Pedro Ávila

You know things are getting weird when your life starts resembling a Dear Abby column. Things around me loom with an eclectic blend of mutant colors and vibrant nightmares…too many of the things I want nothing to do with in these travels around this here ball of fire.

That’s what I was thinking today when contemplating a decent beginning for this first post of the new year. But then, you know what happened? I thought to myself, Holy God, I don’t want to have to write this shit, so I put my pen down and went out to watch the river go by. It doesn’t run or whisper like it used to, frozen now into a viscous gel that makes it seem lazy. It’s too depressing; too dangerous to be near in my current state of mind.

The easiest way to fill a room, I’ve heard, is to light a match. As it happens, it’s also the cheapest. And fuck it — the room may be filled with a heroin-laced propane and amazing amounts of crude-based fuels and other assorted flammables like ether and whiskeys…

But you know what? Hand me that match. Let’s see if things don’t change, right quick. The room is after all, dark and empty, and I can change that.

C’mon. Who’s got a light?


And I’ll do it, if it comes down to that. I’m not quite there, but that’s what drives my fear. That’s what keeps me biting nails and walking on the edge of blades. I’m certain it’s all for the worse – no good can come from this. And on this side of crazy, you can always see that fear. No need to wait for the sun to descend into the depths of the sea to watch the light fade and the weirdos come out –

_it’s automatic and instinctual,

habitual and cyclical.

On this side of insane,

a sea of red with a pocket of blue,

where a dream can be changed by a shade of tan,

the wild tamed, or a glimpse of fame

and no trace of a clue,

life is absent from the teeming hoards

of of no-job playboys in Old Navy cords…_

Sorry, sorry. There he goes again with that shit. I digress. My nerves will often extend into the concrete that surrounds me and those are the times when…

Shit. It really is time to do something.

Pedro Ávila

[deleted entry]

Pedro Ávila

The skies are a bright gray that neither lightens the spirit enough for me to join my breathren in celebration of another silly time of year nor darkens the page enough to make me want to quit it. Still, the thought occurs to me to make it one of those days where company is limited to Coltrane, Cash and Faulkner. Where you draw the blinds, warm the whiskey, unplug the phone and tell the general public to go fuck itself.


Christ. It must be November again.

The November air is damp and reeks of nothingness and space. Sounds are dull and things wither. I trod along on vacant roads with damp, rotting leaves at my feet. I know that all things pass, and that this too, inevitably will…

That doesn’t make it suck any less.

I guess the only thing to do is to keep on going; put my head down and at least trod on, if I can’t charge. Continue moving forward as the vacant streets and their damp multi-colored leaves move backwards under my feet, hoping that November passes in fewer than its 30 miserable days and that once it does, there will be enough left in me to do what ever it is that I know I have to do.

But enough on that, before I stray dangerously close to something that may terrify me.

I’ve written before about the glorious feel of autumn and the cold strength of winter but November doesn’t quite live up to either. It’s a sickly month with the fading life of greater times. Yet the social responsibilities of the coming holidays, to say nothing of the coming year that looms like the annual equivalent of a Sunday, full of sickly uncertainty and wavering with the meekness of temporal doubt.

But the holidays… ehhh – the holidays. Here come the days in which almost everyone is culturally obligated to participate for they are the holy days, I suppose. The etimology of the word is curious, if not self-evident. Still, tomorrow we (yes reader, even I) will partake in the silly celebration of an event that is largely symbolic and may never actually have taken place.

But you know, I am not above putting down the loathing for a second to enjoy some good meat when the occasion calls for it and the meat is properly basted. In every sense of the word.

But indeed, what comes after that? Will there be 24-hour sermons across the country in places holy that do all they can to describe actual misery to those who know it not in order to make people feel slightly less guilty about all the THINGS they have? Sure.

Will there be collections taken where these same animals can buy off their guilt with one payment of some greenbacks? We’ll take what we can get.

Will there be a scurry to reallign society’s values with what’s good and just and have the FEELING, not of charity, but of goodwill toward your fellow human being on EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR?

yeah fucking right.

The day after tomorrow will be a sprint to the nearest Best Buy for that 2 gB memory card your nephew was talking about or to Target for deals on DVDs for the secret santa they do every year that you were tired of playing 6 years ago or else to Barnes and Noble for that book that little Timmy was…

…no wait — Timmy can’t read. Yeah, that was a stretch. Still, the day after tomorrow will be a circus of credit cards and fake plastic trees; a zoo of wish lists filled with things that were never wished for but were on sale; a madhouse of traffic, no parking, pollution, plastic wrapping, little to no thoughts for others and general mayhem. In between sprints will be Starbuck’s coffee and California Pizza Kitchen and everyone will forget about the shit happening on the news until they come back around to tuning in to the Daily Show sometime next Monday at 11 pm, only to find the country a  bit more charred, the pile of shit slightly higher; the mound of mistakes slightly darker than last year; the mud just a tad more runny; the hole, a little bit deeper.

How did it come to this?

Pedro Ávila

The Bay is stuck in transition between glorious autumn and vengeful winter. The cold and icy rain seeps through the very fabric of reality and grey skies float without meaning over the mountain, east of the tunnel.

Or so I’m told.

I didn’t see any of it because it’s 85 degrees and sunny like you wouldn’t believe over in LA.

That’s right kids. I’m back from a euro-escapade that made sense in a way things simply haven’t for a while. I wandered lonely dark streets at odd hours of the night — hopping in and out of pubs, getting tanked when I should be asleep, conversing with hobos in small dives in the English countryside and facing the daily dosage of bullshit to get through it all — it can be done. But now I’m back and must organize my affairs if things are going to get done.

The past few days have been a blur. Arriving Sunday afternoon and hoovering between consciousness and bill-paying for most of Monday, only to wake up early and fly to LA on Tuesday to continue with the meaningless drable of daily routine.

God. Flying to LA…no, not even LA — Orange County on a Tuesday morning is really something else. You think you see strange things when the sun goes down and lights go out, but friends, Orange County airport (John-mother-fucking-Wayne Airport, mind you) on a Tuesday morning takes the ball. It’s a zoo, but not in the sense that there are a lot of people moving around and acting like animals…no, no. That would be bearable. I could close my eyes and pretend to be asleep to avoid that mess.

But this…spectacle, in all of its obscenity just sort of creeps me out. You should witness the number of midwesterners on the planes and walking all over the goddam airport and you should hear the shit these people are saying…

I’m sure it doesn’t help that yesterday was election day and the Bush machine got told what’s up in pathetic sort of way, even though the gloves did not come off like they should have. Oh well.

I digress. These people at the John-Wayne Airport walk around mumbling rants about the country going down the tube because now their republican stronghold is no more and now it’s going to take forever to do things though I guess it’s not going “all that well” over in Iraq and blah blah something something god I hate you all. Not that I think this is the first ray of sunshine in a bursting dawn of awakening to come, but the democrats, though weak and silly and disorganized beyond belief, are a lesser evil and this may…MAY, slow the decline of this nation.

Fuck it, like I care. I’m moving to the fuckin EU, or Bali. Somewhere that a street vendor can be a respected member of the community and where no one knows about Britney Spears’ divorce before they know who won the election for Governor. You people make me sick.

Pedro Ávila

I went to the office early because I wanted to finish the writing that I should’ve done last night when I stumbled in from the pubs. Breakfast had been a posh thing of husky foods, running thick with fat. Very English, but it keeps an virulent troublemaker active when it’s this early so it serves me well. That and I love bacon.

In the silence and solitude of the office, as the sun rose over the glass building and shone into the gardens of Buckingham Palace across the street, the words flowed like free corporate cappuccinos. Feelings were stirred, memories recounted and it felt as though new life were breathed into me. There’s something about not writing for a long time that feels like toxins building up in my body. Purging the words out of me feels good the way vomiting in the middle of the night can after a night of binging with your mates at the pub.

Later now, after most people have left the glass building and the sun sets on London, tall tales and mindless adventures begin to rear their dangerous little heads and out come the words onto my keyboard.

It is a never-ending conflict with me that my mind works best in the hours of darkness but my body doesn’t much function as a nocturnal animal. Damn shame. It means I have a very short window for constructive and meaningful behavior. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time from dusk to early evening trying with no success, and so much time from late night into the early morning fighting a lapse in consciousness. Spending all of the time when I would be productive fighting the urge to sleep is not all that efficient. Those periods become either light in my fucking eyes or else pitch blackness that I cannot overcome. In between there is fertile ground from which words and sparkly things rise and flourish. The rest…well, the rest is just work.

Still, after sunset a crowd from the London office decided to prove that London is not just fun for lonely guys who wander the city with a mild limp and a taste for ale. They showed me the City and then we went to dinner in Covenant Gardens. Afterward, with families and responsibilities on their lips and sorrow in their eyes, most of them left, disappearing into the underground tube and I was left alone again, dealing with my notions and arguments of strength and weakness and wondering if I’ll ever break out of this cycle of self-destruction to which I cling with such fervor.

I wandered the streets and lost myself, which I’ve kinda gotten used to.

But wandering empty streets of London on a Thursday night is no way to escape your demons. Dark thoughts over a can of gin and tonic on the Tower Bridge evokes threads of memories and ideas that are like search lights. And it’s been two straight weeks of this reckless behavior with no pause or second thought for reflection on the reason, the purpose of it all. It tires…no, it mars the mind of a man with exhaustion and malcontent. It deconstructs molecules, it denatures proteins, it frays the cosmic strings of the personal universi in which we cohort.

Then again, so does whiskey.

But who knows, you know? I mean who knows anything at all about all this?


Yeah. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the night, when the whiskey’s gone, the gin is gone, the tonic is gone and who knows where the rum went to? All I know is that there’s still the jazz in the background and I still have the desire to put thought to paper in defiance of the heavy eyelids that so fervently insist on closing. Fuck them, by the way.

But where does that leave me? Still in London? And what does that matter?

My decidedly final vodka martini (stirred, not shaken you cliche bastards) stands on its monoped, the glass condensing in the heavy atmosphere of a hotel bar overburdened by the consciences of so many men. Many things are not as they seem.

And in the midst of it all there is this question of purpose. A familiar question, to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less dubious or uncertain. Is this just another business trip, extended to include pleasures and copious amounts of alcohol? Was I just wandering around European countries and British Isles getting pissed and scratching out line items on a life’s version of a shit-to-do list? Was I just occupying corporate apartments and posh hotels and maintaining a close relationship with my expense account for the work’s sake or was there some higher purpose in all of this?

I thought of all the implications that this could have. Only one of them made sense.

I should move to Europe.

It could be done.

Think about it: I have the linguistic inclination. Speaking English and Spanish is half the battle. I also speak Portuguese, and from my week in Geneva, I’ve discovered that my French is not nearly as hopeless as I thought. German can’t be far off then, and if that’s true, that’s 90% of it right there. Sure, I could try and learn Italian and Hungarian, and maybe Dutch and Finnish after that, but where do you stop, right? I may as well learn Mandarin, and that’s saying something.

Obviously, I have the professional means. Working for an international power with a global reach means that moving anywhere can be dramatically facilitated if I play my cards right. I don’t even have to revert to teaching English or writing for a local paper. I can keep things steady. That’s a helluva big step.

Few other things hold me back. And these are obstacles, not hindrances; obstacles can be jumped, pushed aside or blown to smithereens. This begs the question: “Why not?”

Let’s brood on that for a sec.

Pedro Ávila

Cold, dark nights in London, despite the movement, the life of the city.

Deep into the late hours of the night bus schedule, I ride on top of an empty double-decker bus, up front, with my forehead against the window. I watch the city come at me fast and I wonder things. At a crosswalk, a bloke looks up at me with confusion in his eyes. He shakes his head and keeps walking, like most people in this town. Tourists, he might think.

It seems that the percentage of people who speak English here is lower than the per capita in Geneva…I wonder if that makes sense. Everywhere I look I see grey clouds, sickly rain and buildings covered in soot. I wonder if I caught it on a bad week or if someone ever opens the curtains and lets the light into this place. I see the blurred outline of a cityscape that seems to go on forever. I wonder if it does.

Whatever. I’ve got enough problems.

Having rolled my ankle a couple nights ago has made my – outings, I guess – slightly more difficult. At the cost of some pain and discomfort, I maintain my breakneck speed to see and experience all I can think of, but I find that the night for me winds down earlier than before, and that my pace back to the hotel is dramatically more apathetic, and replete with pauses and entrances into local pubs. When I finally sit and write, I sink lower into my chair and the ink comes out more slowly than before; the drink is thicker and works more deeply. It’s as if time is an evaporating lake, drying up fast.

This is not a good sign.

Usually this means that something is coming to an end, whether it’s this trip, my will or a whole slew of other things. This is an open door to dark thoughts and it casts a shadow of doubt on a lot of things by which I define myself, things that have undergone an unexpected challenge in the weeks past. I wander and I roam, aimlessly and without fervor, in no particular hurry. I pace though time and the streets of London and other European places that are ancient as they are foreign. I drink their ales; I eat their fish & chips, their roasts, their boiled somethings. I see their cathedrals and their palaces, their tubes, their taxis. I hear their language and their accents. I meet characters in a story I didn’t realize I was telling — and one of them may be me. I hear their jokes and I smile. I present a pleasant enough face to strangers, I’m sure, but inside I am mostly dark thoughts. In this place, everything is mysterious and unexplored — foreign to the eyes of men.

Bah, don’t listen to me — you don’t need this kind of negativity. I’m just stuck figuring some things out.

You may not understand what I’m talking about — and that’s ok. I’ve come to not expect much sympathy and compassion. After all, most people don’t roam places at night when they should be asleep, like I do. They don’t feel a tug into the dark places of the Earth, like I have. They don’t step out for a sandwich at 7 at night and find themselves across town by the MI6 building on the southern banks of the Thames at 11, looking for a tube station because they didn’t mind their feet and were taken to a place from which there is no hope of return on a busted ankle. Exposing oneself to that sort of reckless abandon – not to obvious issues of self restraint, but rather to the common sense aspects of social civility – well, that changes a person. If you can go there and get back again, the world doesn’t look the same to you.

And judging from the prodding eyes of the people — and there are so goddamn many of them – the feeling is mutual.

Pedro Ávila

For whom the bells toll, I have not been made aware. But it tolls – this I know.

I return, however briefly. This, in the business is called foreshadowing and I probably just totally ruined it by calling attention to it. Oh well.

Yeah, it was a sabbatical of sorts that was neither desired nor necessary but thrown on me just the same. Sometimes, we do what we want to; the rest of the time we do what we have to. I’m not one to complain, but, shit, who the hell likes to stop doing what they like in order to do something they don’t, know what I mean?

Time has gone by with a slow breathing rhythm equal to the forced pulling of a tooth. It wasn’t pleasant: minutes took hours and days never ended. The mind, in this rush of problems, this weight and this pressure to perform, outperform and then maintain, it does not rest; it cannot turn off. Like a ship’s captain, even when I’m asleep my thoughts have focus; they have resolution. No, friends; there is no rest for the wicked just like there is no salvation for the damned, or for traveling consultants.

I find it almost too easy to digress into unimaginable tangents what with the sheer size of my shit-to-write-about list. It piles on up with no outlet but work, into which I dive every night in order to escape the maddening fury that has been my brain in the days past. And engrossed in work is no way to tame a subconscious. Yet mine has gone ape-shit with dementia, paranoia and doubt. At the moment I have not the clarity that it would take to combat such a dangerous adversary.

It isn’t so much that I lack the courage, but more that I own too much sense. Here, on the edge of insanity, the two are nearly indistinguishable. I seek the proper tools with which to rope myself back into my own reality or else shove myself over the pit into whatever awaits on the other side. As always, it’s the method that eludes me.

In the meantime, writing in this puppy seems as good an idea as any.Who knows? With a little determination I may just get through this one. It’s important because where I am, the distractions are finally few, even if they are intense as all hell. And in my state, distractions can define which way you fall on the edge of that abyss.

You see what I mean? I digress.

Friday comes, at long last. A half-finished bottle of wine sits on my desk in the Quality Inn of Alphaville. It’s the result of the brutal need to get away from work in last night’s attempt to blitz the subconscious, mostly with few results. A towel hangs from the door from the third shower today; my latest attempt at retaining consciousness in this state. Power cables and Ethernet cords litter the work area, if not the living space. Banana peels and tangerine skins litter every corner of the room because it’s not my fault that this place doesn’t have enough trash cans.

My closet is in good order, though, and I’ve just discovered that a bus leaves on the hour, every hour until 22:00 bound for parts unknown in the interior of São Paulo, which is fine with me. It seems like a good idea to spend a few hours staring out of a moving bus surging through poorly maintained roads in the depth of Brazilian farmlands.

That and I don’t have any other weekend plans.

I straighten things out, roughly, but I leave plenty for the maids to do. Packing is easy and in 7 minutes I have enough of what I need in a small backpack. A bag of carrots for the road and a water bottle which should be adequate in the state I’m in. Jeans and a leather jacket for the rural night. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for good measure.

I turn the bottle of wine on general principle and then walk out, not even thinking of looking back.

… to  be continued

Ok. Continued.

As the alcohol of the upturned bottle of wine filled my arteries I was inevitably en route to wherever the hell it was that my bus was taking me. Hopefully there would be a bed waiting for me there – wherever the hell it was that I had thrust myself towards most recently.


Regardless of how I got here or my mental or physical state when I did, I find myself on a bus bound for hardly a determined destination in the interior of Minas Gerais in Brazil: a heading – that’s about all they’ll give you, which may suit you if you’ve memorized the Google Maps interface, though few people have.

Jesus, do I really have to poison myself this much in order to put words on into text files?

City lights do me in. They affect me, especially when the temperature drops 10 degrees in a matter of days. The absence of the familiar heat from the months past knocks over all notions of security and certainty about anything. When you can’t count on anything – even the weather – you find yourself questioning your very being, your existence in what has suddenly become a meaningless tangled mess of so-called facts and events that are either remembered or else told third and fourth-hand.

Yet I stare at the city lights and their resulting glare for endless minutes that may as well have been months. I stare at the cold concrete structures, at the flimsy light bulbs inside of all the homes of people that I’d never care to meet, at the dark cemetery across the street that seems so utterly pointless. I look at my reflection on the window of the bus, and sometimes I just sit there, wondering who it is, exactly, that’s looking back.

Sometimes, as I stare, I wonder if a move, a change isn’t what would cure me of this ail. I am, after all, a dynamic type of being, whose roots never seem to get beyond the first year point 5…no soil seems to contain the nutrients that I need to survive longer than that, be that soil a hobby or a female. Perhaps new and unknown Terra under my feet is the solution these feelings I get, as if it’s always November. Like I can’t gather the courage for a smile on my lips if I haven’t made an unrecognized snide remark all day, or knocked off some stranger’s hat.

Don’t ask.

What I need is good company, even if it’s my own, and time leaves me wondering if all my wonderings serve any purpose whatsoever…

I wonder, still.

Pedro Ávila

Indeed, reader, indeed.

Interesting places have eluded me for some time now. I have been entrenched in São Paulo for the summer and I didn’t know how to get out. And just as I was plotting my escape I ran into an obstacle so cock-blockingly aggressive that I had no chance. My one hope was to sit through it, ride it out and hope for the best.

Really… it’s not my fault. The world cup was happening in Germany.

As the only country to have participated in every single world cup since the inception of the games in 1930, Brazil goes crazy no matter where it’s held. With games being held twice, sometimes three times a day, the gridlock of the city, the traffic of the Beast became intolerable. Every day at 11 in the morning and then again just after lunch, it didn’t matter who was going home or who was going to work, who was picking up their children or who was going grocery shopping…STAND BACK! Stay indoors at all costs lest you be caught in the whirlwinds of the streets of São Paulo during a world cup game. If you get stuck out there you won’t come home for 7 hours, and that’s when neither of the teams are good.

And if Brazil was playing, forget it. Don’t even bother getting out of bed unless you want to watch the game. Accomplishing anything else is impossible while the ball is in play.

Because it’s not about good. It’s about emotion, excitement. Soccer — or Futbol, for them — is about more than watching their team win. With such humble lives, sometimes that victory is the only one they’ll get all day.

I’m managing to find some balance to myself in this world of extremes. Expensive dinners and drinks with the boss, fancy hotels and a 12th story view have not turned me into an animal yet. Neither has life and all its unruly injustice and ostentatious flirting with the disaster that may be just around the corner. And how have I managed to do it? What have I needed to keep grounded in this elusive existence?

A weather eye on the horizon.

So it is that another unethical government program is thrown into the open, leaked, burst forth into the airwaves, or whatever you wanna call it. There’s nothing really new about this particular unethical government program; it shares all the same attributes as the others: hugging the edge of the legal blade, carefully researched and interpreted by the right minds and endorsed by the right faces, it shines into the heart of the ignorant as the tough choice – ergo, the right thing to do.

So it’s legal. Ok, so what?

No, really. So what?

It’s still wrong. It’s expensive. It’s immoral. It’s intrusive. Most importantly, it’s useless. The only thing different about this one is that Attorney General what’s-his-face is now slandering the media because they published national secrets. That’s a new twist, Mr. Gonzales, and bravo for going down a route where Satan gets a little finicky. You truly are the future of evil. And Dick: watch out for this kid; he’s coming for you and you may have to shoot him in the face.

Idiots. So far, nobody seems to give a damn, and that sucks for us. Who knows? What I do know is that it seems pretty silly to call something a national secret if you guard it so well that the New York Times can get their hands on it.

Think about it. What does the NYT want? Readers. An audience. Why? because it equals dollars. People who are out to hurt the US – assuming we need to refer to them as if they were some sort of organized group — will uncover the same shit. They have a much more profound je ne sais quoi… oh yeah, drive: they think they’re right.

Which is a powerful thing that we here haven’t really known in a while, probably since World War Two. It’s probably why they’re winning the so called struggle against extremism — and they are, they are…don’t kid yourself. The American Government is pathologically finding ways to come out with a good image, at least until the end of the current administration’s run. That’s their thing, as it were. Image. It equals those dollars we discussed earlier.

Even in the movies, most bad guys do what they do because in their own skewed view of reality, they were doing the right thing, at least for themselves. It’s true that they may not have followed their own arguments to the very ends of logic, but until wherever they got with it, they considered themselves justified. Foolish were the ones who wanted money and the real looneys were those guys that just wanted to take over the world because, well, what the hell does that mean, you know? Can you imagine the administrative hell that would be?

But we’re not dealing with only slightly twisted minds like Lex Luthor. That guy had a vision: real estate. Acquiring the property was just the means. The end goal was investment. Business. Growth. Power was just a consequence and killing off most of California was the price he felt justified his gain. I’m not going to convince him he’s wrong and that’s not just because I have a profound love affair with California.

But what we’re dealing with in the real world today is not a rogue mind bent on achieving a stated objective. There is no end solution for them. The means is the end, and we’re playing right into their game.

Which leads me to… Bush. Oh man. The man has no substance, and any of the arguments I have against his blatherings turn into rants without direction, sort of like arguing with a child. I think I’ve made my point to those of you smart enough to understand by now. To the rest of you…sorry. I’m just not really into sympathy for retarded decisions. Just don’t vote for the dumber or two evils next time you decide to take the time to do it. If you’re feeling particularly patriotic and you still want to ruin the world in a disastrous kind of way, feel free to exercise your right not to vote. We’ll all thank the stars that we live in a country which gives you that right.

While you’re at it, feel free to not reproduce either, and if it’s too late for that, consider letting others raise your kids. Move to Antarctica, where your air conditioning bill will decrease dramatically. I promise you that it will.

Pedro Ávila


No, no…


What. The. Fuck.


read it.](,0,1507648.story)

No, no… READ IT.

Then you can talk to me about the glory and the pride of being an American and living in the land of the free.

What a crock of shit.

Pedro Ávila

With Paraguay safely behind me and Argentina ahead, I had fewer things to deal with but I was still in a bad place.

At first I thought that arriving in Buenos Aires eight hours later than planned for a trip that would really only last a couple of days would put us way too far behind. I was pensive as we waited for our luggage but on the two-hour bus ride from the airport to the city center I snapped out of it as I watched the city go by.

Foreign sights always remind me of what drives me and what makes my heart beat faster or my smile grow wider. The fog was lifting over the city and I could see the typical panoramas of Buenos Aires beggining to stretch before me as the bus moved closer and closer to the capital. Flags and trinkets being sold under the freeway, except these flags were different. I’ve always been used to the Brazilian version of this scene — Brazilian flags and hammocks – but in Buenos Aires the flags were pale blue and white, and the hammocks were cow hide rugs. Weird.

Little things like that littered my field of vision, though the poverty level remained much the same. Some things don’t change with geography. Experiences though, are richer on soils far from my comfort zone and my Spanish, I was quickly realizing, was terrible. This was going to be mighty uncomfortable.

The bus dumped us in the middle of the center on the Avenida de Mayo, where things looked very different from the city outskirts. There was an unmistakably European feel to the city. Sure, there were still many similarities between Buenos Aires and the old center of São Paulo. There were markets, and there was traffic. There were beggars and soot-covered buildings. But there were also balconies on the façades, people smoking everywhere, meals came in small portions and on street corners, instead of a bakery, you were more likely to find a book store. These are the little things that make traveling 26,000 kilometers in a week worth it all.

So despite a very real need for rest we faced the reality that precious time had been lost, and that the evening would yield us plenty of time for sleep. Ergo, we hit the streets.

One of the good things about staying in the city center in Buenos Aires is that it gives you access to pretty much all you need as a two-day tourist. In some cities this is not the case as not all the points of interest for a 2 day stay are in the center. In BA, trying to see things outside the center if you’re only staying 2 days is folly. Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo, the Obelisco in the Plaza de la Republica and several scattered churches can be visited over the span of the afternoon and we even managed to squeeze in a meal at the infamous Cafe Tortoni.

After all that, though, with aching feet and almost brain-dead from exhaustion, we allowed our consciousness to lose itself for awhile, and we didn’t really put a time limit on it.

Our consciousnesses were gone for well over 13 hours and we could’ve slept more… but we weren’t about to give in to laziness – I was, after all, on the company time, you know?

Oops. Did I forget to mention that?

The whole reason for this trip had been that I had a client in São Paulo that wasn’t quite ready for me and the company wasn’t about to fly me home only to come back in a couple of days. That’s when we found cheap tickets and escaped to South America like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

We walked to San Telmo and La Boca, two charming neighborhoods of BA. On the way to La Boca we passed the Casa Amarilla, a replica of the house of Almirante Brown, a revered Navy hero of the Portenos, as residents of Buenos Aires are known.

Do you care about this guy? I certainly didn’t, but we didn’t know enough to even know if we should care so we walked in. Suddenly: experts.

Our lack of knowledge of the Almirante changed right quick when a Navy officer (who apparently wanted to be a tour guide instead) gave us the scoop on Argentinian Navy history 101 right on the steps of the place. He wouldn’t let me leave if I didn’t take his card and a history text book along with promises to call if I needed anything.

OK dude. How about a career change?

In La Boca we got hungry and dined to tango dancers and music as genuine as it gets…even the waiter did a solo performance. We had parilla, the local special which could be described as a huge fucking plate of meat. Awesome.

Fuck the vegetarians where it hurts — that’s what they say in BA, though they say it with half a cow and all kinds of meats I’m not comfortable describing. Y en espanol…sabes?

We took a bus to Retiro and San Nicolas, northern neighborhoods of the Parisian stretch of town and there saw the sights there were to see. These included the Teatro Colon and a good diner for a well-deserved beer to recoup the strengths. We ended up walking down La Florida, a shopping strip that is adequately tasteful and in which leather stuff is amply available for cheap.

I’ve always wished I could wear a leather jacket but I’d never found one that,  for under $500, didn’t make it seem as if I was trying to look like the Fonz.

But I guess BA is the place to do it and I loved the thing they custom made for me so much that I didn’t take it off for days. On the way back to our temporary abode we watched a gathering on the street where a trio (two dudes and a smoking hot Argentinian babe) danced some tango. It seemed innocent enough until they ambushed me to dance with her.

Must be the jacket, I thought, but I was wrong.

As I posed for some pictures with this babe of sparkling smiles and many talents (including deception), her two gaucho partners stepped in and made me dance with them instead for all to see.

Very funny, Argentina. You’ll get yours – just wait until you come to São Paulo – I’ll make you eat a cat and still smile about it. You know, for the pictures.

We headed back for some showers at the hostel to refresh the pores and clear the sweat from a long day of walking. I have it from reputable sources that we walked 33 kilometers that day, absurd as that might sound. But that only means that it took little persuastion for us to use the Subte (which is very reminiscient of the Parisian Metro) to Puerto Madera, where we strolled along the Riviera. But it was too crowded with classy Euro-wannabe restaurants and a faux-chic atmosphere that I recognized from too many restaurants that exist soley for the purposes of having business people impress their clients. We were neither impressed nor willing to spend that much money for so little meat, so we returned to the center for more wine, beer and pizza.

Meat pizza, of course.

We tried our damnedest to get up early. But running on something like 5 days straight of brutal travel and has a way of slapping the purpose right out of a man. Eventually we hit the subte like languid seals but at least we were languid seals that were determined enough to head out at all.

Sometimes that’s comfort enough.

At the Congresso Nacional we found a cafe and watched Argentina hand Serbia & Montenegro their asses on an epic 6-0 stretch, which frankly, readers, amazed even yours truly. I mean, the opponent was from the East-European block with a schizophrenia about their very name but it was a good game, nonetheless. We cheered with smiles on our faces but being from Brazil, in our hearts we were supposed to loath the enemy with ice-cold treachery.

Whatever. I think it’s adorable that they have two whole stars on their shields. Que fofinho.

The aftermath though. What a mess.

We had left the cafe while it was still 3-0 because, shit, we had things to do. All across town we counted the goals Argentina scored via a remote tracking system called “Everyone yell out your windows and if you have a horn, hit it“. Non-Brazilian flags were waived all over the place.

The truth is that they played a hell of a lot better than Brazil has been playing and shit and if I seem negative it’s only because Brazil has gotten so lazy, so full of Euro-all stars lately that it’s taken some of the fun out of watching them play, willing them to win. At this point, if Argentina were to play against Germany, I might actually root for them. What do you think of that, tradition?

Note: Later in the world cup of 2006, Argentina did, in fact go on to play against Germany. Germany beat them in a penalty shoot out, 4-2 but it was one of the most memorable games of the cup. I did not , in fact, root for Argentina. But they did play a good game.

In Palermo, during the game, no soul was on the street, and what few were there seemed to know nothing of the location of the planetarium. What few people offered us directions ended up sending us in every which direction at 8 blocks a pop, for which our feet cursed us in their own creative ways. Ironically, the thing was closed when we finally found it. And the reason? An extreme case of sixtonothing.

In some countries this sort of thing is normal.

We took a bus down to Recoleta to see the cemetery in which Evita is buried and saw there sights that can only be described as eerily Catholic. Christianity, and Catholiscism in particular, has a penchant for the macabre that really gets to be almost too much to handle at times. Mostly it’s just a nuisance for non-believers, like when you want to eat meat on a Friday, masturbate without being condemned to hell or have an abortion under a government that is “for the people”. But it’s a lot to handle, man, when you’re walking through a cemetery and to see the resting place of a figure as historical and momentous as Eva Perron and have to put up with such imagery. It’s overwhelming to be crowded by statues of saints, carvings of demons and angels, pits with entire families rotting inside and multiple sayings in latin.

Also, it makes it very anti-climactic to see whatever’s next on the itinerary. In our case it was the Rosedal, a rose garden with a picturesque bridge. Meh.

A metro back to downtown allowed us to regather our bags at the hostel and head for a bar or a cafe for a night of drinking while we waited for the right hour to head back to The Beast. We saw no reason to drink at the Ezeiza airport where Gol would certainly insist on demonstrating their ineptitude at flying on time again.

Whatever. I watched the Mexico vs. Angola game while I waited for things to stir. The world cup is a good time to be anywhere outside the USA, because you always have something to do. It could’ve been The Alutian Islands vs. Bora-Bora and I’d still have watched it.


Eventually though, all clocks run down. All games end. What the hell does that mean, Pete?

Who knows? I’m so tired.

Buenos Aires, Argentina – June, 2006