Daytrips and "Vacations"
Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
83Trip End Ongoing
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Since the setup of the last entry appeared to work better for everyone (i.e., pictures with story-commentary) I'll do the same here. So click on any of the pictures to choose your own adventure (I recommend the first one because otherwise the story won't make sense mid-way through).
Come to think of it, this is how I'll try set up future entries. I'll use this main section to sound off about what happens to be on my mind the moment inspiration leads me to update this journal and I'll use the pictures section to detail specific adventures
Now, for the rest of you die-hard fans: on to my soapbox.
Someone asked me if there really are enough things to do in Buenos Aires for me to want to stay here this long. There certainly are a lot of interesting things here and I'm sure that if I were out doing stuff for 18 hours of every day for six weeks, going block by block, I still would not be able to do everything there is to do. But does that mean I want to see every historical site or church or museum and eat at every restaurant and go to every bar? No.
I'm still having a difficult time articulating and defining what it is I am doing right now. I've been throwing around the terms "vacation" and "extended time off" a lot, but I think that those are just convenient terms I've taken to using because I haven't yet been able to work out a lot of things about what this really is. Neither of these descriptors (especially "vacation") feels quite right
Way back last summer, when this was just a small idea in my head, I wanted to limit my destinations to four or five different cities - BsAs, Berlin, Istanbul and a couple of then-yet-to-be-determined places in Asia. The original idea was to try to experience what it was like to live in those places rather than "travel" through them "on vacation" for 5 to 10 days each. I also thought that this would be the best way to enjoy the experience for as long as possible because if I stayed put at each place for a while (a) I would be forced to find alternatives to hotels like renting rooms in people's homes or subletting apartments, which would save money and (b) I'd spend less on transportation because I wouldn't be going to a different city or country every few days. Additionally, even though the basic idea was to try different ways of living, I wanted to continue doing some of normal random things the same way I've always done them (except the job part). Meaning that some days would be spent sleeping in and then doing nothing but reading a book or going through tabloid blogs for hours.
When the idea got bigger and it didn't seem like such a crazy impossibility, I started (uh-oh) looking at world maps and realized that there were way too many things in the world that I wanted to see
By the time the idea became a reality, it morphed into yet a third version, which was basically a meld of the first two. I was going to pick a few places to park for a while - like what I am doing now here and what I plan to do again in Bogota in a few months and Mexico City a few months after that - and in between those long stays, I'd rally and do several weeks of unadulterated backpacking. After crunching some numbers (ech - did I really use that term?), I got to the magical 2 year timeframe that I've been telling everyone.
OK, let's stop for a sec: why give a book report on all this? There is a point here - I promise, so bear with me.
Last Friday was one of those days that I just slept in and caught up on world news while I did laundry in the afternoon (yeah, you like that? laundry - such exotic things I am doing abroad)Boing Boing to catch up on weeks of posts. When I opened it up, I saw this (click here). Did any of you see that post from Friday? If not, I'll give you a couple of minutes to read it.
Read it yet?
I very much enjoyed reading that post and I am very excited for this guy and his family. Now here comes my point: even though that BB post was describing something called "technomads", which I, a demi-Luddite, am probably not, it sort of describes and defines what I want my travels to be like and even more than that, how I want to live my life for a while - indefinitely, maybe? (ha! I was just listening to Oasis today). It sort of sounds like what I called the "third version" above, but it described it much better and expanded it to be more of a lifestyle rather than just a travel plan. Reading that made me think that I was being very short-sighted and I was thinking really small. Why can't this be a lifestyle? Why had I been insisting that it was "vacation" when I obviously didn't want it to be that?
You all know how caught up I get in grand ideas like this one and I always need to be pulled back down to earththis, and this, and this, and this about the whole thing. And I agree a little. I think it could be looked at as a kind of a fad for the privileged-hipster set. I don't really see myself as privileged and I hope my doing this doesn't give off that vibe. Let me tell you, though, that I have been a nomad now for about six months and the average amount I've spent per month so far is 1/4 of my take home(!) pay when I was working. During the almost one month I've been out of the U.S., that ratio has become 1/6 or 1/7. And even though I do have some hipster tendencies (there, I said it), I'm not trying to do this because it's fashionable - I really didn't even know that other people were already doing what I myself couldn't describe/define.
Aside from the whole travel part of it, I like the idea of not having anything more that you can carry with you. I thought that I already didn't have a lot of stuff to begin with - I mean, all of my stuff, furniture included, fit in one of the guest bedrooms at my parents' house. But six months after I put all of my possessions in boxes, I'm finding that I don't really need anything more than what I'd packed in my small bag, which I have more or less been living out of these last six monthsthis one before I left in case my travel insurance needed proof of anything I might lose along the way). Don't get me wrong, though, buying nothing has been a difficult adjustment, more difficult than I thought - you know me and the toys; for a long time I was the ultimate consumer. The only (make-shift) solution I could think of is just to take a picture of the thing I want to buy rather than buy it - a picture of a toy-not-meant-to-be-played-with is almost the same as the thing itself (maybe?). Other than food/bus fare/etc. and two books, I've bought nothing else in the past month. I am already making a mental list of things I want to get rid of when I get back to LA next year.
Anyway, now that I know what I want to do, the challenge is making it happen. This means finding some sort of way to make a tiny bit of money so that I can continue doing this indefinitely. Trite as it sounds, I really do have a renewed sense of purpose.
I welcome any suggestions for possible activities that can make me money without having to be physically located at a certain place for an extended period
And now on to the other boring stuff:
As far as reading material, I know I said that I would take a break after reading that terrible Jay McInerny book, but it's hard not to have a good book always in my back pocket, particularly since I am by myself most of the time (yeah, yeah, world's smallest violin). The other day I made it to El Ateneo, which is probably one of the most well-known bookstores in all of Argentina and it is, in itself, a sight to see. It's housed in an old theater (like a proper theater, not a movie theater) and they've kept a lot of it intact, gold paint and frescoed ceiling and all. They've even put big leather chairs in the box sections so you can hang out and have someplace comfortable to read. I contemplated, for like 2 seconds, getting a book in Spanish to see if I could get through it, but luckily I had enough foresight to know that it was just a sad road to literary blue balls, so I mozied(sp?) on over to the English pocketbooks section. I rummaged through that section for over an hour and a half before finding something interesting. It was pretty much just a shelf of whatever titles they had in English. Mingled with the Dan Browns and Clive Cusslers and Danielle Steeles were Paradiso/Inferno and Huck Finn and Siddhartha
The soundtrack to this post is Sam Phillips' Cruel Inventions album - here's a sample. After that last entry where I recounted some of my earliest music purchases, I got super nostalgic and figuratively dug up the first CD I ever bought, which was Cruel Inventions. I bought it when I was 13 or 14 from the proto-Amazon mail order home entertainment juggernaut Columbia House - remember that? I wonder if people still buy from there. Along with Cruel Inventions, I got Belly's Star and Matthew Sweet's Girlfiend. Ah, the memories. On Cruel Inventions, I listened to the song Hole in Time over and over. I related to the character in the song in a way I still can't explain
Well, this entry turned out to be contemplative and overly introspective. It's just one of those days I suppose.
Until next time. (I'll try to make it lighter and funner).