Finding my axis and random other thoughts...
Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
51Trip End Aug 2008
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The return ticket home has been purchased... I'll be back in Montreal in late July! Time has zipped by so quickly. My trip is coming to an end, and I'm actually looking forward to it. At the very start of this adventure, I thought I'd want to prolong my trip as long as possible or till my funds run out. Though I technically have enough resources to continue, I'm ready to head home. I'm entering my ninth month on the road and am missing my city, my people, my own bed... If I were pregnant (which I'm not!!!), I'd be giving birth to a new life that would have been growing inside of me for the past 3 trimesters... In a weird immaculate conception-esque way, I feel I'm bringing to this world a new me when I return to Montreal. Ok, maybe not the best fitting analogy... but neither is the idea of a butterfly's metamorphosis since I feel like the same girl on the surface.
You get the idea... This trip has changed me. Not necessarily on the outside (except for the tattoo I got in the Philippines), but most definitely on the inside. I'm still sifting through all the things I've seen and experienced since leaving home to make sense of it all. It feels like a lifetime has passed since I saw my relatives in the States and the Philippines but it was just a mere 6 months ago that I was sharing a meal with my grandmother in Pangasinan and celebrating my birthday with my dad's side of the family in Davao!!!
During the first two thirds of this trip (Oct-Apr), I thought I had given myself the time to reflect on life, love and everything in between when I was traveling through South East Asia, but now I realize that I was keeping my mind occupied with my constant movement. From the rice terraces in Banaue to Sapa to the frenetic energy found in Bangkok to Hong Kong, I filled my days with external exploration. I would travel to a new location every week or so, absorbing the sights and sounds of my latest surroundings.
Two days after arriving in Buenos Aires, I started Spanish courses and attempted to sip the tango coolaid but haven't gone crazy dancing tango til 6am everyday (which is completly possible in this city). Since arriving in this city at the end of April, though, I finally gave myself the opportunity to sit in one place long enough to take a breath, put my clothes on hangers, store my backpack in a closet and really get to know a this place and myself a bit better (insert tango music and songs from Ray Lamontagne and Paolo Nutini playing in the background). There are stunning natural wonders in this part of the world, like Iguazu Falls in northern Argentina, or the potential to visit nearby countries like Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia or Chile, but I don't feel the least bit compelled to go and see them. That part of my trip is done. It feels right to just stay still and look inside. And this melancholic city lends itself to much introspection.
BA is chock full of beautiful buildings influenced by French, Spanish and Italian architecture to gawk at, picturesque plazas to walk through, impressive cemetaries to honour the dead, and fun neighbourhoods to get lost in. The economic crisis and political instability in 2001 has made it difficult for locals to travel as much outside of their country as they did prior to that year. Menem, the president back then, had pegged the Argentinian peso to the US dollar 1:1, then the peso was allowed to freefall, causing a lot of people to lose money as the peso decreased in value to a low of 3 pesos to 1US dollar. Though I doubt it will ever be as cheap as travelling through SE Asia, the crisis has made it relatively cheap for travellers from North America and Europe to visit. Inflation, as of late, has been pushing prices higher, but you can still enjoy a good bottle of Malbec wine and an amazingly juicy cut of steak for less than $20USD.
Hmmm, so maybe I've gained back the pounds I've lost while sweating through SE Asia... I've been eating VERY well in this city: facturas (assortment of pastries) accompanied by some maté (bitter herbal drink) for el desayuno (breakfast); media lunas (croissants) and café con leche during la merienda (snack) time; maybe a bife de chorizo, bife de lomo (two different cuts of steak) or a una milanesa (breaded thinly pounded piece of veal or chicken) with an ensalada (salad) for almuerzo (lunch); to end the day for la cena (dinner) , potentially a picada (assortment of finger foods like cheese, cold cuts, salamis, potato chips, salted peanuts, black and/or green olives, accompanied with a basket of bread) rounded off with a lovely glass of Malbec wine. Very porteño fare... These are just some of the yummy foods I've tasted while here, but just to confirm, no I don't eat like this EVERY day! The only forms of excercise I've been adhering to is walking as much as possible around the city, leaping over the ubiquitous piles of dog-poo in various forms of decomposition found on every single sidewalk, checking out milongas around the city and dancing tango a few times each week.
I'm back in Montreal in about a month's time and can't wait to catch up with everybody as well as deal with re-entry into "reality"!