#Freestyle

Once upon a time, there was a kid named Adam Miller. He was better known to many friends by the nickname “Thriller”. He attempted to blog, keeping everything in rhyme. I know what you’re thinking, “DAMN, this kid has a lot of time!” Well, you’re right! I’ve even got a glass of wine in my hand…I’ve been DRANKIN’ so I know at least Beyonce’ will understand. So, please, before you’re quick to judge me, let me tell you all about my epic recent history.

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Now speaking of wine, I have a few glasses from time to time. Still, having one with a friend from home makes it even more sublime. In the month of April, I got what I desired. Randi Isham left her job (and no, she wasn’t FIRED!). wpid-wp-1430331273105.jpgLike myself, Randi has the travel bug, so when she came to town, I had to show some love! Everything started as planned, we posted up at a bar. Looking like a couple of All-American All-Stars. Not soon after, we were joined by Jax–now, you’ll never believe what happened next. We encountered two dudes, Andrew and Matt, traveling from Alaska (same as Randi, can you believe that?) That’s not the cool part folks, here’s something you’ll like: they arrived here traveling all the way on their bikes. 16,000 miles, just to be exact. Hell, I ran a 10K and thought I’d have a heart attack. We shared a couple beers, and even more laughs, before we all hugged it out and separated our paths.

The next day, we went to our first winery. It’s called Toneles and it has a rich history. We drank syrah, cabernet, and a little sauvignon (pinky out…because, like Drake, “I’m On One”) wpid-photogrid_1429923681533.jpg

It was great to see Randi. We had a grand ol’ time. Ya’ll know us Wildcats keep the party alive. Everywhere we went, we shut the spot down. It’s a shame, so quickly, she had to leave town…

***INTERLUDE: Allow me a brief time, an interlude if you will, to qualify my street cred and rapping appeal. It was half passed 1, a tad late some would say, but I hadn’t called my girl Jessica yet that day. All through the house, not a creature was stirring (not even a mouse). I gently closed the front door and did my best to not come off as a noisy house guest. In order to call, I needed an internet connection. The wireless range is incredibly bad in this lovely nation. The router is located in the family’s architecture studio, a state of the art building equipped with even more than I know. For example, how could one have guessed that opening the patio door would cause an eventual mess?

wpid-img_20150422_005940.jpgAn alarm sounded, hailing through the still night. My heart too drew still, stricken with fright. Blaring lights and obnoxious sounds attracted the police who were making their rounds. Two patrol cars appeared with a flashlight piercing the night…I realized I had just a few seconds to get my story right. Like a gift from God, appeared the house dog, Malí. I knew that for my survival, he would have to take the fall for me. Suddenly, appeared my host father, Dani, he appeared far more tired than angry. He asked, “Que pasa, Adam?!” I said, “Fue Malí!

I blamed him for triggering the alarm. He’s a curious puppy, so I knew they would do him no harm. Knowing what I had done, he looked at me with puppy-dog eyes. Feeling shame for what I had done, I gave him a surprise: a HUGE piece of meat, with the bone still attached. This is a perfect gift for a puppy, that will not soon be matched. He ate the bone happily and we played for an hour, before I retired for a much needed, stress-relieving shower.***

The next morning, to escape my utter humiliation, I decided to go for a jog throughout the Argentine nation. I took a lap around my ‘hood, and trotted 2 miles to the park. I was becoming tired, but suddenly I felt a spark. Just ahead, I saw a long row of palm trees and felt the long embrace of a morning Spring breeze. The destination? Cerro de la Gloria (everyone says it has a “Buena historia”!) With much difficulty, I reached the mountain’s peak. I stopped for a minute because my legs felt weak from voyage that now had me 7 miles deep.wpid-wp-1430331263251.jpg

After such a good run, I worked up an appetite and anxiously awaited a family dinner later that night. Me and the homie, Jax, threw on our Sunday’s best, but before anything could happen…we honestly needed our rest. wpid-img_20150418_221606.jpg

Once we arrived, the army was assembled. Soon there after, the flame was kindled. We feasted until we could hold no more, and then to work off the meal, we hit the dance floor. Facundo, the host, has an Xbox Kinect. He said he had a dancing game, so you knew what to expect. We finished dinner, drinks, and food at close to 5:00 a.m. I skipped my workout later that day…I pretty much already hit the gym.

wpid-wp-1430331254947.jpgNow, drinking and partying all day isn’t exactly “kosher”. So, the next day I asked my host mom to take me to church… yeah, #Hozier. I thought this would be a church service just like any other (except for the fact I KNEW I would be the only “Brother”) As anticipated, this caught the congregation’s eye, but what happened next was a total surprise. The pastor, feeling moved by the Holy Spirit, asked me to speak a few words…this was the end…I could feel it. With hesitation and my heart pounding in my chest, I said a little prayer, went up, and did my best. I read a few verses from the Book of Proverbs, before I knew it, they were hanging on all my words. Like TD Jakes, I made the earth quake. Like Creflo Dollar, I made the people holler. After a few minutes, I returned to my seat, and feeling now that my job was complete. Now, a mini sermon is something I would do pro bono, so why the pastor’s mother paid me? Heck, I’ll never know. wpid-wp-1430331294965.jpgAs the saying goes, most blessings come in disguise. I guess mine has been with this family, how did I get so wise? The following Monday was “Take Your Fulbright Scholar To Work Day”. Just me and the boys, shoot, even Malí came to play. WE WERE MEN! They made me feel like I was next of kin. Forever, this is a memory I will hold within. We plotted the layout of vineyards and a $5 million dollar house. These guys are ballers, here are photos to show you what they’re about: wpid-wp-1430331278872.jpgNow I rapped a lot, and my wine is gone. I think that this should probably be the end of this song. As you can see, my life here is pretty good, but I never forget that KC is my hood.

Folks, this was a one time thing. Don’t think I’m going to be rap battling in the ring. I was just bored and had some time to spare and some funny stores of which I wanted to share. From old friends, to touring vineyards, to breaking in my own house. This is basically what Argentina life is all about. I thank God for the blessings that I have received, including the money that old lady slipped me from the inside of her sleeve.

So now I’m done. I’m steppin’ out of the game. I’m passing the mic to the homie, Lil’ Wayne.

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Much Adieu About Everything

Mendoza...'nuff said.

Mendoza…’nuff said.

National strikes. 6 a.m. Hot Dog Runs. Stray cat class crasher. Super Madre. Zip lines/Falling off rafts. Crashing the VIP & Poppin’ champagne (GRATIS!). PDA f’days & Danger: The Defending Dog.

If this sounds interesting to you, please, keep reading. If it doesn’t, please, keep reading because you’re already in too deep and you know it! A lot can happen in a week, Folks. Allow me to explain myself. Disclaimer: This may take a while, but I promise you it will be worth the read!

March 31st National Strike!

You Guys, when I say National Strike, I mean it was a STRIKE. In fact, I’m mistaken in referring to it as a strike. Strike translated into Castellano is referred to as a “huelga”. However, they referred to it as something completely different: a “paro”, which translates into English as a “stop”. They literally SHUT THE COUNTRY DOWN. Nothing was open. You would have thought it was 2012 and the Mayans were like, “IT’S GOIN’ DOWN FOR REAAAAAAL!” So, what should one do when the country is at a standstill? No flights, public transportation, stores, restaurants, or even some health care facilities were open (how the heck do you actually shut down a hospital? C’mon, Dude!). Naturally, we threw a picnic with a group of young entrepreneurs. I must have eaten 4 burgers…there is no such thing as too much food in this culture. The crew I rolled with was stellar. They have asked me to teach them English once a month–I’m looking forward to doing it!

The picnic crew! #OneOfTheseThingsIsNotLikeTheOther

The picnic crew! #OneOfTheseThingsIsNotLikeTheOther

6:00 a.m. Hot Dog Runs

Well, here is the deal. These people just don’t sleep. Ever. This was on a Tuesday (Yes, ON A TUESDAAAAY!). What began as a casual “cerveza” with my host brother/semi landlord, Diego, ended with me and his friend Beto running around the busiest street in all of Mendoza, Villanueva Aristides, until 5:30 a.m.

Clockwise from me: Diego (The Host Brother) and Beto (The Host Brother's Brother's brother)

Clockwise from me: Diego (The Host Brother) and Beto (The Host Brother’s Brother’s brother)

At this point, all I want to do is go home and hibernate until my December return to the states. However, Beto has a completely different idea. He throws me in his Fiat, zips through the barren streets of Mendoza and we arrive at a place called Mr. Dog (the originality is mind-blowing). We wolf down three hot dogs. I don’t even like hot dogs like that! What am I doing? Am I becoming Argentinian?

2 down...

2 down…

Now, here is what’s amazing. Like any normal person who stays up until 7:00 a.m., I slept until about noon and thought I handled the situation as best as I could. Beto and Diego were both at work by 8:00 a.m. Perfectly functional. They are not human. Argentinians are robots.

Stray Cat Class Crasher

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. “All Adam does is drink wine, get evicted, party, and eat hot dogs! Is he really even working at all?!” Well, I do! I work at an institute called Instituto Maipu de Educacion Integral, or IMEI for short. I thoroughly enjoy being back in the classroom. It’s been too long! The classes are very relaxed, especially when a stray cat walks in and the professor plays with it while teaching. Without missing a beat in her sentence, she swooped up this feline and proceeded to expand on the literary works of Ray Bradbury. She’s kinda amazing. She takes in stray animals, finds them a home, and sends them on their merry way weekly. She, herself, has 8 pets. Wowzers. She calls them her children.

The professor, Wanda, and her new cat??

The professor, Wanda, and her new cat??

Super Madre

I already have a great mom back home, (S/O to Marjorie Miller for holding it down with me for 27 years. My ride or die), but I definitely needed a motherly figure to keep me in line. I found this in Monica (aka, Monie). She is SUPER MADRE. She is a dentist, a wife, a mother, a chef, and all-around foundation for this entire family. As you can see in this picture, the woman can do it all. She even can dance! I really enjoy her and will certainly have more stories about her going forward.

She cooks, cleans, and gives me advice on purchasing South American flights. She's awesome.

She cooks, cleans, and gives me advice on purchasing South American flights. She’s awesome.

Zip Lines/Falling Off Rafts

Speaking of stories, this is probably my favorite of the weekend. Myself and 7 of my Fulbright Friends went to a place called Portrerillos to go zip lining as well as whitewater rafting. It was an amazing experience, not without its troubles. First, the homie, Pablo (aka Papi?), missed our bus transportation to the river because some lady took it upon herself to suffer a panic attack on his 16 hour bus ride from Santiago de Estero to Mendoza. Bear in mind, he’s already paid for this excursion and it was certainly not cheap! Everyone was feeling really sad for him, but my faith was unwavering. I knew…if anyone could find a way to make it there against all odds, it was Pablo! So, what does he do? He takes a TAXI all the way there. Over and hour and a half in a taxi…can you even imagine? The driver got cold feet half way through the trip and wanted to turn around. However, Pablo, in all his glory, convinced him to press onward and he arrived. Before shaking his hand or even saying hello, I gave him a beer. I mean, don’t you think he earned it?

You took a taxi into THOSE mountains? Really, Pablo? Really?

You took a taxi into THOSE mountains? Really, Pablo? Really?

With all of our crew in tact, we began on the zip line. It was really a lot of fun, but nothing was comparable to the rafting. There is something so breathtaking about falling into the rushing waters cascading down from the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, literally, it’s breathtakingly cold. My crew members consisted of Pablo The Great, Jacqueline, Constance, Amanda, and our guide, Andres. It was all good until it wasn’t good and Constance and I fell in the water.

Up the creek with a paddle.

Up the creek with a paddle.

As if this folly wasn’t plenty, we became “shipwrecked” just a few short minutes later. Wedged between two rocks, we had to all lean to one side of the raft to tilt our weight. Everyone was wearing this waterproof jackets supplied by the company that smelled like gym class in seventh grade. Immediately, I felt like I was Kevin on “The Wonder Years”, sans Winnie Cooper (Winnie was such a fox, don’t you agree? Ok, back to the blog). Through it all, the bumps, bruises, taxi turmoil, watery graves, and smelly friends, we prevailed! Why? Because we’re awesome.

The crew on the bottom photo, L to R: Pablo The Great, Sarah, Amanda, Constance, Jacqueline, Kaliko, Jeff

The crew on the bottom photo, L to R: Pablo The Great, Sarah, Amanda, Constance, Jacqueline, Kaliko, Jeff

Crashing the VIP and Poppin’ Champagne

One would think after so many hours of outdoor activity, that I would be exhausted, but you all know I am never too tired for a night club and a dance floor. After negotiating price and entry into the most popular club in Mendoza, Grita Silencio, with my friends.  We even got access to VIP for free, which would have cost $50 each (S/O to the Fulbrighter, Kaliko, for making it happen). Now, you all know me, so you know that when a good track drops, it’s going down. I was already on tilt, so it didn’t take much to set it off. #JadaPinkett. I pulled out all of the traditional Adam Miller dance moves (sans knee spin, I’m saving that one…) and somehow enchanted this crowd with a few moves and before I knew it the DJ handed me a bottle of champagne. I did what anyone would do in this situation. I popped that sucker, took a swig, and passed it around my circle of friends until it was cashed. If this is how every night is going to be out in the city, I think I can get down with this! Before I knew it, it was 6:00 a.m. and I was dog tired…fated to repeat such a glorious night the very next day.

PDA F’days & Danger: The Defending Dog

It was the 18th birthday of a young lad we met from Norwich, England, Finn. He and his girlfriend, Milly Dennis (is it only slightly ironic my nickname in college was Milldenny??) met myself and Amanda, another Fulbrighter, out in Aristides. Also, in tow was the utterly perplexing Steven from the British Isles who he certainly loves the ladies. In spite of the fact he speaks little Spanish, he had no trouble swooning an unsuspecting young lady at the bar. This may have been due to the obscene amount of liquid courage he consumed. We documented his indiscretions happily…little did we know karma would repay us 10-fold, or should I say double? But we will get to that in just a minute!

He's smooth...I'll give him that.

He’s smooth…I’ll give him that.

Now, about this dog. It’s worth noting that, sadly, stray dogs run rampant in Argentina. They are everywhere. For the most part, they are very nice, but every now and then, one of them is all about the thug life. I named this dog Danger. Danger is unique in the sense that he can actually smell criminal activity. If you look or seem dangerous in any way to any of the patrons on the street, he will chase you away…even if you’re in a speeding taxi. I watched him bark down several suspicious groups of young men giving me the “Hey, You’re a tourist and I’m probably going to try to take advantage of you and steal not only your phone, but your dignity through my slight of hand and guile” looks. Now, I wouldn’t say I am profiling these young men, but the dog certainly was. A group attempted to approach me and before they got a half step in my direction, Danger let ’em have it! I feel safe in these streets knowing that Underdog wasn’t just a cartoon I watched growing up, but an adaptation of this ageless canine defender that canvases the streets of Mendoza. He’s like Walker, Texas Ranger except even more stoic and with even better facial hair.

DAAAAANGER! WATCH YA'SELF! DAAAAANGER! SHOW ME WHAT YA WORKIN' WIT!

DAAAAANGER! WATCH YA’SELF! DAAAAANGER! SHOW ME WHAT YA WORKIN’ WIT!

You all remember our good buddy Steven I mentioned earlier, yes? Well, back to him…

While he was love drunk (and literally drunk) he failed to provide us with cash for our bill that was monumentally large. After negotiating price with the manager and nearly being banned and ejected from the establishment by his 5 bouncers, I got our bill knocked down a whopping $10 for their error! You see, they charged us for a bottle of wine that they shouldn’t have that was a large size, but because we drank the wine, we had to pay. I just thought they were being nice! I decided to let it go because I have to live here a while. However, as sure as M.J. (both of them) is the best to ever do it, I’ll get my revenge on this place! Now, you ask, what does this have to do with Steven? Well, he left us with the bill! Love drunk and stumbling through the streets, Finn tracks him down, only to return with the equivalent of $3.00. We needed at least $20 from him, before tip. So, guess who had to pay it all? Bingo. It’s all good though. Via pure serendipity, Divine intervention, and the fact I am the luckiest man alive, we ran into Steven in the crowded streets of Mendoza the next night while having some pasta. He’s an honorable man and paid up his portion of the bill, in spite of myself and Amanda denying him vehemently.

There really are some stand-up people in this world. Never forget this. The kindness of a stranger can go a long way for reaffirming your faith in humanity and, sometimes, canines (S/O to Danger Dog). Never doubt the will of a man. Before I went into radio silence trying to navigate Pablo to the rafting rendezvous point, his last words were, “I’m making it to rafting, DAMN IT!” He showed me that if you really want something, no matter how insignificant, you go get it. I learned about multitasking from my mother. I learned the value of sleep. I learned the value of not sleeping. I mean, let’s face it, if I behaved myself at all while here I would have nothing to talk with you about, would I? I eagerly look forward to the guaranteed scrapes and bruises I’ll acquire along this journey that is yet in its infancy, knowing that I have a core group of friends ready to defend me to the end, and you, my friends back home, ready to take up arms for me at the drop of a hat. However, for now, lay down your arms. We are all dog tired right now…

Kaliko, passed out like a dog.

Kaliko, passed out like a dog.

Cheers!

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Well, Party People. It happened. What began as pure spontaneity in applying for one of the most coveted international scholarship competitions ends with me sitting on a large patio with a glass of Malbec in Mendoza, Argentina while writing the first entries of my memoirs. I’ve been here for just over two weeks, but it feels so much longer–in the best way possible! Allow me to explain, briefly.

Shout out to Eli (the apartment owner) and Jacqueline (my Fulbright homie) for putting me up in this 5-star crash spot!

Shout out to Eli (the apartment owner) and Jacqueline (my Fulbright homie) for putting me up in this 5-star crash spot!

In a short 14 days, I have managed to accidentally lead an oblivious group of American exchange students to a strip club in the heart of Buenos Aires, break a toilet in a hostel, find a house to live in, lose the house key (consequently causing me to crash with someone I literally met the day before), be evicted from said house (only to be transplanted into an apartment owned by the same family), fall into running waters in San Luis, nearly drown in a waterfall

Don't worry, Mom. (Mom, you should be SO WORRIED though, for real...)

Don’t worry, Mom. (Mom, you should be SO WORRIED though, for real…)

, get into a dance-off and consequentially a semi-fight with a 6’3″ Brazilian Beast during Carnaval, lose my phone on a charter bus only to flag down this charter bus in the pouring rain to recover it, lest it be lost forever, and, finally, I drank a “little” wine.

You could say things are going really well here! The endless beauty of traveling abroad is that things never go as planned. There is always something that will go awry. You find out what you’re truly made of through travel, and therein lies the beauty. You find out just how much you can take. You find out how many times you’re willing to bathe in a sketchy hostel shower. You find out how many times you’re willing to rest your weary head on a urine-stained mattress with less-than-luxurious sheets because you know the morning will brandish wonderment you can’t quite harness into the 120 characters of a Tweet.

The world is yours

The world is yours

You find out how terrible you are at drinking games in a hostel with other Fulbright winners that are all geniuses in their own rite. You also find out how much you enjoyed losing to your new family members.

Clockwise: Pablo (aka Papi?), Kalikolehua (literally no one can pronounce her name correctly), Amanda (how did this pistol actually make it through customs?), Sarah (she looks like a white girl, but dances like a black girl)

Clockwise: Pablo (aka Papi?), Kalikolehua (literally no one can pronounce her name correctly), Amanda (how did this pistol actually make it through customs?), Sarah (she looks like a white girl, but dances like a black girl)

You find out how long laundry takes everywhere else in the world.

My sock game though...

My sock game though…

You find out how much empanadas are like potato chips–you literally cannot eat just one.

So. Much. Meat.

So. Much. Meat.

You find out how little you know about grilling and barbecue even though you’re from Kansas City because the people here PUT IN WORK.

This is Kaliko's referente's husband, Milton. He is the Rey del Asado.

This is Kaliko’s referente’s husband, Milton. He is the Rey del Asado.

You find out how valuable a siesta is after slipping into a food coma and try to validate the afternoon naps by reading Huffington Post and BuzzFeed articles outlining the advantages of napping so you don’t feel quite so lazy. In short, you find out how awesome life can be when you’re in Argentina…

Ball out

Ball out

This will likely go down as one of the greatest experiences of my life. Be forewarned: you’ll hear legend and folklore about these days at hand. I intend to take full advantage of every moment here. I promise I won’t break any laws. I promise I will bend them. So, until next time, Cheers!!

MILLdoza

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