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The Cult of Las Moiras (Bariloche, Argentina, 2013)

Doug had our personal assistant, Juan, book a hostel in Bariloche for us to stay while we were there. It was called the Las Moiras hostel, and the three of us did not do any Internet research at all before staying there. (Pre-emptive warning sign #1)

Warning sign #2: OK, not all of your roommates in hostels are all chummy chummy and warm, but the French couple occupying the two other beds in the room with Kenny, Doug, and me were pretty lame. They used all the outlets, went to sleep at like 9pm, and passive aggressively slammed doors. 

Warning sign #2: There were two languages spoken at the hostel, but almost no one spoke english. Which two languages you ask? Spanish and Hebrew.

Warning sign #3: Impressively large groups of people chattering in Hebrew, who immediately clam up when a brown dude enters the room. Haha.

Anyway, Las Moiras had some weird juju going on. It might have rubbed off on us. Maybe that’s why we got confused for Israelis for the rest of our time in Argentina.

Note: This post isn’t racist. It was just insular and weird.

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Finding Fiber (South America, 2013)

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When you’re traveling for a while in a new land, you tend to get some weird obsessions that will return your life to the first world comfort that you’re used to.

For me, it was fiber.

Ever since we arrived in Argentina (Buenos Aires), all we ate for EVERY single meal was meat. Lunch was a chicken from the super market, dinner was a mouth watering steak, rinse & repeat. A week in, I was convinced that no one in Argentina eats ANY fiber, and that no one in Argentina poops. (It’s a well known fact that you can’t poop without fiber). Thus began my obsession with finding fiber pills. Every other corner store we passed by, I’d drag in my faithful translator Kenny and stand there dumb while Kenny fumbled asking for fiber pills.

There was no success to be had in Buenos Aires, however.

A few weeks later we were in Bariloche. It’s a touristy, beautiful town at the foot of the Andes. There was no way I could fiber there … right? WRONG. Corner store method pulled through, and I got my fiber fix. Take that, Argentina.

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Getting Lost In Old Istanbul (Istanbul, 2012)

2012 — Doug and I had been in Istanbul for over a week when we realized we hadn’t even touched any of the cultural (“touristy”) sights in Istanbul. This was a travesty. Istanbul was one of the most important cultural, political, and economic centers of the Old World. We had to check some shit out.

We made our way to southern Istanbul, Old Istanbul to go to the Grand Bazaar. We checked it out, and after 5 min had pretty much seen all there was to see. Hawkers selling their wares, people yelling at you, keeping your hands in your pockets so you don’t get stripped, etc. It was aight, just a bunch of stalls with warez and white people getting ripped off.

Then, we got lost on purpose (this is one of my favorite activities). We took a side path out of the bazaar and just walked. The people faded away, the stalls faded away. It was a dilapidated shanty town with remnants of the old power… you could feel the vibes in the place. Totally Morrowind-esque. It was like getting lost in a fantasy novel.

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Tango (Buenos Aires, 2013)

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It really annoyed me that everyone kept telling me about Argentine tango. Everyone and everything on the Internet couldn’t shut up about it. I’m like OK, it’s a fucking dance, this is AMERICA people grind it up all the time.

Well, they were right, and I ate my words.

Kenny and I decided to check out one of the famed local tango spots in Buenos Aires (La Catedral) since our shitty Aguero apartment was relatively close by. La Catedral ain’t no cathedral, it’s a really big warehouse with chairs, a small stage, and a dance floor in the middle. It was also extremely hot inside (keep in mind this is during the summer in Argentina, it was at least 90 F inside).

The women were gorgeous, the men looked sleazy. The dancing was sensual, erotic, and just flowing. It surprised me that I could begin to distinguish the better dancers from the worse ones in the time I was there — tango all looked the same to me on YouTube. But you can tell. Highly recommend La Catedral even if it’s not your thing.

(Short aside: Doug had been harping on and on about how awesome Tango was, how it fit in with his “gaucho” personality, and how it was philosophically sacrosanct, blah blah. He never did any tango or watched any in Argentina, lol)

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Doug Stole My Clothes (San Francisco, 2012 & Buenos Aires, 2013)

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A long, long time ago, in a city far away from South America, I left some clothes at Doug’s place. A v-neck shirt and some nice jeans. I’m pretty absent minded, so I forgot about them. (For the trip to South America, we had all packed really light — merino wool athletic stuff (I left all my hipster accessories back in San Francisco)).

UNTIL.

One day in Buenos Aires, Doug busts out some clothes that fit him pretty tightly. He looked pretty good. I was wondering why he looked at me with a fucking cheeky grin on his face (if there’s anything that’s sure to get my attention, it’s a cheeky grin).

HE WAS WEARING MY CLOTHES!!! FROM A LONG ASS TIME AGO!!

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Skirting the Law (Huacachina, Peru, 2013)

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There’s a certain plant that has a reputation of being a traveler’s drug of choice. It’s often lovingly referred to as marihuana. Except in Peru — there’s no love involved.

Being the curious boy that I am, I set out to googling this elusive plant and how to get it in Peru. I mean, we were going to some of the most amazing, beautiful places in the world. Nature and marihuana is like peanut butter and jelly. The Internet was full of scary tales about tourists getting put into Peruvian prisons and never emerging, tourists getting caught before they got to see Macchu Picchu, tourists being dumb, tourists getting all their stuff taken by corrupt police. It was some intense shit.

When we got off our bus to Huacachina (aka planet DUNE), we took a cab to our hotel. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but I just took a chance and asked our seedy looking cab driver if … “Sabes donde puedemos marihuana?” When he finally understood, he gave us a knowing chuckle. Told us he could get it from a friend if we paid him 150 Peruvian soles (he offered us cocaine too, but fuck that shit). We managed to haggle him down, and as he dropped us off at our place, he told us he’d back in a few hours with the goods.

It’s on.

Kenny and I surreptitiously exited our little hotel and walked up and down the street. Sr Antonio was nowhere to be soon. We walked around the neighborhood more. A cab came by and stopped near us. I went up to him (he wasn’t Antonio, but maybe a friend) and asked him if he knew Antonio. Nope. 

… and then we saw the policeman on his motorbike. Just chillin behind the taxi with his lights on. Uhhh. We just pretended to be confused tourists and kept walking. Kenny was wisely advising me that this probably isn’t a good idea, and getting manhandled in a rapey Peruvian prison would be a very shitty way to experience Peru. 

We rounded the bend to our hotel, ready to give up. The policeman was parked near a hedge with his lights on, just staring at us. At this point I’m like OK fuck this. Not worth it. So we go in our hotel, all sad.

A few minutes later, the front desk rings us up and tells us a taxi driver is here for us. Oh shit. I go outside and see that it’s Antonio. I get in his car (I’m pretty freaked out by the popo at this point) and I try to communicate to him that the police is nearby. He pulls out a magazine about Huacachina to cover what we’re doing, and shows me the weed.

I consider it a testament to my business acumen and NOT my failing common sense that at that point, in Peru, with the popo around, I negotiated Antonio down on his price. I grabbed the real shitty looked weed and waved goodbye to Antonio. 

…. whew.

And that’s how we came to enjoy the beautiful dunes of Huacachina, with the help of our friendly plant.