The lost month – Part 2 (Part 1 was Brazil and Part 3 was Peru) .. after a lot of delay, here is Part 2 – my post on Buenos Aires.. went there in October with Roy and Picklu and again in December… still haven’t been able to figure out many things about the city… but, here are my thoughts…
I hated it when I was there first.
It got better and I liked it the second time I went there.
It just means third time I may start to love it.
Just a recap of everything I hated, liked and loved about the city is here… it will be random…
To begin, Buenos Aires operates in a completely different time zone. To me, the city seemed shut when it needed to be open and open when it needed to be shut. Walk out at 10 am or 10 pm and things will be closed. Walk out at 2 am and you will see kids playing as their parents are walking around with ice cream in their hands. And, I really felt like I needed to ask them whether they were operating on Tahiti time. Everytime I thought it was time to go to bed, people at the hostel were heading to the shower and getting dressed to head out. It was completely wierd. I dont know.. maybe I am getting old.
How on earth did something so European land up in Latin America. When I decided to travel in Latin America, my impressions were coconut water in beaches with Samba music playing, ladies in big skirts and hats selling bread in a crowded buses, miles and miles of pictureque landscape, language that sounded romantic even when you called someone a pig.. all that… and here in Buenos Aires, I felt like I was in Europe. Not that I dont love Europe. Just that if I wanted to see Europe, I should head there. Not see a slice in Latin America. Guess its everything about the city.. the roads.. the architecture.. the people… totally European… If you visit Buenos Aires only and think its Latin America, forget it. Please catch a 4 hour bus ride and you may start to experience something else.
I am sick of walking around historic centres of cities. To me, its like an open air museum with a display of political, cultural, architectural, economical, commercial background of the city. Mixed up like a salad and you cant figure out the dressing and its driving you nuts. A pink house where the president sits… famous however for Evita Balcony… A huge avenue with an obelisk, which stands tall… the avenue is so broad you can never cross it in one go… a very modern looking bridge suddenly behind old architecture… a clock tower not far away from a splendid looking station… its a pot pourri… spread out though.. It dint leave me with anything…
I dont like visiting cemetries. I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in seeing graves of great people. If its Jim Morrisson or Ayrton Senna, its ok. But, if you dont know the great politician or something like that, forget it. You can say that Recoleta is the last cemetry I will be visiting.
I love colours. That’s why I loved Caminito. A classic Buenos Aires postcard is of this colourful neighbourhood in La Boca. Touristy by day and dangerous by night, this street has a row of houses with asbestos painted in different colours. All together, it looks like a paint box that went wild. Its photography heaven.
Tango is not for me. I love dancing and I miss it even more cause Roy doesnt like dancing as much as I do. I like forms of dance where you can freely express yourself without having to look formal. Without having to be performance oriented. Tango to me felt very forced. Its beautiful to watch but I guess not to really dance. Give me a choice and Ill choose Samba or Salsa or Forro anyday over Tango. (Reminds me of the time I was dancing Salsa with Diego in Bolivia and Forro with Dan in Brazil.. have no idea whether it looked like Salsa or Forro… but I felt free and I loved it)
If I turn vegetarian after this trip, blame it on Buenos Aires. The kind of meat I saw there made me feel sick. Actually, it was fairly brutal. I don’t know why… I can eat stuff if I know what I am eating. When I don’t know what I am eating, its wierd. An Argentinian Asado (Barbeque) is an experience alright.. for the meat lover…
Blue and white everywhere… One thing I guess I noticed in Brazil and Argentina… the way in which the people market their national colours.. Green and yellow in Brazil and Blue and white in Argentina.. be it a football t shirt, slippers, coffeee mugs, whatever…. the colours are all over the place… its nice…. Wish we would feel proud about wearing Indian flag colours … I just feel that we can find more kids in India in stars and stripes than in saffron, green and white..
I love music…… I love musicians even better…… I love street musicians more than anything else… Buenos Aires has many of them … caught one band just lazing around doing nothing and you could see that the music was in the air even though they weren’t playing.
Buenos Aires CS is overwhelming. When they meet, its 50 or 60 people. How can you get to know anyone when you are in such a large group. I went for 2 meetups – Halloween party and an Asado…. first time, I dint get to know anyone. Second time, I made sure I hung out with just a few people.. made some friends.. felt a lot better…Guess these are the people I’ll remember.. my host Julieta was a darling ..
Menelaos ofcourse, my Greek god in Argentina…
Edu, the colombian musician…
Ara, the Armenian Australian Chiropractor…
Lorena, the minute I saw her, I knew she was Brazilian and I ran to talk to her… Brazilians always stand out (especially when you have a house full of Argentinians)…
Ana, the beautiful girl from Iguassu..
It was my first Halloween. No one celebrates Halloween in India. Here they do. So, Roy, Picklu and I bought cheap masks to head to a CS Halloween party only to find out that the entire local group looked like they were attending a banking convention. Who ever wears pinstripe shirts to a Halloween party. The Buenos Aires CS group. Well…. for what its worth, we enjoyed our moment with the mask.
I hate shopping….. I got so excited when I found out that there was a ‘walking only’ street. Such streets are typically places where you have arts and crafts, music.. I headed there only to find out its a shopping street totally.. with malls and expensive stores around… somehow, killed it for me… but, some signs there are worth remembering… the fact that T shirt shops advertise as Sex Shops to draw more crows.. Incentive to shop I guess.
I cant remember the last time I went to a zoo. That’s what Roy, Picklu and I were thinking the day before we hit Lujan zoo, a zoo outside Buenos aires… you can get into the cage with lions and tigers.. some people say they are drugged.. i dont know… and i only hope they weren’t drugged…. i enjoyed watching a monkey play with Picklus hair.. and Roy’s shirt getting eaten away by a bird….
I learnt Chacarera. Thats folklore dance. Went to a club called Cathedral de Tango and learnt the Chacarera dance which is boisterous and fun. Wen Menelaos does the Chacarera, you can drop everything else you are doing and watch with your mouth wide open. Life is the word to describe that..
If you love football, Bombanera is Mecca. The guys headed to a Boca Juniors match and they came back wearing blue and yellow and swearing in Spanish. Looks like Buenos Aires to the guys will always be memorable thanks to Boca Juniors. Wish I had gone to the game with them. 90 minutes of music, cheering…. apparently crazy.
Graffitti is expression. Something wihch speaks about the city more than anything else. If the city doesnt give me anything else, but gives me graffitti, i will take it with open arms.
I saw the worst movie on the face of this earth in Buenos Aires. Was desperate to watch a movie.. headed for Ceguera, blindness… other movies were disney stuff and spanish action… Only went cause it had Gael Garcia (I love him). But, the movie was so disappointing. Added to the uneasy feeling there…
Fileteado is beautiful. Its the style of painting you see in Buenos Aires.. in La Boca.. in the buses.. its so beautiful.. I wanted to learn how to make a name plate and headed to an artist studio. He said that he would charge me 400 pesos. Thought I was a rich American for some wierd reason. Anyway, left the studio after absorbing some of the work. Maybe I’ll take that class when I have more money.
Love percussion. Went to watch a show called La Bomba Del Tiempo. Its a group that plays percussion instruments.. african drums, electronic drums, more…. It happens every monday night and what started as a small local event has turned into a huge touristy thing… A huge ground covered with Bob marley look alikes.. weed… beer flowing.. tourists… all that… but the music is amazing… go for the music and nothing more… (i put up a video in my video gallery.. check it out)
Love bookstores. El Ateneo, a theatre converted into a book store (Thanks to Neesha’s suggestion, I headed there)…. I spent 5 hours and did not realise how time flew. If you love books, please head here.
And last but not the least, loved the place I stayed in Buenos Aires the second time I was there. Julieta’s house…. I felt at home from the minute I walked in…. the lamp shades.. the cartoon post its.. the bright walls.. the comfy bed.. the hot shower.. the coffee… to me, after a really long time, i felt like i was sleeping at home. Thanks Julieta.
Like I said before… hated it the first time, liked it second time… Buenos aires has too many things to offer.. its a city that can only grow on you.. so if you want to head there, give it time… spend time and you will see that you will star
t to like it.. if you don’t have time, dont go there.