Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm so young II

I'm so young in the Buenos Aires summer. Is that not something we seek in a place? A city, a town, a night sky that makes us feel young and alive and thriving in our bodies and selves?

When I first joined a biochemistry lab and everything was an exciting magic puzzle to sort out and I was the hot fresh talent, I felt young. Years later when I gave up those 80 hour work weeks and threw it all to the wind, heading back to Japan, I felt young. As I turned 25 in Japan, language slowly finding it's way back into my brain, days filled with challenges and nights filled with too much cheap beer and karaoke, I felt young. As I met people cycling up the Japanese coast in August, they'd say, oh, sure you can do a trip like that, you are young. But responsibility and routine combined with Japan's conservative ideas about what a woman's life should be at 30 and the years leading up slowly sucked up much of that youthful feeling.

And now here I am in Argentina and today I again feel so young.
tango dancing almost every night sometimes until 4 am.
sleeping till noon, and then napping, just so that I can dance all night again.
drinking frenet&coke with an international mix of friends
sleeping through breakfast served till 11... again and again
waking up to girls snickering in a hostel not mine
strings of cat calls and compliments (yeah yeah, I suppose I shouldn't be happy but honestly I feel complimented and it makes me smile and feel hot)
perfect city summer weather
hiding money in my bra when dancing
beautiful people everywhere in this city making out on street corners
riding the bus passing beautiful buildings
colorful graffiti everywhere, music pouring out of buildings

It's not everyday that I feel so young. and I'm happy about that too. 28 is easier than 24 was.

I have the confidence to not bother with people I don't enjoy and turn down drinks I don't want.
I have the money to rent a cute studio in a perfect location. (near a nice night life plaza, fantastic tango clubs and close to my school)
I have 10 years of dancing experience under my belt.
I can buy a second pair of dance shoes if I want to (and, yeah, I did...)
I know what I'm doing (or have gotten pretty good at faking it when I don't).
I can read a map and have more street smarts than the "kids" I meet.
I know how to learn a language and be ok with sounding awkward most of the time.
I have a better sense of when to procrastinate and when to buckle down.

I'm excited to start my teaching course on Monday and move into my apartment on Tuesday. I'm sad that I have to be at school 9 to 5 and therefore will not be able to go out as much or as late. But such is life. It's easy to fall in love with a city when your are filled with nothing but dancing and yoga (!) and friends and walking through beautiful streets and having drinks and dinner at midnight.

It's been a good week.

On Tuesday, I went dancing by myself for the first time here. I'd been the last couple of days as well, but always had people from the hostels tagging along and wanting to see what "real" tango was. But on Tuesday I was headed to "Practica X" which has only a intermediate/advance level. Supposedly more experimental, younger, hipper... basically where the beautiful, young, kick ass dancers of Buenos Aires come.

naturally, I was super intimidated.

So far, I'd been having some good nights dancing and doing really well in intermediate lessons and had taught a really good impomptu beggining lesson in my hostel a few nights ago --so I spent the bus ride to that part of town talking myself up. I arrived at the place to find its two huge black intimidating doors still locked and beautiful talented people milling about speaking in their beautiful Argentine Spanish to their beautiful friends.

(tara, if you're reading, I was thinking of you)

but then I notice another slightly awkward looking person and smile. introductions are made and not only does this JAPANESE guy not speak any Spanish but is going to hit this place with only 5 months dancing experience. (I make friends with my own types over and over again. Give me a room full of people and I'll gravitate to the NWers and Japanese every time it seems....)


Recently, I've been claiming my personal philosophy is that moxie can make up for lack of real skill, talent, or experience almost any day of the week. So I figured, to hell with it, you know what, instead of being intimidated, I'm just going to say: you know what, I'm pretty hot shit myself. Buenos Aires bring it on. Show me what you've got. Give me your best shot.

I went into the lesson (successfully ditching the Japanese guy for a partner more up for the level of the lesson) and when he was wrong and I was right, stood up for myself and my dancing skills. This is something I have not done FOR YEARS, possibly EVER. I have assumed that it's my mistake or that I'm not good enough to give advice and I never criticize.

But there I was, with some else who also thought HE was hot shit, standing up for myself on the dance floor. It was amazing and I've been running on a high from my new found attitude all week.

Bring it on Buenos Aires.

and for Lent I'm give up apologizing so fucking much. so there. I'm not giving up cursing, in fact, I'd rather expand my vocabulary in such. ha.

it's been a good week. the adventures continue....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

in no particular order

25 random things. It's a meme (rhymes with dream) that's going around. I'm spending the day sorting through pictures, which is damn tedious, and am sick and so have a short attention span. anyways, here it goes.

1 My new year's resolution was to write everyday and it just hasn't happened. When it's a choice between socializing and writing a journal, I'm choosing socializing and don't regret it.

2 I feel very homeless some days. I think I've realized that I can't move back to Oregon no matter how much I love my friends and family.

3 I've been playing with the word "modern immigrant" to describe myself. I'm not sure if it fits or exactly how I feel about it. Traveling is spending at least a third of your time making introductions so it's a good time to test out new words to describe yourself.

4 I still give myself an 80% chance of returning to Japan in August/September.

5 I think I'll have enough money left over to buy myself a sweet bike. And then I'm going to train for brevets in the mountains. Because that's the type of hard core I enjoy.

6 I do not regret in the slightest not touring Argentina by bike. With the way the roads and drivers are here.... it's not the type of hardcore I enjoy.

7 Last night I had a yellow jacket/bee crawling on my back for at least half an hour without noticing. A 24 hour friend knocked it off and I wasn't stung but am now paranoid that I'm covered in bees and don't realize it.

8 I enjoy arbitrary things sometimes. 25 is not one of these times.

9 Tomorrow I leave for Buenos Aires, taking the bus for 20some hours. Luckily I'm so tired from hiking that I think I may be able to sleep the whole way.

10 I've been observing groups of people a lot. Groups and pairs of friends traveling together. Couples. Dorm mates. Hiking groups. I feel there are things to learn in this aspect. I join the groups for dinners, hiking, conversation but in the end I decide when I leave and travel again alone.

11 People here say "Buenos" a lot to mean "hello." I think I could transliterate it and just start saying "good stuff" all the time and kissing Japanese people on the cheek. People would be confused but I'd be amused.

12 I'm a little sick from too much sweaty hiking in cold wind. But it was well well worth it. Besides, a little cold will help me enjoy the 20hr bus ride.

13 I swear to god I will never be fat and lazy again. This outdoor stuff is just too cool.

14 I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want a family and kids and stuff. But I don't know what the thinking will lead to. I mean, if I say I'm going to make having a family a priority in my life, what does that mean in terms of real actions?

15. number 14 is related to the missing 20% of number 4

16 I also spend a lot of time thinking about food and cooking and eating. Especially when hiking/cycling.

17 Third on the list is probably dancing and/or flirting.

18 I've learned how to make baked apples and cream sauce so far this year.

19 One of my bestest friends ever and a guy who I've illogically decided is the one to have 4 kids with, share a birthday. Fuck it, I'm calling it a sign.

20 I'm totally in lust with an Italian climber whose name and birthday I don't know. However, I have seen him with out his shirt and tried not to let my jaw hit the floor as I stared at his gorgeous tattooed rock hard body. However, I think I will never see him again. It's one of those relationships that will live only in my mind. So it goes. (unless he returns from the mountains back to my hostel tonight, in which case I will be at a loss for words and it will be one of those relationships that will live only in my mind. so it goes.)

21 For the first time in my life I considered going to Italy to look for more beautiful tattooed climbers. But, for the moment have decided against it.

22 There is a ghost cat that lives in my hostel. but it's ok because we made friends.

23 I'm learning how to use my 45mm lens. It's slow going but good.

24 Almost everything I own smells like the salami that made it 8 days in my bag without being eaten. It's unfortunate. Even after I wash my clothes I'll have to put them back in the bag that smells like sausage. If I don't break the cycle I may never get laid again.

25 I should never wear my hair back ever again. Seriously, why did I not come to this conclusion about 10 years ago.

26 I always feel I have too much stuff. Even, like now, when it all fits into a 35L backpack. Nonetheless, I often still want more stuff--like a tent, for example. It's hard to reconcile these things.

27 Sorting through pictures has been kind of productive. Here are a few so far. The glacier, Mt Tronador, is still to come... I'll get on that right after my 20 hour bus ride...

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

and the current plan is:
next 6 weeks in Buenos Aires.
then a 30hour bus ride to Santa Cruz Bolivia.
2-6 weeks in Bolivia mostly volunteering with animals
meet my buddies in Rio May 25th and travel in Brazil.

and June? possibly back to the states.... but too soon to tell.

and August, 80% likely back to Japan for work and a new bike....
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

a little update

after two weeks of Spanish classes in Barlioche-- a beautiful small town of 90,000 in northern Patagonia-- I'm now tramping around the mountains in the company of two funny Dutch boys.

Today is a day of rest in a small village called Colonia Suiza. Pictures will come later but for now, I'm just saying hi. I'm still alive. The stars are beautiful. Patagonian summer is still pretty cold most days but sunny and gorgeous. I feel I could take a million pictures of the sky here and every one would be breathtaking, if perhaps, only to me.

I'm feeling very lucky right now.

much love to you all

Thursday, February 05, 2009

notes from Neuquen

Jan 25

A lovely day in a town famous for dinosaurs:Neuquen Argentina. presumably famous I should say, I saw no evidence of dinosaurs other than what was written in the guidebooks. but what do they know?

I had spent the night on the bus feeling homesick for Japan and feeling restless in a way I didn't know how to shake. not restless in a seeking to throw off stability type of way, because obviously I'm doing exactly that. restless rather in that I didn't feel I'm moving purposefully and as such I didn't know how to use my energy. I missed commuting by bike 50 km a day and studying Japanese during breaks at work. Perhaps restless isn't the right word at all but I don't know another one, exactly.

I fell asleep vowing to hit the Spanish school and classes with as much mental energy as I could muster. I fell asleep reiterating to myself why I had come here, to clarify again for my self: to learn a language again, to become more affectionate again, to gain perspective on my life and where home is.

I woke up to a perfectly flat sunrise and once again felt like I was on my path, doing what I need to do.

Desert. Perhaps not surprisingly for anyone who has done any "real research" about traveling in Argentina, a lot of this country is desert. Much like Nevada and northern California there are miles upon miles of sage brush type deserts. It feels very unforiegn to me, though I can't quite say it feels like home either. whatever that word is. It feels familiar. It feels like my past experiences have led me to this exact here/this/now.

And so the day went:

a mistaken bus stop. no.

a sleeping pretty French girl/protena (portena, with a funny n, is what people who live in Buenos Aires are called), doing 100 interviews with Argentines from all walks of life.

roomies of the couch surfer: Roy and Maxi pot smoking dreaded reggae lovers

writing people's names in Japanese

wishing to be trilingual and struggling with the Argentinian shhh shhh

kisses on the cheek with every introduction and goodbye

sitting in the park in the city center

a nap before lunch

going to a semi-private river beach and having to talk our way in. Maxi's mom, a medium sized Argentine woman with two oversized fingers gesturing and arguing to get us in. (not that I talked at all)

going to the river and just hanging out on the grass, Argentine spanish in the air

a jaded English speaking Argentine twenty something in love with "California Dreaming" and angsty American music.

a lovely swim in the river

jumping from a tree into the river, feeling great emerging, being confused by the looks on everyones faces until I realize I have a bloody nose and my face is covered in watery blood.

a long list of brothers and introductions.

fruit salads sold in plastic cups.

a lovely dusk sky and walk home. followed by pizza and beer. and melons filled with wine.

What's the time? Mendoza, Argentina

Jan 20.

As I walked down the streets of Medoza with Dan I asked him what the time was.
If Japan is the far far future, when are we now?

The air is dry and hot but the streets are lined with green trees. Shops close between 1 and 5 or so and then stay open till 9 or 10. No one eats dinner before 10 or 11pm. Breakfast is open at the hostel from 7 till 10 or 10:30 or whenever the people can be bothered to put it away.

Dan says he's not sure what time it is. It's like the present, we agree, but better in many ways. Nevada could have been this but instead it's towns like Reno. What the fuck Nevada? Mendoza has old buildings, streets lined with trees, and parks where people sit in the shade all day just making out as if the world wasn't watching.