The Desert Rat Gets a Haircut

Trip Start Jun 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2006

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, July 14, 2006

Here I am again, exactly where I was two years ago. Sitting before me is Silvia Salazar and we`re having tea. We`re anxiously awaiting my departure from Buenos Aires. I say goodbye with awkward words, we embrace and I`m out the door. I could stay another two weeks. I still haven`t seen a show at the magnificent Teatro Colon, or visited the marsh of Rosario two hours to the north, the birthplace of Che Guevara. But for me there is no other way to leave other than abruptly.

I get a haircut and I call Benjamin and say goodbye. We`ll meet again when I return to the neighborhood within the next couple years.

On the busride to Mendoza, the city stretches as far as the eye can see. We`re competing with Los Angeles here. Farewell vibrant Buenos Aires. Farewell to the modern skyscrapers that shadow the deteriorating buildings of the projects and shantytowns. Farewell to a city, that like others in the developing world, plays on the contrasts of modernity and emotion.

Now I`m here in Mendoza. My Andean fortress. The citadel of Western Argentina. A sprawling city of a couple hundred thousand framed by the Andean cordillera. A city of adventure. Where you have to decide between hiking, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing and paragliding. The mountain peaks are capped with snow. The buildings here are typically 5-6 stories (as opposed to 20-30 in larger cities). There are suburbs and houses close by.

As in Bs.As., I find myself doing the same things I did two years. You just can`t escape who you are. I`m walking around, gazing at the city parks and plazas. I`ll try to get pictures up eventually. I also go for a run in the country`s nicest park. It`s spacious and green. It has a lake and tall trees. I`m marveling at the clean air and streets.

Except things are different during the winter. I was last here during the summer and the first thing I notice is that the leaves are gone. They stand as skeletons. It`s cold and in the 40s. I have to find warmer clothes. I currently just have my light jacket and a beanie.

Tonight I talk to a Mendocino youth in Plaza Espana, a square filled with fountains, statues, trees, flowers, and Spanish tile. He`s got a mohawk and piercings and tattoos.
He`s obsessed with the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. He asks me if I have been to one of their concerts. I tell him I`ve been to an Audioslave show. He`s kind of disappointed. He asks me for money.

Still a better conversation than any I`ve had with the travelers in the Hostel. Since the mountain roads are closed due to avalanches and rock falls, no one can go skiing or get to Santiago. Everyone is sitting around, watching tv and complaining there is nothing to do. Everyone is sitting around, getting drunk. Needless to say, I don`t fit in with them.

I`m the Holden Caufield of Mendoza. I`m not in the mood for a nightclub. I prefer to wander the night streets alone. Maybe I am a little different than I was a couple years ago (or maybe I`m just on a tighter budget and tired from the busride). I`m not really a Buenos Aires party boy anymore.

I`m not too happy with my current lodging. I think I`ll move tomorrow. I`m just here for the mountain biking.
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