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More Doug + Dogs (Buenos Aires, 2013)

~ 3AM on the median of Av 9 de Julio, Centro, Buenos Aires

Doug and I had just finished sipping some café con leche while he explained to me what an MVC framework was. In my back pocket I carried the lecture’s key notes, crumpled paper-thin Argentine restaurant napkins crawling with arrows and references to ORMs, controllers, views, etc. My mind was boggled as we walked towards our apartment.

Doug must have a thing for dogs, and I mean the wrong kind of thing (https://perhapsyouspeakenglish.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/dont-bark-at-rabid-dogs-istanbul-2012/). We walked by a group of street mutts. I was a little nervous, I looked at them, they seemed calm, we passed. A few seconds later, the two of us both looked at each other and looked back… they were sneaking up on us… we B O L T E D. The chase was on, and the barking was effing scary.

Doug ran across the street and then continued running in the same direction. I stayed on the median and channeled my inner Forrest Gump. I saw a hedge approaching and thought, well, I hope there isn’t a ditch on the other side. I hurdled it, landed safely, and ran across the street to join Doug… the dogs stayed on the median, guarding their territory. Time for bed.

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Escaping Claudia’s Apartment

AirBnb is quite popular in Argentina. The first apartment we stayed at was owned by Claudia, whom we never saw – she had a building caretaker to manage residents’ concerns. The keys were left in a combination lockbox attached to the front gate of her building. The unusual thing about the gate was that you had to turn the key in the lock to leave as well as to enter. Somehow or other, when we were evacuating the apartment, both sets of keys ended up in the lock box while we (Girish and I… Doug was spending the day at a Regus office, more on that another time) were still inside. WTF!

Luckily, the gate wasn’t solid — we could slip our hands through the bars and touch the lockbox. However, we couldn’t see the dials that we had to turn to produce the code. We had no mirrors at hand, so we started using the reflection produced by my iPhone screen. It wasn’t going well, and we were growing nervous when we realized what any selfie-taking dame would have thought of automatically: we could use the phone’s reverse aperture to see the lockbox. From there it was a hop, skip, and jump to get our backpacks into the cab of a grumpy old man and ride to Hostel Obelisco in bustling Centro.

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French Night (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013)

As our stay in the magical land of Bariloche drew to a close (AKA the night before the trio was supposed to head back to Buenos Aires), Doug let on that he was done with city sights; he wanted to bus into Chile and explore more natural wonders while Girish and I spent another week in the Argentine capital. Lucky for us, while Girish and I took the 22-hour ride back to  Buenos Aires, another partner in crime was en route from New York City… my college roommate, John.

As soon as the dude arrived, Girish and I realized that we needed to pick up our drinking game. Up until now, we had been content to share a bottle of wine or three at dinner. John’s arrival meant finding amazing liquor deals at the grocery one block from our Centro apartment. Seriously, I mean like a handle of vodka for tree fiddy. A 40 of beer for a dollar. I had a strange time talking to the owner (having grown up in the US, I blame part of my struggles on cognitive dissonance from conversing with a Chinese man in fast Argentine Spanish – of course, Chinese people are far more common than South Asians in the country, so I don’t know what he thought of our group… probably assumed we were Israeli), but I finally understood that the recycling discount for returning used beer bottles was 50% of the retail price! Our minds melted when we realized that four dollars would eventually buy us seven 40s of beer.

John and Girish set to work sifting through nightlife options (after all, this was Buenos Aires). When John discovered French Night at La Cigale, the premier hotspot on Tuesday Nights, we were down. After dinner, we started taking shots and whatnot at our apartment. The volume of John’s shots actually doubled with each round. I had learned not to imitate this behavior after a few disastrous nights in college, but Girish was game and didn’t suffer too much, come to think of it. Soon we were rip-roaring drunk and having trouble locating La Cigale.

We finally found French Night, and it was… practically empty. Three floors of thinly populated, extremely loud club. John and I ordered beers. John asked the waitress where the hotspots were, and she desperately replied, “Here! Usually here!” Girish then got up and had a blackout conversation with some guy in a dark corner… we have no idea what they talked about since Girish, after returning to our table, couldn’t remember a thing, except for the phrase, “Somos la gente.” Girish then bought a bottle of water, downed it, and repeated and repeated… in total, five bottles of water, back to back at the bar. Meanwhile, I had begun to talk to some chicas. I suppose I was sporting some hardcore goggles,for when Girish finished his camel-at-the-oasis impression, he arrived at my side and told me these girls looked like birds of prey. I did a double-take and determined that they were indeed some of the least attractive women we’d seen in the capital.

Too slizzered to be dejected by French Night’s letdown, we caught a cab back to the apartment. The cabbie left us a block away due to the configuration of one-way streets, and as soon as the vehicle departed, Girish pulled out his wang and started peeing RIGHT in the middle of the street. At this moment, both John and I got a call from our own bladders. John started peeing on a dumpster, and I found a wall. Except for us, the streets were deserted, and glancing around with our pants down, we shared a moment.

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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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Street Art (Buenos Aires, 2013)

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Buenos Aires is famous for its street art. Everywhere you walk, you’ll see a bunch of graffiti tagging the walls. The quality is in varying degrees, but some of it is just straight dope.

The Argentines are so chill that graffiti isn’t illegal in Buenos Aires. You can just hang out outside with a spray can and go to town without worry of the police. That leads to stuff like this: Image

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Insane Soccer Game (Boca, Buenos Aires, 2013)

Here’s the first few minutes of a soccer (fútbol, sorry) game in Buenos Aires.

Being the soccer virgin that I am, this was the first game that I went to. We were warned EXTENSIVELY by Juan Font (our digital “assistant”, more on this later) that soccer games in Argentina were serious business. People get shanked.

So maybe it was Lady Luck smiling on us that there weren’t any cheap bleacher seats left when we went to the ticketing booth — we got ourselves a chill (“muy tranquilo”, according to the salesman) place in the upperbowl.

From one soccer virgin to the world: yea this shit was cray. I had no idea (well, I had some idea but it hadn’t hit me yet) that flopping is so pronounced in soccer. Funniest part of the game was when a dude got hit and just lay there for like 5 min straight. Being the caring motherfucker that I am, I got pretty worried about him. NEXT INSTANT: the soccer player just gets up and starts BOLTING toward the goal like nothing’s wrong. Hahah.

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“Don’t Worry, It’ll Go Around Us” (Buenos Aires, 2013)

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(Me, Doug, Kenny, and Ari trapped in a drenched, packed bus near the BA Playa)

We met up with Ari outside our Aguero apartment in the afternoon. The plan was to go for a long walk, just hang out, explore, and learn a bit about Buenos Aires. We stopped by a cafe and had some lunch. It was here that we got our first clue that no one in Argentina knows what an Indian person looks like (more on this later. the owner/server guessed that we were from “Arabia” or Israel).

After a few hours of urban exploring, we end up near the Buenos Aires Playa. The beach is near the outskirts of the city and requires an adventurous walk to get to. So there we were, among the plebes in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, just shooting the shit. It’s worth noting that the “Buenos Aires Goggles” that afflicted us in the city seemed to have faded as we made it to the outskirts.

So we’re chilling on our beach chairs… and we notice the clouds start to darken. “It’s ok,” we think. “Everyone else is just chilling here…” So we wait, continue just shooting the shit and enjoying the sand. We look up again, and see this: Image

Oh shit. Ok. Time to leave right?

NOPE. Doug, our trusty Bear Grylls-Survivor-Man-Outdoorsy-Fanatic, looks up and is like “Nah, don’t worry guys, it’ll go around us.” 

Yeah he was fucking wrong.

In about 5 minutes, an insane downpour was upon us. We just ran back the way the way we came with no plan — we were really, really far from the city center and needed to find a bus, but where were the busses? It actually felt like the wrath of Thor was upon us. The rain pelted us like little bullets. As I sprinted along, I could feel my nipples crying out in pain, my shoes flooded with water, my hair matted to my head…

Finally, we spot a little bus. It’s filled to the brim with soaked people. We manage to squeak inside. We ended up camping out in the bus for about an hour with our hands on our valuables. The bus was PACKED. I was afraid that if it made a turn, we’d just tip over. Oh well. The bus driver started up and got us out of the Playa.

… and it was another 2 hours of frantic bus switching, avoiding HUGE currents of floody water in the streets, trying to piece together a ripped up, soaked map, etc before we made it home.

Whew. But wait: that’s not the even the worst part. Doug didn’t wash his wet stinky clothes for a WEEK. Haha. The apartment smelled like rancid mold.

Sometimes while traveling, the most random, serendipitous events can lead to the exhilarating adventures you remember most.