Becoming the Hulk

Wednesday 04 July

Although it’s lashing down with rain and I contemplate canceling it, I still force myself to attend the Graffitimundo tour, which is a unique attraction of touring Buenos Aires neighbourhoods enjoying the vibrant street art which adorns many walls and shop fronts.  In the end I’m really happy I did, because it’s a terrific way to spend an afternoon and a really interesting and alternative slice of BA tourism.  The skill of the artists working is clearly evident, but for me, it’s their imaginations that are their real gift.  I like to think I can draw decently, but this stuff is just unreal, and you have to wonder what the hell goes on in their heads.  Some of them surely need to see a doctor.

So it comes down to my last night in South America.  What a crazy run it’s been.  I’m very sad to be leaving, but one door closes and another one opens.  Europe awaits, as does the rest of the world, and I’m excited to have a change of scene.  Traveling really does take it out of you, it’s not all sweetness and light, and I need to ditch half the stuff I’ve been lugging around in my pack.  The journey continues.

I have hostel buddies left right and centre telling me to go out.  I’ve got three options.  Stay in, go to bed when the bar closes, or go out and power right through until my flight.  The advantage of doing that is I’d pass out on the plane and miss the horribleness of the take off.  However I’d still have to negotiate the nightmare of an airport probably still under the influence of booze.  I get chatting to a very pretty Irish girl with her boyfriend sitting next to her, and I rue the fact that I never seem to catch a break in this situation.  A married couple last week, now a boyfriend-girlfriend combo here.  The chat is decent, the beer flowing freely, then the guy begins to talk about his girlfriend as if she wasn’t there.  From out of nowhere I catch a lucky break, and this Irish Gweneth Paltrow-Bridget Fonda is interested.  She’s even demanding I kiss her.

Knowing it’s in the bag is a great feeling.  That instant where you’ve been putting in the spadework all night, and you catch the flash of the eye, the cheeky smile, the grope down the front of your pants.  Not that it’s happened to me, I’m just using poetic license.  So I sit back and enjoy the evening, the pressure off and then discover her upstairs talking to the usual 6ft Aussie dude that haunts my every waking moment.  My breathing gets heavier, my eyes narrow my skin starts to change colour.  Before I know it, I’m ripping my shirt off, turning green, roaring my intentions and striding over to dispose of the new suitor.  At least this was happening in my head.  Not this time.  I’m not getting beaten again by the thief who sneaks in at the last minute and with little effort whisks away my quarry.

“Errr, David wants to talk to you downstairs” I blatantly lie, noting with glee the devastated face of the guy I’ve just outstandingly cock-blocked.  Yes.  Get in.  Get that up you son.  You’re not having this one.  I lead her to the stairs, turn, admit my subterfuge, and she plants her lips to mine.  Thankfully I’ll be staying in and I’ll make my flight tomorrow.  Goodnight Buenos Aires
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Polo!

Tuesday 03 July

Finally I manage to get myself out of my hole and do something productive.  I didn’t realise until a few days ago that Argentina is the world cradle for Polo; a competitive game involving smashing a ball around a field with a mallet while on horseback.  It’s the kind of thing that would be right up my street, and I’ve been excited to try it since arriving.  It’s very much a rich mans play thing though, as us waifs don’t normally get the chance to enjoy it.  It’s not like you can pop down the shops and pick up a cheap racket to hit a ball around on a court; you need a horse for goodness sake.

“Previous horse riding experience not required” exclaims the poster.  Nonsense.  You’d have to be a bloody idiot to give this a go if you’ve never been on the back of the beast.  Over the course of the last few months, I feel I’ve been getting pretty decent at riding, and the more I do it, the more I love it.  Being in control of such a powerful animal as you surge it forward it’s exhilarating, but using one as a major piece of equipment in a game is something else entirely.

Usually when you spur a horse into a fast canter or gallop, you’re raised on the stirrups and holding on to the pommel of the English saddle and the reins.  That’s how I do it anyway so I don’t fall off.  Here you’re balancing on the stirrups , one hand holding the reigns tight to the horses neck, and the other swinging a big mallet.  It’s totally alien and more than a little terrifying, particularly when attempting to turn the horse at speed.  Every leg muscle is engaged to grip the saddle, so much so that in the next few days, my inner thighs feel like they’ve been panel beaten and I’m walking like John Wayne.

Aside from this, my right arm and wrist is falling off.  I thought they’d be much stronger in swinging a mallet from years of…playing tennis…but it’s not long before I just can’t lift the thing.  I’m definitely doing it wrong, as I’m using my arm and wrist too much instead of allowing gravity to do the work.  It’s agony if you miss the ball, or more often than not, slam the mallet into the turf.  When playing a match, Fernando, our coach and pro player hooks my stick away by smashing my mallet from the ball.  I think he’s broken my arm.  Then I decide to man up and get stuck in.  After a short break I start to get the hang of it, gaining the trust of the horse and picking up the pace.  It’s brilliant fun, especially when you play a great shot or score a goal.  The feeling of controlling the animal well and wellying the ball some distance is wonderful.  Marrying man and beast in a competitive sport.  Brilliant.

Joining me in this experience are two 60 something American gentlemen, both professors visiting Argentina to do respective talks in their chosen fields.  Both highly intelligent and very interesting, one happens to be a retired very well known Time magazine journalist.  I casually inquire if he has written a book, which he has, and I contemplate passing on the details of my work here for critique.  I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t appreciate it though, especially as he takes an interest in pointing out a Mormon church we pass later, perhaps hinting a religious background.  Yet I nearly change my mind when telling him about my theft experiences in Nicaragua when he responds simply with; “fuckers”.

The late afternoon sun sets on the Polo fields, I wistfully stare out of the window  as we pull away from the stables and contemplate how the other half live.  A glimpse into another world that reminds me of getting turned on as a teenager watching the TV adaptation of Jilly Coopers Riders.  Girls dig horses.  I’m going to buy one as an extra string to my bow, put on some tight pants with an open collared billowing white shirt and stand whispering to it in a field.  I’d get laid every night.  If not then there’s always the horse.

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Liver recovery

Monday 02 July

The only successful thing I managed to do today was not go out again.  My liver is crying with thankfulness.  I’m going to allow it this brief respite, for in the next few days I intend to bully it for weeping in the first place
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Hookers and Transvestites

Sunday 01 July

My urine is like syrup.  I need water.  I spend the day drinking the weight of myself in the stuff, then around 8pm I eat four slices of Pizza.  The girls are persuading me to go out as it’s their last night, but I look like my cheeks have taken several open handed slaps in a row.  I need laser skin surgery.  Or maybe just a new face.  I think I’ve got Rosecea.  Consequently I’m not fussed about going out.  I keep journeying into the bathroom to inspect the pepperoni boat race, only to return dejected and world weary back to my lazy position on someone elses bed.  It’s from here that is the only access to a decent socket for the laptop.  What have I said before?  Showers, sockets, shelf for a top bunk, smoothie bar.  Anyway I digress.

At about 1am I suddenly realise I’m in Buenos Aires and people are going out.  This is after sleeping through the European Championship final.  Apparently Spain won 4-0.  I’ve done that before.  I didn’t catch a minute of England-Brazil when they met in World Cup 2002.  I was still asleep recovering from another big night out in Glasgow.  I didn’t miss much anyway.

I think one of the reasons I go out a lot is I’m scared I’ll miss something if I don’t.  Life doesn’t just happen in bars and clubs, there is more out there to be enjoyed.  Right now though I can’t get out of that rut of poisoning myself every night.  I’m staring through my computer screen, not paying any attention to the chess moves before me, when I pull myself together and throw a shirt on.  Fifteen minutes later I’m catching the tale end of the party at the other hostel, everyone is hammered and we’re looking for a place to go out.  The pretty Scottish girl from the other night is there, but I’ve been relieved to know that she was hanging out of the bus window throwing up on the way to the club.  Classy girl.  Scots eh?

With nobody really in the mood to go far afield, someone (probably me) has suggested the club next door.  This looks like a serious dive.  It’s free entry for girls, but a whopping 80 pesos for guys.  Midnight robbery.  Still I can’t be bothered trailing around anymore and as it’s getting late, it’s going to have to do.  In we pile to the sounds of some decent techno and house.

The place is crawling with hookers and one giant transvestite.  Now I’ve no idea if the guy that’s talking to the he/she knows it’s a he/she and isn’t bothered anyway, or he genuinely thinks this is a gorgeous tall blond with massive breasts.  He/she hasn’t half had some amount of work done on, errr, themselves.  All power to you.  Not my cup of tea and although he/she is trying to catch my eye, I decide to look elsewhere.

Elsewhere being the bottom of a bottle.  Once again the booze flows, and once again I leave empty handed.  The Scottish girl has been canoodling with some American dude for the night so that’s off limits, and I’ve no idea who is a hooker and who isn’t.  I wonder if paying for a sympathy cuddle is wrong.  Also everyone in the club seems to be wearing sunglasses.  Now I reckon that most of them think they look like Puff P Diddy Daddy or whatever his name is now, but in reality how the fuck are you meant to see?  It’s pitch black for goodness sake. Upturned collars and bling jewellery complete the look, but really they just look like naff wannabes.  After lfailing to for anyone of note, I decide it’s time to call it a night.  At least I’ve not far to walk in the pouring rain.

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Empty barrels

Saturday 30 June

So it comes down to this.  My last night out in BA, and indeed in South America.  Tomorrow I will recover, Monday play some Polo, Tuesday visit Uruguay, Wednesday bike tour the city and Thursday I fly to London.  Either that or I’m just going to get wrecked every single night and see and do nothing.  The latter is more likely with my track record.

I’m pretty up for tonight, the kilt is making an airing for the final time and I’m going all out guns blazing to get some kind of female contact, even if it’s a slap in the face.  Once again the hostel is the starting point, as Milhouse has two establishments very close to each other.  Each take it in turns to host the party for the evening, before laying on a club night somewhere in the city.  It’s a decent set up, they know what they’re doing, so why would you want to do anything else?

The night begins watching Toy Story in Spanish.  Crazy.  This is me going off the rails.  It ends surrounded by Argentinian women with quizzical expressions as I do the whirlwind with my kilted backside in their faces.  They must have thought I was a gay stripper.  I must have thought I was invincible.  Shortly before this we’re wandering around the BA district of Palermo, which is famous for it’s bars and clubs, with nobody seeming to know where we’re going.  I’m getting in a huff and throwing my toys out the pram.  Half the decent looking girls we started the night with seem to be elsewhere, and we’re left with distinctly average ones.  This does not stop me powering through the vodka red bulls and talking utter shite.

I’ve also run into a guy I met in Colombia.  Larry is a cheerful Irish lad who was up for a laugh back there and is certainly enjoying himself here.  It really is a small world.  I’m just disappointed to be sharing a taxi back with him instead of one of the many beautiful women out that evening.  Once again I’ve somehow managed to come between myself and a nice girl.  I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’ve a feeling it’s got something to do with ‘drunk’ and ‘very being’.

Usually I have something to tell you regarding a foolhardy attempt at landing a nice fish, which ends in disaster, but I literally did nothing to engage a girl.  As I stagger back into the hostel I find I’m on the hunt for the leftovers.  Mine sweeping the establishment for scraps.  Personified desperation.  Surely there is a wasted creature with running mascara that needs my aid?  Alas  there is no such plight, and once again I’m left to contemplate the obligatory crying wank in the shower tomorrow.  I am Stuart’s total ineptness.

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Round and round

Friday 29 June

So the best thing about BA is its nightlife, therefore I reassure myself that I am seeing the best of BA by getting out of bed when it’s dark.  It reminds me of Madrid.  I never saw that city by day either, I just ate around 10pm, then partied all night.  I’m slipping back into that mode and I don’t really like it.  I’ve promised myself that when I get to Cambodia I’m going to give everything up and get back into the gym, working at a hostel and getting a healthy life back.  I was in the best shape of my life just before mum passed, and now I look like I’ve eaten twenty donuts a day for 6 months, smoked myself to lung cancer and drank vats of booze to rot my liver into a puddle of vomitus pus.  That’s because I have.  Apart from the donuts.  There’s time yet.

I’ve gradually been working my way into the affections of the three girls in my room and I’m slowly becoming a “ledge”.  Lucky me.  They’re not a bad bunch to be fair and perhaps I was a bit swift with yesterdays damning judgement, but I still cannot abide the butchering of the beautiful English language.  “It’s like, so not coolio you knowwww?”

I wonder if my current mood is as a result of my imminent return home?  Perhaps ‘home’ is the wrong word, since I don’t actually have one.  I’ve got a funny feeling I’m going to go off the rails in these next few days.  You will perhaps, dear reader, forgive a repetitive streak of bars and clubs in the coming weekend. “I’ve come to BA for one reason and one reason only” boasted I; “to party”.  In hindsight I couldn’t possibly have sounded more of a tit.

Not tonight however, for tonight I attempt to drink half a beer, smoke half a cigarette, nearly cough and splutter my eyes out, then return sharply to bed.  There I remain awake until the girls return, squawking, giggling and gibbering their drunken glee at various conquests during the evening, and delight at one getting their nipples sucked.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it I suppose.

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