An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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To be honest, I was torn. My week had been filled with an unproductive hope to help and when hope fell false I was ready to run. Not to abandon hope, but to look elsewhere.

The cycle began months earlier, when I started looking for a project or Argentine need to offer myself to. An idea would surface, followed by a rush of excitement, which calmed and faded when nothing came to fruition. Finally I just decided to go, and within an hour of my arrival things were looking up. Before I left the airport I met a girl, split a cab, and learned she was involved with a volunteer group helping children in a less fortunate area of town. She would check with the coordinator, get back with me, and within the week I‘d probably have a place to help.

Encouraged, I spent the next few days getting acquainted with the city. Buenos Aires is a special place. From the moment I climbed into my taxi I felt something I don‘t feel in a lot of American cities–comfortable, almost at home. There is something about it, a charm. On Sundays, you’ll find cobblestone streets covered with cloth and crafts, created by the humble hands making their living.  On quiet streets, you’ll find old walls cased with colorful graffiti, as good if not better than a lot of art I’ve seen in museums. In the air, there is often a distant drumming of people in protest (a common occurrence in Buenos Aires), a fresh and encouraging sound of freedom. There are musicians who play, couples that dance. I roamed the streets, explored the city. Things were good.

Then I heard back from my volunteer friend. The coordinator didn’t think it was a good idea for me to get involved for what would likely be just a couple of weeks. Back to square one. I had made some phone calls but had yet to hear back from anyone. Then the devils of travel began to whisper. Quickly I made friends with other travelers, anxious and eager to see and experience South America, and inviting me to join. We’d go to dinner. We’d have drinks. We would laugh and dance into the morning. But when we walked back to our hostels, the streets were filled with reminders.

There is another face to this city, one obvious but quickly forgotten. One that surfaces when businesses close, and suits go home. While young tourists sort through the streets in search for a party, young families sort through trash in search for survival. At first I thought they were looking for food, then concerned they were looking for receipts or personal information. They were meticulous, focused. As oblivious to the passerby’s, as the passerby’s were to them. I learned later, the trash strewn through the streets was in process of being organized into recyclables, which would then be exchanged for a modest return. It’s a sight rich in metaphor, here sorting through corporate waste was a people who themselves had been discarded, whether by society or circumstance.

Still I was torn. On one hand, I knew there was need. I could see it and wanted to help. On the other, I was no closer to helping than when I started a week ago and the sights of Argentina (and those visiting them) were calling. I decided to stay. I would see this through, and if all I did in the end was buy sandwiches for hungry people, then that’s what I would do.

Fortunately, things once again were about to look up. And it all started with a girl…


1 Grant { 01.15.09 at 8:21 pm }

You are living my dreamlife brother… I can’t wait to take the world by storm on boat.. I would love it if you’d contribute a story or two to my site. Check me out and let me know.

Peace man,

2 Cary Solberg { 01.21.09 at 8:36 pm }

so you need to finish the story with the girl???? Sounds like you are having a good time and hope things are working out. Take care and be safe. Everything good after our record snow fall in december. doing some skiing and rafting now. Cary

3 The Other American { 01.25.09 at 9:17 pm }

Most good stories start with meeting a woman…

4 John Kimble { 04.02.09 at 3:10 pm }

Blue-eyed, white devil. Shazam.

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