ROUTE 66











LILLY AND SAMANTHA, OUR TRAVELING COMPANIONS

Published in Spanish HERE on 09 October 2008

One is great, robust, impressive. We could say that it has clear eyes. And the other one is tiny, talks a lot and more than once put its leg in its mouth. But they come along with us, they are our inseparable companions: Lilly and Samantha. We introduced Lilly already in a previous post. Its our blue 4×4, that has already logged 1,600 kilometers since we have it, and we are barely in the second state of Route 66, Missouri. What I did not say to them is why we named it Lilly. I’m accustomed to baptize everything that I run into (what would my analyst say!). My car in Buenos Aires is called Tiqui, my key holder with all the Clarin keys (desks, lockers, etc) is called Osvaldo, my money purse is called Joaquin and now, our light SUV is called Lilly. As soon as I saw it I knew that I had to look for something in her that would identify it. For example, Osvaldo is called thus because is sort of large-nosed and it reminds me of an elementary school classmate named that way. And well, Lilly is from Illinois. It says so in his license plate: 6984969. And from Illinois it derived in Lillynois and it settled in Lilly. The name of Samantha has another explanation. It is our GPS. Because not only we travel with 20 kilos of maps that Paula has been buying for years, since she thought of this coverage, but we also have the latest technology. The thing is that Samantha speaks in Spanish and sometimes errs. I already know that you are going to say that the GPS never makes mistakes, that we are a pair of dummies, but it is truth. When we go underneath some bridge or of several freeways it begins “recalculating”, “recalculating” and right then we might end up at the Canadian border. Then, why Samantha? Because a few days ago we were interviewing people in Springfield and ran into someone named Samantha who almost died of an infarct when we asked her whom was she going to vote and saw the video camera. And she began to hesitate to a point that she asked a friend ”whom must I vote for? “. It was too much. And we decided to name our GPS after the hesitant Samantha. So we ride along with them onthe 66. Although sometimes we would like to give thm a couple of “kicks”, especially to Samantha. Maria.

PD: As promised, here are better photos of Lilly

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{December 28, 2008}   HOW’S OUR TRIP DOING SO FAR
Published in Spanish HERE on 09 October 2008

Hello, friends of the 66! Thanks for the amount of greetings and congratulations that we are receiving. It is fantastic to have so many road companions. We are very busy, doing interviews, talking with people on the street, writing, filming videos, editing, making mistakes, carrying thousand of batteries and little gadgets every day, losing pen drives, notebooks, erasing videos by mistake and –above all– covering kilometers and kilometers through the country. We want to tell you that we arrived in St Louis, Missouri, and are continuing towards the south of Kansas. Friday and Saturday we will be in Oklahoma and Sunday, the 12th and Monday, the 13th in Amarillo, Texas. Then we are off for New Mexico, where we will be approximately the 15th and the 16th. After that Arizona, for 3 days, and from there we will cross the Mojave desert on our way to golden California. Of course all the dates are tentative, but so far we are doing well with the schedule. Is there anybody who lives on the Route and has a good history to share? Leave us a post or write us at plugones@clarin.com and marce@clarin.com. We invited you t come along in our trip. Paula.

A new postcard from St. Louis, MO. The arch symbolizes the
gateway to the West of the US, which is where we are going


{December 28, 2008}   A NIGHT IN THE CASINO
Published in Spanish HERE on 10 October 2008

Maria minus neck brace, margaritas and cosmopolitans

Maria had retired her neck brace and the event deserved a simple (but not for that less touching, he he) ceremony. When we finished our work in St Louis, Missouri, it was 11 p.m. and the bar at the hotel had already closed. They advised to us to go to the casino that was just next door. Better, so we do not have to move Lilly from the parking lot. When we set foot in the place, the first thing that drew our attention was the cigarette smell, something completely unusual in indoor places in this country. To enter we had to surrender our IDs –Had they mistaken us for underage minors? — and they gave us an electronic card with our names printed . We felt like important people. The slot machines tinkling did not seduce us at all and we headed straight to the bar. There I found out that Maria – modern chic, multitasking, does not stop surprising me– had taken a bartender course in the past. We ordered a cosmopolitan and a frozen margarita. Goodbye, neck brace. Cheers. Paula



{December 28, 2008}   FIVE O’CLOCK BREAKFAST
Published in Spanish HERE on 10 October 2008

You might think that all this business of the Route is a great adventure and that the girls only want to have fun. Wrong. Yes we’re enjoying a lot, but the girls are running like crazy all day long after Illinoisans, Missourians and anybody that happens to walk by, to ask them what do they think of this country that gets crazier every day. And not only that: in addition, we must stay informed of what is happening, to record, to erase, to write, to edit, to translate, to dowload music, to blog and to drive… too many verbs for 24 hours. The other day I finished writing my report at 3 a.m. (Missouri time) and Maria stayed editing videos until 8 a.m. I got up at 6:30 a.m. (I was expecting a call from a radio station) and since I was wide-awake I continued writing other notes and I woke up my roommate (who almost hit me on the head with her pillow by the head throws) at 11. We get up and right away get hooked with the computer, blogging and doing thousands of things that cause time to fly. At 2 p.m. we realized that we had skipped breakfast and it was lunch time. We got out, and the city and its people trapped us again. Photos, videos, more interviews.. I was already feeling the pressure in the catacombs when we realized it was 5 p.m. and we had not had even a glass of water! Luckily there was a restaurant nearby that had just opened for dinner (gentlemen, yes, here it is possible to have dinner at 5 in the afternoon) and we went after two orders of chicken with baked potatoes. Gulp. Paula



{December 28, 2008}   TEARS ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Published in Spanish HERE on 11 October 2008

Yes, I cried. My tears fell on the Mississippi. I wished it would have been of emotion. But no, the truth is that it was from anger, from impotence. The day before I had stayed until 3 a.m. downloading footage, editing and subtitling. I left the camera ready to go recording a couple of interviews that we needed and Paula’s teasers. So that was what we did the following morning. We taped several shots in front and behind the Arch Gateway, the 192 meters symbol of the entrance towards the west of the US. I decided to rewind and check how they looked. And when the tape reached the end, it felt like a big blow to the head. My legs loosened up. And tears burst through my face. I had recorded the teasers over a series of interviews we had made the day before. I do not know why Paula did not toss me in the Mississippi. An entire afternoon of work gone to the trash can, better yet, to the river. I cried. Paula tried to console me but I was desolate, it was necessary to go out looking for new testimonies. Luckily we recovered two. One did not get erased and another one we could record it again because the person had given us a telephone number and we interviewed him again. It happened for being anal and nitpicker. A few days early I had been telling Paula that when I worked for a TV channel, as a correspondent in Buenos Aires, one of my cameramen made the same mistake. The difference was that he rewound on the spot and recorded over. But – this is not to make excuses because I still feel like I want to hang myself- I had forgotten that after leaving everything ready (new casette, batteries charged) at 2 a.m. I put the old cassette to download a Paula teaser and I forgot that I had changed the cassette. Luckily, we managed to reconstruct everything and you could enjoy the article that was published today. It was an eventful video. Mainly because last night I stayed up to 4;30 a.m. trying to send it, but the servers were down. Luckily, with perseverance and patience, they are already online. Now I triple check the cassettes before recording.

PS: By the way, I have only two left, tomorrow I must buy some more. See D, that they weren’t going to be enough?

Paula wanted me to remember the sniffling moment



{December 28, 2008}   THREATS AT THE SERVICE STATION
Published in Spanish HERE on 12 October 2008

The crime scene. Here we received death threats (Aren’t we exaggerating?)

The woman’s voice froze our blood. What are you doing here? She shot with an assassin’s stare. We had stopped at a service station on watch in Joplin, Missouri, near the Kansas state line, because Lilly was thirsty. After filling up her tank (did I tell you how I hate self service) we seized the opportunity to ask some customers about certain subjects like the financial crisis, etc. Bah, we were asking and asking, that annoying custom that we journalists have. People responded in the most cordial way, between pump and pump, when suddenly this kind of blond truck driver appeared- I suppose that she was the owner or the one in manager of the place– and shouting kicked us out because she said that we were bothering. Maria and I exchanged looks. We calculated: my partner is tall; I’m not so much, but I’m not a resident of Lilliput. Our combined weight didn’t come close to match one of our surprise aggressor’s arms. Maria, in addition, is more accustomed to receive head blows that to deliver them. Better, we thought in unison, we flee.

Yes, we were cowards. But the truth is, I must admit, that was the only hostile reaction we received so far in the trip. People here are very amiable and much more as we travel towards the rural and conservative country. They answer questions about any subject without problems, and they are not frightened in front of the camera. They invite us to their homes, to join them at their table during breakfast at a restaurant, and the owners of the establishments do not prohibit to film within the premises.

But, yes, I already know: with the blond woman we were cowards. I promise that next time we will not doubt in giving her what she deserves.

Paula.



{December 28, 2008}   A BIT OF LIGHT IN THE SMOKE STATE

Published in Spanish HERE on 13 October 2008

A dream place not to be missed, in St. Louis, across the Mississippi.

Missouri is one of the states with the most flexible laws regarding alcohol and cigarettes in the USA. As far as we could tell there is not a place where smoking is banned. It’s awful — for non smokers– to move from a state like Illinois where they will fine you 250 dollars for lighting up in a room for nonsmokers at a hotel, to one like Missouri where the clouds of smoke covers you. It does not matter where, there is always the scent of cigarette and it sticks to the clothes, the hair, the knapsacks, everywhere. It is not meant to sound unpleasant, but the truth is that the cigarette bothers me very much. And the passage through Missouri was complicated for that reason. But luckily everything is not smoke and smog in this state. There are some places where there is “no fog”, the light invades you, it warms you up, it relaxes you and it stretches you. I leave you these photos to see if you agree. It is called Lumiere, a hotel in St Louis. What do you think?

María.

No matter what time it is, it always looks this way. Here I’m sitting down in the lobby of this particular hotel

Paula and the giant pots, a trademark of the Lumiere



{December 28, 2008}   A JUICY STEAK FOR HOMER

Published in Spanish HERE on 13 October 2008

The Argentina steakhouse”. We’re everywhere, aren’t we?

Yes, I know, there are many cities named Springfield and that proclaim to be the real one. The truth is that in one of those cities carrying that name but in Missouri, we met them. Surrounded by meat empanadas chimichurri. Three Argentine siblings opened a restaurant and do what they know best: asado. Although they admit that they had to modify recipes to please the local taste, the “bife de chorizo” tastes like in any Buenos Aires grill. Nothing to be envied, except the wine, of course. Not too many bottles from Mendoza and very little of the delicious food from the provinces.

But the Kim family manages to bring the Argentine flavor to Americans. For sure Homer Simpson would order a juicy bife de chorizo with a good Malbec if he lived here. Sandra, Angel and Natalia share duties according to their preferences. Angel learned to cook, Sandra handles the cash register and Natalia is the accountant.

Their parents, Mr. and Mrs Kim, as they call them here, oversight the business. They know about work and sacrifice. They arrived to Argentina from Korea, raised a family and shortly before the crisis of 2001, they packed and left for the US. Now everybody is there, actually here. They miss Argentina. It shows in their faces when we walk in and surprise them asking in pure and hard porteño lingo, “Where is the bathroom?”

María

She is Natalia Kim, the youngest of three who manage the Argentine restaurant



{December 28, 2008}   LIPS OF FIRE

Published in Spanish HERE on 15 October 2008

Which woman wouldn’t want to have Angelina Jolie’s lips? Some get them with needles and collagen. Others, by mistake. The other night we went o have dinner with Paula at a Mexican restaurant in Kansas. She ordered fajitas and I ordered tamales. We were so busy planning the next day’s activities that we forgot to ask the waiter to go easy on the heat. Paula tolerates spicy food very well, it doesn’t set well with me. Every time I eat something with too much pepper (or any other hot spice) I end up bad. With my lips like Angelina Jolie. The problem is that they flutter, they hurt, they dry up, they chap. A disaster. And a deep red line appears on my upper lip.

Paula didn’t believe me when I told her, “Tomorrow I wake up looking like a big mulata.”

And that’s how I woke up. It’ll never happen to me again. Next time I’ll ask them to hold the Tabasco. I don’t want to have to spend two hours kissing a glass with ice, like in this photo.

María.



{December 28, 2008}   THE MOST LUCID ON THE ROUTE
Published in Spanish HERE on 15 October 2008

We were on the verge of leaving Missouri on our way to Kansas. We were driving by on Route 66 when I saw him there, seated, with his eyes lost in space, at the door of his house. I hit poor Lilly’s brakes, who did not understand anything. Maria, who was filming to the other side, either. But we could not miss this man who seemed to have seen it all. We walked to his garden and he came cordially, with a slow cadence, to see what we’re looking for.

His name is Oscar Evans, an 85 years and Korean War veteran. We were talking with him for awhile. He was one of the most lucid people – and resigned– we met so far on the highway.

We invite you to share that moment.

Paula



et cetera