Jul 152015

I woke up this morning to find all the things I didn’t want to find. Specifically, a sea of 11 dirty socks at rest bedside, one of my braids unraveled (you thought natural, beachy waves came effortlessly in a city far too dirty and inland for anybody’s own good?), my headphones wedged under ribs, the cord cinching my waist like a heartless tailor doing a rush job (  what happened to ‘a stitch in time…’?), and the clock shaming me with 11:53am. All that, along with a mini cookie wrapper tangled in my tank top.

And here’s the thing. Those wrappers? It’s no exaggeration when I say they’re everywhere. I found two in my Spanish workbook just last week. Know what else? They’re not even mine to so liberally litter. The wrappers are from all the mini cookies that accompany every coffee, tea and café con leche I order. It’s a little country tradition. Like how the U.S. thinks it’s cute to ignore climate change, Argentina thinks it’s cute to give complimentary sweets with espresso. (Culture is neat!) They’re fit for a doll’s high-tea, individually wrapped and I’ve been squirreling them away since I first arrived. My plan was to lovingly give them to all my fun friends, but this trip has, in the understatement of the year, been quite a test. And not the rewarding kind that ends in a pizza party and high fives all around.

Leah, hello. Welcome.

Thank you so much! It’s great to be here. I’m ready to get right into it, ready to do the work.

Right. Well, listen. We know you signed up to work in the Gender Equality program for a solid 4 weeks, and paid for the full 4 weeks (thank you for the thousands of dollars, by the way), but we’re actually just going to have you put in 8 days.

Oh. Um. Okay. Well, I can be open and understanding to the schedule and needs of another country, even though it seems..well it seems a little odd to pay for one thing and get another (I’m glad you’re enjoying all the money I gave you, though). But, at least I’ll still be volunteering in the area that brought me here in the first place (women’s rights!)  and not an area which I specifically avoided signing on to (kids!).

About that. We’ve actually gone ahead to change your plan completely and put you in the daycare. It’s an exciting time right now because they all have colds.

Jesus. Okay. This isn’t ideal. At all. I certainly didn’t travel across continents to do a job I’ve been doing since I was 16. But you know what? Let me make the most of this. I’ll try and do my best to help in this new situation.

So adorable, but there’s really not much room for that. You see, we already have two teachers in the daycare, and there are usually only 5 kids (on a busy day). I know they’ve been casually chatting about going through that box of old toys over there, though. Need to pull out anything that looks broken. So if you wanted to get a start on that..

Yikes. All right. I’m minding my manners (barely), but I’m very much unhappy with this situation.  At least I have my health.

Do you, though? You’ve been subsisting on flour and sugar at every meal for 3 1/2 weeks, have seen vegetables 5 times and was told to avoid the meat in your neighborhood. You get headaches every other day, spent a total of 2 weeks in bed due to a mystery box of symptoms and generally function at half mast.

I guess you’re right. Well, thank you for at least being so attentive and helpful when I couldn’t sit up without feeling dizzy. It felt like I really got my money’s worth with the traveler’s insurance you made me buy.

We weren’t. And you didn’t.

All right, already! Fine. But at least I can sit here and be happy about the ring I found for $1.50.

We know you want to be. We do. But look closer. It’s cracked and about to break in half. (And frankly, you’ll lose it the minute you get back to Brooklyn, anyway.)

Because these wrenches were thrown with such incredible aim and accuracy (and frequency), I’d find myself ransacking all my friends’ souvenirs, eating them quickly and quietly, trying to calm down in a dishonest manner. I bought 4 glazed croissants for my roommate. A sort of apology for being too weak and depressed to go out to the barbeques he always wanted to drag me to where he boasted about the grilled intestines. The croissants made it three blocks before being devoured by my hatred and frustration. The walk from the bakery to home was 4 blocks.

I took a picture of one of those cookies, sent it to my boyfriend and told him I was bringing him back an entire collection.  5 weeks’ worth of tiny biscotti bites. He sent me back a picture of a mason jar he bought that same afternoon with the concerned caption, “I’m worried this won’t be big enough.”

You thought I could go on to handle that situation with ease and aplomb? You continue to give me so much undeserved credit? I went on to turn my phone off, open my suitcase and crack into the jar of dulce de leche reserved for my brother.

Ultimately, it’s a sticky, crumb riddled mess over here and no one’s getting any gifts. No one.


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