Monday, August 31, 2009

Montevideo, Uruguay

I do not know why, but I never once in my life had the urge to visit Uruguay. Its definitly a country that has flown under the radar for a while. Even having studied Latin American Studies, Uruguay; a country that prides itself on having one of the highest standards of living on the continent; I heard relatively little about the actual place. This probably has to do with its brawny neighbors, Argentina to the South and mighty Brazil to the North. Uruguay lies squished between the two, a land of open space and the sea.

The main city here is Montevideo, the capital and premier port. Its inhabitants are not as fiercly proud of their city as porteños, but this is actually kind of relieving. Compared to Buenos Aires, Montevideo is much smaller, the people much warmer, and the general vibes- mucho mas tranquilo (chiller). For example: last night we went to a random house party. Two nights ago we went down to a street party in front of the American Embassy on the fantastic beach walk. There were thousands of people in the streets of Montevideo even at 12am as we left the hostel to dance. I mean, grandmas, kids, kissing couples, doggies, babies, todo el mundo. The dance party was at a plaza built for roller skating though in our company the thrashers had taken over, skating in and out of eachother and making that beautiful noise that only skates make. Dance started around 2am and went til 7am. Thats the south american way. Gotta love it.

So ya, anyhow, met these rad dudes and ended up at the house party last night. This was a whole nother kind of partay. Four bands a couple of DJ's and a bunch of people I loved talking to. I love being able to speak Spanish. To be able to open up to that other world that most travellers down here don't experience. I literally parted ways with my beautiful friends and made new ones, dancing like a maniac to some of the dopest reggae I'd heard in months. Seriously it was crazy, I was the only person dancing by myself for a while until some others finally found it necessary to move themselves. Music, the great communicator. THEY PLAYED SUBLIME, by the way. These kids were the shit, if only they had danced harder, haha. I ended up leaving early around 1am or so, heading back to the hostel with the homies. Thanks to Sebastian, if you ever read this shit, for throwing one of the sickest house parties ever.

And just when I thought this world was wearing off on me I found a number of things I think I should stop taking for granted: dancing, beautiful women, and human kindnes. These strangers invited us to their sick house party full of music and love and more. I am amazed by the energy in this city. So full of culture and life and friendly folk. While Buenos Aires is cool, Montevideo offers a slightly chiller version with lots of culture and art and beach.

I think I'm off to Brazil next, for the weekend, for some party, for (what I've been told are) the most beautiful ladies in Brazil. While I'm partial to the Northeast (you know who you are, baby :)) I'm definitly down to scope out the situation. Then I have no idea where to. Paraguay remains unexplored, and after this guay (Uru, that is) I am tempted to check it out. Then maybe Bolivia, maybe.

Buenos noches a todos, hasta la proxima vez,


ps- tattoos here are like $20 :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

John Coltrane

I hesitate to say I'm taking Giant Steps. But somedays it feels like it.

Two days ago I parted ways with my most recent trusty sidekick, Sariel. Travel is weird. You get to know people far too well in farr too little time. Today I ventured north of Buenos Aires, my most recent hub, across the River Plate to the tiny colonial town aptly named, Colonia in Urugay. Taking the first solo step out of the Lime House youth hostel into what many see as a hostile world. I see it a bit differently, the world to me has never been anything but warm and friendly (for the most part). I find myself now writing on a free computer with internet and YouTube to boot. I can safely say travelling sans iPod, while very liberating, has been the biggest mistake I've made all trip. I had a dream the other night of John Coltrane playing live for a few of my friends and I and luckily Adobe FlashPlayer has been able to give me some satisfaction here at El Viajero Hostel. Check this out: and then if you wish, this:

Relaxing to some Coltrane is one of my favorite things to do. I find him utterly inpirational. I've been writing so much it's unhealthy, too many stories in too many different directions. When I listen to Coltrane I feel the same sense of depletion at the end of a song as I do when I'm stuck in the middle of a story, or if I'm lucky, once I've been fortunate enough to finish one. His saxophonegoes off in so many different waves, so many different directions, and yet get pulled back together at once with the quartet at the end.

I ate pasta tonight with my own quartet: a pair of Ozzies and a mad Englishman who provided an ample amout of humor and conversation alongside dinner. It was delicious, in case you were wondering. A perfect mix of bowties (my fav), tomate sauce, and palmitos (palmhearts). Everyone ahd something to give to the mix, and though we are all from markedly different places, spatially speaking and in life as well, we got together and made something happen.

In the middle of that version of Naima at Antibes, 1965 there is a part where Coltrane's solo is almost too much to bear. Like you wanna almost turn it off. The other day I wanted to go home so bad it hurt. I miss my friends my family my car and all the familiar things (dare I say, "My Favorite Things," hehe, another Coltrane reference for good measure) you take for granted when you are not a million miles away from your house. Having been here almost three months the allure of travel has begun to wear off and some days are more tedious (in transit, alone, with random strangers, etc.) than others. After a long conversation with my mother (I love you) I came to the conclusion that sticking this whole bit out is the only way to break through the bad solo and bring this whole thing back together, find some purpose, finish this song, is to stick it off, to not turn it off just yet.

A lot of Coltrane haters say he's too busy. Sure, free time jazz just aint my thing either. But when you live in free time you come to appreciate the cacophony- if only for the moment right before the end of the song when everyone gets together on the same rythmn, just in time to end it righteously. I'm stranded here in Uruguay, waiting for an email from Lord Juan Pablo telling me where to go next. There are cattle to be found in the north of here I'm told. If I can find work I'll be home in a month. If not, expect to see me in weeks.

I love you all supremely. I can't wait to see what you have all been up to and to show you what I've been doing in my wandering down here. Needless to say I've got months of photos to upload and stories to write. For now I'll continue improvising for as long as I can bear. Here's hoping I can rock out as well as Trane.



ps- to all the Coltrane heads or wannabes, check this out. He speaks! Wicked wicked interview:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stupid shit that white people do

Put hands in animal cages.

That list will grow with time. Check back often. Add to the list at will.

ps/ got into a zoo a few days ago for six pesos argentinos. Try doing that sometime. It's humorous to say the least. Hiked a little hill. Did not hitchhike down (not because I didn't try). On my list of things I miss: my Mother. Rock and roll. CAV. Horses. My dogs and sister and Dad (thanks for the rain/snow/anything coat, I love you). People who speak english. The Northwest in the summertime. Todos mis amigos.

Love to all,


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beautiful People

All at once I awoke from this dream:

You standing there in another language, one I don't speak mixed with one I've convinced myself to know. Purple dress like the lilacs I love at home. But here in the winter they would wilt at once and the fragrace, turn sour into something I do not know. With a friend you spoke, to me translated. It is like being retarded, to understand something after the fact. And then there were the drinks, the money, the drunk stupor I stumbled into walking home with the nameless nomad of a dog I don't know.

I miss home though, and the people and places that summer brings warmth to. The weather here leaves me wondering how the lakes are and apples and friends, I know you all must be well, you had better be. But I say, "you are beautiful" in French, of all tongues, and I mean it, though I'm not sure you get my point. You are good and honest and you bid me good night as I sit typing my heart out. Alright. Another day comes this moring, it's late. But I see it as early, I'll awake and you'll be here and we'll adventure on all day and forget when we're done, where we are from, what the past has forgiven us, what the future has to offer. We'll take everything for nothing and do as we wish.

On the wooden trolley car that ran on the subway I saw people who did not understand a word that we said. From C line to D line we wandered the city from the underground before rising above for the view. Tomorrow I plan on exploring by bus in this beautiful city that spares no expense. My pockets have dried up and the bus is best to see sights in the city with folks I don't know.

After this I'm off to Chile to visit some friends from BC and hopefully get some powder in. Can't wait to shred!!



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buenos Aires


I have so much to say and yet again at a keyboard I am at a loss for words. I've been speaking so much Spanish lately its got me dreaming. I think in it, I sleep in it, I live in it. Its a crazy thing. As you all know, I am a fan of people, a people person, if you will. I find it facinating how so many of us live in such idomatic isolation for our entire lives. I mean, there's a whole nother world down here that doesn't understand you and I when we chat in English. I mean there's a whole nother world that understands my other tongue, my Español, mi castellano. And yet there are countless more lands who live in different languages, who do not care to learn mine. Rock on to all of you.

I was sitting next to a table of American's tonight. They were so loud and obnoxious. They didn't even make an attempt to speak Spanish when ordering drinks or asking for cigarettes. You know, we are all such fools. To speak in a language you don't know by heart (or really, by thought) is to make a fool of yourself. You are scared, you say the wrong thing. You are misunderstood! But usually by some magical power, I call it altruism, each party tries their hardest to understand the other and inevitably reaches some sort of mutual agreement. This is the beauty of culture, I believe. While I may have nearly failed some of my Spanish courses in university, I can garuntee that I speak better than well over half my class for the sole reason that I do not care if I make a fool out of myself. There was a time when my self conciousness got the better of me and I was more than hesitant (that is to say, silent). But trying, failing, is more than half the battle. A simple, "no" clears up most misunderstandings, which suddenly explain themselves as the opposite of what has been said while a "sí" confirms them. As someone who has been trained in anthropology, to understand is far more important than speaking in grammitcally correct terms.

We left La Paz today and are now in Buenos Aires. This is a city. It is beautiful and extremely comforting, two things that two me are not inherently linked. The cultural influence from Europe is evident as you get off the bus in the form of colonial architecture, linguistic inflections brought over from Italy, or the English built railroad that lies adjacent to the hustle and bustle of el Retiro, the very Argentine bus station. This confluence of culture is something that to me is extremely attractive. I'll be writing more as the next few days unfold.

Of course the other extremely attractive things here are the women...


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

American Music

I like music a lot. I play it, I listen to it, I write it. I love it. So naturally when I travel I love to hear what the folks are tuning into to. Of course theres the surplus of cast off American pop songs that make their way this far south, but for the most part the popular music down here is far from the diversity of the American mass music industry. As much as I dislike pop music, I've come to appreciate (not like) the amazing diversity of it. If you think it all sounds the same, I can assure you, nothing sounds all the same so much as the endless cumbia, reggaeton, salsa, or merengue music that blasts 24 hours down here in South America. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the beats, but they are all the same. Every song has a token 2/3 count with a boom boom bah, buh-boom boom bah rythmn. If you don't believe me check out this song: Now, this is a song that gets played nearly twice an hour in Peru, significaantly less so down here in Argentina, but still tortures my ears after one listen. Its usually followed by something like this, just to change it up: Yes, the dudes name is MC NIGGA. I don't make this shit up. He is topping the charts right now with this song, "Te Amo" which blares in dancehalls all accross the continent. Note the same beat in both these songs. Now check out this one: That is the SAME DAMNED BEAT!! This time from cross cultural sensation Daddy Yankee who has, from time to time, graced even the airwaves of the goood ol Estados Unidos. Not to hate (too much) on the tunes down ehre, but a little variety does the soul good. I know I just generalized a ton of music in three songs, but I don't have time to list a ton more.

On the ranch, the gauchos listen to musica folklorica. Accordian, guitar, violin, and some singing (usually). The music is pretty badass when you consider the listening audience. I mean cowboys back home listen to some shitty music, no offense. The guys down here are ballin to accordian and guitar duos or trios which, inbetween local radio station shoutouts (which sometimes last five minutes and often include more than a few varied renditions of happy birthday), play all day and night long as the men sit sipping their mate. Wikipedia gaucho or musica folklorica for more info than you ever wanted to know :))) gotta love wiki

For now, I'm off to get a sanduche before this entire town shuts down around 12pm for siesta until 3pm. Leave comments if you have anything you want me to blog about or want to rant at my overgeneralization of south american music. Don't worry I'm prepared. But GOD LOVE ROCK AND ROLL!! I miss it mucho.

Hope I don't have to walk back to the ranch...


Monday, August 3, 2009

Blue Collar Weekend

This computer has a virus. Evertime I write anything worth reading it crashes. For this reason I'm leaving you all a message that is not worth reading.



ps- doing well on the beef diet, worked all week, got wastey on the weekend. Got in a fight in a bathroom, ticketed by police, carried my friend five or so blocks for food (sanduche milanesa I love you), beautiful women everywhere as we owned the club, almost stole a taxi, got kicked out of said taxi, slept in middle of dirt road until sober enough to walk home two hours, arriving as the sun rose. Life is good.

NOTE: at my father's reccomendation I feel obliged to let everyone know that I exaggerate, I write fiction, hell, sometimes I even lie!! OH MY GOD!! If you feel I've offended you, please kindly close the window and resume your surfing the web. Lo siento por todo, pero no tienes miedo, por favor. It's only life.