Let’s her it for alliteration, guys.
Where to begin…obviously it has been a while, and much has happened. Leigh and I had a fantastic vacation in Jamaica that included lots of drinking, lots of eating, tons of laying out in the sunshine, and visiting a nude island.
I’ve always been curious about nudism. For one, I find the naked human body pretty interesting in the first place (regardless of questions of sexual appeal or aesthetics), and have often thought that the West, and the United States in particular still has a rather priggish attitude when it comes to our our own flesh. Nudism and nakedness seemed similar to sexual liberty in the connection to self and the confidence in the body it allowed for, but with fewer of the complications that are inherent to sex and sexual partners. Basically, being naked, and especially being naked around other people and in a non-sexual situation seemed akin to taking ownership of the most basic, concrete version of the physical self. I’m not about to embrace a completely nudist lifestyle, but I understand the appeal. I toyed with the idea of going to Austin’s Hippie Hollow when I lived there (a clothing optional section of Lake Travis), but it never really happened (and I’ve heard that skeezy perverts tend to ruin that experience somewhat regularly).
The island, which the resort owned, was a beautiful, tiny piece of land that guests reached by taking a small skiff across the beach. Full bar service and a daily lunch buffet was offered there. The weather was beautiful and relaxing, and the setting idyllic and quiet. Having nothing but the skin on your bones only made the feeling of being completely at ease that much more pronounced. The big question that people ask (and especially ask of men) is about arousal. Of course, being surrounded by naked people of both genders does turn your eye from time to time, and contrary to popular belief, this part of the resort was not reserved for “only the kind of people you wouldn’t want to see naked”. That said, while an appealing body is always appealing, something about the setting of a casual nude island so completely strips the nudity of any sexual connotation that arousal doesn’t really enter into the equation (not that anybody would have cared if an ill-timed physical reaction had occurred).
After that trip I spent a good chunk of time back in The Republic of Texas, where I enjoyed driving a car, eating delicious and cheap food, drinking with old friends, and all of the assorted Christmas festivities. I can tell I’m beginning to mellow with age, as my holiday breaks are becoming more and more low-key and I enjoy them more and more. Got to catch up with a lot of people and just relax. Christmas Day, my mom revealed her surprise combo Christmas/Bday gift for my dad, which was a trip to Argentina that Alex and I got to tag along for.
Buenos Aires, and Argentina as a whole, was great. Love the food, the weather, the architecture, the city, the people. It kind of feels like a less snotty, more laid back Paris or Rome. It’s a first world country that still retains a lot of charm and unique culture, and while I think the employment/economic situation there is fairly bad, the exchange rate with USD is great (especially if y0u use grey market money changers), and looking in a realtor’s office in a neighborhood comparable to Soho, we found apartments going for as low as $400 per month (1bedrooms). I may have entertained thoughts of moving there at some point in my future.
Then it was on to Patagonia, sans brother, for fishing and riding at two estancias (country lodges) where I engaged in fly fishing for the second time in my life. I’m still terrible, but my cast and technique have been upgraded from “abysmal” to “approaching mediocre” under the tutelage of my dad and our guide Santos. I landed 23 fish in total over 5 days, including a consolation prize 21-inch Rainbow after the biggest fish I have ever seen in my life, a Brown estimated at 24-25 inches, broke the line after a 15 minute struggle.
Speaking of heartbreak, I also had the surreal experience of watching the Dallas Cowboys put in a valiant effort against the Green Bay Packers while staying at the first estancia. The British proprietor had a television hooked up to DirecTV and graciously allowed me to enjoy the game in her living quarters. I’m glad I was alone, because a great, competitive game basically got deflated on that stupid, bullshit, ticky-tack overturned catch late in the 4th quarter. I know you can make an argument that the call was “correct” by the technical standards of the NFL rulebook, but as the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well…it’s probably a goddamn duck. I don’t think there was anybody on that field, Dez and his defender included, who thought that was anything other than a catch. I think there were precious few people watching, even professionals, who thought it wasn’t a catch. The fact that McCarthy even threw a challenge flag seemed lame and contrary to the spirit of the game, and then, when the refs overturned the complete, thus robbing Dallas and fans of both teams of a probable punch to the end zone, resulting in a 28 (or possibly 29)-26 game, with GB getting the ball back with under three minutes to play…all NFL fans were robbed of an instant classic, and an actual competitive ending to a great game. Instead we got a wet fart of a technicality that ended with GB running out the clock.
That said, I’m proud of the way the Cowboys played this year, and for the first time in a long time, feel I’m rooting for a legitimate contender. Now we just need to get the Longhorns back in order. Oh, well. At least the Mavericks are doing well.
Back to Argentina: one thing I really enjoyed while at the estancias was being fairly unplugged from everything, and enjoying the community that these lodges foster. You pretty much eat your meals with the other guests and staff all at the same time, and it leads to a lot of great conversation. It was especially nice to be a foreigner in a foreign land. While none of the guests were South American, a scant few were America, and of course, outside of America, it feels like the American is always the odd man out. This was not unwelcome. I had a lot of great, interesting and polite conversations with South Africans and Brits about American culture and politics, and the general “mood on the ground”. It was very nice to be around some people who all seemed to take to heart what I’ve long considered to be true: people are not their government, or politics, and are much more than the sum of their parts.
I can’t wait to go back. Maybe at one point, it will be for good