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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, December 25, 2010

A slow start to the day involved saying "Merry Christmas" to whoever was awake in my room and heading down for breakfast. A big contrast between Estoril and Milhouse was the food provided. Previously I had been spoiled, here I was wondering what I could stomach. The breakfast consisted of plain cornflakes, hard bread, butter, jam, diluted orange juice, coffee and a small selection of fruit. However an English or Continental styled breakfast could be purchased. Ah-ha! Now I knew how they worked. At a higher price than Estoril I was getting a very basic breakfast and questionable board. Another big contrast between the hostels was that in Estoril most people would greet you when they saw you. Here, bar a few of my roommates there were no interactions. This was especially strange given that it was Christmas Day. The Australian bartender (during breakfast), was the only person I spoke to and he was working. With that in mind I made my way out to 'tackle' the day as soon as possible. After checking emails and quickly reading on what to do in Buenos Aires, I ventured out. Added to the points of spending as less time as possible here; an ‘offer’ of a traditional Christmas dinner and watching the Queen’s Speech. That did not interest me at all.

After a brief stroll I went to see the guys at Estoril and ended staying there for the afternoon. With most people, not only here, being tied up calling home and loved ones, it was a slow day. Not having a device that could utilise the Internet and make low cost calls, I simply emailed or text messaged my contacts. It would be the same if I had a device apart from the rare short call.

Around the middle of the afternoon Heidi and Amanda suggested we should head out. So along with Robert we did. There was a route in mind but it was just to do something rather than a plan. We stopped off at Parque Carlos Thays, (park) and sat down with a crowd close to a hundred. Most had gone there for a picnic, whilst some had gathered to watch ‘street’ performers. In addition to this there were a lot of stalls serving food and drink. I guess we stumbled onto a pre arranged celebration.

When the ‘street’ performers finally started there were acts of agility. These were back flips, summersaults, balance moves and synchronised skipping. I assure you it was cooler than it sounds but there were lengthy delays mostly involved them explaining things. Maybe if I was fluent in the language, I would have enjoyed it more. A funny moment occurred when they pulled two women out of the crowd and joked about how tall the women were in comparison. They added the need for the women to put their handbags down but pretended to run away with them. I remember one of the performers joking about Michael Jackson. As another performer happened to have his head at this performer’s waist, it took one action to make the crowd laugh. The standing performer pushed the other performer’s head down whilst pushing his hips nearer and saying ‘hee hee’. With that the crowd erupted. Language is not as big a factor when world wide known mannerisms are put together.

During the acts, I captured some of them on video. Amanda was talking to me and I nonchalantly repeated the words “I know, I know.” Looking back, answering her observation like that reeked of arrogance. In truth, I was not taking back hardly anything people were saying. Still sleep deprived I was running on ‘fumes.’ I really hope she did not take the action to heart. Sorry pal.

We went towards Recoleta, Palermo, to Plaza de las Naciones Unidas (United Nations Square). We saw the metalworks of a Floralis Generica (steel flower), sculptures and Torso Mausculino (man’s torso). The architect of the steel flower is Eduardo Catalano. A great feature of this sculpture is that it acts like a real flower in that its gigantic petals are open during the day and then close for the night with a red glow emanating from within. The Torso Masculino is a bronze torso by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero. It was a gift from the artist to the city. Porteņos (people who are from or lives in a port city), admire Botero's work which features small, stumpy, really-round fat people. It is ironic given that the city is obsessed with being thin. The monuments passed were that of Plaza Francia Monument (France) and the General Alvear Monument. The latter has a red granite pedestal was designed in collaboration with the argentine architect Alejandro Bustillo. It is flanked by four allegorical figures representing the civic virtues Strength, Victory, Liberty, and Eloquence. It is considered to be the best monument in Buenos Aires.

As we were going past the Universidad de Buenos Aires, (University of Law), an idea flashed in my head. Without hesitation I told Heidi to start taking pictures. She was bewildered and before she could ask why, I set off and ran up the steps. The steps were very reminiscent to that of the Philadelphia version in the U.S.A., although they were less than seventy two steps. Additionally a ‘Rocky Balboa’ moment came over me. So after say, three dozen steps I reached the top and mimicked the man himself, with my hands in the air and slow jumping. As the group laughed, I let out chants of “Adrian!” This was good but not the funniest moment, which would happen next. Not one but two strangers ended up copying me. Not only did they run up the steps, they copied the chants and even with the poses! After a while I went back down but kept one fist raised. The group was still laughing. What is funny is that I did not realise it was a university at the time I was posing. It is only now after looking it up, I am wise to it.

As sunset drew we passed a beautiful multi coloured bridge (Puente Figueroa Alcorta), on the walk back home. I contributed very little to the conversation as I was busy taking pictures and in awe of the deserted streets. This was my first Christmas away from home and it was taking a while to get used to it. The buildings looked majestic as sunset hit. It is ‘funny’ how you can fully appreciate things such as architecture when there is no one around. I can only draw a comparison to Tom Cruise wandering around a deserted Times Square in the movie, Vanilla Sky.

Once back at Estoril we ended up drinking on the roof top. I recall meeting a Mexican traveller with Marcos. He was a ‘character’ who endlessly boasted about his life. When in my presence, I nodded my head when need be and thought of escape plans.

A tad later a bottle of vodka was produced and somehow the conversation turned to ‘body shots’. Not one hundred per cent sure what they were, I asked “do you mean boxing?” The girls laughed at that and the bemused look on my face. (I had a vague idea with the ‘Coyote Ugly’ music video of the movie in my head. Bare in mind that was released ten years previously and my confusion holds up). With the suggestion still in limbo, all it took was my t-shirt pulled off and my acknowledgement. So I ‘mounted’ Amanda in an unusual way to ‘body shot’. My image in those moments will stay with her for her life! We swapped turns and Nacho, continued his ‘ribbing’ of me being a ‘jungle man’, (hairy chest). This must have gotten Heidi’s attention as she did not want to continue the trend. Lying on a bench with my naval filled with vodka, I was in a precarious position. Finally she took her turn. Mindful of being in a helpless position again, I was glad when it was over.

We continued to talk, drink and gaze at the night sky. I did note it was odd that we were in one group, whilst ten feet away were Iona, Robert and company. During my first week here we would gather in a circle and whether it be five or twenty people, we would talk together. Robert asked me later: “why do you only hang out with them and do you love these girls?” I guess I felt welcome more so here. Maybe I could have added that I was in love with their ‘souls’. That would be too much of an admission, even though it was/is true.

When Nacho and Amanda ‘made out’ and as there were not many people left on the roof, I said my goodbyes. So once again I wandered back to Milhouse and a room full of darkness, creeping into bed. If you asked me to describe the physical features of my current roommates I would struggle. I must have spent twenty minutes on Facebook that day and sadly that was more than any interactions with my roommates. Still Christmas Day 2010 was over. As they go, this one was very pleasant.
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