Pitting Buenos Aires against our only other capital city we've visited, Santiago de Chile, is like comparing the well-dressed Italian guy who works with your wife, tells great stories, speaks 4 languages, and you're afraid she secretly is having an affair with him, and your brother's friend who really enjoys How I Met Your Mother. What I'm saying is, Buenos Aires got swag, and we loved the crap out of it- sometimes we were sitting at a corner cafe enjoying a coffee or afternoon beer, and thinking, "this feels just like Brooklyn". We moved from Brooklyn, got madd love for it, and identify it as the "IT PLACE" in the world right now- YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE SEATTLE.
So how'd we get there? Glad you asked. It gives me great pleasure to plow through many days all at once in such short (blog) time. We drove there. Across about 1,000 miles of nothing but cattle and fences and grass and nothingness- such is the north central. It's like Nebraska + Cows x How I Met Your Mother. We drove straight across, only stopping to sleep in gas stations and take snacks. There's literally nothing to do on that drive, except pray that it's over. Actually, one story real quick...
Just before entering the city, we camped about 300km outside in creepy little beach town, free of charge and right on an inlet pond. Nice enough, woke early in the morning and drove out of town heading east still to arrive in BA by mid-afternoon. No sooner had we exited the beach town and made it onto the main drag, then we were stopped by a check point in the road. Hmmm we though, no way they're looking for us, the people who intentionally only bought three days of insurance and let is lapse a week ago? No way, prolly looking for drug lords, drug mules, or people who haven't seen the original Die Hard (RIP Rickman/Hans Gruber). Instead, turns out they were looking for idiots with foreign plates and lapsed insurance. As we got pulled over, I confirmed with Shan1 that we both now know 0.0 Spanish, and will smile our way through this.
PULL OVER PROCEDURE FOR ARGENTINA:
1) Licencia (that's driver's license, you guys)
2) Padron (that's car ownership docs)
3) Seguros (that's insurance)
Hey, we had 66% of those! I'd take those odds to Vegas any day of the week. Unfortunately, the officer didn't see it the same way, and we had a problem on our hands. After much back and forth in hand signals (no spanish...so clever!), we agreed that I should talk to his commanding officer. As I got out of the car, Shan1 had the "I guess I hope I see you again" look in her eyes while I crossed the street into an out-of-sight guard post. Well, turns out that my previous travels aided me well here, in that I was able to finally soften the commander up with my famous Irish charm, sincere apologies, and about $60 USD in cash (in reverse order), paid in the form of an informal "multa" or fine. The alternative? Well, at every guard checkin Argentina, you'll see several cars quarantined with 'sequestered' written on them with tape over their doors. Since insurance offices were closed for a few days I didn't want to wait around while our transport and house languished by the side of the road. Oh right, his first 'multa' suggestion was around $120 USD, and I told him it was a bit much...so he came right back with, "OK, how about half that?". DEAL SIR. *Handshake* *Knowing glance* *Cash exchanged* *Officer gives thumbs up and comments on how clever and worldly I am* (liberties have been taken with this dramatic retelling)
ANYWAYS. Insane driving into BA, like COME ON YOU GUYS type driving. Imagine this scene: one lane each way, driver behind me passes with cars coming other way, at the same time the driver behind that guy attempts to pass him on the opposite shoulder, car coming opposite way goes right in between them. People must die driving this way right? Yes, indeed they do, it's on the news and stuff.
K. We arrive into Buenos Aires, a sprawling city of over 12.8 million, and it takes well over an hour to drive from outskirts into city center on the highway. As elections were happening, everything was road to building top covered in campaign stuff- GO STOLBIZER! We finally navigate the maddening city traffic patterns to our hostel, check in, and head straight to bed- sleeping in one for the first time in a long time. To say this hostel (not hyper linking because they suck) was a good example of the west's decline is an understatement. Early 20 somethings of every country met here to listen to Maroon 5, drink jaeger bombs, and generally experience BA much the same as New Jersey folks do in Times Square. I dislike most hostels, some are very OK and good breeding grounds for single-serving friends, but some are lousy with youngins simply looking to binge drink and make out with a foreign person...like someone from the UK or even Scotland. My favorite line from our time there was a drunk gentleman yelling/asking at the top of his lungs "YO TOMMY, WE DOING THIS?". I digress.
There, the day after, we met Gareth! You may remember him from such roles and episodes as Minister at our Wedding, Danny Goes to Africa, Burning Man, Running with the Bulls, Let's Drive to Mongolia, and Tall Paul Tries to Drive a Rickshaw. Gareth would be joining our trip for the foreseeable future, and we were overjoyed to see a friendly face. He had just finished a six month tour as IT Guy (official title) on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, so we were excited to learn about rudders, propellers, uniforms, and also if Love Boat is ever coming back (jury still out). We all hung out for a few days, walked the city, had an amazing hamburger and an entire bottle of Limoncello, dropped off our kombi for some maintenance work, and even had what Argentinians think is Indian food. Great to reconnect with an old friend that I think of as a brother, and have him share our trip with us for a while.
Although Gareth had just arrived, we were also awaiting our friend from Brisbane, Sean, and his arrival in a few days. You may remember Sean from such episodes as Tied-For-First-Drunkest-Skeleton at our wedding Halloween party (shoutout to Adam Carullo for making it a race to the bottom on that one!), Running of the Bulls, and Sean Comes to America for St. Patrick's Day. Great man, great friend, loves his Chevy. Sean actually showed up right during Shan1 and my first wedding anniversary, so our proper reunion was bit delayed while we celebrated at a very posh hotel and had a fabulous meal. Special moment to also shout out to Shannon's grandparents for the super generous gift: Cynthia and Romeo thank you so much, it was extravagant and perfectly-timed and we'll never forget who made our first anniversary such a special weekend, LOVE YOU.
Directly after our blissful wedding weekend, not linking to our anniversary restaurant but instead this one because it was a superior meal , we needed to make plans to get us all from BA to Uruguay so we could see beautiful Colonia and Montevideo. We also had to be back in time for Gareth's favorite thing ever- seeing Pearl Jam live. Next blog episode: we do the things I just said we were planning to do. Cool? Cool. Coming at you soon- we have wifi for a few days, so get your brain ready for mucho mas meanderings.