miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2007


Turns out glaciers are pretty awesome.

Next time you get a chance to visit them, do not pass.

I realize Halloween, Soda Stereo and Creamfields (all headliners in their own right) happened since my last post, but at this point, my glaciers trip eclipses anything short of me fathering a goat-boy. Nevertheless, I’ll give you a ten-second download of the three.

Just like I planned on November 2nd, 2006, I was a Green Army Man for this Halloween. The costume was a great success. Especially when you consider Pocahontas did not hesitate to turn my full, green face-paint into her own smeared-on, clown smile during a more enjoyable revival of that Disney classic (does that make me Juan Smith?).

I don’t suppose most of you appreciate the grandeur that a reunion tour like Soda Stereo’s implies, so I’ll just put it this way: hearing Cerati’s opening guitar riff for “De música ligera” during the first encore, followed by me joining 64,999 other euphoric fans in “…nada nos libra, nada mas que dar…” was definitely worth losing my second cell phone in as many weeks.

Creamfields was less of an ecstatic mass sing-a-long and more of a learning experience. For example, I learned that LCD Soundsystem is inexplicably underappreciated in Argentina and that Carl Cox is a fat, black, British man who loves to say “Ohhhh yesss, Booaynose Ariessss” like a boxing announcer drunk on J&B Whiskey. I also learned that just because 70% of the crowd that night is also wearing white-framed Dolce&Gabana knock-offs does not mean you don’t look like a tool. Overall, I’d say Chemical Brothers, 2 Many DJs and LCD Soundsystem made the AR$ 110 (US$ 35) worth it, but unless Daft Punk and/or Justice were playing next year, I wouldn’t make it to the reprise. No matter how funny watching an on-acid version of Chazz Michales bounce around like a wounded duck and pretend it’s “dancing” is.

Which brings us to the main event, El Calafate.

Last Friday was the launch date of a trip that ultimately made me feel like a cross between Marco Polo and Jim, the runaway slave from Huckleberry Finn: explorative and audacious but mostly out to have the best time at any cost.

I flew out Friday morning. The one 15-minute highlight of the flight came courtesy of the 30-year-old American couple that sat next to me in Row 8. After reboarding the plane during our layover at Uhuaia, the boyfriend/husband?, Frank, threw his leather jacket at his girlfriend/wife, Estelle, before sitting down. This classic beginning of any promising nothing-fight eventually led to this exchange between the two.

Estelle – Is something wrong?
Frank – Noooo, everything is just fucking peachy.
- What’s wrong?

(During the following 15 minutes, while struggling for syntax construction and expletives. With pauses for dry heaves and anger-sobs) - You’re just too fucking controlling! You treat me like I’m a baby!! I can’t do anything without you questioning, doubting or judging it!!! (In his best 6th grader mock voice) “Why didn’t you bring your brown jacket instead?”, “I think you should wait until we get on the plane to go to the bathroom,” “Are you sure you want that much ketchup with your French Fries”!!!! (Notice the increasing exclamation points). You act like I’m gonna whip out my dick and start peeing on the first 5 rows unless you tell me not to!!!!!

(At this point, I’m doing my best to pretend not to understand what they’re saying so as to not laugh, lest I hamper the fight’s impetus.)

- I’m sick and tired of you treating me like I’m incapable of performing socially while unsupervised. I’m not your alcoholic mother, you know!!!!!!
- Well, why don’t you bring this up whenever it happens?
- Cause then we would have this fight every 20 minutes!!!!!!

End scene.

Employing the surprise low-blow as the climax of his rant I found was particularly succulent. However, this left me in a situation most nothing-fight spectators are all too familiar with: I could either blow my oblivious-bystander cover and start laughing uncontrollably, potentially triggering collateral damage my way or opt for a constrained smile and slow-nod whilst waiting to relish in the spoils of spectacle in the form of a narrative later. Like Kenneth Starr did in his day, I decided to tantric-ly prolong gratification until public divulgence of this intimate exchange showered me with emotional riches.

Once in Calafate, the activity for that Friday was a 90-minute climb in a 4x4 up a hill to a lookout point overseeing the Calafate town and the Lago Argentino that surrounds it. Easily the most spectacular part of the day was the sheer color of the lake water. Think more turquoise than the brightest Carribbean water. The ride served as a perfect preamble for what awaited the following day: Big Ice.

The weekend’s pièce of résistance, Big Ice, was a 9-hour, 13-km hike on top of the Perito Moreno Glacier. A bus picked me up at my hostel at 7 and drove me and 16 other hikers to the Los Glaciares National Park where we took a boat to the park refuge. At this point I had befriended two girls, Weesie and Cory, partly because setting up photo ops with a 6-inch tripod takes too long but mostly because 9 hours is too long a time to spend making sarcastic remarks to yourself.

A 45-minute hike up the side of the glacier brought us to set-up camp, where we were handed our gear: a harness and clampers (sweet-ass claws an inch and a half long you tie to your feet for ice walking). Immediately after we started our ascent on the glacier I understood what my favorite part of the experience was. Glaciers are awe-inspiring by sheer size like a humpback whale and aesthetically breathtaking like a Monet, and yet you can still claw your way inside them and ultimately even have lunch on them. This rare combination of uniqueness, massiveness and splendor was an inimitable combination. It’s one of those feelings you can’t understand until you experience yourself, like barreling a wave on a surfboard, or bungee jumping or having an orgasm.

We made our way up and down spine-like hills towards the heart of the glacier. An hour into it we realized that unlike our much-needed clampers, our harnesses had been of less use than abstinence flyers at a pro-choice rally.

Cory stepped up and asked Matt, our guide from New Zealand, about it.

Matt – “Well, I don’t think it’s really necessary, but it’s always better to have one than not.”


“Bob, the IPO presentation was moved up to 9, so make sure the report cover and annexes are ready by then. And, why are you wearing a harness?”
“Well, it’s always better to have one than not.”

“Bailiff, bring forward the next witness. And, would you please tell me why you are wearing a harness?”
“Well, your honor, it’s always better to have one than not.”

I guess Matt was right, it is always better to have a harness than not.

To wrap up an already long enough rant I’ll do my best to summarize the rest of the trip in the next paragraph. We had our box lunches at the farthest point in our hike protected from the wind by a 30-foot ice wall. We refilled our water bottles at the glacier lake in front of us and headed back. By the way, Bobby Bouché was right, glacier water is “some high-quality H20.” On our way back we stopped by what would be the highlight of the hike. We crawled down the side of the glacier into a 10-meter deep ice-cave. At the very end was a 3-story-high vertical tunnel of melting ice that led to the surface of the glacier some 50 yards away from were we came in. After 9 hours and 12 kilometers, the hike was close to over, yet as I looked back at the glacier its splendor had not worn off and had still not ceased to amaze me.

Sunday was a 6-hour boat ride, Todos Glaciares, around the lake to see the other 6 glaciers but nothing I can say will provide more insight.

And so, my excursion to the Southern tip of the Americas was over. It was quite easily the most memorable trip of my life. Like I said, glaciers are pretty awesome.

Gracias totales,


domingo, 21 de octubre de 2007


Lads and ladies,

October can so far be summarized in the following events: I attended the Boca Juniors vs. River Plate soccer clásico (derby), I visited Bariloche and turned 21, in that order.

First, the so-called “Super Clásico,” (a nickname I resent considering the only “super” of clásicos is played in Spain between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid). We got to River’s stadium at around 7 in the morning to wait in line for tickets Thursday before the game, date set by the club when tickets to non-members would be sold. Much to my demise, the Argentine I was told would accompany my two friends and I was replaced by a posse of 7 Americans in The North Face jackets. It was the first time I’ve been heckled in Spanish for being German.

So much for blending in. We could have been wearing fuccia astronaut suits and not stick out as much. Nonetheless, 3 hours and 2 ignored police officers later we got our tickets for Sunday.

The game itself was everything we had hoped for, right down to a sore Boca fan-base ripping out their seats and throwing them down to the River fans below them. La 12 (the Boca fans) were let out 30 minutes before anybody else to avoid altercations (police language for street brawls with home-made weapons that may or may not have been taken from the set of Oz).

Two weeks later I was in Bariloche, ski-town de jure. Bariloche has one huge lake with countless “arms” that slide between snow-capped mountains forming a water network they nickname the Big Octopus. It is known as much for it’s skiing facilities as for being the destination by excellence of all high-school graduation trips. The aforementioned facilities are easy to spot. Not to be outdone, these teenagers sport matching graduation jackets with colors as blinding as their hedonistic goals for the weekend.

The 140 of us that embodied the trip where all together for only one occasion: a picnic and hike near a lake front. Much to the surprise of the handful of locals that expected a tranquil Sunday afternoon, keeping that many foreign exchange students under control is no small task.

Arguably the funniest thing yet this semester happened that afternoon; it involved one 6-year-old Argentinean playing fetch with a golden retriever and one collegiate American playing ultimate Frisbee with his friends. Both are essentially the same activity: one is interspecies, the other one is not.

Much like the aforementioned canine and its fetching stick, the exchange student was running around chasing flying objects before they hit the ground. On one of these runs the American stepped right in front of the kid’s throwing line. Determined not to let a tourist ruin a good wind-up, he threw the stick anyway. In flawless Shakespearean irony he nailed the American right in the snout – I mean, nose – knocking him straight to the ground. The only thing that could’ve made it better was if the dog had caught the Frisbee instead.

4 days later, yours truly became a citizen of the worldwide (legally) drinking community.
Plan was pre-gaming at Dan’s apartment with Zack before attending the Diplo show at 9. None of the elements an ideal 21st birthday were spared. Tequila toasts were shouted. Music was blasted. Laughs were hollered. Inhibitions, dignities, sunglasses and cell phones all were lost. The headlining act DJ’ed a mind-blowing, 2-hour set of fist-pumping electro. All three members of our entourage successfully overcame the elusive Argentine-barrier at least once. It was the kind of night that makes you believe in Santa Claus again.



P.S. My host family thinks I have a drinking problem. I know this because they told me so. But, that’s a story for a different night.