"She lets me slide if I don't quite have exact change."
"I run in front of them when my walk light turns green."
"There will be no carnal relations. "
Morning Rush May 30, 2003 Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentina
Unintended Consequences Buenos Aires, Captial Federal, Argentina
Monday June 9, 2003
My down time in Buenos Aires has been having an unexpected effect. In addition to allowing time to relax in a nice city, I'm being reminded how nice it is to actually live somewhere. To have a place that's your own and time to get to know your surroundings and neighbors. It hasn't brought me to the point of wanting to end my trip, but it does make me look forward to having a home again.
I have a favorite cafe, where you can watch what's left of Buenos Aires' elite canter by on Santa Fe Avenue. I have my own laundry, where the old guy with dual American - Argentinian citizenship and an odd eastern European accent laments having come back to Buenos Aires just months before the economic collapse.
"Every time I come in they say Estados Unidos!" At the internet cafe next to my building, the old woman and her daughter originally thought I was Russian. Now every time I come in they say "Estados Unidos!" The nice Asian woman at the grocery right next door thought I was German and lets me slide if I don't quite have exact change.
At the burger place on Santa Fe, they know which combo I'm going to have and that I probably want it to go, "para llevar," so I can eat it in the park at the end of Avenida Juncal. The weathered old man at the newsstand on the way still can't understand me when I ask for the English-language Buenos Aires Herald, but he pulls out today's edition despite what I may blather at him.
"Today a taxi seriously tried to hit me." I have a basic route I take most every time I go running and many taxi drivers already hate me. I run in front of them when my walk light turns green... making them wait to make their right or left turn. Today one seriously tried to hit me. I was within a second of hopping onto his hood but he finally blinked. I kinda wish I'd done it, dented his car, and kept running.
I've even learned the shape code of the empanada place next to my building. Empanadas are these pastry-like things with cheese and meat and veggies or whatever in them. They're quite tasty. In lieu of writing what's in each of them, they fold them in a special way that denotes the contents of the empanada. Fold it one way, it's spiced beef. Folded another, it's pesto and cheese (my favorite).
"It feels good to feel like you belong somewhere." This what happens when you stay somewhere for a while. You start to become part of it. I miss that a little. As a tourist, you're always looking in from the outside. Not that I'm much more than a tourist now, but sometimes I let myself believe I belong here. It feels good to feel like you belong somewhere.
I'm not sure I'd want to live here permanently. The political situation's a little scary and my Spanish has pretty much plateaued at a level barely sufficient to get by. But it's a quite enjoyable and endearing place to spend a few weeks. I'm glad I chose it.
"It puts some troubling images into one's mind." And by the way, Colin Powell's here tomorrow. The new president had a funny quote about the meeting he'll have. The consensus is that one of the reasons Argentina's in the trouble it's in is because it fostered extremely close relations with the US over the last decade. Kirtchner says he welcomes Powell's visit and hopes for constructive dialogue, but that there will be no "carnal relations" between the two countries. While being quite funny, it also puts some troubling images into one's mind. Maybe I'll walk by the Pink House tomorrow and see if I can catch a glimpse of the president and Mr. Powell. Perhaps I can squeeze that in between sleeping, eating and internet.
Additionally, the ThereGoesJohn.com family of websites is proud to announce that it is approaching a landmark. Sometime this week, probably tomorrow, we'll reach 10,000 visits since mid-November. If I had any way of figuring out who number 10,000 is maybe I'd offer some kind of prize, but I don't. And if this were still the late '90s maybe there'd be a big party for the hard-working support staff of the ThereGoesJohn.com family of websites. But it's not. So we'll just quietly note the passing of 10,000 and hope y'all keep coming back.