Sunday, 9 November 2008

Metro II drama

The Hostel where we're spending the first few nights is basic, but reasonable. The owner is a very friendly lady who gained my trust instantly. I'm told that Buenos Aires isn't a city where you can trust many people, so we're lucky in that respect. I have bunk beds in my room; Stefan, who didn't book before arriving, has bunk beds and two singles that are joined together to form a double. I'm not greatly bothered, because he's tall and probably needs the space more than I do. The bathroom in this place is interesting: it's like a big wet room, with a toilet. I'm sure I know people who would shudder at the idea of standing in a shower that's right next to the toilet (hey, try the other one - I think you'd actually have to sit on the toilet while showering!), but this suits my needs for the time being. The TV sets in each room are an unwelcome feature, because the walls are hardly thick…

On my first night I was, understandably, exhausted, and fell asleep quickly in spite of the TV next door. I was woken in the middle of the night by some lunatic downstairs who was banging around for some reason, but soon got back to sleep. I woke again at 8, and went back to sleep, then was woken at about 10 by people who had to check out. I can't remember the last time that I felt so grateful to be able to lie in bed and rest.

When I was getting dressed I heard the hostel owner telling some story, and mentioning the arrival of the Police; I didn't think too much about this, and headed out for a short stroll before returning to meet Stefan for 12. When I returned, the hostel owner told me that she'd had problems the night before - the lunatic that had disturbed my sleep clearly was a lunatic. He'd been running around completely naked, causing a huge amount of distress to everyone around, and she'd had to call the Police in the end. The story still made little sense to me, because it was both fragmented and hard to understand.

As Stefan and I made our way down the stairs to leave the building, a door was slammed in the face of a man on the floor below, and he was left standing outside in his pants and a shirt. Stefan and I quickened our descent, slightly perturbed by what was going on. When we got to the bottom, the guy had caught up, and shot in front of me before I was outside, then stood in the doorway, talking to Stefan. He wouldn't get out of my way. Stefan and I looked at each other in worry and confusion - what was going on here?! The guy turned and looked at me, and his remarkably bloodshot eyes suggested to me that he was totally slaughtered, and his Mrs had locked him out of the flat due to his outrageous behaviour. An aged couple came down in the lift, and the woman gave me a look to say "Don't worry about this…", as if she knew what was going on. She asserted herself and got past the man, and I followed through. Stefan and I walked off.

I looked over my shoulder as we were walking, though, and noticed that this nutter was following us. He was wearing no shoes or socks, and no trousers, he was off his face and carrying an unlit cigarette. I was slightly worried, but safe in the knowledge that he had no chance of catching up with us, and that he'd never even remember us. He followed still, nonetheless, shouting for our attention. We turned a few corners and lost him, then went for lunch.

We returned to the Hostel after lunch hoping that the nutter would have disappeared. Fortunately, he was nowhere to be seen. I told the landlady that I'd met "el loco de abajo", laughing at how this guy was walking down the street after us wearing his pants. She then gave me a few more missing pieces to the story that had started being told earlier that morning. He was, as I suspected, completely drunk. He'd allegedly been demanding opium, and was going crazy because he couldn't get his fix. He'd been washing down handfuls of pills with bottles of whiskey, and had been trying to smash the place up. There are parts of the story I still can't understand: the Police were called, but they said they couldn't do anything because he was a druggie (what?! His behaviour would have seen him spending at least a night in jail in Britain…). His dad eventually came along to take him to another hotel (what?! The man is clearly not safe for any hotel!). Whatever, it seemed as though the drama was over.

Stefan and I spent the afternoon wandering around town before going our separate ways - I had to look at a flat, and he was heading off with Jaime to spend the night out of town with Jaime's family. I went for a pizza by myself for dinner, and was impressed by the quality. I bought a bottle of water and headed back to the hostel to think things through and rest - I was tired, and slightly deflated after the flat viewing. Just as I got to corner of the street where our hostel is, I noticed that the nutter had returned. He was there again, fully clothed this time, standing at the door. This wasn't funny. It really wasn't. There was no way I could go to the hostel, because it would involve meeting him again (this time alone), and he'd surely just follow me in to the building to cause trouble.

The Police HQ is right next to our building. I considered grabbing a Police Officer to help out, but decided to instead just walk around the block and hope that the problem went away by itself (the Police had already been alerted to this idiot, but had chosen not to do anything. And besides, maybe it wasn't him, but someone else - maybe I was just being paranoid). If he was still there when I got back, I'd have to talk to a Police Officer. I made my way around the block, then tentatively approached the road the hostel was on again. He had gone. I was in a bit of a state, but got into the hostel anyway, and felt relieved and exhausted when I locked my bedroom door behind me. I was really unsure if I was enjoying Buenos Aires at that precise moment, but, hey, nothing bad ever happened...

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