Buenos Aires, Argentina
Imagine compressing an entire year's worth of partying down into two weeks, and you've got a slight idea of what Babak and I put ourselves (and each other) though in Buenos Aires.
"My body is crying!"—a phrase heard coming from Babak (in pain, often murmured from under the bed sheets) on more than one occasion. Another, typically said some time later, was "I'm pissing orange Jell-O!"
The level of Babak's persistent dehydration (not to mention bowel explosions) was always an entertaining play-by-play commentary to hear, as no matter how much water or booze he consumed could he get never come within reach of a clear shade of urine—eventually acknowledging and accepting the internal devastation our behavior was having on his system.
Our hotel room was consistently covered in empty beer cans and champagne bottles (a variety that comes out of Mendoza is both inexpensive and tasty). Not a single hotel we stayed at had a clock in the room—it was like Las Vegas.
It was interesting noting Babak's perception of women in Buenos Aires (both in and out of the nightclubs). I told Babak that the women in this city were tough as nails—like Manhattan girls. "They're not bad looking," he said, "but I expected to come down to a city full of Shakira's."
Men in this country are probably the most aggressive towards women that I've found anywhere in Latin America (the Italian influence perhaps), and my perception is that the girls start getting accosted at such a young age that by the time they reach their twenties they've probably heard and seen just about every type of pickup attempt in the book.
The women have learned and adapted—eye contact is a killer here. A group of girls will be in a circle, looking only at the eyes of their friends, at their drink, and at the floor—that's it. No wandering vision. Friends, drink, floor. If she inadvertently catches the gaze of a guy, it's all over—he'll pounce on her like lion on a wounded animal in the Savannah.
One tourist told me that she got "face raped" once when she went out—a guy just came up and started kissing her. Hand grabbing and path obstruction are common—anything goes down here—it's Thunderdome!
That being said, I felt frustrated for B (even if he wasn't). Babak excels in places where he's exotic (like in the U.S.), but down here in Argentina that not so much the case. I lost him in the crowd of a club one night and looked around for a guy with black hair and a white shirt—impossible. He would say hello to a lady on the street and get either no response or a scowl in return for his efforts.
Now all this isn't to say that B didn't have a good time meeting, talking, and dancing with women—but as I can attest to, ratio of energy outputted to that of a return is way out of wack.
The nights were long and the days incredibly short—waking up in the late afternoon was resisted at first, and then accepted. I'm use to waking up in the early morning, as the hostel beings to stir, but in the blackened cave our hotel room became—do not disturb sign on door—it was easy to sleep late into the day wrapped up in comfortable sheets and soothed by air conditioning.
Occasionally we'd get to enjoy the complimentary breakfast at the hotel (often because we were just coming back from a lengthy night out). Patrons, dressed and groomed, had the privilege of watching a very weary Craig (sometimes in pajamas or perhaps clothes from the evening out) eat eggs, cheese, and pork products (while making no attempt to disguise his condition). In the event that Babak was unable to attend breakfast, I'd bring back an omelet or a plate with miscellaneous foods back to the room.
I was really only eating every 12 hours or so. We were red-lining our bodies.
By the time Babak left to catch his flight (today) we were well beyond the night dwelling lifestyle of vampires—we were literately the living undead (although managed not to look like it by early evening). Babak wanted to stay for the weekend, but knew he had to go. Lord only knows what might have happened if he stuck around for another pair of nights out.
With Babak gone I'm spending the weekend at a friend's apartment—taking the opportunity to heal, catch up Travelvice, and prepare for Monday's departure to Uruguay (and beyond).
Carnival '07 is starting to stress me out. It's just about 30 days away (begins February 15th), and not only do I have to move across a mass of land that's roughly twice the length of Central America, but I still have to figure out my accommodations for the festivities. Procuring an apartment (or space in one) should have been done months and months ago, but even though I knew I wanted to go, I just wasn't 100% sure that I'd make it.
I'm scrambling. Over the past five or six months I've made contact with over half a dozen different people/groups who intended on being in Salvador for the event, but since they've either flown home, changed their minds, or haven't been able to arrange a place to stay (and are in the same situation I am).
I've posted an accommodations needed request on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree message forum, on Craigslist, and inside a popular Israeli hostel in Buenos Aires (a group that is known to network). Dorm beds are still open at a popular hostel in Salvador, but paying US$60 per night (for seven nights) for a bunk bed is just too crazy for me (which is probably why there are still openings, but lord knows for how long). I have an offer to rent a bedroom out of a Brazilian's apartment for about the same price, which I'd consider picking up if I can find someone to share the cost of the bed with me.
I feel demotivated by all of this (the costs of attending and getting there are really starting to bum me out), and wonder what path the next month will lead me down. Is Salvador's carnival in my future?