Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hostel is a Trap

It can't be late – it's still bright outside. Oh, look – it's midnight.

This hostel is a terrible terrible trap, ripping away all sense of time and location. It's bad enough that I exist between a McDonald's and a Burger King, with McDonald's and Burger King's fencing them in further down the road – but when the sun is always rising into the noon day sky – it can become quite infuriating.

Am I in Iceland here? Clearly not! I demand darkness. But darkness is never to come. As I sit and contemplate sleep, I keep telling myself I'll head off when I am tired. But I never become tired, as my body is being tricked – tricked into thinking it's never night. But how? And why is this the hostel's fault? Oh I will tell you. For they are a sneaky sneaky beast, and I am enacting to put an end to this. Red Warrior needs sleep badly.

Let me copy some files though and begin, once more, zoning out to The Talking Heads (I really can't express enough how much mileage I've got out of this album. Yes I have a number of other musical choices these days, but I keep coming back to this. Because it is fantastic.

So, here in the hostel they have managed to already trick you by surrounding you with people of all sorts of wacky routines. At six in the morning you may be awoken by sounds of people moving in your room. But unlike most hostels, these are not people about to head out to catch an early bus, or an early train, or – you know – jut looking to start their day. No, in this hostel if people are up and about at six in the morning, it's because they're headed to sleep. And it doesn't stop there – when you wander by your room at two in the afternoon, or four, or six, or – right now – at eight, there are still people sleeping. There are always people sleeping. Except at midnight. From midnight to three or four in the morning you'll be alone in the room (with the exception of the one time awkward and terrible things happened on the bunk below me).

You'll start to question yourself – is it really the time it is? And that's when you look outside. Big mistake. Peering out into the street it will appear to be late afternoon. The lights shining on the streets below offer a view of quasi daylight. It is like no night you've seen before. Even on the streets the illusion continues – it is only when you look up and see a fully dark sky that confusion sets in. But you've seen the night sky – you know it's late. So head back into the hostel, hang out in the common room for a bit, and the head off to bed.

You've made another mistake! You've headed to the common room. Your body has no idea what's going on there. People are awake, active, and plentiful twenty four hours a day. The television always plays a soccer game (there's ALWAYS a soccer game) every hour of every day, and – if you should fall prey to yet another cruel trick – looking out the window, you will once again have your sense of day overridden. You were just outside. You saw the night sky. You know it's late. And yet, looking out the window you are offered a glimpse of daylight once more.

Are these the same lights from the streets? Nay – this is an interior opening, with bright lights suspended above every window. High enough to cast environmental lights on all walls near by, creating the illusion of day. It's quite the trap, and I wonder if it was designed with this purpose in mind. You are never tired here. And most people, I have discovered – by the tight tank tops worn by gentlemen, and short skirts worn by ladies – that most people come to BA for the clubbing. And if that's so, well then this is the perfect environment.

But I am never tired here, and yet I feel the need to be awake for the free breakfast. It's a trap.

Enough of these complains though, as I was awake for breakfast – and enjoyed it as best I could. As best as one can enjoy slices of bread, and caramelized milk (quite the treat here – I had it as a McSundae topping too – it's gross.) and spreadable cheese, and juice. Really I just wake up for the juice.

After breakfast I napped for two hours. But fear not, for noon came and I was ready to explore the world around me one more. And what a lovely world it was. One that was full of graffiti. You see, I've not been avoiding taking pictures – I didn't get bored of that excursion. I simply have not seen any Graffiti since Europe (with the exception of Joburg, where I preferred to not die so I could not photograph it.)

Walking to the subway to try my luck once more – having researched it over the interwebs – I discovered that it really was a mere 1.10ARD for a ride. I bought a five ride pass, for about half the price a single ride would cost me in Toronto, and headed on board. It wasn't a difficult system to figure out, and in no time I was zipping to where I wanted to go – up to Plaza Italia.

It was here that I walked the streets, once more feeling like I was in a city remarkably similar to Toronto. At times I felt as if I was making my way to a buddies house to hang out for the day. The trees were the same, the buildings similar, the shops and the advertisements in the right places, and at the right intervals. Even the grass was the same. It struck me then that I'd not seen familiar grass in cities for some time. If you travel, pay attention to this – a blanket of green may be unconsciously accepted as being the same as any other, but this is not the case. Different weeds grow, different widths of grass exist, different types of green ground covering foliage takes root. Here in Buenos Aires was good ol' Toronto grass.

It was as if I was walking North from St. George station, for whatever crazy reason anyone would ever do that. Once more, I was overcome with the sense of familiarity. There was clearly no reason for a tourist to be here, so I must belong, mustn't I?

As I reached the height of this direction, I headed back the way I came along a parallel street. Ending up back at Plaza Italia I decided to walk down to the Avenue of the Liberator. Wandering this was allowed me to look through the fences at the zoo animals. There was a crowd watching the giraffe. I wonder how many local teenagers get drunk on the weekends and sneak peeks at the animals late at night. I wonder how many grown-ups do. It seems like not a terrible idea. Hopefully the animals don't get things thrown at them from passersby all that often.

I considered stayed longer to watch – but – you know: giraffes... Been there, done that.

Wandering ever forward I started to hum Don't Cry for Me Argentina. I don't know why it came to me. I also found it odd that I didn't immediately associate it with my current location. But that's how it is – I didn't entirely appreciate that I was in Argentina. Sometimes when I visit a country I get so wrapped up in the city that I'm in, that everything else falls to the wayside. (Wayside School is Falling Down – there is no floor 13.) If asked where I am, I would reply Buenos Aires – but not necessarily admit to being in Argentina. The same thing occurred in Thailand. I felt I was in Bangkok – but that was the extent of it. Tripping to Chain Mai cured me of that.

The song made me think of Evita, and Evita made me think of her being dead and burried around here. I checked my map to locate the place of burial and, recognizing it as being on the way home, headed off towards it.

On route I picked up a soda. I hate soda. I am addicted to soda. I would love to break the addiction – but I can not. This is why I don't smoke, or gamble, or do anything else of that ilk. Once hooked, I doubt my ability to stop.

This was no ordinary soda. It was the BA soda of choice. If McDonald's carries a drink you've not seen before, recognize it as an important cultural experience. I've come across four – in the States, Dr. Pepper (oh how I wish we offered this in Canadian Mackers); in Scotland, IRN BRU; In recently visited Peru, Inca Kola; and here, in Buenos Aires, Torro. It's a grapefruit soda that's not entirely terrible. Not entirely delightful either, mind you, but worth the try. Cultural experience!

The cemetery is a truly wonderful one. It's like some of the ones in Paris if any planning was put into pedestrian navigation. I followed a tour group to Evita's grave, and was underwhelmed. Still – it's a touristy thing to do. You don't climb the Eiffel Tower because you want to – you do it because you feel you need to. Unless you're with a delightfully tiny Asian girl who can turn it into a grand adventure. Then you do it because you want to – and because complaining is more fun with someone else. Still – touristy things must be done if only to say one has done them, yes? Yes. I'm glad that on that we can agree.

And then it was back to the subway, and back to the hostel. A quick stop was made at the obelisk. This is the object that adorns all BA post cards. The only thing on said postcards, other than The Simpsons, of which there is a terrible amount of merchandise, magazines, hand crafts, t-shirts, and other such things here (why? I have no idea.)

It was – well it was alright. It's just a slab of concrete. It's not like it's a Cleopatra needle. Which shocks me, as I was quite sure those were just given out without care. Had I not seen about sixteen of these things, with historical significance to boot, in Rome, I may have been impressed – as it was though? Not so much.

Still, it was something I could check off my list.

And then off to sleep. Well kind of – it was well past midnight before I decided this was the right choice. Even though I know the tricks, I can't see through them. Tomorrow – tomorrow I will go to Jesus Land! And oh what fun it will be.

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