I’m laying in a park listening to Kanye West.
And I’m having a moment.
“I’ma let you finish,” your internet-travel-vacay-daily-candy-blog-cotton-cupcake-brain-fluff diet in a minute. (I’m sorry if you just spit Merlot and frosting on your laptop.) But this is important.
Welcome to Buenos Aires.
This is a strange and beautiful place.
Beautiful and Strange.
Of course, I’m the strangest part. I’m the alien, here. Landed with lights and smoke. Pale white skin and strange green currency.
“Take me to your leader. And if he’s making dinner, I’ll have the bife de chorizo.”
Cause I’m a rude American, and I’m still learning the language. So feed me.
And while I’m thinking about it, I think I may have sounded like a jerk in my post about the language here. But hear me. I’m not expecting the world to speak to me. Seriously. Who am I? I have no right. This isn’t my home. It’s borrowed.
And so are the people.
And the culture.
I love it. And the best thing I can do for myself is learn a new language.
And I’m not ready for Scotty to beam me up, just yet. I’m still learning my schevars and my escha’s.
My empanadas y parischas.
There’s nothing like another country to help you realize you’re an alien to yourself. And that’s what is the scariest thing about travel, my fellow North Americans. Not the Hollywood glorification of a “3rd World Country.” It’s the mirror in the airport bathroom. See yourself. Your passport photo self.
Let’s be honest. You really think the mathematical anomaly that makes blockbusters is going to happen to you? Please. It will sell ads in newspapers, but it won’t happen to you. If we’re honest, our greatest fear is not being sold into sex slavery. It’s whether or not we’ll find those familiar golden arches within whose crotch we hear an ever more familiar golden drawl, speaking “Ya’ll want fries with that?” (Don’t worry. They’re here.)
Our excuses are what scares me. Excuses for not getting out of our neighborhood. Our cult-de-sac. Our bubble. Ourself.
And it’s not too late.
It’s enlightening to say you did it. It’s more affirming than that raise or promotion or set of new jet skis. It’s elation near nirvana to realize that you can’t really share Victoria Falls with the folks back home. It’s all yours.
It’s also humbling.
It’s humbling to see the humble smile. It’s humbling to see the Father on the Subte (subway) holding a 6 month old in his arms and giving an oratory performance for “ayuda” (help) that would make Churchill blush. The chills are conviction. Watch the working people on the train open their wallets, and open yours, and have that Father thank you. He looks you right in the eye. Right in the heart. In your gut. What’s the difference between a hustler and a provider? Gratitude.
Yes. You need a vacation. But more than that.
You and I need deliverance.
We need to welcome the strange.
Btw, I love travel blogs too, and I wrote this in a towel next to a glass of Malbec, so we’re not that different, you and I.
[Dedicated to my parents who helped kicked my ass to Africa when I was 16 years old, and to whom, I am forever grateful.]