16.05.2010 - 30.05.2010
Like many great relationships, initially we did not get along. I thought you were pretentious and rude, and was glad to see the back of you the first time we met. But over time, I got to know the different sides to you and, like many other before me, I fell hopelessly in love.
It is hard to put my finger on exactly what it was that pulled me in with such intensity. Maybe it was exploring another part of you, namely Palermo, which is much more chilled out then your hectic down town area, and is full of funky shops, bars and cafes, as well as green parks and friendly locals. Maybe it was discovering your pumping nightlife and live music scene, and realising that there was something awesome to do every night of the week. Maybe it was your sexy tango that drew me in, it's subtle suggestiveness and dark overtones, which seduced me all the more when I danced it first hand. Alternatively, it could have been your beautiful Parisian architecture that gives European cities a run for their money. Or your slightly rustic feel with potholes in the sidewalk and run down buildings, that gives you a rougher, less manicured, edge. Maybe it had something to do with your workking class history - the stories of poor Italian migrants struggling to feed themselves while working down at the port in La Boca, that I identified with. And the inspired Bonito Quinquela Martín who turned La Boca into an outdoor modern art gallery. Maybe it was your people, or at least the few I got to know, who had a cool, fun loving edge to them, and once they got to know me, were warm and open, and allowed me into their world.
Most likely, it is the unique combination of all these factors that makes you so exciting.
The second time we met, I feel like I got to know you properly. I explored your different parts, learnt more about your history and your beloved Eva Peron, and understood more about your politics and the suffering your people have endured. I got to explore your art galleries and music scene, and danced to live percussion, salsa, tango, and rock. Going to see La Bomba del Tiempo's (a huge percussion group from BA) 4th birthday concert was a definite highlight and took me right back to Carnaval. I was also well connected the second time around, which made me feel more at home. I was lucky to have met both Portenos and other foreigners while travelling around Argentina, so I had friends to catch up with when I got there. I loved meeting my girlfriend for brunch at Oui Oui, a beautiful French cafe in Palermo, and going to my friend Diego's house outside of the city where his family and I sat around drinking mate and tea on a lovely Sunday afternoon. I also loved having a reunion with some of my Mendoza buddies in one your big party hostels (discovering that I can still party with the best of them!). I shopped at your Bohemian markets and funky boutique stores, and drooled over things that I couldn't afford to buy. I also got to celebrate your country's Bicentenairo staying smack bang in the heart of all the action. I respect the fact that your city practically holted for five days straight to celebrate with equal intensity each day your country and its South American history. I even got to chant your country's name at an international footbal match against Canada, who you ruthlessly thrashed.
I loved your routine of dinner at around midnight and not heading out to a club til 2am, and feeling no shame whatsoever of waking up at 1pm or taking a siesta any time of the day. I completely share your passion for red wine and adored indulging in a delicious Malbec everyday that I was there. And of course, how could I go pass your delicious steaks and choripans (although I regretably overdosed on the latter, to much discomfort!).
But don't get me wrong, you certainly have your fair share of flaws as well. To start with, you have a seriously dysfunctional approach to money with an extreme lack of small coins and a strong resistance to giving change of any capacity. The supermarkets would rather undercharge me then give me coins, and your shopkeepers had no shame in searching through my wallet to make sure I had nothing smaller. Your city also has a problem with petty crime, having had two things stolen from me, and hearing numerous other stories, you are a place where you cannot let you guard down. And, let's be honest here, for a South American country, your people can't dance! As my Porteno mate put it, 'they jump', like they are in a mosh pit to any sort of music. But I guess overall your strengths outweigh your weakneses, and over time become quirky characteristics that I came to accept.
But I guess that much of what I loved about you, holds true for the whole of Argentina, and it wouldn't be just to give you all the praise. And I am just refering to culture and people here, I haven't even touched on how mindblowing and varied your country's natural wilderness is. I guess it is fair to say that I fell heavily for the whole crown, with you just being the jewel in the middle of it. And while I am sure I am going to fall just as heavily for Bolivia, just as I did for Brazil, I am leaving your country with a heavy heart, not ready to say goodbye just yet, but not wanting to miss out on exploring the rest of the continent. But although I am leaving, I have a sneaking suspiscion that we will meet again before the end of my travels, so I won't say goodbye just yet, I'll just say... hasta luego, Buenos Aires!