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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Buenos Aires

I landed here a few days ago. I dropped out of the sky of the southern hemisphere, fully dressed, in full possession of my senses, but far from my cot in Recoleta and without the language skills – polyglot though I am! – to negotiate an elegant arrival: I lost my bags, busted my phone and stammered and strained through this vast, enormous grid that is Buenos Aires.

PLUS, it appears I have picked a strange time to come (although this, I can say, is out of my capable hands): It hasn’t stopped raining now for three days. THREE DAYS! And it’s been Biblical. Buckets. Sheets. Cats. Dogs (As Bee would say, strangé*). Yet, perhaps, this has been my only advantage here: in matters of rain I am a professional, I come from the place where it was invented. Holland is not a country, but a rain-scape, a delta caught in perpetual drizzle (at the very least). So in that respect – and only in that respect – I have the upper hand here over these crafty portenos (locals) as they sludge through puddles in waterlogged sneakers and look up stunned at the sky as though the Amazon has come to Argentina. Me, I am whizzing all over the place in my rain suit, in and out of the subte (subway), zigzagging through the city by foot and bus… umm… that is, when I am able to figure out the f!@$%ing bus route, which in Buenos Aires is something like solving a Sudoku puzzle spread over several pages, with instructions in a foreign language… and of course, in the rain.

In the meantime though, I have become adept at hand gestures and on occasion I have been able to make myself understood by corkscrewing my French into what must sound like an ancient dialect to people around here, no more Spanish than Friesian is Dutch, but it works (sometimes) and it has earned me, if not respect, at least some compassion amongst the kiosk owners and the bus drivers of this city.

Finally, I want to register a formal complaint: It has not been unusual for me to go to bed extremely late these days. EXTREMELY LATE. There is no print big enough, no font bold enough to stress this. At hours previously unknown to me, so late into the night that – when arriving home – morning sits at the end of my bed greeting me with a middle finger. That late. Now, I do not expect all the world’s activities to cease and all man woman and child to hush while Lui Labas sleeps, but for God’s sake – the rain-God, if it is he you believe in –
please, silence your dogs!

or, (in Buenos Aires), Luis

ps- if you are wondering what it is I am doing here, I will tell you…
…as soon as I know.

*(pronounced: stranjay)