Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My neighborhood San Telmo (my one true love in Buenos Aires) is amazing, colonial, peaceful, rustic, filled with creative young people, cheaper than most parts of town, has an off-the-beaten-path vibe... and yet is overrun with tourists. I hate admitting it, but San Telmo, let's face it, is no secret. And all day every day as I stroll my streets, go in and out of my apartment, run to the store, walk to the gym, or go to pick up an alfajor at the kiosko, I encounter groups of mochileros, backpackers, getting out of taxis, examining their maps, searching for their hostels with looks of awe, confusion, and utter GREENness on their faces.. and I think to myself, "HA! Glad I'm not you!!!"

I remember my days of backpacking in Europe in '03 or through Mexico in '05... it was a blast!... And yet there is something about having a massive backpack on your back that just screams "I'm not from here!" in a way that even my red hair and fair skin cannot compete with. It's truly been a joy to live long term in a place where I can more or less integrate, get to know the locals, and be a recognized neighborhood face, rather than just another tourist to overcharge.

As I walked home today, one of these groups was hovering around the corner from my house, clearly looking around for their hostel-- the signage is not so good in San Telmo-- and I had a moment.. THAT IS GOING TO BE ME. Oh me god, THAT IS GOING TO BE ME IN TWO MONTHS.


No more integration. No more house keys. No more neighborly smiles from the weird hairdresser guy downstairs.


Once again, I am tossing stability, clean laundry, and my very own bed to the wind, in favor of the open road. It's a beautiful experience, one of my favorite feelings in the world, and yet stability is not an easy thing to leave behind, even if you're crazy old Me. That feeling of heading home, cooking a meal in YOUR kitchen, and getting into YOUR bed at night is something truly wonderful. And for four months, I won't feel that. Not even once. It's... well, eye-opening to think about.

In Peru, Colombia, Brasil, or Bolivia, I won't be the knowledgeable ex-pat living and working in the area, won't be someone who knows the local haunts and scenes or someone whose opinion on local matters is worth asking for-- I'll be a tourist, just like everyone else. Ugghhhh it hurts to even type it.