, every drawer.  My floor got swept, shelves dusted, bed made.  Granted, I did a half-ass job…but it still looks 100% better.  I’ve even managed to wash most of my clothes.  In fact, my laundry is closer to completion than it’s been since before I left for the summer (…five months ago…)  The order gives me the illusion that I am on top of things, in control, and allows me to shut my eyes for sleeping purposes during what those diurnal weirdos call “night-time.”

As I tediously sorted through the leftover hurricane debris in my desk drawers, I came across a couple of yellowed sheets of paper—an inventory of my suitcases upon departure from the USA.

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I promise I’m not THAT OCD…it was a suggestion to catalogue our suitcases by my study abroad program since I was bringing enough for a whole year.  If my suitcases were to lose their ways (which, let’s face it, with my luck, is very likely), I would be able to remember what I’d lost in each.  Reading the lists now, as I was organizing my room, I laughed out loud.  That’s all that fits in two suitcases?!  What am I going to do with everything I have now? Hahahahahaha.  Yeah, no.

Here is the original list:

BACKPACK:

  • Laptop
  • 2 chargers
  • Kindle + charger
  • Camera + charger
  • Purse
  • Wallet—ISIC, Insurance, Savings, Debit, Credit, Passport, Fake, Driver’s License, $20, etc.
  • Scope
  • Random Trinkets
  • Phone
  • Makeup—3 bags
  • Perfume + Jewelry
  • Shoes (DC)
  • Rain Jacket
  • Coloring Book + crayons
  • Travel guide
  • Cosmo I stole from Rachel
  • Brush
  • Converter kit
  • 750 GB external hard drive
  • Memory card adapters + USBs + 2 mini memory cards
  • Otterbox
  • A/C—USB
  • MP3 + charger
  • 2 pairs Skull Candy headphones (1 never made it to Argentina though…)
  • Phone charger
  • Folder of important documents
  • Contacts
  • Deodorant
  • Retainers
SUITCASE:

  • Lots of clothes
  • Flask + funnel
  • Hiren’s & Backtrack
  • Allergy meds
  • Calculator
  • Belts (4) (in retrospect, I’m not sure why this is relevant to list near “lots of clothes”…)
  • Sentimental shirt 😦
  • Brush #2
  • Razor
  • BOOOOOOOTS 🙂
  • Suitcase lock

MINI SUITCASE:

  • 3-4 outfits
  • Nike running shoes
  • Ryan’s green Hollister coat

Ok, so hopefully you didn’t read that word for word.  It’s not important what I brought so much as sheer quantity of what I have now.  Which is why I gave you the contents of that list for compare-ment simplicity.  Here is what the same inventory would look like if I were to up and red-eye back to Colorado right now:

  • Laptop
  • 2 chargers
  • Kindle + charger
  • Camera + charger
  • Broken camera + charger
  • HDMI cord
  • Wallet—ISIC, Driver’s license, savings, debit, credit, LANPass Visa, Passport, Fake, School IDs (3), Sube, Gym membership, etc.
  • Makeup—2 bags
  • Perfume + Jewelry ++++
  • DCs
  • BOOOOOOOTS (which are totally inappropriate for Buenos Aires’ climate)
  • Nikes
  • Flip flops
  • Leather boots
  • Black boot heels
  • Black “shoe” boots
  • Sandal heels
  • Heels (wedding)
  • Sol’s strappy heels
  • Rain Jacket
  • Coat (Ryan’s)
  • Leather Jacket
  • Red long sweater
  • Alpaca sweater
  • Black double coat (Halloween/HIMYM)
  • Coloring Book + crayons
  • Travel guide
  • Leftover antibiotics (because I grew up in the States and I hoard those things…)
  • 6 Notebooks + 6 textbooks + 2 loose leaf textbooks + 3 folders + 2 bags of “important documents”/“memories”**
  • Highligheters, whiteout, pens, notecards, glitter glue, paper clips, safety pins (which hold together most of my daily wardrobe), ribbon, gold glitter glue, 4 shoe boxes, 109345 plastic/paper/weird-shiny-stuff bags, and 1 large poster board
  • Qtips
  • Journal
  • Giant thermos
  • Baby thermos w/case
  • Plate w/ cover
  • Fork, knife, spoon
  • 3 pairs of broken headphones
  • 2 novels
  • 2 brushes
  • Cosmo I stole from Rach
  • Converter kit
  • External hard drive (almost broken…)
  • Memory card adapters + USBs + 0 mini memory cards
  • Otterbox
  • A/C—USB (2)
  • MP3 + charger
  • Phone charger
  • Contacts
  • 3 weird spray deodorants
  • Lots of clothes
  • Lots more clothes
  • Even more clothes
  • And then some clothes
  • Benadryl
  • Ibupirac
  • Calculator
  • Pendrite (Jump drive)
  • -1 sentimental shirt 😦
  • 2 calendars
  • Map of Ushuaia
  • Lotions and sprays and creams and soaps and (see below)
  • Retainers
  • Flossers
  • Listerine
  • Toothbrush (2) + Toothpaste (3)
  • Scrunchies and hairties and hair clips I bought here…
  • Chilean pesos, US dollars, Bolivianos, Reais, and some Argentine Pesos (I never exchanged…)
  • Earplugs
  • Muñequera
  • 3 bottles nail polish
  • Guitar + soft case
  • 3 purses
  • 3 scarves
  • 2 hats
  • Towel
  • Bottle of fernet (half-full)
  • Bottle of coke (almost empty)
  • Mate + bombilla
  • Huge thing of yerba + extra bag of weird herbs to add I found in China town that *ironically* are supposed to help insomnia
  • Sleeping bag
  • Can of peas (idk…)
  • Leftover spaghetti
  • McCafe glass (don’t ask…it was a phase)
  • Old Argentine coins Lauti gave me
  • 2 Rosaries
  • Hiren’s + 2 Backtracks (idk, they just magically doubled)
  • -1 phone…

**I call these “memories” but really I’m just weird.  When I got here I got this awesome stupid idea to collect every label of every product I used/food I ate/ beer I drank because it was in Spanish and that’s cool normal.  The result takes up two of the three drawers in my desk and is painful for me to think about throwing away.  I worked hard collecting that stuff…and it will be useful someday for like, I don’t know, a scrapbook or something right? Or just proof that people live in the Southern hemisphere and I, yes me, actually went there?!  …right?

***I would explain all of the weird stuff but for the sake of length…yeah just don’t worry about it 😉

****Oh and about all of the bottles of conditioner/shampoo/lotion/nailpolishremover/lotion/soap/godknowswhat below…see Jenna Marble’s video Things I Don’t Understand About Girls in regards to “goo hoarding”.

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I didn’t realize I could accumulate that much STUFFFFF!  AND  I’ve yet to buy souveneirs for everyone back home…  I guess it’s a good thing I’ll be able to leave a lot of things here, but still!  How did I manage to gain 6 pairs of shoes?!  SIX SEVEN PAIRS OF SHOES?!  Who uses that many shoes???  Ok, apparently I do, but how is it then, that I find myself missing the clothes and shoes I left back in the US?  I want my gladiator sandals 😦  Or my brown platform heels…those were so comfortable!  <–see why I’m a lost cause?

I haven’t machine-dried my clothes in a year.  I haven’t used a dishwasher or a garbage disposal in a year.  It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long…but I guess it has been a while.   Anyways, I’m doomed.  I’m contemplating just leaving all of that entire list of things here ) and just filling my suitcases with alfajores, fernet, and mate.  What do you guys think?

P.S.  I was going to say it’s been a year since I’ve driven a car but Lauti let me drive his new Jeep at the beach in Pinamar 3 weekends ago! 😀  I didn’t crash or anything!!!  Here’s visual proof (that I drove…you’ll just have to trust that I didn’t crash 😉 )

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Liebster Award

LiebsterAward_3lilapplesI was super pumped when I found out I’d been nominated for a Liebster Award by The Tipsy Nomads.  I had no idea what it was, I just lit up at the word “Award.”  After I stopped running laps around the house and cheering, I looked up what the award actually was with this handy page.

The Rules

  • Answer the 11 questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 questions
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself

Because The Tipsy Nomads is a blog about drinks around the world, their questions for me were naturally about drinking 🙂  Please read my >>Disclaimer<< before you start freaking out that I’m a crazy drunkard.

11 Questions From the Person Who Nominated Me:

1.  What is the most money you have ever spent in one night, just on drinks and where was it and what were you drinking?

This is going to be a tough one.  I am really cheap so when I go out I try not to spend that much money.  That doesn’t mean I don’t drink though…  The most I’ve ever spent in one night has been for a party I’m throwing—probably Dad’s (Natalie’s) 20th birthday party.  I planned on everyone paying me back…but that just didn’t happen.Image  I spent a lot on my goodbye party too—1/2 keg of Sunshine Wheat from New Belgium Brewery, three bottles of vodka for my classic cranberry punch, bottle of tequila, 40-rack of crappy beer, bottle of whisky, and I think something girly, like Malibu.  Probably around $300 total.  I have incredible luck though.  The nights where I drink the best I tend to spend the least.  Strange.  Drinking more=being richer?  Should test this hypothesis. 😉

<<Jello Shots I made for the party

2.  What is your favourite alcoholic drink?

ImageTough.  So many to choose from…In the USA it was a 7&7 (whiskey and 7-up) and my favorite shot was a dirty girl scout or grapefruit vodka with chocolate chips.  Here I have become incredibly fond of fernet and coke.  Nothing can deter me from a good wheat beer made in Fort Collins though 😉

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>>(At right)  Me and one of my best friends, Nick, getting a beer sampler on Saint Patrick’s day at Fort Collins Brewery

3.  What was the cheapest drink you have ever tried and where was it and what did it taste like?

Besides free?  Haha 😉  In the USA: Sundance Bar & Saloon…a whiskey-something (whiskey water probably…I’m not sure but it came from a tap) for 25ȼ.  Here in Argentina: The Alamo’s beer.  No one knows what it is but it gives you a horrendous hangover and makes you do crazy things.  With you and a friend’s entrance plus 5 pesos (about $1) you can get four liters of the stuff.  Yes, four (4) liters for $1.

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4. Give us your funniest drinking story. 

That’s going to be a difficult one to choose…This one took place in Fort Collins.  It was my freshman year.  I was dating this guy whose roommate threw excellent parties in their house (apparently he wasn’t so great about clean-up, but luckily I didn’t live there.)  He’d always have a theme and this one was “Adventure.”  You were supposed to dress up as your favorite adventurer or somehow conform to the theme, so, naturally, my friends and I went all out.  I was Xena the Warrior Princess and I’d made my costume myself.  I’d even hot glued golden ribbons directly onto my ankles (apparently I kept proudly telling everyone this throughout the night…)

Image^^Not my most flattering picture but a bit too much of a foreshadow for the night…

When we entered the party, we were relatively early.  My boyfriend wasn’t there yet, but he told us he’d left us some Arbor Mist (carbonated wine stuff) in the fridge.  We got started slowly but felt kind of uncomfortable as more and more people arrived in regular clothing.  I wasn’t ashamed of my costume—it was awesome as you can see—but it was clear we’d put a little more effort into these costumes than everyone else.  My boyfriend called me and asked what we wanted him to pick up for us on his way to the party and my friend requested this stuff called “Hot Damn!”  It’s the bargain brand of cinnamon schnapps.  I’d had it once before and, still being a beginner drinker, it was girly and smooth enough for me to handle.

He arrived with the liquor and we took a shot to celebrate.  Then I took another shot with a friend who we didn’t know we had in common.  Then a couple more friends got there and we all took a shot together.  Then I took a shot with my best friend.  Then I took a shot with a random guy who was waiting in line for the bathroom because he said my costume was “awesome.”  At that point I realized that this Hot Damn!  wasn’t the same kind I’d had before….it was 100 proof.  All of this plus two other drinks in the course of an hour…and the scene was set.

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Cut to: Us in the basement, young sweaty college kids packed in tight, playing pool and beer pong and swinging on the decorative “adventure vines”.  Loud music but not too loud to talk.  Suddenly my best friend’s jaw drops.

“Oh my gawd!” she says, “I know that girl.  She worked at the Texas Roadhouse!”

Now, my best friend used to be a hostess at the Texas Roadhouse and let me tell y’all how much she hated it: A WHOLE DARN LOT.  It wasn’t necessarily a horrible job but all of the girls were really mean to her.  She’d been driven to finally quit her job about a month before the party and hadn’t seen any of the girls since.

“Where?”  I sway as I attempt to stand on my tip toes and get a better view.

“There, in the black, with the black hair talking to that one girl.  See her?  She has her back to us.  [Insert expletive here] I can’t believe she’s here!”

“Was she a bitch?”  I ask bluntly.

“Well, yeah…they all were.”

“Imma go talkto’er,” I declare, and start marching over.  My friend grabs me by the shoulder.

“Autumn!  No!  Don’t start anything, she doesn’t even know we’re here…it could,” she pauses, “I don’t know, it could mess up my recommendation from there or something.”

“Don’t worry,” I assure her, “I’m just gonna talk to‘er realquick.”  And I march off again.

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I think I really had just intended to talk to this girl…but in the few meter’s walk I must have changed my mind because I only said two words.  I just stood there glaring at the back of her head until she turned around, confused.  Then I delivered my two words with my fist, “Hey bitch.”

Not my classiest moment for sure…and it gets worse.  I had fallen down after my fist made contact and she’d dragged me up by my hair.  I think it would have hurt much worse if I’d had all of my senses, but I was pummeling her with my hands and kicking like a blind cat dipped in water.  Our friends broke us apart before we got rowdier.

Cut to: The girl and I are in the backyard screaming at each other and struggling against the friends who are holding us back from tearing each other apart.  A circle has formed of at least thirty people screaming, “GIRL FIGHT!” I am determined to defend my friend’s honor at whatever cost.  People are streaming out of the house trying to see what’s going on when I elbow my friend in the ribs and she loses her grip on me.  Sacrifices, I guess.

I must have really been in character.  I don’t know what exactly went through my mind but my hand dropped to my left hip and drew my plastic sword dramatically.  Gripping it tightly with both hands I let out a frightening drunk battle cry as I ran at her and shoved the gray plastic into her throat.  The plastic wasn’t substantial enough to do any harm and, from the accounts of my friends, made the whole scene comical and anti-climactic.  I didn’t do much more than annoy her and get her rambling about how stupid freshman are.

Cut to: Me sitting on my boyfriend’s bed, my shield and sword safely out of my reach and all of my closest friends pledging their support and telling me that I was not out of my mind.  I wanted nothing more than to put my armor back on and attack, but they told me the guys of the house were handling it.

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Many other things happened that night.  In the morning I had the worst hangover that I’ve ever had in my life.  Two days later, when I noticed silly string on the front lawn, I was devastated that I’d missed the silly string fight…apparently I started it.  Who knows what other shenanigans I got into…but I was surrounded by my closest friends who I know kept me (sort of) under control.

The girl, who my friends and I now refer to as TXRH bitch, was not actually that mean to my best friend.  I feel bad that I attacked her so viciously and suddenly.  She did not even know who I was.  I don’t think I did either (except Xena.)  It turned out that she was dating the next door neighbor and we had a lot in common actually, but it led to a slight rivalry between the two houses over the next year.  Shame on me.

Sometimes people will see me at a party and remember me as Xena, even though I swear I’ve never met them.  The smell of cinnamon still makes me uneasy, and I haven’t gotten in a fight since that night.  I hope to keep it that way.  The next time I might be totally unarmed.

So I’m only going to share that story but I wrote another post about a particularly crazy night I had in Brazil during Carnaval.  You can read it here.

5.  What is your best hangover cure/routine?

Water.  Food.  Vitamins.  When I’m planning an irresponsible night I try to lessen the blow to my liver by downing a glass of water for every shot/drink I have.  This is surprisingly effective.  The best offense is a good defense 😉  I just deleted about two paragraphs of inappropriate jokes…sorry, but I can’t afford to deteriorate my image further during this post.

ANYHOW, if I do end up feeling not so fortunate the morning after an eventful night, I have to eat.  I maintain that Qdoba breakfast burritos can cure any hangover of mine.  I sure do miss those.

6.  What is your all-time favourite drinking song?

Blackout—Breathe Carolina

7.  Where in the world is your favourite drinking spot?

On any roof, beach, or around any campfire.  Ideally, a campfire on the roof of a beach house, but that would be tricky.  I prefer to drink outside.  I don’t know if I have a particular spot though.

I’m being easily led astray on tangents today so here you go:

The Roof Is On Fire--Bloodhound Gang

8.  Have you ever played a drinking game? If so what was it and how did it work?

Um, duh, I go to college in the Shtaytes 😉  Besides the typical beer pong and card games like King’s cup, I enjoy a good mustache game.  To play the mustache game one tapes a mustache to the TV and the group takes a drink every time the mustache lines up perfectly with someone’s face.

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9.  Have you ever snuck a drink in somewhere where it wasn’t allowed? How did you do it?

You’re funny hahaha. And this survey is making me sound like a notorious party girl.  Not necessarily true.  We once snuck an entire bottle of Jager into an almost empty bar, and were refilling our glasses under the table like the classless, poor college students we were.  And of course my friends and I snuck our fair share of alcohol into the dorms as well.

10.  Were you ever busted drinking while underage by a parent or anyone else?

My mom knows all about my twin in Connecticut who happens to be 23.  She’s even gone to the breweries with her a couple of times. Image

I was caught by the cops once though—outside of my favorite bar.  It was a slow night and I tried to convince the cops that I really was 21 for about 15 minutes.  He’d called me in nationally and state-wide with no hits on my name…which didn’t necessarily mean I was a fraud. But I finally folded and he let me off without a ticket and without any documentation when I brought him my second fake ID the next day (which I’d tried to iron and messed up anyways…long story)

11.  Why do you think that drinking and travelling go hand in hand so well?

I think that drinking is a social activity.  That’s why it’s so popular among young people and travelers.  It is a great way to get to know people, improve perceived language ability :P, and share experiences.  ImagePlus, it’s globally practiced on a regular basis.

vv My host brother drinking at his graduation party 🙂

Blogs I Nominate (I only nominated a few.  Yup, I’m stumping the cycle, deal with it):

Yanama? from Larusayankee

Mark from Mark Goes To Europe

Brandon from I Told My Mom I’d Make This Blog

Nay? from A Year without peanut butter

Anyone from Chrisman2College

By the way, sorry if I got your name wrong 😦  I couldn’t find some of them!

Questions for the Nominated:

  1. If you had to pick one place in the world to make your “home base”, where would it be and why?
  2. What’s your funniest language barrier story?
  3. What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had with airport security?
  4. Have you ever been sick abroad?  Do tell.
  5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?  (cliché but always interesting)
  6. Have you ever not been able to find a certain can’t-live-without product abroad?  What was it, where, and what did you do?
  7. Pick a favorite travel photo:
  8. What is the coolest-looking passport stamp you’ve ever gotten (or seen)?
  9. Do you have a New Year’s resolution this year and are you keeping it?
  10. What is the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?
  11. How long is the longest you’ve ever stayed awake?

Eleven Things About Me:

  1. I belly dance. 100_8835
  2. I’m always forgetting things/losing things/late.
  3. The doctors told my mom I was going to have Down’s Syndrome and that I was a boy.
  4. I’m OCD about brushing my teeth and I almost always do it twice before going to bed.
  5. My favorite color is green
  6. My favorite season is fall (surprised?)
  7. When I was little I threw the cat in the bathtub, with my brother in it.
  8. When I was little my brother locked me in the bathroom in a zipped (and tied) duffle bag.
  9. When I was little I used to generate real fake tears to get my brother in trouble.
  10. When I was little my brother convinced me to let him cut my arm repeatedly with his Swiss Army knife so I could be part of his “club.”
  11. I still sometimes look at my thumb and first finger to figure out left and right.

¡Free Cerveja!

So I started writing this for the Liebster Award that I got from The Tipsy Nomads, but I realized afterward that it deserved its own post.  I know that I haven’t gotten to this point in my recounting of my summer trip yet, but I am sharing it now to accompany the Liebster Award. Please read my >>Disclaimer<< before this post and enjoy! 🙂

It was February and I’d just arrived in Recife, Brazil from Bolivia.  I reunited with one of my best friends from the US, Marketa (Tata), for carnival just the day before when both of us flew in.  We didn’t know any Portuguese but were staying at Marcos’s house.  It was an amazing first couchsurfing experience, but I’ll tell you more about the whole Carnaval experience and Marcos in later posts.  Anyways, we’d spent the first night resting and we planned on going to the Tiesto concert this night to kick off Carnaval 2013.  We had both tried to buy tickets earlier but neither of us could understand the Portuguese very well to trust the website with our credit card numbers and it seemed like you could only purchase tickets if you had a Brazilian ID, so we decided to wait until we got there.  Marcos told us it wouldn’t be a problem to scalp a couple, but we were worried.

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Marcos had to work in the morning so he unfortunately couldn’t come with us 😦  But he got his family friend who ran a taxi service to take us there and back safely for really cheap.  We left around 9:30 and stopped at an ATM for money before heading off to Olinda (about a 20 minute trip altogether.)  As we rode along, the taxi driver was trying to explain to me in Portuguese something.  If we both spoke slowly (me in Spanish and him in Portuguese) and waved our arms a lot it seemed like we could understand each other.  He was saying something about how we were going to get ripped off if we tried to buy tickets because it was so obvious that we were foreign and we couldn’t speak Portuguese.  I agreed, but told him we didn’t have tickets so we didn’t really have any other option.  It seemed like he was trying to say something more but we both gave up trying to communicate.  I feel terrible that I don’t remember his name, but his memory is forever comparable in my head to the taxi/limo driver, Ranjit, from How I Met Your Mother.  He was awesome.

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Before we got to the stadium, he pulled off the highway, slowed down the car and rolled his window down to talk to someone in the night.  I could understand snipets of the conversation and figured out the rest through body language.  The man was trying to sell tickets to the taxi driver for $95 reais (reals) a piece—which sounded fantastic!  Online they were $100.  I kept my mouth shut though; best not announce my foreign-ness to the world right now.

The taxi driver scrunched up his face and shook his head several times before rolling up the window on the guy and driving away.  He explained to us that we shouldn’t have to pay that much.  Marketa and I were worried. What if we couldn’t find tickets closer to the show?  Or we ended up paying much more?  That was an awesome deal in our opinion; we never dreamed we’d actually save money by buying scalped tickets!

The second scalper we found closer to the entrance of the stadium.  He had his price set at $90 reais.  Yes!  But the taxi driver again shook his head and made a face.  He didn’t drive off though.  He rolled up the window like a boss and looked back at us.

“Oitenta e cinco?”  (Eighty-five?)

“Sim, sim!”  Marketa and I both answered eagerly, super pumped that we’d been able to save a total of $15 on the tickets.

He rolled down the window again, kept a straight face and nodded slightly as he said, “Oitenta,” (80) with conviction.

Of course the scalper pinged back $85 and the taxi driver handed us our tickets, which were cool-looking card things that said Club Life.

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We started to get excited.  It had been over six months since I’d been to a concert, the last time was coincidentally with Marketa before I’d left for Argentina.  I was also particularly pumped to see Tiesto because, even though I didn’t know much about him, my brother had seen him in concert a couple of years before and had an incredible time.

We thanked the taxi driver over and over for helping us and agreed to meet him back at the entrance at 7 AM (it was about 11 PM.)  I think I’ve gotten used to eight hour salidas (going out) but Marketa still looked kind of dazed.  There was a bubble of youngsters our age, some dressed for going out, some in regular clothes buzzing at the entrance of the studio.  Assuming this was the Brazilian version of a line, we parked ourselves near the back and waited impatiently.  The tickets said the concert would start at 10:30 but we both assumed it would be at least an hour late since we were still in South America after all.  I had grown accustomed to this sort of thing.

We were both antsy and excited, surrounded by Portuguese and totally on our own in the sea of people.  I eagerly asked questions about every one back home, how they were doing, new gossip, etc, but every five minutes or so when a pause came in the conversation, we’d just shake our heads and make a strange sound of delight.  “I can’t believe we’re actually here!!!”  I tend to have a lot of those moments where I’m still excited to have an experience even though I’m already experiencing it.  Like how you want to keep eating on Thanksgiving even though your stomach is on the brink of bursting.  We couldn’t keep still, so we started meandering towards the front of the bubble, just to see what was going on at least.

 Image^^The center where the concert was.

Speaking in English about what was going on turned some heads.  Several people offered us help that we graciously declined.  Eventually we just got stuck in the knot of bodies near the front, a sensation that we’d become all too familiar with throughout the rest of Carnaval but one that seemed to incite our anticipation now.  The concert-goers had taken up a chant, frustrated about the hour and a half they’d been waiting. (It was now midnight.)  I recognized curse words that were similar to Spanish and tried to hold back my giggling, the surrealness of my current situation making me giddy.  Two guys behind us started talking to us in English.  I can’t remember clearly if they were from Switzerland or Portugal, but we made small talk while the crowd grew impatient.  They recommended some beaches to us, offered to show us around the city during our stay (although we never saw them again…), and translated some of the chanting for us.

At around 12:30 the crowd near the front let out whoops of delight.  Yay!  The line was finally moving!  Just kidding.  A cold can of beer passed over my head, surfing its way to the back of the bubble.  Another one passed and Marketa and I shared looks of confusion.  The two guys behind us told us that they were giving out free beer because we had been waiting so long.  I grinned and squeezed to the front to secure a can for Marketa and I.  We were thrilled that we managed to get one of the free beers.  It seemed to taste better than usual.

It was strange though, no one seemed to be pushing or trying to grab at the cans.  Guys, come on, it’s free beer!  I turned to our translators.

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“Yes, they made it free beer because we wait so long.”

Surely they were just going to give out a few free beers to pacify the crowd.  Our translators weren’t the best at English and it left Tata and I confused.  Finally, at 1 in the morning, the doors opened, the bubble popped, and people flooded the arena.

“Come on, girls.  We go get drinks!”  The translators headed for one of the red tents whose workers were passing out cans of Skol from long bench-like coolers as quickly as possible.  Kids were leaving with two or three cans in hand and spreading around the arena.  Apparently this was no joke.  They had really decided to make the whole concert open bar.

Tata and I couldn’t believe it.  In the United States this would never happen.  Free beer all night???  Surely they would run out or or…who knows but for a mere two and a half hours of waiting we had free beer all night?!  We shared an enthusiastic high five and cried, “Free cerveja!”  Could this night get any better?  Yes.

^^Play this song while you read 😉

The high ceilings and huge venue dwarfed the stage.  Small red tents offering food and free cerveja dotted the perimeter.  The only source of light came from the giant screen behind the stage flashing at us in various colors.  The beats of Deadmau5 bombarded us from all angles and the bass thumped through the floor beneath us.  As we cheers-ed our free beers (to Sanchez :P), we physically couldn’t keep the grins from taking over our faces.

 Image^^This was a different day during Carnaval but still the same smiles 🙂

A mediocre DJ opened for Tiesto and we took solace in the free beer, without it we might have gotten a little bored of the same rhythms hamsterwheeling through our ears.  Finally, at about 3 AM Tiesto came on.  The light show was almost as spectacular as the music and the vibe of the crowd. We danced and screamed and made frequent trips back to the beer tent.  In the end we really didn’t drink that much—about 5 or 6 beers each, but we were more than drunk on the experience.  We ended up in the front of the crowd, gripping the bar, a pair of blissful Statians jumping and screaming and swaying to the music.  We marveled at the demeanor of the other people in the front lines of the concert.  Everyone seemed so….nice.  No one shoved me, stepped on my foot, or elbowed me in the ribs.  We had plenty of space to dance gleefully and people actually took turns being in the front of the chaos.  I’d never seen anything like it.  People were just so happy and pleasant.   The feeling was contagious and we even traded spots with the fans behind us for a while.

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Tiesto didn’t play for long.  At four thirty he had finished his set and gone off stage to be replaced by another DJ.

The new DJ was probably just as mediocre as the first but he seemed a little better now that my mood had skyrocketed to a caliber of unmatchable happiness.  We were still disappointed that Tiesto hadn’t played for very long—we couldn’t get enough—and we didn’t know what we planned on doing for the next two and a half hours…  The replacement DJ wouldn’t be playing past 5:30 or so and we had to keep entertained until 7 AM.  Wasn’t there an after party or something?  No one seemed to know, so I took it upon myself to get us invited to one back stage.  Surely there was something.

Marketa knows me well, and she understands that when I get a crazy idea like this I’m unstoppable with my ‘I-got-this’ attitude.  She just went with it because there wasn’t much she could do anyways.  We went to the entrance to backstage which was being guarded by a relatively short bouncer in his late thirties.  He, of course, did not speak English OR Spanish, but I tried my best to communicate.  We wanted an after-party.  Who knows what he said, but it was clear that we couldn’t get backstage VIP status without pink wristbands.  No matter how much I begged and pleaded, we weren’t going to get back there without them.  He really seemed like he wanted to let us back through but it was his job to keep out the crazy drunk girls after all.

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So I took up my plight with an innocent camera man leaving from backstage.  He said that we couldn’t get back there either and I tried to improvise a sob story about how we had nowhere else to go, blah, blah, blah.  He seemed truly sympathetic but he had no right to let us back there either.  After what seemed like an hour of trying I still hadn’t given up.  Finally, the bouncer made a gesture to listen and we leaned in close.  He told us he had an idea.  We’d need pink wrist bands.  And then he winked.

I told him I knew that we needed pink wrist bands…but our’s were white.  I didn’t understand the wink at all.  Had he decided to let us through?  He pointed towards the stage to another bouncer guarding the railing and winked again saying something about the pink wrist bands.  Maybe we could get them from him?  We gave him confused expressions and began making our way to the other bouncer.  It seemed lighter in the arena now and half the crowd had retired for the night, but the music pumped on.  We arrived at the other bouncer and before we asked him we hesitantly looked back at the man guarding the door.  He winked at us yet again and pointed down.  We looked down at a pile of confetti on top of some boxes near the railing.  Huh?

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^^They’d blasted confetti during the concert; this picture is taken from a photographer’s website from the concert 🙂

I picked up a pink piece of confetti, cocked my head sideways and looked at him with scrunched up eyebrows.  He nodded to us and gave us a thumbs up.  Somehow, we had understood each other and it suddenly clicked.  I’m not sure I would have really known what to do had I been sober but I grabbed two pieces of pink confetti, handed one to Marketa and instructed her to hold it over her white wrist band.  We looked like complete dorks as we marched back to the bouncer and showed him the confetti on our wrists.  He smiled and ushered us back stage.

I can only imagine how Tata felt, not having understood any of the Spanish or Portuguese and suddenly landing back stage because of a piece of pink confetti.  I felt accomplished, confident, and cocky.  I was sure we were going to party with the crew and continue the craziness of the night.  A tall dark bouncer with a kind smile led us backstage and outside.  He told me something about money and, though I was even more confused, knew he was asking us for $20 reais (about $10 USD.)  Whatever, we’d spent wayyyy less than anticipated so a $5 USD cover to get to an after party was very much in the budget.  We gave him the money and we went through a door leading outside.

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We were assaulted by the sunlight.  So bright.  When had it turned day time?!  When our eyes adjusted, we saw a few people sitting on the curb of a sidewalk waiting for a van to pull around to load equipment, but the parking lot beyond was largely empty.  The bouncer led us around a corner, stopped, and asked us something I didn’t understand.  I repeated in Spanish that we wanted to meet Tiesto and he seemed confused.  After a little bit of language see-sawing, we finally figured out what the other was trying to say.  He told us that Tiesto had already left.  While bummed, I was still proud of getting back stage and shrugged it off.  We were going back inside when I remembered the $20 reais and asked him for my money back.  It was obvious that he was uncertain about it but he finally pulled us behind some speakers and discreetly handed me the money, muttering something about how his bosses couldn’t see him giving me the money back.

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We exited through the same gate we’d come a little confused and star struck.  Neither of us was completely sure what had just happened as the bouncer wished us luck on our way out.  The few stragglers that were still clinging to the stage were herded out by the staff into the entranceway.  It started to rain outside and I vaguely remember dancing around in it with Marketa.  If the night could become any stranger, we found some starving-looking kittens and were talking to some cute boys when we got kicked out into the rain entirely.  One guy offered us a ride home, but that didn’t sound like the best of ideas to us, and we wouldn’t abandon our awesome taxi driver either.  We’d yet to pay him!  The last of the kittens ran away and found shelter somewhere inside the building when we finally saw our taxi driver pull up and ran through the rain to the safety of the car.

I don’t remember the ride home much except that I was feeling sick.  I wish we would have tipped the taxi driver more but I was more than gone at that point (because of only 5 beers…seriously…)  I woke up at about 3 in the afternoon in Marcos’s house still in my clothes from the night before feeling groggy but stunned.  What a crazy, wild, bizarre, surreal night.  It had finally happened.  My waking life had collided with my dreams into a confusing combination that I found difficult to separate. Yep, last night happened.  It would have been even crazier if we’d have met Tiesto, but it was still the best night of Carnaval by far and one of my most dizzying, eventful nights ever.

This is Argentina (TIA)

I died in my dream last night.  Shot in the head.  I watched as my blood slowly pooled around me and the life drained out of my body.

People say you can’t die in your own dreams.  Apparently you can, because I was really dead.  Like, no life dead.  My dream even continued after I died.  I was in a country at war.  We had a school trip to go tour the country; a campaign to slaughter ignorance by seeing how people are really being slaughtered every day around the world in countries like the one we went to.  The leader of our tour promised us that, while things sometimes got dangerous and scary, no one had ever been hurt.  But I knew that I was going to die on this trip.  I went anyways and within 20 minutes of arriving in a small town that had seen more death and fighting than any town should ever see, shots were fired, screams were let loose and mayhem commenced.

People were running in panic trying to hide from men in black with machine guns.  At first I looked to the leader of our group for guidance but our group’s shell was quickly broken and we all slowly oozed out like a raw egg, confused and seeking protection.  I ran into a fabric shop.  All of the workers had taken refuge under the room’s long horizontal tables.  It reminded me of a colorful kindergarten classroom but with sewing machines on the tables.  I chose a table near the back to hide under.  The carpet was blood red.  I lay down anyways.  Everyone had grabbed towels and hidden under them as if it would help them blend in or protect them from a ruthless bullet aimed to kill.  Their towels were red and black but the only towel I could find to offer some salvation was cream.  An off-white eggshell.  I climbed under and pulled it up to my neck, lying on the blood red carpet. Fragile, but not scared.

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A man in black burst the door open and saw all of us huddled under the tables.  His eyes had sorrow in them.  He did not want to shoot us.  But he aimed his gun and fired at my head.  No one made a noise.  It was completely silent as my last breath sighed out.  It didn’t hurt.  It was like falling asleep.  Very peaceful.  The man did not want to shoot anymore.  Anyone.  He left and closed the door silently behind him.

After the fighting was over the workers emerged from under their towels and stared at my body for a while, my cream towel slowly staining as it absorbed the blood draining from my head.  My face was at rest.  They moved me on top of the table, blood dripping a tell-tale path to the real place I’d died.  They didn’t know how to respect me from there or what to do with me.  Some cried, but only because of how close they had been to death and hysteria.  They mostly just awkwardly stared at me.

The teacher and leader of the group panicked when he saw my dead body, immediately thinking of everything he would have to do now that someone had died within the first half hour of his tour.  Papers to sign, people to confess to, a total mess.

When I woke up from the dream, I was happy and energized.

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I honestly can’t remember the last time that I’ve woken up without sleep trying to tug my eyelids back down and cocoon me in warm covers.  I can’t remember the last time I woke up and actually wanted to start my day.  That sounds morbid but it’s true.  I’m constantly tired and always grumpy when I wake up lately.  Today was different.

But then everything seemed to go wrong, seemed to try and make me swallow my optimism.  I had several things to do today.  I needed to get a new Sube (transit card) AGAIN, after it was stolen AGAIN on Friday; I needed to activate the iPhone Otto is letting me borrow for the next nine weeks till I go back; I needed to buy an iPhone cable to charge said iPhone; I had an eye doctor’s appointment at 4:30; I had to go withdraw money from Xoom because I’m running low on “just-in-case” cash; I needed to go to the pharmacy for eye drops, shampoo, and a wrist guard I need for my dance class; and I needed to do my laundry since all of my socks are quite literally falling apart they’re so overused and dirty.

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^^My absurd amount of laundry right now 😦  And rest assured, all of that has been worn at least twice.

You can already assume that I only got one of those things done, but not for a lack of trying.  I found it strange that I didn’t want to sleep in.  Today I was actually allowed to sleep in since I didn’t have class but I simply couldn’t.  I lie in bed and read my book for a while anyways until my energy got the best of me.  I hopped out of bed, ate breakfast, put on clothes (REAL CLOTHES!) and brushed my hair until it shined more than usual.  I left the house and set off for the post office to get a new Sube.  It was a mean version of cold out.  The weather shouldn’t be allowed to change so suddenly.  Luckily I had brought a scarf to prepare (I know…Autumn wears scarves now?!….yes.)

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When I had finished the 15-block trek to the post office in the arctic cold (like 50 degrees…), I felt like my face was dry as paper and my eyes were half swollen shut.  I waited in line 30 minutes just for them to tell me that there were no cards left.  I walked to the other post office (20 blocks).  No cards either.  Then I gave up and walked back home.  I ordered money online from Xoom and walked over there (10 blocks.)  I waited an hour before it was my turn.  They told me my transaction had yet to be processed and I could wait or just come tomorrow.  Tomorrow it was.  So I came home again, ate, counted my losses, watched 2 episodes of How I Met Your Mother and talked myself out the door again.

I went to three different technology stores before I realized that iPhone cables are harder to find than a vegetarian sandwich at McDonald’s.  To the big fancy Apple store I went.  But the cords there were $240 pesos.  Yeah, I don’t care what the blue dollar is right now, I’m not paying that much.   See why Apple and I aren’t friends?  Well, I was about to be late to my eye doctor’s appointment so I abandoned the pricey cable with a glare and sauntered off.  Luckily, the eye doctor is only four or five blocks from my house, so I made it on time.  I sat in the waiting room reading on my kindle for about 15 minutes before they took me back and reviewed what we had talked about last time.

I am almost blind…and I’ve had this silly eye disease since I was ten.  It’s not so bad.  Everything looks like a watercolor actually.  So when I see my face in the mirror in the morning, I can’t see any imperfections and I tend to go through my days thinking I’m way hotter than I actually am.  With women’s confidence being statistically low, I imagine this evens out with my self-esteem to a perfect equilibrium, but who really knows.  I’m the last person who’d know what I actually look like.

Anyhow, last May, I joined a clinical study in the US for this thing called corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL).  It cost me a buttload of money (or should I say it cost my generous uncle and brother a buttload of money.  I really am grateful, I feel much more relieved now that I know my disease can’t get worse after the surgery) for the three-hour procedure.  Supposedly CXL is supposed to stop me from needing a corneal transplant in the coming years and stop the progression of my disease.  I think it has, but since I moved to Argentina I haven’t really been able to check.

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^^Told you I wasn’t human 😛

I finally got tired of going through my days here not being able to see shit.  I’ve also started to feel nauseous by the end of every day and I know it’s because I can’t see and I get dizzy.  So I asked around and found an expert on my disease here in Buenos Aires.  As luck would have it, Dr. Albertazzi’s office is only like 5 blocks from my house!  I went to see him and he assumed I was trying to get approved for the usual “cure”—Ferrara rings.  Yeah, never heard of those before.  I think I’ve been to so many eye doctor’s appointments in my lifetime (and certainly paid for them…) that I deserve a degree in opthamology by now…but I’ve never heard of these Ferrara rings before.  That’s because, like CXL, these type of ferrari-rarra-ro rings aren’t approved in the USA yet, despite having over 10 years of precedence in Europe, Canada, South America, and everywhere else in the world.

So, after I got home from my first appointment I did a bunch of research and was shocked at what I found.  The first time I researched the options for my disease before I got CXL I never found anything about the rings, but they’re everywhere online.  They’re the most common (and promising) option for people with my disease.  If you’re diagnosed with Keratoconus anywhere except the USA they recommend CXL and these ring things right away…but if you live in the US, you may be doomed to thousands of eye appointments, fitting consultations, contacts, and even an organ transplant (cornea)!  I mean, at first I really didn’t believe it.  My eye doctors in the US wouldn’t have kept me from that.  They wouldn’t.  But they did apparently.  It doesn’t sound real…but I promise I researched it well and was surprised too.  Ten years later…here I am.  So anyways, I read all this optimistic information about the ring thingys and started to imagine what it would be like to see again.

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^^Ferrariara ring-things (It’s actually Ferrara…I just can’t say it, so I purposely say it wrong)

Some people go from seeing like me (terribly) to not even needing glasses to correct their vision.  It’s been eight years since I couldn’t even wear bifocals.  It’s surreal to think that just two years ago my mom and I were sitting down with an optic surgeon talking about corneal transplants and there’s this five-minute out-patient surgery that can practically fix me.  The catch is that it’s $3500 USD.  So I got my eyes dilated today and Dr. Albertazzi shined uncomfortably bright lights in my eyes to look at my retinas before I told him I wouldn’t be going through with the surgery.  He laid out my options and we decided that after I come back to Argentina in December I should sign up with the obra social OSDE.  They will cover all of it.  Hopefully it is as good as it sounds but I am impatient after imagining what it would be like to read street signs again and stop accidentally waving to strangers.

It’s ok though, I’m sure it will be worth the wait. So with that bite of bittersweetness I was off to the mall to get my phone company to put a SIM card in the iPhone.  Better to have a phone than nothing, even if I can’t charge it.  I walked the 15 blocks there, walked up three stories and halfway across the mall to find a huge phone-store-sized sign saying that Claro was under construction in order to “serve me better.” I may or may not have kicked the sign.  It’s very rare that I get angry like that but, it was more of a pat with my foot than a kick.  You couldn’t even tell. 🙂

On top of all that, I was totally blind everywhere I went because of the eye dilation.  Seriously.  If I couldn’t see anything before, this was like…well, worse.  I had to move the font size up on my kindle to the biggest.  It won’t even fit one sentence per page now.  Shame.  I think the day was lost.  I feel like I didn’t do anything!  Sigh.  Tomorrow I will try and tackle the to-do list again, but this time I will be ready for it.  I thought it woulda been easy.  Silly Autumn.  This is Argentina 😛  Things close, cards run out, and Apple is literally a golden apple.  TIA.

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P.S.  Just went to start my laundry and there is no laundry soap.

The world: 1  Autumn: -5000

Plot Twist!

Maxi and I entered the bus station in Carlos Paz as two dirty, smelly, and exhausted backpackers.  We were resigned to take the first bus that would get us closer to La Rioja (our chosen New Year’s destination) that we could find.  Bus stations are a bit disorganized in Argentina though.  I guess I don’t have much grasp of a Statian-modeled bus station to compare them to but I suppose if I were to take a bus in the States I’d search for a Greyhound time schedule online.  It’s not super common there to take buses cross-country, at least from what I gathered during my first 19 years of life in the USA.  It is here though.  Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and, with almost 40% of the population living in Buenos Aires Province and the rest scattered across the varying land of the nation, there’s a high demand for long-distance bus travel.  I’m getting off topic though.

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The majority of bus stations are set up in cement buildings with several different “booths” for each bus company.  Walking in you might feel kind of like you’re at a mall or a strange type of market.  Each company runs their own business and uses their share of the platforms.  It isn’t like looking up airline tickets online and finding the cheapest company.  You have to go ask each separate bus company for a list of their times and prices, so it takes a bit of research if you’re not really sure where you are going except “north.”  Sometimes, when you purchase a ticket they just give you a slip of paper with no time or platform number or destination.  You are, at that point, responsible for figuring things out.  It doesn’t seem very secure to me, and I think Maxi was a bit frustrated by the lack of organization too, but hey, TIA (This is Argentina.)

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Luckily, Carlos Paz’s bus station wasn’t too huge.  First I went to bum a more detailed map of the area from a tourist booth.  I actually ended up in a 30-minute conversation with the student intern there.  He was studying Chemistry in Cordoba and really interesting to talk to, giving me some advice about where to stay in La Rioja, suggestions for what to do, and how to get there.  After talking to him, I asked a couple of companies for schedules while Maxi guarded our things.  I found out that there was only one company that would take us north this late in the day.  It was $50 pesos per person, though, just to the point where the route changed and headed to our chosen city; that was 5000% more expensive than hitching a ride, ,more even.

We discussed it, were kind of irritated, but eventually decided that we didn’t really want to sleep in the bus station and preferred to at least get to a vantage point where we could hitch a ride.  Eventually, we settled on tickets for halfway to the turn off, meaning we’d be on the bus for about an hour and a half, get halfway there and then go camp in Capilla del Monte.  We waited for the bus to get there (at around 7:30 PM.)  I practiced the guitar while Maxi searched for honey roasted peanuts and raisins—he couldn’t stop craving them after the excellent choice of snack food I’d offered on our first hitch hiking ride in the Fiats.  But he came back empty handed and we got on the bus hungry, sleepy, and in need of showers.

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The bus decided they didn’t have enough people so they waited in the terminal another thirty minutes to see if anyone would join in.  Max wasn’t the only one frustrated with the system but we were both at least glad to have cushion-y seats.  No one else got on in the next half hour as it began to get dark outside.  We’d probably have to find a hostel once we got to Capilla del Monte instead of camp, definitely exceeding our daily budget, but oh well.  We finally set off and it wasn’t five minutes before I got bored of taking funny pictures of Maxi snoring and joined in on the Z’s. I woke up disoriented and a bit dizzy.

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The bus seats were so much more comfortable than anywhere I’d slept in the last few days and I had slept long and hard.  Only problem was, I’d slept long and hard.  I quickly woke Maxi and asked him what time it was.  We assumed the bus driver would have told us when to get off since we’d only paid for half of the journey…but it had been an hour and forty five minutes since we’d dozed off.  We were both kind of panicked.  If we were at all accurate in our calculations, we’d missed our stop.

There were more people on the bus now, even though it was still largely empty.  I turned to the people next to us, who also looked like stinky young travelers with a thirst for adventure.  They said we hadn’t missed our stop, that it was the next one, but were naturally interested in where we were from and where we were going so we started chatting.   That’s how we met John, Braian, Juan, and Cynthia.  They were all from different parts of South America backpacking around and making enough to move from destination to destination by doing malabares (juggling and street performances) at street corners or traffic lights.  They asked us what we were doing in Capilla del Monte and we responded that we were trying to find something cool to do for New Year’s.  In less than five minutes we were invited to spend New Year’s with them; we could just stow-away on the bus for an extra half hour and get off in Cruz del Eje.  They were meeting some friends there and were going to go to a little mountain pueblo called San Marcos Sierras to hang out and spend New Year’s there.

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^^Cynthia, Maxi, Braian, and John

Maxi and I just looked at each other and grinned.  This was the feeling I loved about this trip.  I very rarely felt unsafe or that things would not work out.  The phrase, that we’d repeat whenever we were worried about getting stuck somewhere or things not working out, “Siempre tenemos suerte”, (We are always lucky) was born in this moment.   I can’t even explain how things just seemed to fall perfectly into place while we hitchhiked through the north.  They just…did.  Yes, we had our fair share of rough nights, but things always seemed to work out like this.  Don’t know where to spend New Year’s?  Well, let’s just relax about it.  Sure to find something.  And that we did. 😉  We decided to tag along with these random kids we’d just met to Cruz del Eje.  The bus driver didn’t even blink an eye when we got off a half hour later than what we’d paid (he probably would have taken us all the way to Bolivia without noticing…)

San Marcos Sierras turned out to be one of my top three favorite places we went during the trip.  It wasn’t so much the place as the people and the things that I learned.  I’ll tell you why next time because I’m procrastinating on studying for my Management midterm, but I’ll write soon!  No promises this time, since I tend to break those 😉

Besos!

Autumn

No Pictures, Please

Alright, so I owe you all an explanation for my absence…but I’m not going to give it to you.  If you know me at all you’ll understand that I’ve been overwhelmed lately and being overwhelmed does not really bring out my productive side.  Not at all.  In fact, when the wind viciously assaults my face I tend not to simply turn my cheek and keep walking…no, no, no.  Instead, I usually turn and run with the wind.  That metaphor was confusing and for some reason brought up strange images of my Pocahontas alter ego donning sneakers and singing parodies of Colors of the Wind.  Sorry.  See why I can’t properly explain why I haven’t been writing lately?  What I meant to say is: stress does strange things to me.  That’s the best explanation I’m able to give you (except for the rest of this post which could seem like an extra long-winded explanation.)

There is A LOT going on in my life right now (surprising, huh?)  Sometimes I wonder how much profit I could make contributing content to cheesy Hollywood drama shows.  Probably an obscene amount—at least with the way my life’s been somersaulting anyways.  Well, there’s a shortened, more cryptic version of your explanation.  Moving on:

Here’s a picture of me right now in 1,000 words:

I’ve been in my pajamas all day.  They’re more comfortable than regular clothing lately, partly because I’m lazy and stressed about virtually everything so if I’m not going to leave the house I might as well indulge, and partly because I’ve developed a concerning addiction to alfajores.  Yeah, cookies make you fat.  Adding a couple of pounds of cookies to my paunch makes my jeans uncomfortable.  PJs for the win!  Kind of.  …At least my boobs are getting bigger too, but this is serious!  Coming from the girl who can eat a pound of chocolate in one sitting and not feel an ounce of guilt OR show it, this self-admission should be alarming.  It’s ok though, because I’ve recognized the problem and started working out.  I’m doing these dance classes with my friend Ike and I feel so much better after every class.  I have also curbed my intake of dulce de leche and even quit coffee (sort of)!

I have three documents open on my computer right now: a final essay for my online class due tomorrow, my notes for the Management midterm I have on Tuesday, and you guys.  School.  School, school, school.  Yeah, school was cool, but I just wasted like five words right there.  Sigh.  I’m so unmotivated for anything school-related.  I do like my new school a lot (if you’ll recall I switched schools this semester for a bigger challenge because I felt bored.)  I actually feel like I’m learning there and I enjoy it.  The problem is that I have no idea what I’m doing being at school anymore besides fulfilling an excuse to be here in Argentina.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have a real degree and be finished and everything, I just wish I knew what I really wanted to study…or do…or anything.  The closer I get to the finish line, the more I realize that I’m just as lost, if not more lost, than I was when I started college.  At least when I started I was oblivious to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.  Now that I know that I don’t know, I’m terrified.  I want to study something for real.  With this school actually challenging me again I’ve become re-interested in academics and learning things.  My inner nerd woke up from a very very long siesta… but I don’t know what I’d want to study if I decided to study something else.  I don’t want to study really until I have a direction.  Finding a direction requires you to know what you like doing and what you want to do.  It’s hard to explain, but I just want to know what I want; while I don’t know I find it increasingly harder to dedicate time and energy to something I’m unsure about.  The words “school” and “know” just lost their meaning; I’ve said them too many times.

As to my love life, that’s confusing as well.  Boys.  Boys, boys, boys.  Meh.  I like the word school better right now.  I only have 9 weeks left in Argentina this year, can you believe it?  I’ve done a surprisingly excellent job of spinning a scandalous, romantic web here for the last ten months.  So well, in fact, that I got tangled up in the stickiness of it all myself.  That’s ok.  I’m sure I will untangle a lot of in the next few weeks before I go back to Colorado, but I just feel kind of lost.  Every time that I announce I know what I want and I’m happy, I end up second guessing myself.  I did meet a boy that I like.  (This is weird to publicly disclose to you all but shhhh…it’s a secret 😉 )  The problem is that I’m still in love with one back home.  Maybe that’s not a problem.  But it does complicate things.  I don’t know what to do so…I am just kind of lazy-rivering it and trying to ignore the whole situation.

That’s not working very well, but I guess it will get resolved eventually; I only have nine more pitifully short weeks.

A good friend told me that the reason I’m not sleeping lately might be because I feel like I have to choose one of my lives: here or there.  I have been rather homesick lately now that I know I can hug my mom and my dog (Happy Mother’s Day btw!)  in just two short months. The time I spend lying awake trying to fall asleep I sometimes start imagining what it’s going to be like when I get back.  This was something I started when I was sick and miserable in Bolivia.  When you’re that sick and you don’t have your mom to boss around and buy you ice cream, you start to wish you did.  I love it here in Argentina and I want to stay but I can’t stop daydreaming about that future day in July in the airport.  I’m planning on giving everyone cliché, running-start hugs.  You know, the kind that you see in movies but are much harder to execute in person.  Those kind where your hands involuntarily drop all of your belongings wherever they may fall, your feet start carrying you across the slippery tiles, magically avoiding slipping or running you into some poor stranger in the crowd, and launch you at the perfect moment to land in your loved one’s arms and kick up your feet in the most exaggerated hug.  It’s going to be awesome.  Someone should film it because it’s going to be a hallmark reunion.  Bad ass.

But, anyhow, I shouldn’t be making everything so black and white.  Leaving Argentina for the next six months doesn’t mean that my life here isn’t real, nor does it mean that I’ll be abandoning everyone back in the US when I come back.  It just means that my heart has to stretch really far, far enough to span two continents.  Nine weeks.  Where did the other 48 go?!  That’s so short.

But I don’t plan to spend them locked in my room trying not to confront reality.  I mean, I spent the last couple doing that, time to move on.  So passé.  So I’m trying to motivate myself to face the wind and keep walking.  I have great friends and family here and in the US, I’m going to be able to get through the last few months of school, and I promise I will still wear the same size jeans when I get home (but who cares if I don’t anyways!)  Here comes trouble.  😉

Ok, so that was 101 words too many, but wouldn’t be Autumn if not long-winded.