Two days before I left for Argentina in August, I was up late at night writing my book proposal for One-Eyed Princess in Babel: Seeing the world with my ears. I opened up Yahoo News and saw a big article about an Israeli University that had created a time machine.
I thought I had lost my mind.
Yes, it was late, I’d been writing a lot that day and I may still have been thinking about things to pack, but were my eyes playing tricks on me? The article looked legitimate. I bet Yahoo News has some sort of quality control people to make sure that science fiction fantasies don’t appear on the first page.
According to this aparition of news, we could go back in time in this Israeli-made chrono-locomotive. I thought the word “loco” meaning crazy in Spanish was more appropriate in this case than the full meaning of chrono-locomotive, meaning a traveling machine.
As strange as the news was, the timing could not have been better. I was on my time traveling journey, care of a frequent flyer ticket to Buenos Aires and Rio De Janeiro for a one-month long journey back to my past life in the Southern cone and for a discovery of Brazil’s Northeast coast.
To make sure that the flight crew did not throw me off the plane for possible “Homeland Security” risks, I did not inform the San Francisco-Houston or Houston-Buenos Aires flight attendants and pilots that I was on a time machine known as American Airlines.
The three seats next to me were empty, so I slept most of the 10 hours from Houston to Buenos Aires.
I awoke to whiteness. I could not see anything through the plexiglass windows. It was a semi-miracle that the plane could land safely. It was as though we landed in the clouds. For me, it was like landing on a clean white slate for me to create my new Buenos Aires.
After 7.5 years, the airport was totally remodeled. I recognized nothing. On the taxi ride from the airport to Buenos Aires’ microcenter (business district), I wasn’t sure that I had really landed in the right country. The taxi driver and I were discussing Argentina’s latest corruption scandal involving the mysterious bag of money found in the Minister of Economy’s office bathroom. (Reports say that the bag contained anywhere from $30-100,000). When I had first read about the story in July, I didn’t know the money was in a bag and I imagined that someone had rolled thousand dollar banknotes into the toilet paper:)
I’ve heard of the metaphor of putting money down the drain, but only in Latin America can one literally find a bag of money planted near someone’s toilet. I doubt the Minister was stupid enough to hide money in her office restroom. She was most likely blackmailed. This does sound like a possible scenario in Latin America, where the bizarre is normal. (See my 1999 email essay,
Life in South America, where the absurd is daily reality
Could the bath’s red knob actually be for cold water and the blue one for hot water? Wouldn’t I remember something as weird as this?
In 1999, I wrote an email titled, You know you are living in Latin America when… One of the instances I mentioned was when I turned on my bathroom sink and the shower turned on!
Maybe this bathroom also had its own creative plumbing.
Alas, the blue knob in the bath gave me hot water! Oh yes, I have lived in this country before!
It wasn’t the familiar Argentine accent, seeing my friend Gala or even feeling my suitcase wobble on the Buenos Aires sidewalk, it was the cold shower that proved to me that I was once a Buenos Aires resident.
I wanted a warm welcome back to Argentina, but I got a cold shower instead!