3/28/10: El Chalten, Argentina
I like those word games where they have one word on the top line and a word of equal length on the bottom line, and you have to get from the top to the bottom by changing one letter at a time and making a new word in each blank. For example, how do you get from LION to KING in six steps?
I’m going to try to simulate that game here, only using topics that have come up recently while traveling. My goal will be to get from “Taking Zhou out to dinner tonight” to “Hiking etiquette” also in exactly six steps. Here I go!
Start: Taking Zhou out to dinner tonight
Don’t tell Zhou this, but I secretly made the bet yesterday knowing that I was probably going to lose. When we ate dinner out two nights ago, the guy next to me ordered the best looking steak and potatoes I’ve ever seen. And tonight the food did not disappoint – 420 grams of the most delicious steak I’ve ever tasted for less than $9!
The thing was, I didn’t want to ask Zhou if we could go out to dinner again just for me to get it, because it’s Zhou’s job to convince frugal Kevin that it’s ok to spend money on food. So that’s the real reason I made the bet.
1. Bets between me and Zhou
Here’s a bet we came up with a long time ago. (Unfortunately we haven’t come up with the stakes yet, but if you can think of anything worthy of such a monumental wager, please let us know.) When we return home, I am fully confident that I can taste the difference between high-quality and low-quality bottled water. We’ll set up the bet like many blind taste tests – we will have three unlabeled cups of bottled water – two of one kind and one of the other. The crappy water used will be Deer Park. The good water will be either Aquafina or Dasani, whichever one is on sale. I will have to state which water is in which cup.
And here’s a bet I’ll throw out to anyone who wants to take it: same taste test, only using 1% milk vs. 2%.
You know what goes good with milk? Oreos. Up until this trip, I never really ate a lot of Oreos, but lately they’ve been the only recognizable snack food in many convenience stores. Even though I’m in my trying-new-foods mode, I still enjoy eating something I know every now and then. What I didn’t know about Oreos though is how durable they are. We’ll buy a pack and smush it, drop it, smack it, bop it, twist it and the Oreos just don’t crumble. Those sure are some tough cookies.
3. Common sayings
If your plans fall through, what happens? I’m told by the powers that be (Zhou) that this means your plans fall apart and you wind up doing something else. But stick with me here: shouldn’t plans that fall through be plans that actually happen? Picture your plans high up on a cloud, out of reach somewhere (this is where they should be because they’re things you want to get to in the future). If they fall through, where do they end up? Right in your arms, where you can execute them. Our plans for taking the day off today fell through, so here we are doing nothing.
You still think I’m wrong?
4. Things I get wrong
That’s not the only phrase I’ve found I sometimes get wrong. One more example for you to visualize: imagine getting to what you think will be an incredible view, only to find out you hiked all day to look at a big tree and some rocks. How would you describe that view? I’d say it’s definitely not worth sneezing at. Zhou told me the other day that the correct phrase is actually “it’s nothing to sneeze at” and if your memory is too sharp for your own good I then attempted to use the correct phrase in a recent post. I confess, I did it to sound smart…
5. Outsmarting ourselves
Sometimes on the trails here in El Chalten we’ll be having a loud conversation in English about music or sports or something, when a couple comes our way having a similar loud, English conversation. Sometimes that couple will be wearing USC sweatshirts and be eating an In ‘N Out burger, and you know what we’ll say to them as we pass? “Hola.” What is it about being in a foreign country that makes you feel the need to speak what little you know of the local language to other people who clearly just hopped off an American Airlines flight from LA?
And on that note, when the trail is only big enough for one person to walk on, which group gives way? Is it the one coming up the hill or the one heading down, back to the city?
6. Hiking etiquette
Picture of the Day: Even the short, Zhou-sized hikes from El Chalten lead to some amazing views. This one even provided Zhou a nice place to sit.