The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


Save Yourselves.
November 12, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Argentina
 
The Southern Right Whale
The Southern Right Whale

The time is nigh.  They are coming.

After returning from Tierra del Fuego, I decided the next day to hop right back on a bus for 21 hours and make my way to Puerto Madryn, in Patagonia.  This place is a wildlife Mecca, full of whales, elephant seals, guanacos (the cousin of the llama), killer whales, and the most terrifying creature of all — one that is succeeding in its quest to take over the planet. 
 
Upon arrival in the early morning, I was amazed to see giant Southern Right Whales frolicking in the bay within one hundred yards of the beach.  These behemoths come to Puerto Madryn every year to give birth to their calves in the safety of the harbor, out of the way of the killer whales.  They are an impressive sight. 
 
I was then told by the staff at my hostel that a nearby beach (12 miles away) was one of the best places to see these monsters up close and personal.  So, envisioning a mellow 45 minute ride on a paved road to the beach, I rented a mountain bike and headed off.  The first 3 miles were just as I imagined.  In fact, it was such a traquil ride that I took out my iPod to enjoy the delightful sounds of the Jonas Brothers as I cruised along the beach.  This ended quickly as I noticed the sign that said “Punta Doradillo, 9 miles” as it swerved off to a deep gravel and dirt road.img_3544
 
“No problem, I have a mountain bike, and since this is no mountain, it worries me not” I falsely declared to lil’ Skippy and Stevie Jonas.  But, hitting the gravel, my bike skidded around and sunk into the road.  The gravel was deep, and made pedaling through wet concrete seem like an easy chore.  “Fudge,” I declared.  Only I didn’t say fudge…in reality, I’m pretty sure I said “Fuck.”  Or maybe “Fuck me sideways.”
 
Despite this brutal hindrance, I arrived at the beach one leg-melting hour later, to see at the very least four forty-foot whales swimming with their calves no further than 50 feet from shore.  Many people in this town described these gentle giants as “magnificent.”  This word is not apt.  The only word that can describe the glory of these amazing creatures is, of course, “bitchin’.”  So, after peacefully watching these bitchin’ beasts play around in the sea so incredibly close to me, there were numerous times I had to stop myself from flinging rocks at them due to their proximity.  It’s not that I don’t like these bitchin’ things, I just have an obsessive-compulsive urge to hurl rocks at most nearby things.  This is the reason I no longer get mail, pizza, or Chinese food delivered to my house anymore.  Oh yeah, and the churchgoers across the street have undoubtedly petitioned the Lord to strike me down on multiple Sundays…
 
What you looking at, bitch?!

What you looking at, bitch?!

Anywho, the next morning I took a tour to out to nearby Peninsula Valdes to view the wildlife up close and personal.

 
This would be my first realization that mankind’s reign over the Earth was coming to a close.
 
The first stop we made was for a boat tour to see the Southern Right Whale from the water.  Our captain was a talented gent, and we saw at least five whales from up close.  These monsters were even more bitchin’ from up close, and were much larger than our tour boat.  However, on our way back in, we saw a mother and calf leaping from the water (in the most bitchinest fashion, I might add) in what appeared to be a path of hasty escape.  At the time, we all thought they were fleeing from our boat; but as we would later find out, this was not the case…
 
They are everywhere.

They are everywhere.

Hopping back into our tour van we crossed the peninsula and spotted many guanacos, who seemed a little uneasy, even for guanacos (and I’m sure I don’t have to regale you all with how uneasy a Patagonian Guanaco can be in early-October).  Our next stop was to see the giant elephant seals and their baby calves, and maybe some killer whales.  The adult male seals are truly u-g-l-y without an alibi, but they live, quite possibly, the greatest life on Earth: these beasts sleep 23 hours a day, can grow up to three tons, and have harems of up to 50 female seals.  Lucky bastards.  However, what I was really hoping to see was the lovable babies of these creatures with their big innocent black eyes and soft fuzzy skin, as they adorably lounge near the seashore…then get viciously mashed to a bloody pulp by an oncoming killer whale.  Alas, there were no Killer Whales to be seen.  There weren’t even any of their less-dangerous cousins, the Harmful Whale, or their non-dangerous relatives, the Unhazardous Whale, around.  Boooooring.  So I hurled a couple of rocks at the elephant seals, and went on my way. 

 

This would be precisely the moment that my innocence would end.

 

 
As I made it to the top of the cliff, I noticed a strange creature standing on the top, just watching me.  It was about knee-high, black and white, and resembled a flightless bird.  People call it a “penguin.”  Now, the terrain of Patagonia in October is warm, dry, and nearly desert-like.  I thought, “it’s too damn hot for a penguin to just be walking around.” 
 
As I carefully walked over to take its picture, I saw another penguin nearby.  Then another.  Then another.  They were everywhere.  There were hundreds of them on top of the cliff, and down on the beach below.  While many people think these creatures are cute, I found them oddly unnerving.  Their calm demeanor and lack of fear of humans underscored my concerns.  I quickly took a picture of the most menacing of these animals, and rapidly hurried to the safety of the van, and the hostel.
 
The next morning I took a tour to Puerto Tombo, which seemed to be a popular destination.  Only if I knew what had been transpiring there, I could have warned you all sooner.  Alas, I am afraid it might be too late.
 
Notice the holes.  That's where they store the bodies.

Notice the holes. That's where they keep the bodies.

This was seconds before the penguin slaughtered the guanacos.

This was seconds before the penguin slaughtered these poor guanacos.

As I entered the park, I noticed a herd of nervous guanacos glancing about.  When I looked down, I saw the root of their fears: more (I can only assume) bloodthirsty penguins.  This time, they were literally everywhere.  Our guide told us there were over 600,000 at Punto Tombo, and that more were coming from Antarctica.  They had no doubt grown tired of that cold, lifeless continent, and were beginning to overtake the rest of South America, and most likely the world.

 
I am afraid to say that humans best weapon has proven ineffectual against this dangerous foe — not even good old reliable Global Warming can save us now. 
 
I only hope this warning has reached you in time.  Flee for the deserts, arm yourselves to the teeth, and trust no one.
 
The penguins are coming.  And they are taking over.
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Tierra del Fuego
November 6, 2008, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Argentina
Brrr...

Brrr...

Tierra del Fuego — “Land of Fire,” my ass.  This place is, for lack of a better description, fucking freezing.  Literally.  There’s snow, frost, ice, and face-chapping coldness everywhere.

After spending the last three months in weather varying from “sweltering” to “terrifically sweat-inducing” in Northern South America, I decided to hop on a plane with my brother and his wife, from Buenos Aires to the bottom tip of the continent — Ushuaia, Argentina.  

 
Ushuaia, Argentina -- The End of the World

Ushuaia, Argentina -- The End of the World

As we landed in Ushuaia, the snow was apparent, but it really didn’t seem to be that cold.  That is, it didn’t seem cold until we walked outside and my butt cheeks froze together.  This made my general reaction to cold (or fright, or nervousness, or basically any slightly startling situation) — that reaction of course being pooping my pants — pretty difficult.  Once we checked into our hotel, we decided to take a cab into the nearby mountains to see a glacier.  After taking a chair lift to the base of the glacier, we noticed many signs stating “do not climb the glacier without an experienced guide.”  This seemed to be pretty solid advice that, considering our lack of hiking gear, we would absolutely heed.

 
Or so we thought.
 
Thus, donning my hiking jeans, kind-of-waterproof jacket, Kleenex-thickness gloves, and snazzy new “Ushuaia” tourist hat, we began a self-guided tour to view the bottom of the glacier.  While this would generally be a fairly unstrenuous hike, the wind was whipping, the snow was whirling, and it was about as cold as you would expect for the southernmost city on Earth. 
 
Oh, so the Glacier is just right up that snowy hill?

Oh, so the Glacier is just right up that snowy hill?

So, since none of us had seen any up-close-and-personal glaciers before, we continued hiking in two and three foot snow drifts for half an hour, and our spirits remained high.  We then encountered a sign stating “Glacier” with an arrow pointing left, we figured that we should follow this sign and ascend the snow-covered mountain to see this natural phenomenon.  Up we went.

 
This is when it started getting tiring.  Mainly because I have now learned the difficult life that is led by an ice cube, an otter pop, or a mouthwatering Dairy Queen Blizzard with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pieces.  In other words, it started getting really, really fucking cold.  But, we continued upward.
 
As the Arctic winds continued freezing our faces, we continued climbing to see this glacier that the sign so clearly stated was to the left.  The higher and higher we got, the less and less we saw other than pure white snow.  But, as we had permanent brain freeze, we kept going up.  “It must be just above this next crest,” I kept muttering while contemplating warming my frozen thighs with my own urine.  
 
Finally, after about two hours of straight uphill climbing, we started to piece together the painful truth: there’s no clear view of the glacier, there’s no one else climbing anywhere near as high as us, and it’s so cold that I can’t even come up with any clever curse words to describe my current hatred of Mother Nature.  Normally, I’d shriek something clever like “Bitch tickler, it’s cold!” or “Fuck waffle!” in order to explain my current feelings towards the weather.  Alas, the cold stopped this, and I could only cleverly decry “Ffffffffffttttt.”
 
Oops, I accidentally just climbed a glacier.

Oops, I accidentally just climbed a glacier.

However, it was at this point that we realized we had missed the subtle innuendo of the sign with the arrow pointing left: we had already climbed halfway up the glacier.  And as far as my frozen brain could remember, neither my brother, his wife, nor myself were glacier climbing guides.  

 
Poop. 
 
Oh well, at least I had my glacier hiking jeans on.
 
So, at this realization, we decided to stop going upward or we’d end up like Sylvester Stallone in that one movie where he’s climbing mountains: nope, not “buff and short” (although I already have one of those covered…and it sadly ain’t the former), but we’d be trapped in a constant struggle between man and mountain, between love and honor, between not really speaking English and being a kinda buff midget.  And, we also realized there was a decent chance we were going to plummet into a hidden ice crevasse, thus ruining my best pair of hiking jeans, and maybe breaking my legs and dying.  But the hiking jeans were really all I could really focus on.
 
Thus, we decided to descend in the fastest way possible: on our asses.  This was interesting.  I volunteered as the guinea pig for this expedition.  I thought it would be fun to slide down a snow-covered glacier.  I was right…until I started picking up speed and surpassed 75mph and careened into the rock formation 100 feet down the hill. 
 
After we had all reached the bottom of the glacier alive, we marched back home with frozen toes and fingers, and declared our contempt for glaciers and Argentine warning signs.
 
Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego National Park

The rest of our trip went far smoother than the glacier expedition.  We hiked in the Tierra del Fuego National Park amongst giant glacial mountains, ice-cold bays and ocean inlets, and all the way to Chile, where we illegally immigrated, then spat upon this fine country as most proud Argentines would do.  We also took a boat trip through the Beagle channel where long ago Darwin infuriated the Lord by denying the fact that all animals and man (even Mormons) were not created, but rather evolved from earlier species.  Yeah, right.  How do you explain George Bush then, Mr. Darwin?  On this boat trip we were able to see a colony of Lobos del Mar (“Sea Wolves”), which disappiontingly only turned out to be sea lions, not actual web-footed wolves that terrorized the Arctic seas.

 
All in all, Tierra del Fuego was an amazing trip to the End of the World, which lessened my sympathy for glaciers and their feet freezing ways.  Global Warming, do your worst.  I mean, even if the glaciers melt, we’ll always have ice-machines in our hotels to make up for them.  I mean, it’s like someone saying animals in the wild are more spectacular than those in a zoo. 
 
I’ve seen them both.  Same diff.  So give up your pro-glacier stance, liberals, it’s just a big ass ice cube.
Lago Escondido

Lago Escondido



Jesusville
October 17, 2008, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Argentina

As anyone who knows is well aware, a conversation with me generally revolves around just a few topics: bosoms, alcohol-related things, the economic effects of a strong social-centric fiscal policy, ducks, and Jesus-themed amusement parks.

There's some strange boob action going in with one of these angels...

There's some seriuos boobage going on with these angels...

That’s why it was truly refreshing, in a purely religious sense, when I encountered Tierra Santa in Buenos Aires: a place entirely dedicated to Jesus, and all the exciting things that He has done, in complete theme park form.

This place is remarkable.  Upon entering you are greeted by an employee who is dressed in full ancient Jerusalem-era garb, whom also happens to be selling disposable cameras, which I assume are exactly like the disposable cameras used in ancient Jerusalem.  Maybe even the exact brand of Kodak disposable camera Jesus used Himself when He visited religious theme parks.  As you wander past Ye Olde Holy Camera Shoppe into this sacred amusement park, you see a giant mountain adorned with scalawag Romans and a multitude of Jesus statues in various forms of torture and crucifixion.  It’s really enchanting being able to celebrate the magical experience of the Lord Jesus Christ’s murder and misery in such a fun-filled atmosphere.

Me practicing the lost art of the Four-Armed Robot

Me practicing the lost art of the Four-Armed Robot

Poor Jesus, always getting tortured and killed in this place.  On a side note, notice the Holy airplane and the Holy Driving Range in the background.

Poor Jesus, always getting tortured and killed in this place. On a side note, notice the Holy Airplane and the Holy Driving Range in the background.

Tierra Santa has truly created a new standard in Jesus-themed amusement parks.  This place is an enormous tribute to the ancient times when Jesus lived.  It is full of paper maché animals (that probably were actually not made of paper maché back then), and there are hundreds of paper maché statutes of people in various forms of ancient life: from sword-swinging Romans and (apparently) robot-dancing nomads, to murderous dentists and torturous barbarians.  And of course, there is an exhibit celebrating Gandhi…who was Hindu…hmm…maybe you’re supposed to throw rocks at it or something…

To further please the pious visitor, there is also a Hall of Photos which is, not surprisingly, full of photos.  However, these are not just any photos, but photos of the park itself…which is kind of redundant in my mind.  Although, what great theme park doesn’t need an exciting attraction such as a Hall of Photos of itself?  I actually left a suggestion with the management that they make a Hall of Photos of the Hall of Photos.   However, now that I think of it, if someone were to take a picture of the Hall of Photos of the Hall of Photos there’s a pretty good chance it will create a vortex that will rip a hole in the fabric of space time and consume us all.  But, that would be the kind of Judgment Day scenario that this theme park kind of supports, right?  Christ, what have I done?

A picture of a picture of a Bible in the Hall of Photos.

A picture of a picture of a Bible in the Hall of Photos.

Anywho, while all of these features are truly delightful, the most inspirational, religiously-exhilarating part of Jesusville are the shows.  “The Resurrection” is a thrill-a-minute recreation of a giant Jesus rising out of a mountain at speeds of nearly 0.5 (!) mph, all the while “Hallelujah” blares forth from speakers.  At the truly inspiring climax of his ascension, just as the giant Jesus has finished ascending after nearly five amazing mintues, the statue does something tremendous: it begins to turn around very slowly!  It was more thrilling than driving a go-kart in Uruguay at 15 mph.  We were also blessed enough to attend the “Creation” show, which started with God himself creating the cosmos, then life on Earth which was represented by animatronic animals such as a giraffe, a lion, and a hippo whose mouth actually opened and closed!  It changed my life.  Then, to complete an already mystifying experience, Adam and Eve showed up, and all was right with the world.  It could only have been better if the crowd were able to interact with the show by being allowed to lynch an employee dressed as Charles Darwin.

The Creation.  Not so much "miraculous" as it was cheestastic.

The Creation. Not so much "miraculous" as it was cheestastic.

After such a religiously charged experience, one which I shall never forget (mainly because I stopped off at the Catholic Conversion Waterslide to solidify my newfound faith before leaving), all has changed.  I have found my life’s calling: to create religious theme-parks around the world, to regale and amaze the people of the world.  I can see them all now: “Muslim Magic Mountain”, “Haunted Hindu Playland”, “Judiasm Joyville!”, “The Adventures of Atheism”, “Knott’s Buddha Farm,” “Weird Scientologyville,” and, of course, “The Mormon Polygamy Park, brought to you by the Disney corporation.”

Righteous.

The Resurrection.  Hallelujah, that was dull.

The Resurrection. Hallelujah, that was dull.



Argentine Curiosities
October 14, 2008, 8:31 am
Filed under: Argentina

Having left behind mind-blowingly average Uruguay, it was time to move on.

Argentina, here I am.  Let’s do dis.

So, in my time in this fine country, I have already encountered many interesting phenomena, which I shall list in no particular order:

1.  Megatubes — These are a magnificent treat that has no equal.  They are kind of like Doritos chips, but are cheesier, crunchier, more tube-shaped, and much more tube-flavored.  And, of course, these delightful morsels are not to be mistaken with Normaltubes, their uninspiring, dimwitted, tube-flavored cousin.  You wouldn’t be stretching it to call Megatubes “totally tubular.”  Pun intended.  God damn it, that’s hilarious.

2.  English — The use of English here is like an entertaining novelty that is rarely employed but, when implemented, is always fun.  Like the midget butler you invite over once a year on Christmas Eve who inevitably is chased out of the house in an eggnog-fueled haze by you and your candy-cane-hurling family, English doesn’t come around often but when it shows up, everyone has a blast.  Um…or something like that.

Either way, English in Argentina has three common characteristics: a) the words are generally correct, but their usage makes little or no sense; b) they are horribly misspelled; or c) they’re just downright humorous. Examples:

a) As I was riding a bus through Buenos Aires, we passed a bar.  While its name did not inspire me to enter this rough-looking establishment and hang with the locals, it was just so wonderfully titled that it grabbed my attention.  That name was “New Moustache Bar.”  I shudder to think of what happened to the “Old Moustache Bar” especially give the state of the new version.

Another wondrous name belongs to a shop that has just luckily opened up down the street in my brother’s neighborhood of Palermo.  I’m pretty sure this shop sells clothes, but its wares are not what are interesting.  What is interesting is its name: “Diablo Mother Fucker.”  In all honesty, I can’t think of a better name for any shop in history.  They could specialize in selling dead racoons, and with a name like Diablo Mother Fucker, I’d pop in for a look-see.  Another remarkable example is the name utilized by a chain store I have seen many times in this fine city is named “Pizza Bum.”  Either this is a new social program in Argentina that aims to eliminate homelessness by employing them as pizza delivery men, or it’s an imported pizza flavor from England.  Either way, I really don’t care to find out.  Yet another fun illustration of the use of English was a T-shirt that said “Blowind — People Who Care Seriously.”  Hmm…never in my wildest imagination did I think one statement could have summed up all my beliefs and convictions so succintly.   The final example of fun Argentine English was in Ushuaia, where we encountered a shop called “Cheeky Mr Cock.”  This store was out of business, however; which was probably for the best.

Yikes.

Yikes.

b) My sister-in-law has done some serious shirt shopping here in Buenos Aires, and has happened across a couple of doozies.  The overall winner in this category belongs to one of those t-shirts that has some world-changing slogan on front.  This particular inspirational shirt declares: “What the Worl Neens Now is Love.”  Amen, t-shirt.  And, completely off-subject, after leaving behind the friendly women of Brazil, my worl neens a little love too.

c) I was walking through the grocery store the other day when I happened to notice a bottle of alcohol.  The name was Old Smuggler Whiskey.  While, technically, this is grammatically correct, the idea of an elderly smuggler lugging a bottle of whiskey from God-knows-where to this particular grocery store does not fill me with the urge to pour this liquid over a glass full of ice, hand it to one of my friends, and declare “Nothing tastes as good as an Old Smuggler.”

Finally, someone realizes that American Power has a Cause...a cause to kick some ass!  Woooo!

Finally, someone realizes that American Power has a Cause...a cause to kick some ass! Woooo!

In reality, I find that scantily-clad women in bikinis eating ice cream tend to be a much better way to market your product than a tattered, smelly Old Smuggler.  Another wondrous example is a pair of tennis shoes that are sold in the main bus station in Buenos Aires.  These shoes are exactly the same as Converse, but are named “American Power With a Cause.”  ‘Merica, fuck yeah!

3.  Fashion — People here have some wacky style.  While the mullet is cool, the curly, Billy Ray Cyrus mullet makes you an undeniable, invincible, chick magnet.  Unless you are a chick who wears it (which is not uncommon), then you’re just outright bad ass.  Now, while hairstyles here are pretty sweet, they pale in comparison to the coolest fashion trend to return since 1990.  And, yes, I am talking about…Hammer pants.  They are back, and in Buenos Aires, this is a style, uh, you can’t touch.

4.  Steak — Argentines have the greatest steaks on the planet.  I am planning on suggesting to steakhouses that they should just serve raw beef in a cone, because it is melt-in-your-mouth delightful.  And not only are they delicious, they are amazingly cheap and miraculously large.  Thus, all I eat now is steak — morning, noon, and night.

Beeftastic.

Beeftastic.

Here’s my daily eating routine:  I get up in the morning, I pour myself a hot cup of steak and pop a couple of pieces of steak into the toaster.  At noon I make myself a “steak sandwich”: a nice juicy filet mignon slapped between a couple of slices of porterhouse.  For dinner, I generally start with an appetizer of a left-ass-cheek-sized steak, then follow it up with a main course of a steak the size of my torso.  Then I wash it down with some steak-flavored wine, and fall into a steak-induced coma.  All of which costs about 12 bucks.  Then, when the time is right, I go into the bathroom and a couple of steaks fall out of my butt.  All in a day’s work.

5.  Yerba Maté — Argentine crack rock.  This herbal tea is what fuels the entire country.  People guzzle this shit all day and night.  While walking the streets of Buenos Aires, you will see hundreds of locals slurping maté from a small gourd from a sliver straw while carrying a thermos of hot water slung over their shoulder, a small tupperware container of dry herbs to replenish their addiction, and a glazed, tea-induced euphoric look in their eyes.  If you were insane enough to try to steal any of the above ingredients of maté drinking from an Argentine, you would no doubt find yourself in a similar situation to jumping into a lion’s den wearing a steak helmet.  Survival would only transpire by the graceful, interceding hand of the Lord.

As an example of the maté obsession, I was idiotic enough to ask a maté vendor how exactly to prepare the drink in a gourd, and, after a 11 hour discourse, he finished with the strong admonishment: “Never, NEVER, put the maté straw underneath the herb.  Never.”  I now resolutely believe that breaking the “maté-straw-above-the-herb” principle would be the equivalent to donkey punching the Pope in the gonads.

6.  Nightlife — People here are probably vampires.  Attractive vampires; but vampires, nonetheless.  My reason for this belief is that when you venture out on the streets around dusk at 7 P.M. (which of course is a normal time for citizens of non-vampire countries to eat a meal or simply walk around), the streets are eerily calm.  But, once the sun has safely settled behind the Earth, at around 10:30 P.M. these maté drinking Argentine vampires emerge to eat dinner.  While I haven’t personally seen them eat any humans, these vampires have an unquenchable thirst for steak, which I’m pretty sure they just suck dry.  After finishing up dinner at around 12 A.M., it is time to go home to get ready and have a couple of pre-game matés before heading out for the party.  Once 3 A.M. eventually rolls around, these vampires head out to the clubs to dance the night…maybe morning is more appropriate…away.  This lasts until about 6 to 7 A.M. when they have run out of energy from not eating brains or steak, and head home to undoubtedly sleep in their coffins until the next sundown, when they do it all over again.  If this isn’t the action of vampires, then these people just simply like to party late night.  But I still think they’re vampires.

7.  Buses — The buses (or omnibuses, as they are referred to in castellano, probably to sound superior to normal buses) are an exercise in luxury.  Unlike their Venezuelan or Brazilian counterparts, Argentine buses employ a waitress who serves you a meal, wine, and whiskey, nearly making you forget that you are on a bus for the next 18 hours.  Also, they tend to show a movie that usually involves Steven Segal, which is so bad ass after a couple of bus whiskeys.  Moreover, if you pay the extra few bucks, you can avoid sleeping next to a half-grizzly bear, half-human who snores all night long, and get a fully reclinable bed in the lower deck away from the proletariat backpackers in the upper deck and their disgusting ways of living.  And, you still get Steven Segal.  The best of both worlds.

8. Television — Television here is, more or less, lame.  Unless you love fútbol and Alf.  Which I do, of course.  So by “lame,” I meant “terrific”.  And, it’s weird, but Alf speaks fluent Spanish here.  Is there anything that he can’t do?  Methinks not…

9.  Monedas — Coins.  There are no coins in Buenos Aires.  Which is to say, the currency involves coins as a standard of monetary exchange, but, for some reason, there is a serious lack of them in this city.  No stores have them, neither do any people.  And if they do, they hold protect them more furiously than a drunken wolverine protecting its young.  Some say the mafia is holding all the coins.  I’m not totally sure why.  I mean, that sure is a pretty tough guy move; why be involved in drugs or prostitutes or gambling when you can control all the coins in the country?  You could have the entire video game parlor industry by the balls.  Now that’s power.  I can’t believe there hasn’t been a Sopranos spin-off based on the shady world of coin-counting Argentine mafiosos.

Ders no Coins here, Goomba. Fuggedaboudit.

Ders no coins here, Goomba. Fuggedaboudit.

However, the lack of monedas is kind of a problem because all buses only accept a one peso coin.  If you are unfortunate to find yourself without one, you are left standing in street like a bill-holding sucker.  This circumstance became an problem for me when I had to catch a bus, and literally no one would change my two fifty cent pieces for one peso.  I went to over seven stores, and no one would do it.  I thus had to start bartering with people on the street to simply gain access to a one peso coin.  I had almost negotiated for a one peso coin by offering a twenty peso bill, three blowjobs, and my liver, when I got lucky and noticed one sitting on the ground.  Whew, I sure dodged a 33 American cent bullet there.

10.  Empanadas — Argentine Hot Pockets.  But, oh, so much more delicious.  These little delights, along with steak and maté tea, are the only things this country consumes.  But, they are all delicious; so more is less, I suppose.

11.  80’s Music — While 80’s music is popular around the globe, in no place is it more popular than in Argentina.  They have taken their fanaticism to a new level by: 1) playing 80’s music that no one knows, or (even knew in the 1980’s); and 2) having really awful cover songs of the 80’s hits.  I recently was regaled by a full soundtrack of a female, acoustic, adult-contemporary artist covering such classics from “Never Gonna Give You Up” to “Every Rose Has its Thorn” to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” And each one was worse than the next.  My ears were bleeding by the end, as my eardrums had committed suicide.

So, thus far, that’s my Argentina experience in a nutshell.  Buenos Aires is a great city, and I am thoroughly enjoying the days of sitting in the cold weather on a bus watching English-butchering, mullet-laden, maté-slurping, Hammer pants-attired, moneda-concealing, Alf-watching vampires listening to a “You are the Wind Beneath my Wings” cover song, while eating a meal of Megatubes and steak empanadas.

What a country.