(View of sunny Santa Cruz, Bolivia)
Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Population 12 million residents (it’s pretty big). After the long overnight trip to get down here, I encountered yet another issue that threatened my time down here. I groggily de-boarded the plane and waited in the line at immigration. Making sure I had all my documents in order, I opened my wallet where I had kept my plane ticket. After removing my ticket I noticed a particularly bare area where my debit, credit, and health insurance cards usually go. My heart sank into my stomach. I had left them in Colorado when making photocopies of them at my parents house, I had some cash on me, but I couldn’t stay afloat for long. Being thousands of miles from home with no source of money can make you feel a little naked. So yet again, as soon as I arrived at Hotel Plaza San Martin right in the heart of BA (that’s what the cool kids call it), I was on Skype phoning home. Luckily, the cards were right where I had left them on the scanner and thanks to the glorious delivery system of FedEx International, I had all three cards in my possession a few days later. Phew!
Training with G Adventures in Buenos Aires was absolutely incredible. When the front desk at the hotel gave me the key to room Ph4, I was a little confused as to why they have such odd room names here. Turns out Ph means Penthouse, and I was staying in their best on the top floor. Being first to arrive, I took the master bedroom, naturally, which had its own wrap-around porch and a Jacuzzi that we could fill up. Needless to say, we were all a little blown away with our accommodation. “The Playboy Mansion” became an instant legend. There were nine of us training in the Southern Cone: Four Argentines, one Chilean, a Peruvian, an Aussie/Salvadorian, and two Americans, me and a guy Kris from New York. Our ages range from 35 to 22, and I do receive constant crap for being the youngest and a gringo at that. But overall, it’s an incredible group of people to be doing this with. The training, although fun, was very information intense and tiring. We learned all about the company, situations we’ll encounter, and how to deal with just about everything. After the week of information madness was over, we all had our last group dinner: a big-ass steak, and lots of wine, a classic Argentine staple. Then it was off to Kika Club in Palermo, where I’m convinced the music doesn’t stop. Ever. Bring your sunglasses for the morning cab ride home!
And then we were on our own. We had a week in Buenos Aires before our respective training trips, or “shadow training” starts. Me and Kris were to go with another CEO on a 14 day trip from Bolivia and ending in Rio de Janeiro. Kris had worked in a hostel right in the city called Milhouse a few years ago, so we stayed there for our free week in BA. The week included: sprinting around the city trying to collect all the documents necessary to acquire a Brazilian visa, getting denied initially by the Brazilian consulate for lack of said documents, African-style warehouse drum parties, attempting to jog in the city whilst avoiding homicidal bus drivers, dancing, drinking mate, and the Sunday market in San Telmo, where they sell everything from hand made crafts to 16th century muskets with helmut included. I could go on about how the city is a perfect combination of European sophistication with Latin flavor, but what I would like to write about was my ghostly encounter at Milhouse.
I present to you: The Ghosts of Milhouse Hostel.
You can’t really spot Milhouse Hostel from the street outside, unless you know exactly where you’re going. Just one block off the 300yd wide 9 de Julio, basically the Broadway of BA, Milhouse is marked by a large wooden door in an unassuming building. A tiny sign will tell you that you have arrived to the right place. Once inside, however, you will find that it is a 5-story building with a large spiral marble staircase that leads up to the dorms. The “lobby” consists of a bar with tables, a grungy pool table in the corner, and a large projector screen that plays the daily football match. The dorm rooms upstairs wrap around a tiny common courtyard, where everyone meets to discuss last nights debauchery and plans for round two (or three, or four). Kris and I settled in and laid around for a little bit. I sat in the courtyard outside my room to get a better signal to Skype my parents and tell them about my week so far. That’s when I began to hear strange noises echoing off the concrete walls. They were very faint, almost unhearable, then they would disappear. I thought nothing of it initially.
Earlythat night, as we were getting ready to go out, I stood in the courtyard again. “Oooooo…” “aaahhhhhh….” There they were again, this time however a bit louder. I looked around to see if anyone above the courtyard was making these eery noises. They almost sounded like crying. Nothing. This must be an old building. Could it be that we have some paranormal activity going on? Other backpackers grew curious off the noises as well, and we started to compare theories.
I encountered the “ghosts” later that evening. We had gotten back from a friends’ birthday party in Palermo at about five, and I reeeally had to pee. Again in the courtyard, the noises arose. This time they sounded like a woman screaming…and they were coming from the bathrooms. As I walked down the dark corridor leading to the bathrooms the noises became more decipherable…
“Aaaaaaaa!…… Aaaaaaa-oooooo! Oooooooh!….OOOOOH YAAAAA! THAT’S IT!”
By now I’m sure you know what the ghosts of Milhouse are. Someone “was up all night to get lucky” as the new Daft Punk song goes. Still, this was different. Once in the bathroom, whoever this girl was is absolutely going crazy, and whoever this guy is makes love like a stallion. And all day long? This couple should both be relationship counselors. They were so loud; I was convinced they were on another bathroom right next to mine. After I got out of my bathroom, however, I found that I was the only one there, yet the noises persisted. I opened a nearby window and poked my head out. “OOOOOHH MY GOD!” The sounds were deafening, and coming from the neighboring building. This wasn’t just any couple, these were the people that get paid to do this sort of thing. And that building is where creepy men (and women?) pay to watch it all unfold on the big screen. Milhouse hostel shared a wall with El Teatro Pornográfico, aka the porn theater. For the next week, at sometimes disturbing times of the day (like 8 in the morning), you could hear the nastiest of funny business echoing from the bathrooms. The Ghosts of Milhouse Hostel became a lovely ice breaker when meeting people throughout the week in BA, although I am glad to be out of there and on the road. I can now poop in peace.
Time of writing: I am currently in the small town of Bonito, Brazil, waiting for the overnight bus to Foz do Iguacu. I am in the middle of my “shadow training” and it is going incredible. Next stop, Rio de Janeiro!