Sunday, January 4, 2009

And Now A Word On Peugeots

Just as I was struck two years ago, I was again incredibly pleased to see that nearly half of the cars on the roads in Buenos Aires are Peugeots, and many the same model as my own beloved. Even with the many catastrophes with my students, the overwhelm of a foreign city, the deliciousness of the beef, I still have been dedicating many of my thoughts to my dear, old car, which I likely will no longer be driving anymore, after a hell of a run. This past year my job forced me into commuter life, which entailed 90 plus miles a day on Highway 101, and I assumed that the Peugeot would likely not survive the year. I must say I was not surprised, though I think everyone in my family was, when it not only made it through this year of freeways, but never even hiccupped the whole time...The engine that is. The car runs perfectly, but all of the accessories have gone to hell. Two doors don´t open, including the driver´s door, a third door barely opens, but I know the trick, the key is stuck in the ignition and cannot be removed, one window doesn´t roll down, and a few others labor, but function, the sunroof had to be caulked shut, and supported by wooden blocks because it leaked, the heater only works if you´re going over 65, and then it works far too well, the windshield is cracked, the allignment is off and unfixable, the paint is damaged and flaking off, it stalls when you crank the wheel all the way to one side or another which made parrallel parking in SF all year pretty interesting...But, the damn thing runs like a charm, and I have been waiting and waiting to drive it until it wouldn´t drive anymore, and it seems to be impossible. Once my own door stopped opening, and I had to get in on the other side and crawl through it was enough to convince me that it just isn´t cute anymore. When I get back from this trip, after the Peugeot has been sitting beneath the douglas firs in Lagunitas for however many months, I will turn the key, it will start right up, and I will only drive it for as long as it takes to get a new, far-inferior car that will probably break down twice a month, but will at least have AC, air bags and a seat buckle that doesn´t take a few minutes of wiggling to unbuckle. There, I said it, I will get a new car, and I´m sure my family is rejoicing at the proclamation.

And why am I writing pages about my car in an internet cafe in Argentina? Because I put the mental in sentimental, and by admitting to myself that my time with the Peugeot is over, and now admitting it to you all, I now have a long grieving period ahead of me. I learned how to drive that car when I was nine in a parking lot in Petaluma with my dad, and our dog Rosie in the backseat. It was given to me when I got my licence over nine years ago, and now is a part of my identity as critical as my nose, and I´m gonna miss it. And Willy, no, this does not mean you can bring it to the junkyard when I am gone, you filthy assassin...

Okay, that´s enough, I said it would be a word on Peugeots, but it turned into many, many words on just one, extremely special Peugeot...Thanks for listening.

And Then It Happens...

I just prepared my first mate´ since arriving yesterday morning and have only now officially landed...Exhale.

No shortage of mayhem to get me right into things...Sleep deprived, and feeling pretty wretched I arrived at our hotel in BA around noon yesterday only to learn that two of my students had just been tricked into going to a brothel, which they were told was a club with musica, and when they realized where they were, and tried to leave, they were forced to give up $250 pesos (about 85 dollars) by a group of men just to exit the place, which is a long-winded way of saying that they got mugged in their first hour in Buenos Aires. Ironically enough, one of these same two had already been pick-pocketed at the airport, and lost his driver´s licence, his credit cards and a small amount of cash. On top of this, two other students´bags didn´t make it onto their plane, but luckily just arrived at our hotel an hour ago...AND, I woke up this morning to find one of my students sick and puking. Everyone is already calling me dad.

All that aside, the group seems good, I feel old, and it is very surreal to be here. I am staying at the same hotel in BA that I was staying at exactly two years ago to the day, but am now with a different group of students, and have a much better grip on what I am doing. Like all occasions when you return to a place that you haven´t been to for awhile I am feeling the deceptive, falseteeth of time, and simultaneously feel like I´ve never been here before, but also that I never left, and am I really the same person with memories of this place? Very strange, indeed.

It was a whirlwind to get here, and I must say that it feels marvelous to finally be in motion, and to no longer be caught in the steeltrap of anxiety, preparation, concern...Now I´m just riding the wave. The language barrier is as difficult as ever, I tend to have no trouble with creating awkward encounters in my own native tongue, so you can only imagine how I excel here! That´s all for now...