Friday, February 24, 2012

Chow Chow Buenos Aires

There was lasagna left over from my despidida. I took it from the oven and ate a piece before I put my 50-pound backpack on. It was cold and my head hurt. The backpack was heavy on my back when I walked to the 126 bus. It would take me to Retiro. The morning was cool though, so I hadn’t began to sweat yet. I had my small backpack hung on one shoulder to the front and my giant guitar case hung awkwardly on the other. I looked like a walking luggage rack.

I only saw a short glimpse of the city as I left, the villa 31, the most famous. Its red brick buildings made tight alleys where I could see people walking. There was restaurants, laundry mats, and kiosks. Some of the buildings were painted in solid blues, whites, and reds. All I could think was how tight it looked. I fell asleep and I didn’t wake up again until there was no city left.

It was flat fields of green and yellow, of soy and corn, dead and alive. The eucalyptus trees were acting as a fence, lining roads and property lines. I fell back asleep.

We pulled into a little pink bus station in the middle of Urdinarrain. Urdinarrain means Blue Fish in Euskera. But it didn't seem anything like a blue fish. I sat on one of the benches in the shade. I listened to the sound of birds, to an occasional small motorcycle passing behind me. I heard silence. I tried to write in my journal, but all I wanted to was sit in this shaded spot and enjoy it.

I waited for an hour and a half in that spot, patiently but nervous. I was waiting for a friend I hadn’t met yet. Eventually a small Mitsubishi SUV pulled up covered with earth. It had plates from British Colombia.

A French couple exited the car. They were just leaving the Ranch. I guess it was an exchange. My host exited his weathered vehicle to shake my hand. He walked with a limp slowly. He had grey hair and wrinkles. He reminded of me of Tommy Lee Jones.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” He said.

“It’s fine. It’s a nice place to sit.” I said.

He laughed a little.

There was a strong smell of gasoline inside the car and not much conversation. The car wasn’t dirty, just disorganized. We drove around looking for an open grocery store. We still had a little time left in the siesta. It was apparent that I was no longer in central Bs.As. There was no traffic, just shops that were closed.

We went around to some hardware stores. Colloquial conversations passed between my new host and the people who worked in the shop. They spoke slowly. Others waited behind us. They didn’t mind the slow exchanges of nothings. He eventually bought a shovel and told me it was my present.

Alex, a couchsurfer from French Canada, told me to put what I wanted in the cart when we finally made it to the grocery store. I put a bag of cereal and yoghurt delicately like I was afraid the cereal would crush. Alex piled in 30 eggs, spiked six giant bottles of flavored water like footballs, and threw ten boxes of gelatin in the cart.

“Who’s gonna eat all those eggs?” My host said to Alex.

“I am.” Alex spoke very slowly with a raw french accent. “I like the food you have but I have a special diet.”

“Your fucking me up here. I feel bad. But it’s just not normal. I mean the cereal, that’s normal. Yogurt, we have. 30 eggs is too many. Do you understand?”

“That is fine. I just have a special diet and sometimes I cannot eat the things you have. If it’s too much, I will pay with my own money.”


We left the grocery store for the ranch. I was excited to see what it looked like. For about six weeks while I was still teaching English in Bs. As, I had visions of cowboy hats and saddles, milking cows, and long days out in the field. I was almost there. I was almost a farmer.

My friend Ben, from the Gypsy Train, met my host when he was living in Medellin, Colombia. Ben needed a way to get from Medellin to Buenos Aires to catch a flight, so he tried couchsurfing and it just so happened that Ivan was having a repair done to his vehicle in Medellin in that moment. He was headed to Argentina from Canada and would love some company. It took them about a month to go from Colombia to Argentina. Ben told me I have to check out his ranch. So I sent Ivan a Facebook message and I went.

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