Saturday Night in Salta

I drank 2 liters of Salta Stout while watching the Peña dancers. The little ruddy man at the door had told me that I could ask of him anything, anything, and he would do it for me. I motioned him to the table. I have something for you, I said. I would like a bag of coca leaves. They are legal here and I wanted to chew the coca. He smiled and said he would get them for me and returned minutes later with two green plastic bags of the leaves. 8 for one and both for 15 pesos. I bought them both and stuffed a few leaves in my cheek and went back to the drinking and watching the Peña dancers.

There was a stimulative effect though mostly at the level of a weak cup of coffee. I started taking bigger wads of leaves and squeezing the juices out with my teeth. Where the leaves were balled in my cheek my gums and tongue now tingled. When the dancers stopped and the musicians returned I got up, paid my bill and left.

On Calle Balcarce a little further were clubs and bars and I walked up and saw one with girls inside and I heard rock music and went in. I took a beer at the bar and very soon the place was full. It was past 2am. I drank another beer and stuffed some more leaves in my mouth and spit out the used up ones. Then I started approaching. The girl next to me was first and she hardly paid me any attention. Then I realized the barman was her boyfriend.

I got up and sat down with two girls I had seen in the back near the bathroom. I didn’t say hi or even look at them, but sat down and started eating from the dish of peanuts on their table. I finally look up at the tall, very good-looking, black-haired one and start to talk to her. Her ugly friend I ignore. She said she was married and a volleyball player and she wore no ring because she had been practicing today. I challenged her story but in fact it worked out. She was married and she may very well have been a volleyball player. The ugly one was single but there wasn’t enough coca leaves and beer in the world to make her acceptable.

I tried a table of 3 ugly girls on the way out. Despite being unattractive they were tough and I finally just smiled and insulted them in english they didn’t understand. Next door was a place called Wasabi which was the big club on the block. 20 pesos to get in and a paper ticket that you show to receive a glass for drinks, but if the ticket is lost you must pay 5 pesos when you leave. S American clubs are often complicated in this way.

I use the ticket, which was actually confusing me, to talk up 2 girls in line. The one is cute but with an ugly little friend (many cute girls with ugly friends). They help me get a drink, a vodka with a Red Bull sort of energy drink. Now I'm all wired up on coca leaves and energy drink cocktails. I've by now finished off the first bag of leaves and am working on the second. I’ve had two liter bottles of beer, 3 mediano beers and am now drinking vodka cocktails and I feel pretty good for having a touring cyclists tolerance. Clearly the leaves are working.

The girls and I do some dancing and the cute one is asking many questions and touching but its tough with the little ugly one hanging around to do anything. Then the cute one comments on my hair. She says its dirty. I tell her I haven’t washed it in almost 2 months. This shocks her. Does it smell, I ask, fully expecting she will say it doesn’t and then I can lecture her on cleanliness. But she smiles weakly and says that actually it does smell. This shocks me. I had no idea I smelled. Maybe it had come on recently. I would have to wash it. I felt like leaving right then and going back to wash.

We dance some more and drink another but the ugly one won’t go and now I’m getting tired. The drunkenness is starting to come on heavy. I’m out of leaves now too. The girls turn to go across the dance floor and I turn the other way and push my way for the door. I just want to get out of there.

Outside I talk to couple of girls with a guy. They don’t want to talk to me either. Maybe it’s the long (smelly) hair and beard I have. So I start playfully insulting them, sometimes in English, just giving myself a good laugh. They want nothing to do with me. They’re trying to get a cab and finally hail one and I jump in the front seat with the driver. This scares them and they jump out. Where we going? I ask, chasing after them up the street. I was having a laugh.

Then I felt the urge to piss. The plaza is ahead with all those fine palm trees for pissing. When I get there policeman are patrolling on each corner. Damn. People are walking on the streets. So I sit down on the curb partially hidden behind a parked car and unzip and piss while sitting there.

It’s a long walk back to the hostel and as I go past this one building that is spotted with little areas chipped out of the white wash, I get the urge to sleep outside. It’s a cool night, but I’m wearing my wool sweater and I feel good. At this building the grasses have been uncut for some time and I walk up the stone steps and see that along the building, just a few feet from the street but on a raised area, I can lay down in the high grass and go to sleep. No one can see me.

Its past 4 am so I figure I’ll sleep a few hours and then go back to the hostel. The hostel is only about 3 blocks away but I really miss sleeping outside and I’ve never tried it without a tent or a sleeping bag, and it would be a fun thing to do right in the middle of a city. So I climb over the stone railing and lay down in the high grass next to the building and go to sleep.

I wake up four hours later and sit up in the grass. There are a few people walking on the street. Its Sunday morning. The sun is out and I can see it will be a warmer day than yesterday. My head hurts. I hop over the railing and down the stone steps and I am back on the street. It was a fine night to have slept outside.

1 comment:

  1. This is the kind of night a guy needs to have every now and then. This kind of night opens a guy's eyes to a few things. This kind of night is also just fun, without having to have some kind of great awakening or whatever. This is my kind of night.


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