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Bad Timing 2 - Noah 0

I am no longer roaming through this wild continent solo. Having been joined by three Canadian friends - Rob, Maggie and Stephanie - I have already allowed them to join me in my mire of bad timing and horribly spoken language. They seem to be adjusting exactly as well I have, those poor bastards.

Stephanie got in on Thursday afternoon and instantly conformed to the vampiric lifestyle of the South Americans. In our first three days here we always went out late and didn't have breakfast prior to 2 p.m. I even heard one local call 9:40 p.m. "Nine-forty in the afternoon", which makes me wonder what time it becomes eveing here. Maybe June.

Friday evening, Stephanie and I were taken out by my friend Sebastian to "El Divino", easily the fanciest nightclub either of us had ever been to; it is amazingly trendy, being filled with hordes of fashion-consious porteños (people from Buenos Aires). It also looks like a compressed version of the Sydney Opera House and has at least 5 or 6 bars on the inside. Already feeling mightily out of place, Stephanie was then told by another friend that yes, this was a fancy club, but there are much more relaxed clubs in town where, hey, you could even wear jeans and a t-shirt if you wanted to. At this point Stephanie and I looked down at our clothes, which seemed more than just vaguely jeans-and-t-shirty, and felt even more like outcasts. Perhaps, if we try really hard, we can look almost as good as the garbage collectors here. But probably not.

Stephanie also mentioned that one of the main things she has noticed here is how tight the pants are of the local women. Amazingly, I had ALSO noticed this, though perhaps slightly more in a state of dazzling fascination and slightly less as a cultural observation. I have begun to wonder whether the girls are actually BORN inside the pants which then continue to expand with the growing body, as I don't see how they could possibly be removed. I tried asking a girl to remove her pants once, as an experiment of course, but it didn't go as well as you might think; the bruises are still healing. So much for culture!

On Saturday, as we waited for Rob and Maggie to arrive from Vancouver, Stephanie and I hopped on a bus to see one of the local soccer teams play. As the 1-hour bus ride rumbled on, what had been a slight drizzle progressed into a intense rainstorm. The bus driver, when announcing that we were at our stop, just looked outside, looked back at us and started laughing. We were drenched to the core by the time we had walked the 3 blocks to the stadium and then continued to get poured on as we couldn't seem to find the ticket office. After 5 minutes we located it, then waited in line only to get to the front and have the guy working there shut the gate in our faces, with no explanation. Now, you think you can't get wetter after being pissed down on for 15 minutes, but I beg to differ. Soaked through, we asked what was happening and found out that the game had been cancelled due to rain at the very instant that we tried to buy our tickets. Bout of Good Timing #1.

We sogged our way back to the bus stop and hopped aboard. Tickets on buses here are bought through an automatic machine - you put change in and the ticket pops out; the driver is not a part of the transaction. However, my money, which had been in my pocket, was SO wet, it couldn't be read by the machine. The money, though, was not bills but *coins* that were getting stuck in the machine due to how drenched they were. As a line of people waited for us to get on, the back of the line still having to stand out in the downpour, the bus driver proceeded to bring out an air gun that he would shoot repeatedly down the machine until our change finally would register. We eventually managed to board and drove past massive flooding - on one road the water had flooded up to windshield-high on the cars that had parked there; it was really quite incredible.

Sunday, I spent the day walking through the city with Stephanie, Maggie and Rob, first going to a market that was across the street from us. The market was amazingly odd, with people dressed in bizzare costumes for no apparent reason and selling items that included tacky, non-working, 1930's gramophones, a paper-mache dead woman's torso with a monster popping out, and decorative teacups. More interesting was the fact that nobody really seemed to sell anything, but were more just there to show off the oddity of their wares. I said the South Americans weren't so concerned about making cash.

We basically just relaxed Sunday before making our way out to the nearby town of San Antonio de Areco on Monday, the morning of November 13th. San Antonio is 2 hours from Buenos Aires and is home to the largest Gaucho (Argentine Cowboy) festival in the country. I had planned to visit this festival with Rob and Maggie for a few months, and we were excited to go. We had heard the main day of the celebration was on Nov 12th and that the festival lasted for a week. When we arrived we realized that all this was true, EXCEPT for the fact that it was a week long and ENDED on the 12th. We had missed the entire festival by one day. Bout of Good Timing #2.

Aside from that, San Antonio is just really a dusty little country town, made dustier by the fact that we had been dropped off on the side of a dirty highway as the bus sped off. We sauntered around for the day, doing very little aside from laughing at ourselves. For once it wasn't just the locals laughing at me; I really feel like I am beginning to fit in down here.

IMPORTANT SPANISH TIP: I once confused the words "Gaucho" and "Guacho" down here. Not a big deal, save for the fact that "Gaucho" means "Argentine Cowboy" and "Guacho" means "Bastard". Those bruises aren't healing quite as quickly.

I am continuing to love the food down here, with the obscene amounts of meat included in every meal. I really get the feeling that the Argentines are trying to duke it out for which can create the higher fatality rates, High Blood Pressure or Car Accidents. It seems the bad driving ALSO causes high blood pressure, so it may not be a fair comparison.

I continue to pay for cutlery at all restaurants here, which strikes me as strange. Even more ironic is the fact that the way you say "All-You-Can-Eat" down here is "Tenedor Libre", which literally translated means "free fork", despite the fact that your fork is one of the only things you DO pay for.

This is likely my last entry from Argentina as Stephanie and I are heading north tomorrow and should be back in Brazil within a few days.