Tuesday, March 10, 2009
When I wasn't being enlightened by The Chosen One, I was watching beautiful sunsets, having amazing steak dinners and enjoying the great El Bolson scene, which redefines laid back. The Argentine culture as a whole is quite casual as nothing opens too early and nothing happens at all on Sunday, but El Bolson takes it all a step further. The majority of the shops in El Bolson were open for about 15 hours a week, basically whenever the shop owner felt the urge to unlock the door.
Their fire department is named Servicio Protega y Lucha Incendio del Forest (SPLIF), which I am pretty was named for the sake of the acronym because “Forest” isn't even a Spanish word. When I told Nora, the hostel owner, about what spliff means in English she cracked up. When I wasn't talking to Russ I rapped with Nora who taught me a billion things about Argentina. Nora had lived in El Bolson since the town had 2,500 people, it now has close to 30,000. She used to be on the town's governing board and her and her husband used to act in El Bolson's theater. I would have killed to watched El Bolson theater from back in the day. But killing isn't very El Bolson-like, so I guess I should say I would have planted 1 million trees to watch their theater.
She also told me how many people in Argentina believe one of the mountains in El Bolson is an energy center. The town also declared itself a non-nuclear zone in the 1970s, even though the Argentine military has never been close to developing a nuclear weapon. There is also a fair amount of anti-Nazi propaganda around the town. If you don't like nuclear bombs or Nazis, El Bolson is the town for you.
Rogelio's failed attempt at scrambled eggs also wins the award for cutest moment of my trip. Apparently he had never seen scrambled eggs before so he asked me how I made them. I explained the simple process of mixing eggs with milk and pouring the two in a pan. I then ate my eggs in the family room. I walked back in the kitchen moments later to see Rogelio standing over the stove with a big green oven mitt holding a large plastic serving spoon as he stirred what appeared to be three eggs and a whole liter of milk in a pan. I told him that he probably used too much milk and he started laughing.
After our brunch Rogelio sadly looked at me and told me that he is very sorry to cut our time short, but he has to leave now. I asked where he was going. He told me he was going to his room to take a nap. I checked the clock, it was 1:30 in the afternoon. God bless this man.
The picture at the top of the page is Rogelio in his James Bond pose, which he struck often because he is the Argentine James Bond since his name is Rogelio Mur.
El Bolson was not all fun though as there were some rough times. While hiking alone one day I got met an older Argentine couple who invited me along to find a secret waterfall that was shown on the poorly drawn map the town tourism center provided. We ended up getting completely lost as the sun was setting and we were left clueless with no proper camping supplies. We ended up finding a farm and we talked to the teenager who lived on the land, he was of no help though as he had no idea where he lived. We eventually found a lodging facility and I caught a cab with the couple back into town.
The other mishap was much more devastating as I partook in a popular El Bolson leisure activity and the hit the town icecream parlor. I happily enjoyed a full quart of icecream and then realized there were more flavors offered than I originally knew about after I spent 10 minutes laboring over which three flavors I should chose. I will forever wonder what my life would be like if I had known there was cookies-and-cream on that ill-fated day.
Russ never left the house, except to go to the market every other day. He woke up late, ate breakfast and watched the BBC News. Then wrote his book, which was one of the primary purposes for being in Argentina. He told me his book was going to offer a solution on how the world can save itself within 10 years. When he told my fake parents this, they told him it would be too late as the Mayan calendar prophesied that the world would end in 2012. This just baffled Russ.
Even though El Bolson was a beautiful town nestled between two mountains, Russ chose to do all of his writing in the house's backyard, pictured below.
Russ' book was about a delusional bum who finds a Persian rug worth millions of dollars in a dumpster. Russ went on to explain how in his life he fought in the Navy and bypassed fighting in the Vietnam war, but the main character in his book is a crazy Vietnam vet who lives on the streets of New York.
If we are going to use that logic in life I should point out that I really spent July through December of 2008 hiding in Tucson, Arizona, but the main character of this story you are reading traveled in Argentina during that same time period.