Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So here I am, back in Buenos Aires. A ridiculous amount has changed. Less in Buenos Aires and more in my life, but still. My brain has no idea what to make of the last two days. When I spent a month here last May, I was a completely different person. I lived with my parents in Colorado. I had never really established a life of my own outside of the state in which I was born and raised. I was taking a year off, partly working, partly applying to grad school, partly doing nothing at all. My friend group was different. My entire life was different. So to come back here, to this place that remembers the person I was, is almost too much to stomach. So much so that I actually threw up on the taxi ride from the airport to my hostel. I felt myself getting nauseous as my brain tried to meld the past with the present, tried to comprehend the events that happened last time I was here while simultaneously anticipating this new trip. It was too much, and I kindly asked the taxi driver to pull over so I could vomit. First time my Spanish became useful on this trip.

That's the other thing. I am always thinking in both English and Spanish. Last time I was here, most of the people I met spoke both. This time, I'm the only English speaker in the whole hostel. I have four friends who are still down here from last time, but only two of them speak English. What this means is that every time I rest to think or open my mouth to speak, there are two monologues running through my head: one in English and the other in Spanish. Somehow my Spanish is much better this time around even though I haven't used it since last spring. But it's a little painful to keep translating my own thoughts to myself. Not that I'm complaining. Speaking two languages is a very strange, exhilarating experience to say the least. Yesterday, I spoke only Spanish. Porteños speak too quickly, so I often have to ask them to slow down. They also use a lot of slang. I have so much more to learn.

Even though my vomiting episode yesterday was a little off-putting, I managed to pull the day together thanks to my chileno, Daniel. Last May, I met an incredible group of people in my hostel. We quickly became a family and did everything together: eating, drinking, dancing, traveling, laughing, crying, watching Friends in the living room, ordering empanadas from El Conde. There's a restaurant below the hostel [Cilantro], where everyone knew us and we knew them. This time, all that remains is Morris, Cilantro manager, Daniel, mi amigo chileno, Tayla, mi amiga brasileña, y Bruna, mi amiga peruana. I wasn't actually certain that Daniel would return from Chile to meet me in Buenos Aires, but yesterday he surprised me by responding to my facebook status saying "no te muevas." So I didn't. Eventually, he met me a the hostel and we went to Cilantro to surprise Morris and drink cafe con leche. After, he took me to a really good tienda de medialunas where he bought me some delicious pastries filled with dulce de leche. We walked to the park outside the cemetery in Recoleta and ate our breakfast on a bench in the South American sunshine. Later, we walked back to the hostel, through the park and past the giant metal flor, so I could take a much needed nap, then went to Cilantro for dinner. The great thing about living above a restaurant is that you usually drink for free. But last night I was far too exhausted and emotionally unstable, so we ate pasta Kerla but passed on the cocktails. I managed a glorious 12 hours of sleep before waking up this morning for my first full day.

I just realized that this is much more journal-like than my posts last year, but it's easier to write everything in here than to update multiple people of the same things. Anyway...

Today, I spent the morning in Cilantro, reading and drinking cafe con leche and the best orange juice ever. I met Dani and Tayla at the subte station in the early afternoon and we went to el barrio chino to buy sushi for a picnic in the park. Tayla is my South American soulmate. Last year, on my very first day, very first morning in Buenos Aires, I encountered her on the hostel's balcony, and we shared one of my favorite moments of my entire life. We've been in love ever since, even when the language barrier threatens to get in our way. So you can imagine my joy and relief when I looked up from rolling up my jeans in the subte station and saw her happy, beautiful face. We bought uncut sushi rolls in el barrio chino and walked to a nearby park to eat. Since they were not cut, we had to eat them like burritos, occasionally pouring soy sauce on top.

When we decided to leave the park, we passed a strange van that said "con vos me caso." When we inquired, they asked if we wanted to get married. We obviously agreed. This required us to dress in funny clothes and stand in the van while a fake Elvis priest pretended to marry us. We even got rings. A photographer took our picture [which I'll post here when said photographer posts them on facebook].

We took the bus to a beautiful wine store, the best in the city, where Tayla's boyfriend works. We tasted wine and left with several bottles of free champagne, some of which we drank while wandering the streets on our way back to the subte. After returning to the hostel, I finally got to see my South American momma, Carmen, who owns the hostel. Last night, I spent much of the evening talking with her husband, Alberto, about my life since last May.

It'd love to be able to say that being back here is incredible and perfect in every way. But it's not. Not yet at least. Seeing my friends has been so happy, and the hostel is just as friendly and clean and beautiful as always. But encountering my own ghost in this city so far from home is a strange feeling to digest. This trip is in no way the same trip I took last year, even though I am in the same place with many of the same people. The only way I'm going to be able to move past this uncomfortable feeling is to accept that this trip is different. Completely different. I'll get there eventually, with a little more sleep, some dancing, and some more time with my South American family.

On a side note, here are some things that have changed here since my last visit:
1. Cilantro doesn't serve breakfast anymore [at least not right now]. Breakfast at Cilantro was my absolute favorite thing last year, so this is a little disappointing.
2. 6 Peso Pizza is now 7 Peso Pizza, which is related to another change...
3. the peso:dollar ratio is now 4:1. Good news for my bank account, bad news for the Argentinian economy.
4. Like I said before, no one in the hostel speaks English, which creates a completely different environment.
5. Club Fetish no longer exists as the Israeli dude who owned it went bankrupt and left South America without paying any of his debt.
6. There are like twice as many Freddo's [best ice cream ever (except for the ice cream in Paris)]
7. My friends here no longer live in the hostel. They've moved to apartments. All except Dani, who now lives in Chile again and who will be staying at the hostel starting tomorrow.
8. The internet in my hostel is a hell of a lot faster. Gracias a díos.

Other things have stayed the same. Like Zac.

1 comment:

iwantmythunder said...

I love you. It looks like you had a beautiful day, even if it wasn't perfect. And this will be just as important a trip for you as the last one, but in completely different ways. Youwill post everyday! Youwill.