DAY 2Feb 01 2018
Left the group in Bogota and came solo to Buenos Aires where I have an AirBnB for the month and a few other deviant Kaizens in town.
It hopefully won’t be too lonely, and should be a good taste of what it will be like to travel after this year is over. Fortunately there is another program, Yugen, in town, so I’ll plan to tag along to their events when craving community.
DAY 4Feb 03 2018
Buenos Aires is beautiful. It’s the peak of the summer so it is HOT (mid 90s), and the city is quiet with the majority of locals vacationing.
My apartment is in the northern part of Palermo, and is my favorite accommodation by far (mostly because I picked it and paid for it myself).
I don’t have access to a workspace this month, but have been splitting my time working from home and from one of the many cafes.
We took an all day bike tour (butt still sore) and hit all the sites, but what stood out to me was how European everything looked. The Buenos Aires elite were all francophiles, and built their city to look like Paris. However, yellow fever kept striking and they didn’t know why, so after every epidemic they would pack up and relocate to another part of town. The poor immigrants would move in and add splashes of color and life to the promenades, and thus Buenos Aires as it exists was born; wide streets, regal buildings, flea markets, colorful shops, green spaces, and graffiti all intermingled.
DAY 5Feb 04 2018
We’ve missed a lot of holidays and events this year, and have done our best to create a community so we don’t feel so homesick. So come super bowl Sunday, we, along with 20 Yugens, reserved a tiny corner of a packed expat bar, and watched the game on a delayed stream with a projector, eating all the wings and Mac and cheese, and literally running the bar dry of beer.
It was over 100 degrees, and we were sweating all over each other, but then the star spangled banner came on and all of us were singing in unison. It was goosebumps worthy and I felt my first pang of homesickness since Christmas. Message me for the video if you want to feel all the feels.
DAY 8Feb 07 2018
A minorly uncomfortable thing happened today that is worth writing about, if only to highlight how infrequently this type of thing happens on the road.
I was our shopping and had a reusebale grocery bag on my shoulder with stuff I had bought at another store. The first store I went to didn’t have hot sauce so I popped into another market on my walk back. They did have hot sauce, and a few other things I decided I wanted, and I proceeded to the checkout.
The woman is scanning my items and I open my grocery bag to start loading up. Someone else comes over and pulls a yogurt out from my bag and says “We sell this here. You took it.” She then proceeds to tear through my bag, pulling out milk, and beer, rice. “We sell this, we sell this, we sell this. You took from us.”
At this point she’s screaming and my, normally excellent, Spanish is failing me under pressure, and I manage to tell them to calm down and eventually dig out my receipt from the previous store. Even once I showed them everything was accounted for, they were asking me to leave their store.
This, in my gut opinion, was one of my first racist encounters of the year. I have received a ton of attention, especially in South America, about my skin color, but this was the first time I was made to feel unwelcome and like a criminal. Most of the attention has been in a spirit of curiosity (“¿eres de arabe?” “¿eres de aquí?” “Tienes un color linda.”, etc etc), and sometimes has been catcall-y, but never hostile. Perhaps because I’m short, and American, and often in neon Thailand tanks, and overall nonthreatening, or because I default with a smile, or maybe because I’m just lucky, this hasn’t really been an issue in any country I’ve ever visited. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again, but it was eye opening and disturbing to experience.
DAY 9Feb 08 2018
Sooo apparently Uruguay is just a two hour ferry across the bay from Buenos Aires? Who knew!
The ferry experience felt a bit more like a flight. You pass through the Argentinian immigration counter where they stamp you out, and then immediately turn around and face the Uruguayan counter where they stamp you in. Then we had to put on booties (?) for the entire 2 hour trip to prevent tracking Argentinian dirt or bugs into Uruguay. The ferry itself was a bit like a cruise ship, and we upgraded ($10 more) to business class.
Montevideo itself was a ghost town. Our first impressions walking around was the Uruguay was pretty poor, and the decrepit buildings and desolate streets were signs of its wear. Wrong! After some guilty Wikipedia’ing we learned that Uruguay has the second highest GDP, one of the highest incomes per capita, and has won awards for their paving the way in providing clean water to every citizen and for digitalizing their government functions.
Turns out the empty streets were a result of their upstanding citizens being at the beach, not because the hooligans wanted to murder us. Whoops.
That’s cool though, more wine for us! Aimee and I averaged 2 bottles each per day, and took advantage of rain to spend a bit too much time a vineyard. Whoops again.
Once the sun came out we were able to get to the beach for a siesta and stumble upon what would be the best Carnaval festival of the season.
Super unexpected, Uruguay. Super unexpected.
DAY 12Feb 11 2018
After a lot of agita trying to secure legal tickets, and despite warnings that we were going to get trampled in a mob without a guide, we made it to the Bombadera for a Boca Juniors game!
Our section was standing room only and the fans stood and sand the ENTIRE game. There were some points when the stadium shook from the jumping. My favorite part, though, was watching the “kids section” — parents tied sweatshirts to the barrier forming seats/swings for the little ones. They jumped and shouted and sang hoisted up there the entire game. Tradition is tradition no matter what colors you’re wearing 💙
But sidenote, if you’re going to a game in South America DO NOT wear anything but the Home colors. You are only allowed to root for the home team. Period. Even a plain shirt of the wrong color could mean your life.
DAY 14Feb 13 2018
Carnival / Mardi Gras in this hemisphere was a bit of a dud. Granted, I didn’t shell out the $1,000 to get to rio, nor did I chill with Kaizen in Barranquilla. I did, however, attend a few parades, a few block party festivals, and a “New Orleans themed Mardi Gras party.” The only real thing that resulted, sadly, were 6 stolen phones and 2 stolen wallets within 5 minutes at a drum festival on Lundi Gras. Luckily this girl was just fine.
DAY 17Feb 16 2018
Off on a solo trip to Chile!
It’s been a long time since I had a real solo trip, and even though Aimee will be in town for some of it, my plans for the next ten days are accountable to nobody but me.