justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chapter 10

I had never even heard of Pucon, Chile until a day before I hopped on a bus heading to the town on the Chilean/Argentine border. Truthfully, I hate Chile. I don't like their weird 2,000 pesos for a hamburger currency. I don't like their flag's colors. Even the shape of the country pisses me off. But I decided I should give it a fair shot. 

On the bus ride over I met two guys from Bend, Oregon. Neither one was much of the talkative type, but the younger one, Jason, did not say a word for the first eight hours we hung out. Eventually I directed a question toward him, forcing him to break his unwarranted vow of silence. I learned he was a senior in high school who had been home-schooled by his mother for his entire life. Outside of parents who lock their kids in a basement and keep them alive only for sexual gratification, I can't think of a better way to socially retard your child other than homeschooling. 

His friend, Kalon, who was slightly cooler, older and more talkative, told me he worked as an underwater welder, which if you are  going to travel and make up a fictitious profession is as good as they come. However when I tried to ask him more about his career in aquatic assemblage, he really wouldn't tell me anything. He also had seven tally marks scarred over his heart. When I asked him about the tally marks, which appeared to be self-inflicted, he gave me a weird stare before saying, “Yeah... I really don't talk about that.” 

I assumed he did it while high on crystal meth because the only other time I'd seen such ugly, painful looking body art, my co-worker admitted to giving himself a tattoo with pen ink, a needle and an RC car battery during his third straight day of doing crystal meth. Whatever, more power to Kalon for overcoming his crystal meth addiction to become an underwater welder. 

One day as I sat alone in the hostel eating lunch, I noticed Jason's journal sitting on the family room table. I decided to read it because I knew I wouldn't get caught, and also because I felt entitled since my travel journal is a blog in the public domain, but mainly because I knew I wouldn't get caught. Hoping for some outrageous psychotic writing, I was disappointed to read the most boring entries ever. It was nothing more than where he had been, what he bought from the grocery story and how it tasted. His mother is a shit writing teacher.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chapter 9

I had high expectations for San Martin de los Andes as it was the birth place of my birds teacher Horacio, and I figured any environment that produced Horacio would probably be my kind of town.

I walked the entire town in 10 minutes, then found the cheapest hostel. I was the only guest in the entire hostel. Everything appeared too good to be true: the rooms were spacious and clean, the bathrooms were immaculate and the kitchen was fully stocked. Then I walked up stairs and found one of the employees, Deuel, holding a pair of pliers to his mouth as he sucked the final breath out a joint. I courteously waited until the Mamas and the Papas video stopped playing during the VH1 “I love America” marathon, and then asked him for a lighter to ignite the stove.

Deuel looked at me funny, paused for 30 seconds, then handed me the lighter. I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the hostel other than the fact that it was being run by the most incompetent potheads in San Martin de los Andes. And by incompetent potheads, I mean awesome guys who get paid (albeit small amounts of money) to smoke pot and practice skateboard tricks in the backyard all day. In other words, people whom I am very jealous of.

I also learned that one of the hostel boludos, Nicolas, lives in a tiny cabin in the town and pays 300 pesos (less than 100 USD) for rent each month. And that is now my ultimate plan B in life.

During the day, I went on hiking adventures through the stunning mountains with nothing but an apple, notepad, camera, water bottle and ham-and-cheese sandwich. I sat on a massive rock over-looking the town, and thought about how I could give back to Argentina. I had met several people while traveling who would take a month off and volunteer at an orphanage or something to that effect.

So far, the only time I had given back to the good people of Argentina was when I installed Firefox 3 on a computer in Salta, and when I tossed a ball back over the wall of a school in Mendoza.

Maybe it was a result of too much hanging out with the guys from the hostel, but then I came up with the greatest idea I knew I'd never realize: become a volunteer firefighter in a small town. It seemed like the best idea ever: fight fire, have a free place to sleep, be able to put Argentine firefighter on my resume, but later on somebody told me you can't just be a volunteer firefighter for a week and I was too lazy to ever seriously look into it.

I continued to hike along seeing things that looked like this as I imagined myself fighting fires in Argentina.

The United States presidential election also occurred while I was in SM de los Andes. From what I was told, Americans were fairly excited for the election. I remember checking the early results online, but being more engrossed in a large bowl of pasta that the hostel "workers" and I had cooked up. Then I sent my friends this e-mail (which I have left unedited):
i figured everythig out in life almost. life in this city is nuts. its crazy people just live in cabins and do nothing all day. just get high and skateboard,.

san martin de los andes is where its at.

oh yeah i plan on opening up a hanggliding school soon, let me knwo if you want in.

should add that ive been on a big mix of argentine rock and james brown all night.

also should add that i have no clue at all what day it is. or what country i am going to be in tomorrow. i also didnt realize the elections were goigng on for half the fuckin day. alll i cared about was how ai is gonna fit in detroit.

To which one my friends replied:
Jesus christ i cant tell you how awesome it is. I am watching the elections, its kinda gay.

I am really into this indian girl, Dharini. She is the most ride or die chick ive ever met. on halloween she was rolling on 5 hits of e. sexy.
Then, after a bag of cookies and two loafs of bread, I passed out. I woke up the next morning feeling like one does after consuming large quantities of pasta, cookies, and bread. I walked outside and tried to figure out where I was, then everything came back to me and I turned on the TV to make sure Obama won. He had, which put a smile on my face only because I knew it meant one day this video could be made.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chapter 8

I met a lot of good people in Mendoza. I wasn't sure how I could work them all into these silly anecdotes, so I did the only logical thing I could think of; I made power rankings of the people I met.

Mendoza Crew Power Rankings:

11. Sebastian – Disgusting. Gross. When a bunch of backpackers say you stink you have a problem. Alcholic. Nobody really liked this guy. Pictured on the left in above photo. I'm still not sure how my camera took a photo during the millisecond when he didn't have a cigarette.

10. Hostel manager Dino – Flaming homosexual, wore all denim or denim capris with an Afrika Bambaataa/Zulu tribe shirt. One night he got drunk, went up to a male guest and asked if he wanted to touch his junk.

9. Odd couple from Belgium – The token old couple staying in the hostel. These two never said a word, but often played table tennis against each other at 11 pm. The guy also rocked denim shorts and Timberland boots, which had not been done since Redman in the late 90s, so for that I respected them.

8. Josh and Shawn from Wyoming – Just some good dudes who live and die for fly fishing. They came to Argentina just to fly fish for 2 months.

7. The hostel nightshift boludo – Boludo is Castellano for dumbass/friend/motherfucker depending on the context. Many Argentines say boludo every other word, just like anyone who hangs out with me will notice I say motherfucker every other word. I never manned up and applied for a hostel job, but I imagine the first question on the application is: "If a guest needs drugs at 3 in the morning, will you be able to hook the guest up?" This guy definitely hooked the entire hostel up. Also, he killed the internet in the lobby at night so he could make out with trashy whores on the lobby sofa on the nights when he wasn't sprawled out on the same couch in a stoned stupor.

6. The old dude traveling from Auckland – Old, couldn't relate to that many people. Could roll joints with the best of them. Then could relate to everyone.

5. Matt the Canadian – A human IMDB. Thought the biggest problem with today's youth is that all the Legos have sponsorships which limits kid's imaginations. In the middle of a diatribe against Indiana Jones Lego sets, he said my favorite line of the trip, "I remember when I was growing up my little brother could make five different car sounds. I know kids today who can't even make one car sound."

4. The incredible Irish couple – Greg (pictured above) and Nadia simplified everything in life to a beautiful level. They both illegally live in New York City and both work at Irish pubs. I told them about my goal of moving to NYC, and they were the first people to tell me how easy it is to live in NYC. After talking to them for 30 minutes, they never once said the word "recession", nor did they complain about the high cost of living. I loved hanging out with them because they never over thought anything in life, an issue I struggle with. They reminded me of one of my favorite quotes in life, which came from the rapper DMX on an episode of Rap City in the late 90s.

"That's what happens when n*ggas start thinking," X said between twitching and wiping his nose. "That's why n*ggas shouldn't think." At first I loved the line for the sheer ignorance as DMX appeared to be encouraging African-Americans to never think. As I grew older I learned to appreciate DMX's line for the subtle brilliance as he was warning society of the pitfalls of over-thinking small issues in life. Due to my Irish friends and DMX I still plan on moving to NYC, as long as I don't over think it.

3.Two gay young Argentines – I don't care about people's sexual orientation. If you can cook empanadas like these guys, I care even less about your sexual orientation.

2. Cara – Just a dope ass chick. Would ask me a million weird questions, but somehow they were all enjoyable. I now know her favorite word, what she'd bring on a desert island, who she'd fuck, marry, throw off a cliff, and the three people she wants to meet in heaven.

1. Grass – One of the craziest, most abrasive, yet genuinely nice guys I have ever met in my life. Hardcore 33-year-old Aussie who mocked me for being a Yank every chance he could.

I can't do impersonations to save my life, but I can say "You fuckin' seppo!" in a perfect Aussie accent because that's all I ever heard. If you don't know, Aussies call Americans seppos because septic tank rhymes with Yank and they're both full of shit. The only way I can describe some of the greatness I witnessed would be to begin a new power ranking within this power ranking. So here are Grass' top moments:
5. Grass transformed his bunk bed into a fort. Then had sex in the fort despite the fact that his bed was no more than six inches from my bed.

4. Three new girls entered our hostel, one who was disabled and walked with crutches. Grass yelled to the other two, "You girls better hurry, she's almost caught up!"

3. Eating dinner outside the hostel, a poor child came up to our table to beg for food. Grass grabbed a slice of pizza and tossed it at her like a dog.

2. Grass explained how Aboriginals are the only second class citizens in Australia, but how they put themselves in their own situation. "If an Aboriginal ever asks me for money, I tackle him, put him in a choke hold and tell him to get a job and stop drinking," Grass said with dead serious conviction.

1. A new female guest entered our room after Grass and I had shared the room for a week. Grass peeked his head out of his self-assembled fort and warned her not to touch the shirt on the ground unless she wanted to get pregnant.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chapter 7

I hung out for several days in Mendoza just because I had a solid group of friends in the hostel and Mendoza was the perfect town. If you enjoy perfect weather and streets perfectly lined by sycamores with running canals lining their perimeter, you would probably enjoy Mendoza.

We were all broke travelers so we hung out a lot in the hostel and watched whatever was on the TV. One night we watched “The Beach” because there is nothing better to do while traveling than watch a movie about somebody else traveling. As I sat there jotting down my notes and writing silly ironic lines like the sentence before this one, Leonardo DiCaprio beat me at my own game as he sat in a Thai hostel and said, “We all travel thousands of miles just to watch TV and check in to somewhere with all the comforts of home, and you gotta ask yourself, what is the point of that?”

And at that point I lost my mind a little bit, so I went to bed halfway through the movie. And then I realized that I always went to bed halfway through movies when I lived in the United States. And then I realized that Leonardo DeCaprio won again. And then I got angry. And then I fell asleep.

The next day Cara and I voyaged to some thermal baths that were a 40-minute bus ride outside of town. It was almost as if God knew I needed a reason to relax from an already relaxing vacation so he made the bus ride extremely annoying and stressful. Every kid from the greater Mendoza region seemed to hop on the bus and many of them sang and danced around the aisle. At one point a little boy decided to sneeze directly into my ear, filling my entire ear canal with snot. This was a little frustrating.

Then his older brother wanted to show off his English skills and vast knowledge of the United States, which involved him repeating three cities over and over again. He asked a few questions. When I told him I was from Arizona, he looked at his younger brother and confidently said Arizona is just like Feeladelphia.

Finally we made it to the thermal baths. Beautiful warm pools in the middle of a scenic canyon. The only tough part was not staring at the 16-year-olds wearing next to nothing because I didn't want God to give me diarrhea again.

I just sat there and stared at the canyon, the beautiful blue sky and thought about life. I didn't come up with much, but I settled upon a tattoo. I had been thinking about getting a tattoo a month before I left for Argentina. However I could never settle on what I wanted. While swimming in the hot baths, I finally figured it out. I used to have a mole on the palm of my left hand that has faded over the years. I decided I should get it redone because it would be the best tattoo ever. It would symbolize the beauty in the world's asymmetry and it would be very individualistic because I don’t know many people who have had moles redone. Then I realized that that could very well be the gayest thing I ever considered and I started doing Cara's crossword puzzle to try to bring my mind back to normal.

That night I sat in my chair and wrote as Cara watched TV next to me. I thought about how awesomely psychotic it would be if I just kept stealing the life story of whoever I met in my last spot and passed it off as my own when I kept traveling. Then “House” came on and they diagnosed a patient who has mirror disease, in which he steals other peoples illnesses. Fuck. This was the second night in a row the TV had stolen my ideas.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chapter 6

Although my stay in Mendoza began with me sitting in a cheap restaurant thinking I was going to die, Mendoza ended up being the one of my favorite places in Argentina.

I ditched Sebastian and met a nice girl named Cara, who lost everything she owned to a house fire when she was 10 and then to Hurricane Katrina when she was 22. Recently she decided to give everything up on her own accord and start traveling. Her past misfortunes made me realize that losing some electronics was not quite the end of the world.

Cara and I decided we would try the popular wine tours in Maipú, a small town 15 kilometers south of the city of Mendoza. Mendoza is the wine capital of a wine-rich country and Maipú was one of the many small towns full of wineries. I woke up quite hungover from the night before but knew I had no real reason to puss out on a day which involved bike riding and drinking wine.

I stumbled out of my room at 9:30 in the morning with a gameplan of forcing as many breakfast rolls in me as possible, hoping they would absorb all the toxins in my body. Everything was blurry, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed a guy and girl still drinking with a pile of cigarette butts in front of them roughly the size of Mount Aconcagua. Five minutes later, I realized it was my friend Cara and some guy named Matt. I asked if she was still down for bikes and wine and without hesitating, she said of course. I definitely needed to shake my hangover off and harden the fuck up.

We biked from winery to winery, taking a tour of each facility. After that became too strenuous we settled in the middle of one of the vineyards with a great $4 bottle of red wine we bought from the winery which had the nicest tour and we ate the sandwiches we packed the night before. While sitting in a plot of dirt underneath a crystal clear sky with the snow-capped Andes in the bac as Cara told me she disliked Alanis Morissette simply because the song “Ironic” is really not ironic at all because each described scenario is actually tragic. Then, after we thoroughly analyzed Morissette's other work, we drunkenly rode our bikes back into the center of the small town. A local 10-year-old rode up beside me and gave me the look, so I had no choice but to leave Cara in the dust as we raced for the next three blocks. He won, but only because he had home street advantage.

We returned our bikes back to the shop and hopped on the bus back to the town's center. Two cute girls who looked about my age sat right in front of me and Cara. I was already quite content from the wine and the perfect breeze blowing through the windows, but then one of the girls put her arm around the other. I eagerly mumbled to myself “Please go at it! Please go at it!” And then they started making out. And then I was the happiest man in all of Argentina.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chapter 5

Before I boarded the 18-hour bus ride from Salta to Mendoza I tried to turn on my Zune and discovered it was dead. Dagger. This made the bus ride even more miserably long than usual. I finished my book within the first two hours and read the a generic Men's Health magazine three times over.

Just before the we got to the terminal I began talking to the guy behind me, who I avoided for the first 17 hours because he sounded like he was deathly sick. I learned his name (Sebastian), his country of origin (France), and his former profession (restaurant server). He reminded me a lot of a server I worked with named Adam¹. I then learned he was also a sports journalist at one point in his life. We got off the bus and I grabbed my backpack from the under-bus stowage. Sebastian didn’t grab anything because he was traveling for his entire three month trip with only a bag the size of a bowling ball case and a small guitar he bought in Brazil.

We decided to hit the town together in search of a hostel and restaurant since we were both starving from a long ride in which they never offered us food. Within minutes I was sick of Sebastian. He chained cigarettes, hawked loogies and blew snot rockets with a cadence that would have been soothingly melodic if it weren’t cigarettes, loogies and snot rockets. Additionally the fact that he was an admittedly broke 31-year-old ex sports journalist with no job hit a little too close to home for me.

We found a cheap restaurant and sat down just before everything went to shit. I still don’t know what happened, but I got very light headed, everything began to spin and I thought I was going to pass out. Suddenly the gross Frenchman was my best friend and the only person providing me any comfort in a town I had arrived in 10 minutes earlier.

I tried to talk myself down and shoved as much food in my mouth as possible, hoping some sustenance would return me to a healthy state, even if it was a greasy fried steak sandwich. After a few very long minutes, I was able to catch my breath and the restaurant stopped spinning around me. Then I was back to subtly hating Sebastian, but not as much because he kinda saved my life.

A while later, we found a hostel and I still felt like shit. I just wanted to charge my Zune, listen to Juelz Santana and zone the fuck out. I opened my large backpack and discovered that somebody felt I should be traveling lighter than I already was. My camera case, which held all my electronics aside from my camera was stolen. I was out a camera charger, my old cell phone, and my Zune charger. I still remember the last song I listened to on my Zune was Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl,” which was helping me cope with my Frosted Flake relapses. I knew nobody would have a Zune charger because nobody else in the world has a Zune except for the girl I fell in love with from Perth.

Ideally I wanted to leave all hip hop behind, but I knew I couldn’t do it, so I had packed my Zune seven Carters deep (Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint I, Carter I, II, III, 3:16 the 9th Edition and End of the Beginning). Now my hip hop along with 8 more gigabytes of audible greatness were all gone. Additionally I lost a thumbdrive which contained the latest episode of Entourage I had been carrying around like a tiny crack rock hoping somebody would have a spoon and lighter in the form of a laptop so I could freebase my way back into HBO programming euphoria.

Sebastian opened up his small bag and pulled out a couple ounces of weed he had been carrying on him since he was in Brazil. He began rolling small joints using the toilet paper from the bathroom, but I declined his invitation to smoke because I was still trying to figure out what was going on in my life.


1. Adam has nothing to do with my travels, but if I am trying to write a good story I figured it couldn't hurt to tell the best story I have ever heard. Adam believes he is a genius and in his own way, he very well may be a genius.

The story goes that Adam made his way on to the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” To which legend has it, he made his way to the $64,000-question and then insulted the audience by saying, “I'm gonna go ahead and ask the audience now before the questions get too hard for them.” The audience then sabotaged Adam and gave him the wrong answer, causing him to lose his shot at 1 million dollars. Adam then went home and blew the money on hosting a desert rave. Any one of these points could be the best part of the story, but the best part comes from learning that Adam never declared taxes on his winnings and the genius still owes thousands in back taxes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chapter 4

How lame was the province of Salta? Lame enough that my favorite part of the trip was playing on a swing set, an activity Julian, my new friend Ben and I chose because there was nothing else to do in Salta. After 10 minutes of normal swinging we decided to be more adventurous and swing standing up. Then even Salta's swing set proved to be shit after Ben somehow fell off the swing and had the metal seat come crashing into the back of his head, causing blood to gush from his scalp and consequently ending our playtime.

Aside from that the three of us took a day trip around the province of Salta from the capital named Salta up to Jujuy, seeing desert landscape that might have been interesting if I didn’t live the last 18 years of my life in Arizona. The highlight of Jujuy was seeing some kids play in a mountain of bottle caps (photo above), which wasn't a highlight after I learned they had cancer and their bottle cap collection was somehow going to win them a surgery. Seeing the desert complete with fake saguaro cacti and all made me homesick for the second time since I left my home in July.

The first time occurred when I watched a dubbed version of “Fools Rush In.” After watching Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek drive around in traffic lanes (a practice which doesn’t exist in Buenos Aires) through the United States' Southwest reminded me of home. However after watching the movie I was also reminded that I once lived in a land where “Friends” was an acceptable form of entertainment, and I remembered why I was sick of home in the first place.

The only other memorable moment of an otherwise forgettable trip was seeing some ugly Pucaran ruins, which had many small living spaces the size of college dorms. They even had a primitive, if not more effective version of the cliché frat-boy “No fat chicks” sign as all the entry ways into the adobe ruins were no more than 18 inches wide.

Here is one of the prettier pictures of the mountains of Salta, the rest were very lame:

As for your token goofy hostel moment of the stay, we lodged with this odd Israeli who invited us to watch “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” with him.

“I’ve already seen it three times, but it was so good I had to buy the DVD!” exclaimed the Israeli, outing himself as the only person in the world who watched and enjoyed “Zohan.” I passed and tried to go to bed, which was quite difficult since it sounded like the Israeli was recording a one-man laugh track from the family room.

Salta wasn't all bad as I did achieve one of my goals of the trip to get a picture of a doll engaging in auto-erotic asphyxiation while talking on the phone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chapter 3

I went back to the Iguazu Falls the next day and enjoyed myself even more. I sat at the base of one of the waterfalls for 30 minutes trying to capture it all. If you think that one day you might die, you should go the Iguazu Falls now because it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

At night I went to take a piss and I noticed a large frog sitting on the bathroom wall. Not quite what I wanted to see in my bathroom, but what can you do, so I kept an eye on him and began to urinate. After a vicious 20-second stare down I took my eye off him to flush the toilet and the frog disappeared. Then the frog reappeared on my chest confusing his natural habitat with my heather grey shirt from the Gap. I screamed, pulled my pants up and ran out of the bathroom.

Fortunately some weird Austrian woman, who was staying in the room looked in the bathroom for me and ensured it was clear of any frogs that probably could not hurt me in any way. Having lost any sense of manhood and because three nights were too many in Puerto Iguazu I decided it was time to move on, so my new friend Julian and I decided to head to Posadas with a quick stop over in San Ignacio to see some 17th century Jesuit ruins.

Having traveled with my southern Arizona friend Thiago last time I was happy to broaden my horizons and travel with Julian who is all the way from West Covina, a suburb 20 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles.

The Jesuit ruins were pretty Jesuit-y and not all that exciting, but I was really looking forward to the museum attached to the ruins that Lonely Planet described as “truly bizarre” equipped rooms “whose interiors sit somewhere between modern art installation and and amusement park haunted house. Stuffed animals fluorescent paint, black lights, they have pulled out all the stops… then as you emerge blinking into the sun light thinking its all over, you’re greeted by half a miniature pirate ship crammed into the central patio.”

Tragically the museum we saw was an informative, plain modern looking museum, which had been redone in the last year. Those motherfuckers.

We then left San Ignacio to sleep in the nearby Posadas. After getting quite lost on the city bus, we finally made it to the center of Posadas. Lonely Planet’ s first lodging recommendation was closed for construction and there were no hostels in town, so we were forced to stay at the cheapest hotel in town, which Julian and I nicknamed a B&B for the bleach and blood that covered our room’s floor. There was a huge white blotch on the tile as if someone dropped a bottle of bleach and didn’t bother to ever touch it again. Next to my bed there was a thick splash of what appeared to be dried blood as if someone was woken by an aluminum bat to the back of their head.

Knowing there was nothing we could do, we threw down our bags and headed out to explore the city. We walked to the riverside where we could look across the Rio Parana and see Paraguay along with the Puente Internacional (International Bridge) which connected the two countries. It reminded me of looking across the San Francisco Bay and seeing Oakland and the connecting Bay Bridge, except that Paraguay makes even the seediest parts of Oakland look like Beverly Hills.

We thought we were lucky as that night the town was having a parade, which we were told was going to be a huge party in the streets that ran from midnight to 5 a.m. Julian and I grabbed a quick choripan, went back to our room to clean up and grabbed some liters of beer to prepare ourselves for the evening. Our Carnival/ Mardi Gras dreams were crushed as soon as we got the parade and realized it was little more than every Posadan high school band marching through the streets. There was nothing else to do so we ate another choripan and headed in for the night, to sleep in our sleeping bags on top of the beds, which had torn and soiled sheets.

Every time you eat a choripan, a sausage sandwich, you are playing with fire, eating two choripans, especially at the dangerously low price of 3 pesos is like playing with fire after swimming in gasoline. The next morning we were woken up by a knock on the door alerting us we had entered daylight savings time, lost an hour and we had to check out now. As rude as the awakening was I was just happy it was not a bat to the skull. Unfortunately I also woke up with my stomach on fire, the diarrhea undoubtedly a result of the choripans and God punishing me for my very impure thoughts from the night before when I drunkenly stared at too many Argentine high schoolers shaking their asses.

We eventually got out of Posadas and boarded a 16-hour bus ride to Salta, leaving Argentina’s northeast for the northwest. I was praying that a diet of Pepto-Bismol, crackers, and Sprite would save my stomach for the trip.

Somehow I managed to live 21 years of my life without consuming a Sprite, I’m not big on lemon or lime, so Sprite never appealed to me. There are only two circumstances in which I’d drink Sprite: one LeBron James is wearing a tuxedo and a goofy mask, while pointing a paintball gun to my head or I’m in a small Latin American town with bad diarrhea and an impending 16-hour bus ride ahead of me. A year ago if you had asked me which would come first I’d have guessed the former.

Julian always talked about how great traveling was after he worked a shitty 50-hour-a-week office job for two years. I met many others who spoke of how much they appreciated traveling after living in the rat race for several years. I tried to relate but I am not sure half-assing school assignments and getting high counts as being in the rat race.

Julian again chose the aisle seat for the ride and again got fucked. On our ride to San Ignacio, he had an Argentine soldier’s ass in his face the entire way as the bus was overbooked and the soldiers crowded the aisle.

This time he was two feet away from a woman who looked like she was in her late 20s and her infant child. It appeared to be the woman’s first time on a bus and she was full of questions. She asked if Julian (quite Mexican) and me (quite white) were brothers. She asked Julian to hold her child’s bottle as she tried to pour a bag of strawberry yogurt in it. It ended up going all over the floor, her leg and Julian’s hand. The yogurt fiasco coupled with a Spanish cover of Celine Dion's “My heart will go on” that was playing at the time, made the first hour of the trip fly by. Too bad the other 15 dragged on. At least my Sprite-Pepto-Bismol-cracker diet saved my stomach.

After the woman learned we were from the States, she asked if we were taking this bus back to the States. She was also fascinated by our propensity to speak English to one another and she asked if most people in the United States speak English. Furthermore any time anybody got coffee from the machine in front of her, she burst up laughing.

She was definitely the highlight of the bus ride aside from the young G-Unit soldier who I saw in a town in the middle of absolute nowhere.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chapter 2

I got off my air-conditioned bus and entered the absurdly-humid town of Puerto Iguazu. Somehow I lost my new best friend Thiago and was alone, sitting on a chair swatting off bugs and wondering what the hell I was doing.

I left behind a lot of nice things in Palermo. My great house, a great location, an incredible roommate who is a chef, his cool girlfriend who is studying integral theory; a field which I never understood, but allowed us to engage in some pretty heavy conversations. I even had a cute girl I was just beginning to date, who had a bizarre obsession with M.I.A. and was an Ed Cota fan. I also had my roommate Laura who I was somewhat in love with.

Now I am alone with no home. I have no routine, no Deadspin, no Slam Online, I have no clue if Aziz Ansari will be performing in a city I have never been to or if Stephon Marbury has done something Stephon Marbury-ish.

My goal is to avoid all news, sports and blogs for two months. My favorite rapper could die and I would not know about it until I return to the United States on December 15. Jesus Christ I just thought about a rapper’s death before the death of a family member or friend, maybe I need two months to myself to get my head on straight.

But really what am I hoping to achieve? I suppose I am hoping that I can push myself to the brink of insanity and that by abandoning my routine or any semblance of my former self I’ll figure out some great answer to life. Or it will at least make Jay-Z’s “Blueprint III” that much more enjoyable when it releases in December.

The next morning I woke up, hit the free breakfast and headed to the waterfalls with some friends I met the night before. My expectations were incredibly high and the falls blew them all away. It was definitely one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen in my entire life. I managed to look down my cute Finnish friend’s shirt and see her nipple, which would normally be the highlight of the day, but the falls were still better. Which means either the falls were that amazing or her tit was that wack.

Additionally my Buenos Aires university ID knocked the park entry fee from 40 pesos to 14 pesos, so 26 pesos at a time I am making up for the 2,200 USD of wasted tuition money.

That night the lame guys who were in my hostel room the previous night left, so it was just my Finnish roommate and some cute German girl. If this were Eagle County I’d get my Kobe Bryant on, but I don’t think that is legal here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prologue and Chapter 1

Here is my blog book of sorts. It chronicles my travels from mid October through mid December 2008. I am going to publish a chapter every day five days a week until the book ends.

I would like to dedicate this book to the people who have helped me out most in my life: my mother, my father, Marquitos and Jay-Z.

I'm listening to Juelz Santana right now. I used to casually listen to Juelz, now I only listen to him in cases of emergency.

And this qualifies as an emergency.

I am embarking on a two-month backpacking journey through Argentina. I have never backpacked before. I've never traveled alone before. I'm not sure I have the guts to physically travel for two months and I'm not sure I have enough funds to fiscally travel for two months. However I told enough people that I was doing it, I no longer have a place to stay in Buenos Aires and I declared my plan to the world on this very blog. The final factor being the most trivial and important, since I would never want to look like a bitch to the 20 or so of my friends who read this blog.

Fortunately I have Juelz' mind-numbing music pumping into my ears. Trying to pick an example of his lyrical prowess, or lack there of, is liking trying to pick your favorite Michael Jordan highlight. However the verse I heard just before the bus left the station might be Juelz' game-winning shot over Bryon Russel, "I worship the great prophet, the great Muhammad Omar Atta, for his courage behind the wheel of the plane, reminds me of when I was dealing the caine."

A verse which barely rhymes, doesn't follow any rhythm, unnecessarily alludes to cocaine and praises one of the September 11 hijackers. Perfectly dumb enough to distract me from the situation at hand and prevent me from completely losing my mind.

When I first came to Buenos Aires three months ago my travel companion at the time was losing her mind over leaving her family and boyfriend back in Tucson, Arizona. As she sat in her bed clinching a teddy-bear from her boyfriend and sobbing to herself looking to me for some words that would make everything better, all I had to say was, "Don't you have some type of Juelz Santana in your life?"

She looked back at me with a blank, watery-eyed look. She had no clue what I was talking about. It did not help that I did not explain the role Juelz Santana plays in my life until six months later on a blog she never reads.

I cannot count how many time Juelz has helped me in life. Just knowing that I live in a world where 18-year-old rappers can declare themselves part of the Taliban less than a week after 9/11, endlessly name drop Curt Cobain for no other reason than the fact that it rhymes with cocaine and continue to produce media with not even a hint of intelligence gives me the confidence that I can do anything in life.

On the bus I met Thiago, a Brazilian who has lived in Sahuarita, a small town 30 minutes away from where I attended college. Thiago is a young border patrol agent who entertained me with wild stories for the first hour of the 16-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, home of the Iguazu waterfalls.

The only other person I had met from the truck-stop town of Sahuarita was Joey Zarga, who was the kid who didn't drink or smoke in my dormitory hall freshman year, he was also the kid who could give you a pornstar look-alike for every girl he ever met. It was nice to finally meet a normal person from Sahuarita.

The first movie they show on the bus is "Shooter," in which Mark Walhberg plays a sniper named Bob Lee Swagger. I am certain that had this movie been bigger and Gilbert Arenas still played basketball he would have stolen the moniker for himself. I decide that should I arrive at the psychopathic traveling state where I feel I need to make up a new life story, I am choosing Robert Swagger as my alias.

I daze out halfway through the movie and begin thinking about how many of the jokes I made before coming to Argentina have become true. I did end up dropping out. I am beginning to go on a solo excursion. And if I stayed in Buenos Aires any longer I would have tried my luck on establishing a drug cartel (probably named after Paul McPherson) just out of sheer boredom.

Before I left I asked my friends and family for some radical ideas that I could put into action while traveling on my own for two months, such as taking up Zen, trying to avoid the dimension of time, etc. The best contribution by far came from my Buenos Aires roommate Tom, who made me a sock puppet and instructed me to only talk through the sock the entire time while making a sockumentary. He also said it could serve as a masturbatory device should I get lonely on the road.

Basically I'm banking on a sock puppet and some Juelz Santana mixtapes will be enough to get me through my travels.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Gary Payton bowling alley

Today's post is a quick detour from WPM's scheduled programing. Since wherespmac.com was once all about NBA All-Star weekend, I thought it would be fitting to throw some sort of all-star coverage in, especially since the festivities are in my temporary hometown.

I didn't have the money or connections to go to any legitimate all-star games, so my friend Gould and I decided to go to the NBA Jam Session which was available to the public.

The following is a run down of the evening.

5:00 Hit Subway for cheap, allegedly healthy sustenance. The guy behind the counter appears to hate his life more than Delonte West. He is a complete jerk to everyone in the restaurant, myself included. Then Gould points out that perhaps the sandwich artist is probably jealous that he is not wearing a Darius Miles Cavaliers jersey like myself.

6:00 After our first use of Phoenix's new light rail system Gould and I make it down town and get the wrong line for the Jam Session event. We do see this guy though, so our five minutes were not completely wasted.

6:15 Enter Jam Session and within five minutes we realize it's even gayer than we had suspected. We walk up to the autograph section, even though Gould and I have no desire to obtain any NBA autographs. We come up with a list of actual NBA players we would want autographs from.

1. Stephon Marbury
2. Darius Miles
3. J.R. Smith
4. Chris "Birdman" Andersen
5. Bobby Phills
6. Malik Sealy
7. Bison Dele

6:20 We make it up the 300 escalators to find Suns "players" Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson (I never knew this guy's name I just called him Number 17 all season) signing autographs. There is actually a line of people waiting for their autographs, which I knew nobody would believe so I took a picture.

6:30 We walk downstairs and find 100 booths each with six different sponsors each offering some garbage paraphernalia if you participate in their lame event. Let's see, I could get a T-Mobile shirt if I wait in a long line to shoot a free throw. Or I could get an EA Sports headband if I wait in a long line to play a video game. Neither seemed that appealing.

Each booth also had their own DJ blasting Urban top 40 music while screaming generic hip-hop phrases over the music. "IS THE EAST COAST IN THE HOUSE?!" "OH YEAH I SEE YOU BOY!" "MAKE SOME NOISE!"

6:45 Gould and I find the saving moment of the night. The NBA TV booth, where Gary Payton is scheduled to sign autographs at 7:00. Thank you God. Gary Payton, Chris Webber and Ahmad Rashad all lead the greatest sports show on television. The features little to no actual NBA analysis and instead features GP and C-Webb busting on various NBA players for 15 minutes at a time. English is only spoken for 45 seconds during the 30-minute broadcast and even professional linguists have no idea what language GP and C-Webb speak.

6:50 We get in line after getting in trouble for using the NBA TV demo computers to look at wherespmac.com. Apparently our computer was linked to a huge plasma that showed exactly what we were looking at. Some prick comes over, takes the computer from us and sarcastically says, "Thanks a lot guys." I thank him back because I try to always be kind to my fans.

6:55 We are five minutes away from meeting GP. Just an incredible moment in both our lives.

7:05 We meet GP. He begins signing an NBA TV postcard. We cut him off and tell him we don't need his autograph (he was not on our list). He is happy not to sign another bullshit piece of paper.

"You and C-Webb are always killin' it," Gould says as he shakes his hand.

We ask for a picture (greatness shown above).

"Do you and E-40 still hang out," I ask. E-40 is one of my favorite rappers ever and Gary Payton is name-dropped and shown in the video for one of the greatest songs ever.

"As a matter of fact me and 40 hung out last night," GP casually responds, in what is now the best line in the history of communication.

"Where's Ahmad at?" I ask. If you don't know Ahmad Rashad is an NBA "analyst" who has continually been on television since the mid-90s; despite the fact he contributes nothing to any broadcast other than anecdotes of him hanging out with Michael Jordan.

GP tells me Ahmad is busy now, but will be here in a little bit.

"Oh I thought he was in the back sucking off Michael Jordan," I quipped.

GP looks at me funny for a second and then busts up laughing. And as everyone knows every time Gary Payton laughs 20 angels get their wings.

7:15 We head back upstairs to watch the D-League Dream Factory, where James White was scheduled to be in the D-League dunk contest. Unfortunately the preliminary activities were so pathetic and unbearable that Gould and I had to leave.

8:00 On the way home Gould and I hit Subway for round two of cheap, allegedly healthy sustenance. In the car ride back to his place Gould makes some evasive street maneuvers forcing me to spill my Dr. Pepper all over me and my precious D. Miles jersey, fortunately my seat beat caught the majority of the soda. And that my friends is why you wear seat belts.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This coming Monday February 16th I'll update the blog, until then I'll be making some changes to the site. Of course there is also the chance that I'll just keep doing nothing like Steph.