Note: The following posts are parts from a 45 page journal entry (in word 23 pages), I wrote while in Buenos Aires. The entries were written during my first three days in the city. I had a rough start but by the end of my trip all was ok. However, my final thoughts about my destiny with the city in part 8 still stand true.
P.S. I am including a soundtrack with each post. All the songs are from my “The Return to Buenos Aires” playlist. I hope you enjoy!
Here is part six of the epic journal entry. Don’t forget to read Pt 5 before you read any further.
We reached the first pub. A group of about fifteen people were crowded around the doorless opening. More people were scattered about tables. “Lucas!” Darci called to a young guy in a green t-shirt. “Sorry we’re late!” Lucas waved back excited. Our group began to pull pesos from their bras and pockets. I noticed none of them traveled with a bag. Darci explained it was because of the pick pocketing in BA.
A lean guy with high energy a cap and a four o’clock shadow sat by the door chatting everyone up as he collected entry fees: 60 pesos for free tapas and unlimited drinks. I decided I liked him already. His movements were cat like. “I’ll treat you,” Wendy offered.
When it was our turn to pay the fee, the fee collector turned to us as he counted the money in front of him. He glanced up at us and laughed as he counted the last peso. “Oh! Sorry ladies,” he said with a bashful smile. “I don’t mean to make it rain in front of you.”
I asked him where he was from. I knew it wasn’t Buenos Aires. “I’m from Spain,” he purred. After we paid, a purple wrist band was fastened around our wrists. The band read: Need help remembering what you did last night? OutandAboutPubCrawl.com. We moved to the back of the bar to the back terrace. Another friend of Darci’s joined us at the table. She had a short pixie cut, cut close to her scalp. She wore round sixties earrings and a black baby doll dress. She was a modern day twiggy.
Her name was Danijela and she was from Croatia I believe. Darci slid the last Imported Chocolate luggage tag to her. “That’s for you,” Darci said. “Because you’re white Imported Chocolate. You’re off white.”
Danijela grabbed the tag and immediately burst into excitement after she observed it. “Wait!!! This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!” I told her Imported Chocolate was my website and the name was inspired from my first trip to BA, which I wrote a book about. “Wait! You wrote a book about BA!?” She asked.
“Yup! It’s called ‘Hola, Morocha: Black Girl’s Guide to Buenos Aires.” All of their faces lit up. I hadn’t told them the title before and they wanted to know more. They moved in closer, leaning forward from their chairs. I gave them a verbal overview of the 40 page excerpt of “Hola, Morocha,” complete with animated gestures and adlibs. They burst into laughter and listened to every word with intense interest and excitement.
That’s when the light bulb in my head began to glow from its dwindling light into full illumination. As I saw the open interest in the faces of these youth— seven years my junior— their body language of shoulders leaned in close to me as I spun my tale, it was the strongest and clearest indication that my book was still very much relevant and needed to be set free in the world.
“That is so great! I need to read this book!” Danijela said. “You have to give us all copies.”
“Can you open it up to both sexes?” Quinlan asked. Then he sighed. “I’m just kidding. I’m not about to sit up here and tell you what to write.”
“I read the first 40 pages and was completely engrossed,” Wendy said, speaking up and advocating for me. “She’s a very talented writer.”
The talk of my book instigated a discussion about what it meant to be black in Buenos Aires. Darci brought up how the stares made her uncomfortable again. I talked about how I didn’t think they were so bad anymore, that they were worse five years ago when there were even fewer black people in Buenos Aires. I told them how I could not even walk in a restaurant without people staring and now I can.
“Well maybe you feel that way because you’re not new to Buenos Aires anymore so you don’t notice the stares as much, but to someone just arriving like Darci, the stares are still intense,” Danijela said. The light bulb in my head illuminated brighter. Danijela was on to something. Your book is still needed the voice whispered.
As if she heard the voice Wendy said, “Jennifer. It only means you are the pioneer.” She was referring to the fact that there were even fewer black people in Buenos Aires when I began to write about the experience.
We had to move to the front of the bar so that the Barista wouldn’t have to run back and forth between the front and back terrace. “So where did you go to college?” Danijela asked me.
“I’m an Autodidact.”
“You’re a what?”
“I’m self taught.”
Murmurs of wonder and amazement buzzed between them. Danijela grabbed my arm. “We are sitting with a genius!” She exclaimed.
“No, no, no, no. I’m not a genius,” I corrected.
“Oh stop. Yes you are,” Quinlan said, as he sat grinning with a glass of wine in hand. “You’ve been called that before haven’t you?”
I couldn’t say no because I would be lying— I’ve been called a creative genius more than once, especially when I was a teenager— but I couldn’t say yes either. It was weird to hear that word used to describe me and even stranger to think of myself in that light. To fit the word to my skin felt egotistical and vain. Even now, writing about the moment when it was said seems wrong, but Wendy told me to collect all the kind words that were said about me tonight and write them in a leather bound journal. She said to call it my emotional bank account, and when the negative voices I encounter —whether it’s my own or the voice of others— slither in my head, open the book and read the words.
“Can you believe she’s 27,” Quinlan asked the group.
“You’re not 27.” Danijela said.
“Yup! I am.”
“You look 19!” She said.
“Nope. I’m 27.”
“What do you do?” Quinlan asked, referring to what I do to keep my appearance youthful.
“Nothing,” I replied. “It’s genetics. My parents age slow.” Laughter erupted all around but I was completely serious.
“I may look young but I have like 5 grey hairs,” I said.
“Who cares!?” Quinlan said. “Your face looks great!”
“People would just think you’re prematurely grey, that’s all,” Cierrah said, speaking up.
“Ugh! Can I be you when I’m 27?” Quinlan added. “Oh I just drifted to Buenos Aires and wrote a novel,” he joked, mimicking me.
The money collector stood on a chair and announced it was time to move on to the next bar. He had the energy of a Las Vegas showman. “Remember the buddy system! If we arrive together we leave together!” Everyone cheered to punctuate his instructions. He jumped down from the chair. This is the most organized pub crawl I’ve ever experienced I thought. Five years ago, my friends and I would just stumble into random clubs already smashed. I was impressed by the responsible nature of it all. The best was yet to come…
(To be continued)