On teaching abroad and perving on the lives of others

Friday, 18 June 2010


The word has been spreading for years, but I'll confirm it again; teaching English abroad is a great way of travelling. Not only does it fund your trip (or, in the case of some better-paying nations, allow you to save a lot of money), but it allows you to be a nosey bastard, too.

Don't Mention the Falklands

Saturday, 12 June 2010


"El que no salta es un Ingles!"
"El que no salta es un Ingles!"

"If you don't jump you're English!"
"If you don't jump you're English!"

I asked for the translation of this phrase whilst surrounded by thousands of fist-pumping, chant-bellowing Argentinians in B.A's Plaza De La Republica.

On OCD and fucklists

Monday, 7 June 2010


When talking to folks who are really into travelling, you may have noticed that they occasionally become a bit OCD in the documenting of their trip; creating graphs and maps to work out the exact distance they had travelled, photographing themselves sternly standing in front of every 'Welcome to...' sign, collecting a fridge magnet from every country that they visit, creating post-journey scrapbooks, mostly comprised of pictures of cathedrals, that nobody but themselves could possibly be interested in.

I like the enthusiasm and contentment of these acts of geekery, although I can't say that I've ever fully indulged in them myself.

I'm going to let you in on my own freakish little secret, though.

On feeling disenfranchised after escaping a mugging

Friday, 4 June 2010


Last night I was given an impromptu Spanish lesson on 'the language of being mugged.' Tonight, by sheer coincidence, I had my first ever dose of practical experience.

I was walking home along Avenida Coronel Diaz, past the western border of Parque Las Heras, when I noticed two lads eyeing me up from a park bench. Their necks were tense, erect, their faces following mine, moving simultaneously in the manner of two rat-faced little cobras.

I considered turning back and walking in the opposite direction, but didn't want to present my back to them. Instead I veered more in their direction, maintained eye contact; an attempt to show that I wasn't intimidated. Evidently my subconscious felt that muggers should be discouraged in the manner of aggressive dogs. On this particular night, however, I wasn't in possession of a string of juicy sausages.

One of them whispered something to the other, the other agreed. They stood up in unison.
Either they were a couple of night-gays about to complement me on my jacket, or they were going to mug me. The road was shaded by trees; there was no-one else walking in the vicinity. I slipped my hand into my pocket and wrapped a fist around my house key.

They approached from either end, and said something rapidly in Spanish.

“No gracias”, I replied, and continued walking.

One of them placed his arm firmly around my shoulder. He was slightly taller than me, but skinny, hollowed out in the face. Judging by his ravaged glare and fucked-up teeth, he may have been a connoisseur of 'Paco'; a dirt-cheap cocaine resin comprised mostly of chemical by-product.

“Dame la guita”. The rat-faced kid looked somewhere between 16 and 18. As he asked for my money, his work colleague jabbed me lightly in the side, and said something else. They were still walking with me, side-by-side, like old school buddies.
Friends here had told me of their mugging experiences. More times than not, they suggested, the muggers didn't have a gun.

I looked ratface in the eye, and smiled. Tried to use my age as an advantage. “Que Quieres, Chabon?” (What do you want, kid?)

He pushed his face into mine, and began to unzip his jacket pocket, presumably implying that he had a gun or a knife. Logic told me that if he had something, he would show me it, but fear still crept from my bowels to my stomach, the fear of the unknown. How far would they go for my money? They would have known that I was a gringo by that point, so wouldn't they also presume that I had a fat fucking gringo wallet?

His face was in mine again, they were starting to get angry. Their anger fuelled mine. I wasn't going to give these scrawny fucking scumbags my cash, my cards, on the off-chance that they might have a gun.

“I don't know how to say this in Spanish, but in English we say 'fuck you'”. As I went to raise my middle finger to his face, he swang wildly, punched me in the mouth.
Finally, anger flooded into my veins. Proper anger, pure, beautiful, glorious, a blood-red wash of murderous rage. It was crystal clear now; there was no uncertainty, no doubt, no fear, simply the acknowledgement that we were going to fight, that I would smash and swing and bite and rip and gouge until they were unconscious, or I was killed in the process.

Ratface was skipping about wildy, strafing around me in a circle like a super-featherweight boxer. The other scumbag was standing off, either not interested in fighting or, most likely, waiting for my back to turn. I raised my hands, still with a housekey embedded in the right fist, and tried to draw ratface closer without committing myself, began to taunt earnestly, beckon patronisingly with my fingers, hoping to enrage him into an attack.

“Aca chabon, aca you little cunt”.

He sprang forward and then attempted to shimmy away towards the park, hoping to draw me into the darkness and leave me vulnerable to his friend. As he crossed my path I threw an uppercut, and caught the underside of his chin with my key. Later I would find blood on my right hand, but at the time it wasn't enough; I followed him into the park, hoping to grab hold of him and force him to fight hand-to-hand, fantasising about smashing his face 3 inches deep into the concrete path, burying my teeth into his neck and wrenching out his windpipe with my incisors.

His glance shifted a few inches to my left, and two things happened at once; I wheeled around and saw his friend in mid-lunge, as if ready to pole vault; and a taxi driver began to bellow at them from inside of his car. I could only catch hold of the cowardly fuck's jumper before he twisted away and made off across the street. As I turned back towards ratface, savagely happy that we might have a little bit of privacy, he was already clambering over the wall of the park, fleeing into the night.

The taxi driver was shouting something about the police, gesturing me towards his passenger seat. I began walking home again; all I wanted to do was kick somebody to death. My wallet was still in my pocket, the would-be-muggers had run off, and I still felt disenfranchised. The only satisfaction I had when I walked home was in tonguing my swollen lip, biting down on it until I could taste blood in my mouth.

Anyway, how's you???

Sam