Just a thing you say

The most common things I hear from people back home via e-mail, mostly folks who are working or in school, is that they're living vicariously through my travels. It's a kind thing to say, imbuing my travels with some greater level of importance, but I never believe it for a second. How does one travel vicariously? It's like eating filet mignon intravenously. I don't even enjoy travel writing all that much, though I do enjoy reading books written by people who've lived in an area that I'm traveling to (as opposed to reading books by people who've simply traveled to those destinations as tourists).
Travel guidebooks are a joy, though. Few books in one's life become one's companions in the way a guidebook does. I really should leave my Lonely Planet Argentina behind when I leave Buenos Aires to cut down on my pack weight, but it would be like abandoning a trusted friend. Of all the Lonely Planet guidebooks I've used, the Argentina edition is perhaps my favorite. The local maps of these tiny towns throughout Patagonia have been invaluable, and the short history lessons come in useful, especially when the local museum only includes explanations and tours in Spanish. It even includes enough on Chilean Patagonia that I really could have left my Chile guidebook at home.
Found a bookstore in El Calafate with a few English books. In fact, every store that had any books in El Calafate had the same set of English paperbacks. A few by Robert Ludlum, a few by Tom Clancy, one by Stephen King written under his Richard Bachman pseudonym, a lot by Danielle Steel, some Dean Koontz and W.E.B. Griffith, and a few by P.D. James. I had to plop down just over $10 US each for two P.D. James mystery novels. Painful, especially since the same could be had on Amazon.com Marketplace for less than a dollar plus shipping. It's my first encounter with P.D. James work. Hopefully it will recall that year in my youth when I read just about every Agatha Christie mystery every published.
I located an electric outlet prong converter for Argentina today. Major score. Now I can recharge my iPod. Every country in S. America thus far has had a different prong configuration. This is really something that the world should standardize on. My supposedly universal adapter-converter from Brookstone somehow forgot about the continent of South America.
Such a strange feeling, being on sabbatical. All around you, everyone continues to push their Sisyphean boulders up their hills. One day you just stopped, left the boulder at the bottom of the hill, and hiked to the top with a backpack, a bag lunch, and a pair of binoculars to have a picnic and check out the local flora and fauna.
Tomorrow: Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel. Retracing the voyage of Darwin.
23's last game
Wish I could have caught Jordan's last game. I'm not one to cry, but seeing one of my personal sports heroes hang it up is sad in so many ways, not the least being that it is as clear a mental marker of my age as there is. I remember watching him as a rookie, so to see him retire...I can't even think about it.
Besides Lance Armstrong, Jordan was the one other sports hero who did seem superhuman. They always came through in the big game, the big event. You felt you couldn't go wrong rooting for him. One of my favorite Jordan memories is staying up late one night in a New York hotel room, watching him pull off a miraculous 37 point game against the Jazz in the NBA finals despite being sick with the flu. Even his skin that day looked a sickly color on TV, he was so ill. Yet he led the Bulls to a comeback victory, and I was jumping up and down and screaming in my room the whole time.
Boys II Men played "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye" at halftime of today's game while his highlights showed on the scoreboard. It's probably for the best I missed that...I surely would have cried.