From Buenos Aires to Kalispell

By Beacon Staff

More or less I moved to Kalispell from Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a little couch-surfing and vagabonding in Missoula in between. I finished college in Buenos Aires, spending hours staring dumbly as loud, hairy professors shouted at me in Lunfardo – the city’s own brand of Italian-laced Spanish – about late 19th-century Argentine political philosophy. Kalispell is decidedly a change of pace.

Buenos Aires is a magnificent city – a city of art, exquisite parks, the best steak in the world, good jazz and fantastic writers. But it’s still a city, and a big one at that. Its metropolitan area has more than 13 million people. So this Montana boy learned to ride the subway everyday. I learned not to make eye contact with people on the street. I learned to look eternally rushed and angry. I learned to miss Montana’s pace.

Argentina was a more civil affair than my previous adventures in Central America and Peru, almost boring in comparison. I didn’t get robbed nor did I have any knives pulled on me. Not once did anybody charge into a bar with a M-16. But perhaps those are good things. In the half year I was in Argentina, I managed to escape the city only a few times, but on those rare occasions, I visited one of the biggest waterfalls in the world; poked a penguin in the stomach, which provoked it to rush at me hissing like a deflating tire; and fished for fat trout in the Andes.

Several years before Argentina, my buddy and I decided to take a bus, and hitchhike when necessary, from the Panama Canal back to the U.S., through six Central American countries and the deceptively tall Republic of Mexico. A bus ticket from Panama to Mexico is only $55, but, as we found out, that only takes you to Southern Mexico. So we ran out of money somewhere in Mexico and bought a plane ticket on credit from Mexico City to Salt Lake City, where we had a car waiting. It had been waiting there for nearly five months. I showed up back in Montana in the heart of winter with a broken toe, wearing flip-flops and shorts, because that’s all I had the entire trip.

But after years of bouncing around, always running out of money, it was with a stroke of good fortune that I got a call from editor Kellyn Brown after I got back from Buenos Aires. I was unemployed, homeless, done with school and a bit confused. Kellyn, who I had never met before, told me about this new Flathead Beacon project. A couple of months later I was living in Kalispell. And it’s a fine place to be – just my pace.

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