It’s somewhere near 90 degrees outside. A June haze hangs over the mountains, a reminder that a great part of the American south is still part of the American south. I’m in Greenville, South Carolina’s airport and practicing a seasoned aural avoidance of the big-waisted, over-aftershaved salesmen who bop around powered seemingly by little more than Bluetooth technology and the assumption that they are, in fact, the most important person to have ever flown. It’s safe to mark me down for hating all of them. It’s also safe to assume that I probably need to be leaving the country for a while.
I realized late today that the temperature here is a middle finger to the reality of the season. At some point, without asking permission from anyone I know, autumn arrived disguised as the same oppressive summer we’ve been cursing for the past three months. To celebrate, I wore underwear. That was a mistake. This is going to be a long flight.
The next time I sleep in a proper bed–if a Holiday Inn Express in Argentina could ever offer any such thing–autumn will be long forgotten. At this hour, college kids all over South American’s southernmost country are partying it up to celebrate what I can only presume is the first day of spring there. I am, for all practical purposes, flying from one season to another. It does sound tempting to go there and celebrate spring, I’ve heard it’s very beautiful, a friend of mine recently booked some patagonia tours for him and his family to go on as a vacation, sounds lovely.
This shouldn’t strike me nearly as hard as it does. Argentina is a different world. Its people are sultry, smoky, and seasoned. They live opposite of Americans in almost every way. They live in a different hemisphere. They experience opposite seasons. They feed their beef grass instead of steroids and grain, and it’s a point of pride. Of course, it’s well-documented that they burn the meat before serving it. The last time we were there, my traveling partner began ordering all-beef muy, muy rojo, which was an inspiration on her part. I’ve since learned the phrase casi crudo might work better, but I doubt it. Still, even when overcooked, it’s pretty damned good meat and Argentina is a pretty damned good country.
To get where I’m going, I will fly from this airport to the maelstrom-center of flying America, Atlanta’s Hartsfield International. I’ll enjoy a long layover and then something with MSG in it in the wonderfully-appointed E Concourse. Awaiting me will be a 10 hour and 15-minute flight to the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires. Once through customs there, I will find my traveling companion and a man with a sign that should indicate he wants to drive me the three hours to Che Guevara’s childhood home of Rosario. It looks to be around 22 hours from door-to-door. And I am wearing underwear.
Awaiting me is an Argentine spring, several good friends, and a week of work that most people would take a cut in pay to have. I’ve been blissfully work-travel-free for the past few weeks. Despite the distance I have to travel for this trip, I’ve been getting a little jumpy in the noodle recently, so this little trek is probably a good one. And, again, there is the beef–overcooked or not.
The last time I was in Argentina, I visited the oceanside city of Mar del Plata. I caught a nasty cold. I discovered an energy drink that was only labeled with the word SPEED. I made the mistake of ordering a “superpancho” and thinking it was going to be awesome. I got into a practical joke war. I ate a lot of overcooked beef. While elsewhere in the club, I missed my friends getting dragged unwillingly into a bar fight. My friend Joe and I watched a local celebrity fall face-first and drunk into the street at 4 am. We then stole a girl’s taxi and called it a trip.
A lot about these trips and my life has changed in the year and a half since that riotous adventure, and so I have no idea what to expect over the next nine days. All I know is that, despite how reluctant I am to get on this plane, I really feel like I need to get moving. This might be exactly what I need.
That is the optimist in me. The pessimist in me packed a full buffet of underwear and a Clif Bar. Either way, I’ll be back in autumn next week sometime and preparing for the next adventure.