Monday, August 31, 2009

For Those Who Love to Rock! Part Uno.

J and I barely made it on to our flight to Atlanta without bitch-slapping the jerkstores at the Delta ticket counter at Philly International. Air travel, unlike most other modes of transportation, really has the propensity to make my blood boil; perhaps it is the absolute callousness of the ticket agents. They know you are at their mercy; they are all drunk with power and douchebaggery.

All J and I wanted were the seats we had confirmed, which is apparently WAY too much to ask of Delta. (Normally we would not make a stink, but the seats were towards the front of the aircraft. We had a tight connection* and DO NOT trust that any flight out of Philly will take off on time, ever.)

Plus, I also suffer from an acute affliction known as Haughty Arrogance of the Frequent Flyer. You've seen us, dudes. We have the security line down to a science and we're constantly judging you, rolling our eyes as you fumble with your laptop or YOU DEIGN TO PACK liquids in your carry-on sans plastic bags. What kind of asshole packs liquids? We ridicule. Oh shit, did this moron just fucking beep? Oh what, you forgot to put your cell phone on the belt? Amateur.

(J actually picked the shorter line when we got to security. I shook my head tiredly, beckoning him to move to where I stood. There are kids in that line, I mouthed. He moved. And sure enough, the kids held up everyone as the distracted parents fumbled with sneakers and tiny pink back-packs.)

(So ready to be a parent!)

Naturally, this disorder makes me especially senstitive to the insensitivity of the ticket agents. Don't you know who I am, I want to shout. I practically own this airport!)

(Okay, I exaggerate a bit. But still.)

(My, did I just take up 80 paragraphs about South America to bitch about Delta?)

(Oh, I did. And I don't regret any of it. I hate you, Delta.)
And now, for the piece de resistance - now with more painstaking-details!

J and I did eventually get the seats on our Atlanta-bound flight switched to the front of the plane; we made it off with plenty of time to make our Buenos Aires connection. Once we settled into our seats on the Boeing 767, I headed back to the bathroom and to chat briefly with one of the flight attendants.

"So, you make this trip often?" I asked politely.

She replied affirmatively, and I sweetly inquired, "So, is this generally a very turbulent flight?"

"Oh yeah. When we get towards the equator, it's always really bumpy. But don't worry; the pilots are military-trained."

*Wakes, pops pills*

Of course, Overly Candid Flight Attendant is wrong in her prediction. The flight is so spectacular that we hardly believe ten-and-a-half hours have passed when we stumble off the aircraft the next morning in Buenos Aires.

We navigate the airport rather smoothly, and we make it out to the taxi stand. We grab a cab to Puerto Madero, where we grab a ferry to Colonia in Uruguay. From Colonia, we grab a bus to Montevideo. I jotted down some notes on that leg:

Still high.

Apparently, all you have to do is put me any moving vehicle (plane, ferry, bus) and I am asleep and drooling within minutes. Uruguayian countryide is beautiful. Sparse and green, covered in pockets of small homes in which clothes hang on wires drying in the warm sun. Long to really jump out of this bus and start visiting homes.

(Obviously, the drugs had not worn off yet.)

We are still in good spirits as we arrive - via taxi - at our Montevideo hotel, Plaza Fuerte. We've been on this journey for about 24 hours now, and we're relieved to be in our temporary home.

Plaza Fuerte is a beautiful, refurbished hotel located in Cuidad Viejo, or Old City. Our room is split level; we've got a small living area on the first floor, along with a tiny balcony, a writing desk, and the requisite flat-screen. In the upstairs loft, we've got a queen-sized bed and an elegant bathroom with a large shower (the second biggest we've seen in our travels to date, which is always a welcome treat).

These stairs will kill you.
The view from the balcony.

We learn very quickly that no one speaks English in this place. I consider our American arrogance; any country we have visited up until this point, we have found English-speaking guides, receptionists, waiters, etc. to help us navigate the unfamiliar terrain. When people back home ask us how we manage to communicate, we usually shrug and say, "Oh, everybody speaks some English. We've never had a problem."

Enter Uruguay.

She is a welcome challenge. J took Spanish in high school; he still remembers a bit. We did some studying on the plane: Hola, Adios, Que tal?, Cuanto cuesta? We attempt these phrases self-consciously, and are pleased when we are understood; though when we do ask how much something costs, we can't decipher the answer and the merchant has to write down the amount for us anyway.

Our lesson in humility continues the next day, as we happen upon a street market near our flat. Montevideo's markets are teeming with antiques. J and I have little interest in these items in general, but we eye everything curiously. I zero in on sterling silver mesh bags from the 1920s, the merchant tells me. I am so relieved that someone is speaking English - that I may actually have a conversation in this strange place - that I start chatting excitedly. When he asks me where I am from, I tell him America.

"You are in America!" He exclaims, and my face turns crimson.

"Uh, North America, I meant."

"Anglo-America!" He admonishes me, though we continue to talk for a few moments before J and I meander off, towards the massive meat market J wants to visit. (Oh, now that is an amazing sentence.) It's about a fifteen minute walk from the hotel, and as we make our way we wonder aloud why the streets are completely quiet and empty. It's a Saturday afternoon, and the weather is cold but refreshing (perhaps in the high 50s). Are the Uruguayians hibernating?

We find everyone in the city at the indoor market. There are a billion restaurants enclosed here, some with table seating; most with bars you can sidle up to and order Patricia beer and blood sausage for a few pesos. We throw caution to the wind and order the barbeque for two. A few minutes later, enough food to feed a family of five for a week is placed in front of us.

Mmm... papas fritas!

Our waitress is a lovely, non-English speaking woman who gamely tries to mime what we are eating. She is pointing and rubbing her belly excitedly as we dig in... We hungrily eat the intestines in many incarnations, as well as a bite of kidney. (Not my first kidney, but likely my last. In case you haven't indulged, it's very... THICK.) We wash it all down with beers and sauvignon blanc, and eventually we meander through the empty streets back to our hotel...

Part Dos, Coming Soon!

*That's what she said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

As I work on that damn Argentina post...

I give you a FB treat!

25 Things, Y'all ( Written back in February. You're welcome.)

1. Meiko is playing on my iPod right now. I tend to love her.

2. I believe seeing Damien Rice in concert is a religious experience. If you have ever heard him play "I Remember", then you know what I'm talking about.

3. Of course, I also almost cried during the New Kids reunion concert. The ten-year old kid in me was completely overwhelmed and nostalgic.

4. I have kept a journal since I learned to write.

5. Recently, my mama found a diary from my 9th year. In one entry, I wrote: "If you ask me, all men are silly like that. Except maybe the New Kids!" Obviously, I was very astute.

6. I come from a beautifully-blended family chock full of six brothers and sisters in total. I love all of my siblings dearly; they are each so different and talented and funny as all get-out. (Shout-out, dudes!)

7. I am mostly ridiculously happy in life, except for brief moments of insanity that my husband handles with great aplomb.

8. Speaking of my husband: he is very cute, caring, and also gives the best hugs. I can't believe he agreed to take me on some days.

9. In the soundtrack of my life, the most important songs are: The Professor, by Damien Rice; Shimmer, by Fuel; Defying Gravity from Wicked; More Than Words, by Extreme; and Let Go, by Frou Frou. In some way, each changed me, or the trajectory of my life.

10. I snapped a picture of myself voting for Obama, and I saved all of Time's commemorative election issues for my future babies. I just know I did something important for them.

11. I am incredibly sentimental. (See #9.) (Also #10.)

12. I can't tolerate intolerance, which is ironic, huh?

13. I was raised Catholic, but I'm still searching. At Westminster Abbey last week, the Evensong program said something akin to "whatever faith you are, whether you are searching or not, you're welcome here." It was like a breath of fresh air.

14. Two weeks ago, addressing a group of 50 or so colleagues in a meeting, I uttered the phrase "deeper penetration." I immediately thought: "That's what she said." I still don't know how I kept it together.

15. Last night I watched the film Milk in my hotel room and cried like a baby. Have you seen it yet? You should.

16. I am obsessed with traveling. I am constantly planning new trips in my brain and ticking off places I must visit before I die.

17. I hate to fly, and last year I logged more than 50 flights. I am getting really good at faking it though.

18. That's what she said.

19. In the fourth grade, my brother and I walked into school and saw a huge sign that read: "Lordy Lordy, Ms. Egan's 40!" Seriously, 20 years later? Still stuck in my head. I say it constantly.

20. I luuurrrve to read. I prefer it to most other things.

21. My plan is to be a novelist. Now, I just need to plan to write that first damn book.

22. I idolize Indra Nooyi, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Robin Roberts (is she not the most ebullient person you've ever seen?).

23. I thought I had perfected my clipped English accent in London last week, when a new Brit friend told me I really should stop shouting "Cheers, mate!" to everyone I saw. I asked him what I had to do, then, to sound authentic, and he replied, "Well, for starters, try being born in ENGLAND." Touche, Brad. Touche.

24. I am ever so grateful for my friends and family, who keep me laughing constantly. I can't believe how much my girlfriends and I laugh when we're together. It's a beautiful thing.

25. And now we end with India.Arie on the old iPod, "A Beautiful Day". It's happy music. Cheers, mates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are You There, Internet? It's Me, HomeValley.


How's it going?

Yeah, so, we need to talk.

Sit down.

I don't know quite how to say this...

Look, I'm just going to come out with it.

I no longer believe I have any readers.

Y'all have been too silent for too long, and now I just don't have any faith in you anymore. Now, I read the stats (the tiny, tiny numbers) and they tell me people are visiting. But hello? I posted on Monday a story about how a pigeon UNLEASHED a shit storm of fury on me in Buenos Aires, and nobody said boo.

Testing, testing.

If you are reading, tell me you are alive. I worry about you. Leave a comment, even if you do it anonymously, and even if it only says "Present". (But really, you should probably do it anonymously and post movie quotes, 'cause I love me some movie quotes.)

Give me the strength to go on, gentle readers. Am I the proverbial blog in the forest? Holla at your girl.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Digging Out.

Hola, amigos! I am digging out right now, but wanted to pledge to you, dear readers, that I will post an update ABOUT MY vacation this week. That is my solemn vow. You should know it was amazing, even when someone asked me where I was from and I was all "America!" And they were all "You are in America, you jackass." And even when I was unceremoniously shat upon by a pigeon, because it wasn't just your run-of-the-mill bird crapping. It was a full-on SHIT ASSAULT that covered your blogmistress in warm, gooey bird poo and rendered me temporarily immobile.

"J? Oh my God, what is it?!"

"You just got shit on. By a bird."

*dies laughing*

"Oh my God? What the fuck? A falcon?" (Seriously, you should have seen what this bird of prey unleashed on me. My clothes needed to be changed. And probably burned.)

So a few minutes ago, I am in my office sorting through a floppity-jillion emails, grooving to the easy listening station. I was suddenly appalled. (Guys? that boogie oogie oogie song is playing. Come on.) I shot an email to Grace:

I listen to B 101 during the day. And I woke up at 4 AM in Buenos Aires and Dazed and Confused was on - and I was all shocked about what d-bags all of those people were and baffled that we thought it was really cool.

This is obviously what happens when you turn 30. I kinda hate myself.

To which Grace replied:

Show me someone who doesn't like soft rock and I will show you a liar.

This is why she is my best good friend. She nailed it!

More to come. (Like why was the song "I Adore Mi Amore" in our heads all week? Is that honestly the best Spanish song we could come up with? And other thoughts.)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Know I Don´t Speak Spanish!

Buenos dias, friends! Coming to you live from Buenos Aires, where, my Spanish-speaking skills? GOD, they are abysmal. High on the list of priorities when J and I return to Anglo-America? Rosetta Stone, bitches. You better believe it.

Next priority? Relocate to Buenos Aires. I am telling you, kids, this place is fantastico. Bueno!

Montevideo was... interesting. I think J and I both expected a warm, inviting, charming little village. The experience was much different, though of course, nothing we would trade. Just a bit colder (literally and figuratively) then we anticipated. Although I wouldn´t put it quite so extremely, Martin, our handsome bartender at the BoBo, explained: ´´It´s a good place to go. To die.´´

I must away now... We are going to Museo Evita (!) and then the Recoleta Cemetery to visit Eva Peron´s tomb (can you guess which musical theatre nerd selected today´s itinerary?)

Adios, muchachos!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Aaaannnddd... We're Off.

Running out the door to go pick up J and head to the airport! To think: only 1.5 hours in the airport, 2 hour flight to Atlanta, 1 hour in Atlanta airport, 10.5 hour flight to Buenos Aires, 40 minute cab ride to port; 3 hour ferry ride to Montevideo, plus 15 block walk to Hotel Plaza Fuerte, and we're home free. Uruguay is practically in our backyard!

I wanted to post pics of the packing (Lord! The packing!), but this is me and OF COURSE I am out of time. Fear not, friends: J assured me that he wants to "be bored" on this vacation (a rarity for us), so I am sure one day I will sneak off to a cafe and update the Internet on our South American adventures.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 03, 2009

I Wish You Weren't a Liar.

So last night I am parking Roberta and grabbing the groceries out of the trunk (simultaneously, you should see it) when the H appears on the front porch.

He says solemnly: "OK, so, I have a little bit of bad news. But it's going to be okay; you don't have to freak out."

And then I had a heart attack and DIED. Right there on the street in front of our home.

DIED! Because someone was ABSOLUTELY dead this time.

I clutched my chest, eyes wide, and listened.

"Orbitz called. They canceled our flight home from Argentina... I'm on the phone with them now trying to figure it out."


"Oh my God, J. I thought someone was dead!"

J is on the phone for another hour as I cook dinner. Turns out Orbitz? Delta? Utter fucking douchebags. They canceled our return flight home. Just like that. And then they left us with two options:

1. Fly home a day early.
2. Fly home a day later.

Gee. Thanks, dudes. But surely you will pay for an extra night at our hotel?


K, so then, you will upgrade us to first class?


Er, so then, you will make sure we can at least sit together on the 11-hour flight home?


So, yeah, that worked out for us.

In the end, we opted for more time in Buenos Aires. And the greatest hotel evah, Bobo, was more than happy to accommodate us.

(Oh, though my guess is, this is because we are flying into Swine Flu Central. Thanks, MSNBC. Meh.)

Oh, and then, this morning, stupid Robin Roberts just had to report on THIS. And she even had to comment to Lisa Stark: "We've been hearing so much about SEVERE turbulence lately; it's becoming a real problem for the airlines."


But nothing can thwart me this morning: I am an optimistic beacon of sunshine and fucking rainbows. Bitches.

And so, I leave you with this dude.

This morning he asked me (personally, through the talking picture box), to test myself and see how much I lie in one day.

Oh, it is on, and to be blogged about.

Happy Monday, y'all!

(Seriously: I am just still so happy that all of you are alive. Gloriously alive!)