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Posted by Tim on Mar 6, 2005
A Fistful of Pigeons and 37 Liters of Beer

At 8am, the alarm clock went off, and like any other morning, I slapped the snooze button.

Except this morning, I was waking up in Buenos Aires.

It still doesn't feel real. Part of me is still constantly expecting to wake up back in Philadelphia, slapping the snooze button to grab a few more minutes of sleep before heading off to work. But it is real. We've really done it. We're here.

We had breakfast at the hostel (toast with marmalade, orange juice, and coffee) and asked them about where we could take Spanish classes. Soon we were meeting with a woman named Melina Reno and arranging to take 20 hours each of individual classes over the next two weeks (total cost: about $214 for both of us). Then it was off in search of lunch.

We had empañadas at a little diner (total cost for four empañadas, a liter of coke, and a giant bottle of water: $1.75 or so), and then walked down to Plaza de Mayo. The weather could not have been more beautiful. It's been consistently 80 degrees and sunny the entire time we've been here.

Plaza de Mayo (pictured at the top of this entry) is the beautiful courtyard between the president's house (the pink building in the picture, which gets its color from being painted in cow's blood) and the Town Hall. It is most famous internationally for the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, women who gather in a silent vigil every Thursday at 3pm. What they are in pursuit of, and unfortunately will probably never get, is justice for the thousands of Argentinians who "disappeared" during the military rule of the 1980s.

The Plaza de Mayo is filled with pigeons. An enderly gentleman (who did not want to be photographed) was selling little plastic tubes filled with corn to feed the pigeons with, 4 for a peso (about 8 cents each). We bought some, and were promptly swarmed by them. They flew up into our hands, four or five at a time, they climbed onto our shoulders, they milled around at our feet. It was ridiculous, marvelous, somehow exhilirating. I loved it.

Afterwards, it was back to our hostel to take a little siesta. After we were up and about again, we struck up a conversation with some of the other travelers there, quizzing them about where we should get dinner. Suddenly we found ourselves among friends, kindred spirits.

There was Paul and Caroline#1, an English couple who had been together for 18 years (over half their lives). They're planning a trip down the Western coast of the US, from Seattle to San Diego, on a tandem bicycle. We loved them, and Jessica spent half the night deep in conversation with Caroline. They were hanging out with Caroline#2 (also English), and the three of them invited us to the last night of a Tango festival. Now, how do you say no to a Tango festival in Buenos Aires? You don't.

We grabbed some more quick empañadas (these were a touch cheaper, and far better) and headed out with them at about 9pm. The Tango festival was in the middle of a closed-off street, with a live band playing on stage and thousands of onlookers watching dozens and dozens of dancers. It was dizzying, intoxicating. I remember thinking that it was everything I'd ever dreamed our trip could be.

Afterwards, the five of us settled in at an outdoor table and ordered three liters of beer (beer comes by the liter here). We sat and drank and talked, told the stories of how we all met our soulmates (Caroline#2's boyfriend, Rob, would be meeting us later, having spent the evening at a football game). I found myself simply lost in a wonderfully safe, marvelously happy place.

Afterwards, we went to a local bar to meet Rob and some more friends named Chris and Vikki (all also English), where a live band was playing some kind of Argentinian traditional music, and everyone was singing along and pounding on the tables. We drank liters and liters and liters of beer, shared embarrassing stories, and generally had a fantastic time.

At around 2:30am, we left the bar and returned to the hostel, picking up seven more liters of beer on the way. Here we met up with Stuart (from Scotland) and his girlfriend Gemma (from England), where we all continued the enjoyable drinking. At 4am, Gemma and Phil left and returned with another 10 liters of beer, and then somehow we all wound up doing shots of tequila. At some point, things got maybe a little too silly, and (at Paul's suggestion) Gemma shaved Rob's head. These things just seem to happen in Buenos Aires.

After 37 liters of beer and a half a bottle of tequila, everything culminated in Stuart's booming recitation of The Flower of Scotland. A friend of Rob's, sleeping upstairs, stumbled in to ask us to keep it down. I will always treasure the awe evident in Rob's voice when he turned to the Scotsman: "Stuart, you just woke up an Australian!"

Thus it was that we all retired to our rooms at about 6:30am. It's almost twelve hours later, and most of us are still asleep.

Tonight, we plan to stay in, and make ourselves a quiet dinner.

Jessica the hedgehog
March 6, 2005 at 4:44pm
Note to self: Do not do shots past 4am. Oi.

The good thing, of course, is that today is Sunday and it appears the entire town is shut down anyway. So our first international hangovers are the perfect excuse to be "hedgehoggy" inside all day. :)

And no worries, everyone, we were very safe the entire time. And Tim's head was not in danger of being shaved.

Jessica the hedgehog
March 6, 2005 at 6:51pm
I look like a goofball in that pic. :)

…I can't for the life of me remember why I wanted a picture of everyone's feet…seemed like a good idea at the time though…

lucy
March 6, 2005 at 7:05pm
hee!
what an adventure. all if it is so much in colour. wow. wow. wow.

and it is so gorgeous in the pictures.
and i must say…i love the feet picture.

laura f

Tim the hedgehog
March 6, 2005 at 7:11pm
And for the record, our share of those 37 liters cost us a mere $12. I love this country.
Shana
March 6, 2005 at 7:34pm
lol – all that beer and economical, too! i'm glad you found those connections… i already love reading the stories of your adventures.

and jess, you look positively statuesque with those pigeons ;)

Marisa
March 6, 2005 at 9:46pm
AWESOME! First international drinking adventure! Hurrah! '-)

I love foreigners. The better to drink with! Cheers to nursing those hangovers with a quiet hedgehoggy evening.

xoxox

~m

daddy
March 6, 2005 at 9:56pm
it's a good thing you don't have any set time to get up at have a good time but be safe love daddy
No one you could confuse for a Tar
March 7, 2005 at 4:37am
I'm here reading.. even though I promised myself I would save it for when I am at work and could really take my time and enjoy everything. I'm already loving this though.. Stay safe..
Philsie
March 7, 2005 at 9:11am
The beer bottels look like you should have been in New Zealand "Bro" cook me some eggs…
Philsie
March 7, 2005 at 9:12am
sorry bottles
Allison
March 7, 2005 at 10:10am
you trip is inspiring! i can't wait to hear more. :)
Loofa
March 7, 2005 at 12:35pm
Hmmm sounds like someone is trying to get in shape for a good drink-off in a year when they get back… Bring it!

On a bit more serious note, He Woke up an Australian! Having traveled with some I have to say, I am impressed! Keep up the good work!

daddy
March 7, 2005 at 5:53pm
read journal couldn't post there so i thought drop by here , i've a new bed mate china for the last two nights china has spent part of the night with me and this morning i found one of her fuzzy toys there. keep having fun love me
marcus
March 7, 2005 at 6:18pm
AHHHHH YOU CRAZY KIDS…DON`T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE!
Juno
March 7, 2005 at 7:58pm
Also impressed he woke up an Australian!
seana
March 7, 2005 at 9:00pm
well i had this big long thing typed out .nbut i put in the web page wrong.so i guesss to make a long story short i miss you guys very much. and i love you so much.that includes you tim jessica was such a lucky person to find you and i hope you always stay toghther. it may sound selfish but i need you both . ok i love you both and will write soon. please write me back
Jessica the hedgehog
March 8, 2005 at 12:52am
Yea! I'm glad to hear the feet picture has been well appreciated! And no worries, everyone, we were most definitely safe and very happy. (And how lovely is only $12?!)

It's funny, but the accents are making us miss Mr. Philip even more than usual. I think, Philip, that you'd get along quite well with everyone. And hearing your accent for the past 7 years has certainly prepared me for understanding a Scotsman in a loud bar at 5am! Reminds me of all those nights at Brownies… :)

As far as getting ready for drinking, my dear Loofa, only time will tell – you definitely NEED to get to Greece. Definitely. Meow, baby.

To Marcus and Daddy – no worries, we're safe. And I'm so glad to hear that China is doing well too. A few of the other girls in the hostel have left behind their cats too and we've all been missing them together.

Seana – I miss you terribly. And the only sentimental thing I carry with me is the other part of the $5 bill I gave you. (I don't even have my ring or my necklace or a piece of blankie with me. Just that half of the $5 bill.) I have complete confidence in you. Both Tim and I do. And we love you an incredible amount. We need you too, more then you know, so keep writing, yes?

And to everyone else – you are all goofballs and we love you. Keep commenting, please, it means the world to us even if we can't respond all the time. :)

Carried away
March 8, 2005 at 5:29am
Ah, I see the tango, the cerveza, the tequila and the company are good. The lighting and the architecture also look beautiful.

The foot picture is classic for all its goofiness.

Heather
March 8, 2005 at 2:33pm
You should learn to tango…especially from the folks doing the real deal over there! Once I settle out of my mad swing phase…I will take tango again. It's so romantic.
Congrat on the great start to your trip. Sounds like a blast!
seana
March 8, 2005 at 4:59pm
im glad you answered so fast. i am at the library today so i thought i would see how your day is going. you are so lucky to be able to do this once in a lifetime chance. who knows maybe you will come back married(ha, ha)ok enough of that and i wont get mushy this time..well save for evey other time . alright I love you both very much and please be extra careful. signing off as your best big sister.love lots seana xxxxxxoooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxooooooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxoo oooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxoooooooooooooooooooooxxxx
koreen
March 8, 2005 at 7:50pm
hey you two! how jealous am I? very, very, very:) but it sounds like a great start to your adventure! and you aren't missing anything in Philadelphia--more snow today! Yikes! drink a liter for me…

k

Sue
March 9, 2005 at 10:40am
37 liters of beer on the wall, 37 liters of beer, you take one down and drink it down …

well you get it! Glad to see you guys made it safe and are having so much fun! Tim .. we miss you! Jessica, even though I didn't get a chance to meet you, we miss hearing about you from Tim!
Be safe you two -– have fun, fun, fun!
Seems that my PC at home won't let me open up your posts…so I'm forced to check them here at work, which ain't so bad! Will keep checking on your progress…and I TOTALLY agree with the person who suggested you learn to Tango with the natives! When danced from the soul, it is … well … (AHEM) .. Just take the lessons you two, OK?
:)

Maggie
March 10, 2005 at 10:54am
(Lauging my fat rear off at the comments posted by Tim/Jessica's friends/relatives.)

I know I'm not supposed to be a site hog, but I do enjoy this website so much and the posts by everybody here are just precious. I think everyone will agree with me when I say that we must have a GIGANTIC party when the Hedgehogs return next year, for after reading these posts I feel as if you're all part of the family and it would be really neat to meet you all in person. However, I'd prefer it if we all didn't spend the time drinking 37 liters of beer… Unless a Kaliber or an O'Dules was thrown in there somewhere.
<img src=' style='position:relative;' height='17px' width='17px' /> Keep writing everyone, for I love reading what you all have to say! Take care and rock on!

amy
March 10, 2005 at 3:18pm
jess– careful about pigeons. they carry diseases like NYC rats.
Ben B.
March 10, 2005 at 3:44pm
Did you know that there is going be a total solar
eclipse on April 8? It will be visible in Central and South America and from the South Pacific Ocean. It should last about 42 seconds. I don't know if you guys will still be there, though. Tell us if you see it.
P.S. Chris is learning how to do computer animation. Hope you are well.
Diana the Humble
May 1, 2005 at 10:00pm
Wow – so amazing to hear that you're on your way. I smiled when I read your account of the pigeons in the plaza. One of our favorite memories of our early years together (we're now at more than 20 and couting) was my first trip to London, and the pigeons in Trafalgar Square…one of my favorite pictures of Christopher is rather like the one of Jessica, but with many many more pigeons. *sigh*

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