Wednesday, March 04, 2009
I began my search for a hostel in Bariloche with my new friend Hong-Jun from South Korea. I'm all about meeting new people from places I'm completely unfamiliar with, but Hong-Jun might have been taking it a bit too far. His English was pretty good, but not good enough to have a smooth conversation with or catch any of my jokes.
After a night at the hostel we decided to head up one of the mountains and sleep in the refuge at the top. The four-hour hike up the mountain was pretty painful because of how awkward things were between me and Hong-Jun. He was a very boring dude who only talked about his intense love for his Japanese girlfriend, whom he had met just a month ago. I tried to force conversation during the entire hike by displaying all my knowledge of South Korea, which consists of Chan Ho Park, Byung-Hyun Kim and Hyundais. None of this helped the conversation.
I started asking the same goofy questions Cara asked me and I rattled off James Lipton's "Inside the Actor's Studio" questions as well. I asked him what his favorite Korean word was. He didn't have one. I asked him if he had a favorite English word. He thought about it for a good 60 seconds, and then said, “'Maybe'. My friends always say I use 'maybe' a lot.” He then didn't bother to ask me any questions back, he just talked about how much he missed his girlfriend.
When we made it to the top I considered sleeping outside for a couple hours. Somehow I've gone 21 years and gone camping before, so I was set on sleeping outdoors before this trip was over. However, I didn't have a tent or anything other than a cheap sleeping bag that was not ready for a wind rushing over a frozen pond. Also Hong-Jun made this great point about his body being a temple and looking after it above everything else in life.
I cracked, paid my 30 pesos and set up shop inside the refuge. I began talking to a couple of Argentines, Carlos and girlfriend, who were staying inside our room. I got along with them much better than I did with Hong-Jun. I hung out with them the rest of the night as Carlos rolled joint after joint. I quickly forgot about the body-is-a-temple rubbish and smoked until I thought my left lung collapsed.
I don't think I have ever been so happy in my life than in my sleeping bag smoking with Argentines and cracking jokes in Castellano under a full moon on a snow capped mountain next to a frozen pond, which looked something like this:
Hong-Jun and I hiked down the next day and we parted ways before I headed back to the hostel. That night I met a girl from Australia who I got along with much better. She was a cute girl traveling all alone for the first time in her life. She also had one of my favorite lines of the trip, “My biggest fear for my travels is being mistaken for an American.” Yup. A cute girl, who only speaks English, traveling by herself for eight months around the world and her biggest fear is being mistaken for a Yank.
That same evening I checked my e-mail and I learned that my fourth set of parents also happened to be traveling in Bariloche. I ran over to their hotel and they took me out for a drink at the Irish pub next door. It felt great to see some familiar faces. Amazingly, the bar was playing Tupac's “All Eyez On Me” followed by “Hit 'Em Up.” An Irish Pub in Argentina playing Tupac. Everything was starting to make sense.