I woke to bright, hard light coming through metal shutters, separating me from a small circular balcony over looking the street. The city was alive. At 10am, almost everyone was up and moving around, except me. I wasn’t bothered one bit.
I went to the kitchen of the hostel, passing a few people that I didn’t know, saying “un dia” (short for good day) along the way. I grabbed a cup of coffee and filled my water bottle and returned to my room to sit on the balcony to have a smoke. It was absolutely perfect. The sun wasn’t soft like it is in NC, it was direct and glaring. I almost had to keep moving to keep from letting it get me. I sipped my coffee and watched the bodies from the 3rd floor move to and fro on the street.
I picked this hostel because of the name, El Sol. Of course Buenos Aires has 14 million people and there are obviously more than one to choose from, so picking it in lieu of the name is about as good as any way, as long the location is right, which it was. The El Sol Hostel – Recoleta is an old French styled building with skinny stair cases of marble and tall doors, breaking one partition from the next. The bathroom, which was common for my my room and another was wet, meaning it contained a toilet, bidet, sink, and shower over head and drain in the floor, where every got wet when you turned the shower on.
After using the bathroom for the first time since I’d been at the hostel I became confused on how to flush it..No knob, pull string, not even a reservoir to hold the water. How did this thing work?? I scanned the walls and decided to take a break long enough to use a bidet for the first time in my life….Ooohhhh…That’s kinda weird…and nice. Ok, now that I had a clean ass, I set back to figuring out to make this thing flush. Aha! The reservoir is located almost at the ceiling and was clearly installed much later than the building was built. A small silver chain hung from its right side and upon a slight tug, all was good in toilet time. Quickly I showered and headed out.
I had received an email back from the couple whose apartment I visited the night prior saying they’d take me and I returned a few work emails to make sure things were headed in the right direction on that front. I wanted to see one more flat before laying my cash down and I also wanted to find a gym.
Turned out the 2nd apartment was only 2 blocks from the first one I’d seen so I knew the hood, some what. The older lady who owned it was sweet and we spoke of my travels and her business as a landlord. God only knows how many apartments that lady owned. She was probably in her 70′s, pretty, tan, and petite. Her hands rivaled Mr. T’s chest, given the mounds of gold and jewels that she crammed upon them. I thanked her and explained that I’d be touch, grabbed some lunch consisting of rolls, salad, steak, pumpkin & mashed potatoes (which is quite common), agua con gas (sparkling water), and a diet Coke – 29 pesos or $7.62USD. Across the street, I saw a pilates studio and figured that’d be as good as a place as any to start in my hunt for a gym..I was right, but the recommendation was for that of a bit richer blood than I. They wanted 480 pesos for the month…whatever?!? I wanted some steel weights and maybe an old pool to do some laps in…I didn’t need or want a trainer and I didn’t care about how the place looked or smelled.
Continuing on, I went to the park to read.
The past months had been challenging for me. I have been on a constant watch to insure my mind stays true to positivity and even if not with, at least in the direction of enlightenment. I understand that no matter where I go and what I do, I take one thing with me…Me. So, I understand that unless I am able to endure peace within my own mind, it really doesn’t make a hill of beans what I surround myself with. I was nudged toward the work of Seneca, greek philospher, and his “Letters from a Stoic”. This book would be one of 4 that I’d bring along for this journey.
On my way to the park I bought a 1.5 liter bottle of water, a couple bananas, and some sweet crackers. Walking into the park was calming and easy. The small roads that entertwined through the grass and flowers and trees were dirt but maintained well, better I would say, than the airport I had visited yesterday. There were cats. Cats were everywhere. In the trees and on the ground and in the bushes. Sleeping, playing, hunting, flirting..so very cool. They would see me and dash away and then creep back in my direction, as if to tease. I like cats.
I found a bench in the shade and began to browse the new text. It was easy to read. His words were profound and surprising applicable to my life some 2000 years after his. I highlighted the important notes and I made an index of the lessons I took away from it in the inside jacket or the paperback. I took breaks often to drink water and to nibble on crackers. Not far, maybe 20 meters, was a young girl drawing on a sketch pad in the grass and 20 meters in the other direction was an older man, with a thin face and big curly hair writing words and singing to himself. Everywhere, round every bend it seemed, were couples embraced in each others arms, not saying a lot, but feeling each other. Not in a perverted way, but in a nice way. They held hands and played with each others hair and kissed and hugged. It made me think of the lovers I’ve had in my life. It made me think of how the way of life, the things in which these people held dear, seemed very different than that which I have grown accustomed to. This land was romantic, not in a plastic sickening Venice, Italy kinda way, but in a real “one can actually have a life here and be romantic” kinda way. Opera is piped into the subways, old men sit at sidewalk cafes and drink coffee at 9pm laughing and sharing and gawking (with endearment, of course), together, at pretty girls as they walk by, and to sit for 3-4 hours over a meal is just…well…normal. Amazing!
I read for another hour and began home trying to decide between the two flats and decided it would be better to be with a couple locals, even if I didn’t know them, than to be alone. I’ve preferred to live alone for a number of years at this point, mainly because I work from home and use the spare bedroom at my Los Angeles apartment as my office, but being here would be better if I had some folks to chat with. I’m slowly learning, that despite my desire to remain alone a lot, its not to good for me. I am a social person and need interaction with people in order to remain happy.
I ate some good food and chatted up a couple from Sweden from the hostel and then ventured out to get a drink. It was 11pm. The bar, Milion, was only 2 blocks from my pad and provided to be a good idea. There, I met John, from Norway and we shared our brief life synopsis. He worked for Adecco and was in BsAs for 6 weeks studying spanish. Nice guy, about my same age. On his way to the bar, he ran into 2 Columbian girls that had been smiling at us and they invited us back to their seat upon his return. Who were we to argue 😉 They were here for a week and would then continue on to Punta Del Este, Uruguay for new years. The gal I connecting with apologized for her english and I explained it was so much better than my spanish. We smoked a couple cigs and had another round of drinks and made plans to meet up the next night for dinner, as I had to take my apartment at 8:30am and it was now 2am.
I strolled back to the hostel in the middle of the street, repeating new Spanish words through my head. The air was hot and while the city was asleep, it was only barely..