I arrived in Buenos Aires on a gray rainy day. The taxi driver who picked me up at the terminal tried to scam me, but little did he know he picked a savvy new yorker. I only had 100 peso notes from the ATM. When he pretended I gave him a 10 and owed him more money, I called him on it. He took my bags and put them on the sidewalk. I refused to leave the vehicle until he returned my money and kept one leg in and had the other leg out so he could not leave. Some business men came to my rescue and demanded that he return my cash. I even profited from it as I had the 10 pesos he handed back to me.
I stayed at my friend Justo's place in Recoleta the first few days. Without Justo my time in BA would not have been the same. He found me an amazing apartment to rent near Plaza San Martin
and introduced me to so many incredible people. Justo is a photojournalist who works for human rights in Kenya. He and his fiance Mechi will marry at an estancia (ranch) in the spring. I am truly thankful for everything they did for me while I stayed there.
Buenos Aires did not live up to my expectations. It's a nice enough city, but I had difficulty finding the pulse. It lacks the charisma of other great cities. But that is just my opinion and I will meet a lot of opposition to that opinion. People's impressions of a city are based largely on the people they spent time with and experiences shared. In that respect I had countless wonderful experiences and met SO many interesting people.
While there I did all of the necessary tourist things.
I went to Recoleta cemetery. Gigantic mausoleums, costing more than most homes, house important historical figures. I found it a bit creepy and felt very uncomfortable taking photos of people's graves.
I went to the opening match of the 116º CAMPEONATO ARGENTINO ABIERTO DE POLO. Polo is an incredibly beautiful sport. The horses are majestic. The main event of the polo however often has nothing to do with the match. People watching seems to be the preferred spectator sport. The sport attracts hoards of beautiful and influential people.
La Bomba de Tiempo: Every Monday night at Centro Cultural Konex
there is an incredible Percussion group. Its crowded and hot but the rhythms are infectious. It was at La Bomba that I met Melissa (New Orleans) and Deborah (Belgium)
who I ended up spending a lot of time with. I love percussion and even took a djembe lesson with a lead percussionist in the group, Cheikh Gueye. I am happy I took my friend Melissa with me since the lesson was in a sketchy part of town. If I had more time I would have joined his dance/drum troupe.
Boca Jrs Match: We went with an organized group to a Boca Jrs match. Boca is the most popular football (soccer) team in BsAs. We sat in the cheap seats which are known for rowdy hooligans who taunt opposition fans with bags of urine and other shocking things. Gimnasia was no match for Boca, they lost 4-0. The match was more civil than I expected. We had to wait an hour after the match to leave so all the opposing fans could exit safely, riot prevention.
San Telmo: Every Sunday in San Telmo is the famous market. There are many artisan jewelers hawking their wares. I was a big fan of a Chilean couples work in bronze and local stones and became their best customer.
The air is filled with the sounds of talented street musicians of different genres, including a tango milonga in Plaza Dorrego.
There is an amazing bakery in San Telmo on Chile street. You wouldn't even know it is there since there is no sign and is not visible from the street.
It is a tiny artisinal bakery with wonderful empanadas, quiches, tortas, pizzas, media lunas and other pastries. Everything in there was amazing. I brought a bunch of fun girls that I met there. Jen, Pia, Djeneba, Djokie, Melissa, and Deborah. We ordered one of everything and shared, eating on the curb across the street, attracting a lot of attention for our squeals of delight.
Tango: My new Ozzie friend Cara and I went to a Tango milonga at Confiteria Ideal, one of the oldest and most beautiful places to see the tango. were impressed by the couples that came out for the afternoon, many clearly professionals. Most were older but dressed up and in heels none the less. We took a tango class there as well. She and I both prefer salsa over tango. We then went to a salsa party with an amazing cuban band.
La Cabrera: THE most succulent steak in all of Argentina, quite possibly the world! Both times I went we ordered the Lomito. Those of you that know me know I don't really eat red meat, but for this I'll make the exception. It sliced like butter and melts in your mouth! It comes with so many little delicious sides, paired with a nice Malbec and you're in heaven!
It is also the only place with any business sense. While other places will turn you away from a seemingly empty dining room because it is "reserved". La Cabrera has chairs outside, and gives complimentary champagne and chorizo for the inevitable hour and a half wait.
I had my hair cut by Marcos Roman, stylist to the stars. I was in the company of some famous young Argentine singer who was getting a blowout for a video shoot.
This was the first time I have been away for Thanksgiving. The holidays this year are not the same without my brother. My dad sent me beautiful flowers and I was able to speak to the family which was really nice. I organized a Thanksgiving dinner at Kansas restaurant with about 12 of my new friends. A traditional menu was served, turkey with all the fixings and sides. Our group was a melange from around the world. For many people it was their first Thanksgiving. At our table were 2 girls from Canada, 2 people from LA, a girl from Kenya and one from Ivory Coast, 3 Argentine guys, a Dutch guy and an American girl. We all took a moment to say what we were thankful for. It was a really special night.
Estancia day: Justo organized an Estancia day for us. He hooked us up with his cousins who have a ranch and hour and a half from BA. We ate asado, went horseback riding, had a sing-along, and I had a polo lesson. I have great respect for these athletes after trying to stay on the horse and hit the ball...not so easy.
Christmas in Buenos Aires just didn't feel right. First off it's HOT. I have never been anywhere warm for Christmas and it doesn't have the same vibe without the chill in the air. I arranged to meet my family in Fort Lauderdale since getting to NY was crazy expensive and I didn't have any cold weather clothes. Also an opportunity to dump all the things I have accumulated and swap in some new clothes.
After a month in BsAs, there are certain things that I wont miss...
Getting dripped on: by everything, trees, air conditioners, it seems you cant walk a few feet without some nasty wet surprise.
Dulce de leche: Portenos put this gooey caramel is EVERYTHING
Their inability to change 100 Peso notes
Raggaeton : in every club, bar, gym, taxi...the same 5 songs
Mullets and ratails
Back to the good ole USA...