Wrong Neighborhoods in Buenos Aires
This one was definitely not my fault and happened after a series of unfortunate events that just piled on top of each other that happened to put me in a precarious situation. It must be some combination of me, being a girl, and South America, but I’m like a magnet for this stuff–no wonder my mom is so worried all the time. So I’d let me recount the events of a recent night, just so I can scare the shit out of everyone who knows me…again!
To better prepare for the upcoming hitchhike to Brazil, I moved over to the third location I’ve stayed at this time in Buenos Aires–my friend Julio’s house. It’s located on one of the streets close to Plaza Miserere, which he told me (as did others) is not so good of a neighborhood. During the day it’s not so bad, just full of people selling shit from, presumably, China. It was Wednesday and had I decided to go to an art gallery opening with my friend Laila. Julio and his roommate Sandra were both going out for the evening and would be back by 1am so I was going to come back at the same time — no extra keys and I couldn’t use the doorbell because of something with the landlord. And that seemed like it would work. Anyway, I had both Julio and Sandra’s phone numbers just in case we didn’t cross paths.
I suppose you’ve already figured out that this didn’t work out, but it seemed so fool proof!
So I went to the gallery opening, which has some interesting pieces that I’m using metaphorically in this post, had dinner with Laila and hung out a bit before heading back. I arrived 10 or 15 minutes before 1am and as I didn’t have anything on me (except my iPhone, very hidden underneath several layers of clothing, I just waited for one of them to show up. I couldn’t really check how long I was waiting, though, because I couldn’t pull out my phone. Anyway, it didn’t seem to bad… there were a couple of prostitutes at the end of the block and I’m almost certain I saw two drug trades, but for the most part everyone just kept their head down and walked by. Also three police were patrolling… or at least they had come by.
Then finally something happened that made me feel uncomfortable. Two guys who looked like they were already inebriated set up camp at a dumpster across from me and were quickly joined by a third guy. This is when I started to decide that I was going to go to a locutorio for a phone call, but it looked like the one down the street was closed. While I was deciding the two guys started to move away and the third guy crossed over to the street where I was and, of course, planted himself right next to me. Okay, bye, see you later, right? Yep, I was definitely leaving now. He said something, but it was in a very, very slurred inebriated Spanish so I didn’t really get much other than that he though I was pretty, I looked like I wasn’t from here, blah, blah. Anyway not important, what was important was that the guy started following me when I started walking off.
And he kept following me. I wasn’t really scared of him, more disgusted and annoyed. He was wasted on something for sure and I could probably have pushed him and run away–he wouldn’t be able to keep up, not at the rate he was zigzagging. Well, he kept following me onto the main avenue, while I was asking for the closest phone center from someone selling food in the plaza, and right over to the phone place. Is it wrong for me to say I was sort of hoping he’d get hit by a car? I went inside and asked for a call, got in the booth, and then had to pull the door shut and hold it because the damn guy was still behind me! I told him to leave me alone and braced myself against the door to keep it shut. Eventually, I think the guy at the counter told him to leave, but he said he’d be waiting for me outside.
I pull out my iPhone to look up Julio and Sandra’s numbers and call them. Sandra’s phone didn’t work; either out of battery or off because it went straight to voicemail. Nothing on Julio’s either. I noticed the guy outside peeking in at me and before you know it he was back inside trying to get in the booth again. Now he’d seen my iPhone and he wasn’t really taking the hint that I wanted him to leave. Eventually the counter guy told him to go out again. I kept trying to call and I did make it through to Julio once, but it got cut off before I could really know if he’d understood anything. Then the guy cam back in and we repeated the series a couple of times: him yanking at the door, me holding the door shut, me staring daggers at the counter guy and wondering why he wasn’t doing anything. When I wouldn’t come out or let him in, he sat down in the booth next to me — so we were just separated by glass — and when I went to get up, he did too. I lost track of the number of times he exited and came back in, but finally I got up and told the counter guy, cause he didn’t seem to be figuring it out, that I didn’t know who that lunatic was and that he was following me and that I now, clearly, couldn’t leave. That helped him figure out he needed to call the police cause that’s what he did, but I remained hostage in that booth for the 3+ hours it took them to get there! I don’t know if they every found that guy with his bloodied white vest — that’s not a joke.
In that time, I did get through to Julio once and he took a taxi to find me, but it was the wrong location and after that our communication ended and I couldn’t get through anymore. Once it was light enough outside I started walking around, to find a McDonalds to use the wifi because that seemed like the only option. I sat in the McDonalds for a couple hours, reading a newspaper… it’s kind of sad people here used to go to cute little coffee shops to read the newspaper; now they go to McDonalds, drink their McCafe and eat a medialuna (a croissant Argentina style) while reading the paper. I did manage to reach Sandra via Facebook and she’d already gone out, but would be back at the apartment by 11am. My phone was also heading into the 20-30% battery life range.
But when I came by this time, she was in the shower (I learned afterwards) and by the time she got out, I’d already walked off wondering where they possibly could be. I was halfway making up elaborate conspiracy theories about the two of them stealing all my things, but they would have had to be the best actors ever and really bad at scheming considering I’d already left $1000s of stuff there before. I pretty much gave up at that point and decided now it was late enough in the day that If I went to Laila’s someone would be awake. So I took the bus over to Recoleta and I ran into Laila’s mother while walking to their apartment and learned, to my relief, that she was home.
That’s basically where it ends. It was a horrible, horrible night that left my chest really contracted from being angry and terrified at the same time. Julio had messaged both me and Laila a bunch of times so I was able to contact him from her house. I stayed a couple hours so my body would start to relax a little bit, before heading back over to Julio’s.
When I rang the doorbell this time no one answered again! There was no way he wasn’t there; I actually started thinking I was delusional and was ringing at the wrong place for a bit or that the bell didn’t work — which it definitely did because you can hear it on the entire street. I had to go and call him because he’d fallen asleep…
Today he just gave me the key.
Also, I challenge Stephen Colbert to a Lord of the Rings trivia.