Published: May 26th 2009July 13th 2008 July 13
Flor de Metal
Stamen of the Flor de Metal, a public work in one of the various Recoleta parks.
: After catching our flight out of La Paz, Ryan and I have arrived at our final destination in gorgeous Argentina. Arriving from the airport at Diana's apartment in the Las Cañitas neighborhood, our friend greeted us with sleep in her eyes and steaming hot maté to rouse us from the fatigue of travel and the chilly winter morning air. Diana explained that she had been out until around 5:00 a.m., and our arrival at 7:00 a.m. cut short her quick snooze.
We would soon learn that in Buenos Aires, sleep is an after thought when parties and nightclubs begin pumping and popping only after midnight (and usually until five or six in the morning). Over the next several days, Diana played the role of a gracious hostess and a wonderful insider's guide to her beautiful city, taking us to her favorite restaurants to enjoy savory parrilladas or simple but sublime empanadas. In the evenings, we hit the town and danced the night away with new friends and a few bottles of wine (for Argentines pride themselves on being wine
- not beer - drinkers). On one occasion, we arrived at a very old concert hall that had undergone
The landmark site in the middle of Avenida Nueve de Julio
renovation and a transformation into one of BsAs' most happening night spots. A band on center stage belted out a blend of balkan gypsy rock and polka punk while mesmerized Argentines cleared space for impromptu cossack dances. Grainy images of traditional polka dancing from the bygone Soviet-era were projected from drop screens hanging from the sides of the great hall, enhancing the experience with a slight touch of the surreal. We locked arms with complete strangers, toasted bottles of wine, and danced in rhythmic (?) counterclockwise - no! - clockwise - wait! - counterclockwise circles around the dance hall, kicking our legs alternately with the thundering beats of the band. We left the hall around 5 a.m., with the party still in full tilt behind us.
My life, indeed, seemed dictated by the rhythms and grooves of music pulsing throughout the city. Wary of the tourist itinerary, I resolved to put my iPod on "shuffle" and walk the city aimlessly in order to be swept up by the beauty, majesty, grit, glitz, and bustle of this city of 13 million people. I walked from Las Cañitas through the many beautiful parks and tree lined boulevards of the breezy Palermo
The Casa Rosada in BsAs.
district and past the street-side cafes and famous cemetery of Recoleta and to the frenetic Avenida Nueve de Julio (the widest road in the world - it took me almost five minutes to cross) and the dense downtown area where men clad in business suits and women dressed to impress swarmed like termites. Argentines, a fiercely proud and showy people, are not greatly exaggerating when they declare themselves to be the most beautiful people on the planet. The downtown area and nearby pedestrian-only Avenida Florida seemed to showcase an endless stream of supermodel-esque women strutting to and from their favorite stores. Walking down the choked avenue (or through the swarms of people on Avenida Nueve de Julio, for that matter) with Coldplay's "Don't Panic" or Bjork's "All is Full of Love" providing the sound scape was almost like slowing time with the turn of a dial. The sweeping motions of an accordion playing busker and the casual brush of a fashionista as she cleared her flowing hair from her face seemed impeccably in sync with the minor falls and major lifts of the songs, and my soul sighed. Hallelujah. Dashing out of the way to the San Telmo district, a
The rejuvenated port of Buenos Aires, offering locals and visitors alike a variety of high tech gadgets and expensive eats.
distinctly more bohemian vibe seemed to emanate from every cozy art studio and eccentric cafe. Here I could kick up my feet and watch the world pass by to the soothing sitar strums of Ravi Shankar or the hushed vocals of Elliott Smith.
I am dismayed to have set aside two weeks for Buenos Aires. It isn't enough time. This city, with so many different barrios and cultures, requires far more time to truly get to know. But I am fortunate to have the opportunity to scratch the surface and experience her sights, sounds, smells, and resonating personality.
I'll be back someday. Cuidate, gaucho.
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