HERROooOO peeps. I am currently sweating profusely at a hostel in Buenos Aires. The city is experiencing a heat wave so while i would probably be complaining about the bitter cold in NYC, I now get to complain about the oppresive heat here instead. But yea.. no one really wnts to hear me complain... plus there are so manyyy other great things about the place!!
For one thing.. the food (meat, meat, and more meat) has been phenomenal... the nightlife is insane... there's so much awesome live music... and of course, the Portenos aka the people of Buenos Aires are so much fun and incredibly fucking chilled.... and despite the fact that they have a unique way of pronouncing things which make it hard for me to undersatnd their spanish (tu eres de Nueva SH-ork?!?) they've been uber friendly :) AND the best thingg.. RACHAEL, my beautiful, smart friend home whose on winter break from grad school also came to hang out & enjoy the sunshine & amazing culture with me :)
So I flew in from Santiago which was a quick 2 hour flight.. they kept asking whether i had paid the reciprocity fee ($160) which i had done online so i didn't need to queue when i arrived (SH-egar as Portenoes say!) didn't do a ton the first day.. explored a bit & went out to some club in Palaermo.. didn't stay out too late.. Argentinas are known to do things a bit later like the Spaniards.. dinner at 10, botellon (drinking on the streets) at 1/2, clubbing at 3/4.. which is definitely more my style since i like napping after a long day of exploring. But yea.. the next day i woke up bright and early to walk around the huge San Telmo market. Like most markets, they sold a bunch of crap.. i mean crafts.. there were some cute things, but more or less the same stalls after stalls after stalls.. however, there were some amazing street performers, including an old man who danced tango and a cool band with saxaphone, guitar and drum players :) Since I I was expecting Rachael bright and early next day, i decided to watch Star Wars instead of going out which was AWESOME and only cost $6 to watch in 3D!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's nice to have a bit of normalcy and see a movie when you're traveling :)
ANYWAY, the next day Rachael arrived and we decided to have an easy morning/afternoon cus helloo.. flying is exhausting. we got coffee at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires, which was super old school and fancy schmancy.. then we wandered to the cambio places on calle Florida to change some money.. which at this point doesnt really make a difference since the new, conservative president just got rid of the blue market cus cus he wants them to have a legit economy andddd such.. which was fine but a tad bit annoying since i had carried a large sum of dollar bills from Ecuador all the way down to Argentina.. along with tons of anxiety and paranoia FOR MONTHS thinking someone would take it from me. But let me backtrack a bit.. for those who don't know, basically in May 2012, the government restricted the ability for ordinary Argentines to purchase dollars, which was common since no one wanted to save in pesos and lose 30% per year due to inflation. They created a "black market" for dollars, called the dollar blue which at times which was at times, had an almost 40% difference in value than the government's offical rate. But ANYWAY, we followed some guy to some sketchy building and we were a bit nervous but everything was fine. Afterwards, we drank an entire bottle of wine while we caught up and laughed and giggled about life..
When we got back to the hostel, we wanted to take a nap and eat but then we realized had to leave in order to make it on time to catch a musical performance, La Bomba del Tiempo. As their website eloquently explains,
"La Bomba de Tiempo is a percussion ensamble that practises improvisation with signs. Every show is unique and unrepeatable because its music is generated live on stage trough the dialogue between musicians and director, who leads the improvisation using a code of more than 70 signs made with the hands.
Every performance becomes a magical time when percussionists on stage interact with the audience while this one brings its energy, dancing and listening. It all creates a true ritual of rhythm and percussion."
It was such a cool show at an amazing, outdoor venue. Rachael and I made it to the front of the stage where we danced like mad people.. along with everyone else, which was so refreshing because no one gave a shit about what they looked like and just enjoyed the music. It was a good mix of locals and gringos and after the show a big crowd gathered outside and a band started playing and that turned into a parade where people were marching/dancing down the streets all the way to a club. We got a tiny little empanada along the way, along with another bottle of wine which we happily drank on the streets since outdoor boozing is completely legal here. We ended up meeting soem really nice guys who were SO FUCKING FUNNY. i cannot repeat the nature of the conversation for their sake, but it involved illegal activities coupled with the fact that one of them worked for the government which u know.. totally an "only in south america" moment
The next day we joined a walking tour and saw some of the more historical sites like Plaza de Mayo where the mothers of the disappeared walked around to force the government to give them answers about what happened to their missing children during the military dictatorship (Dirty War); the Pink House, where the President resides; the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church, which is where Pope Francis used to netflix and chilllllll; and some other spots. afterwards we went to the Recoleta graveyard where Evita Peron was buried and where there were fancy schmancy restaurants.. we also made it to the museo nacional de belles artes which had some paintings from El Greco, Goya, etc. as well as some more modern, Argentinian painters. It was really nice to be in a museum and look at some art -- definitely things i miss about being in a big city! We ended up going to a parrilla (local steakhouse) called Don Ernesto for dinner.. we were completely pooped but the food was amazing (Thank u Victoria for the tip!) i got the steak with mushrooms while rachael got some hodgepodge of steak, ham, fried egg goodness. we were STUFFED after and couldnt move around.
the next day we tried goign to uruguay but since we didn't buy tickets ahead of time, the ferry was totally sold out. still, we were pretty set on laying outside by some body of water so we decided to pay for a day pass to use the pool at the Panamericano hotel which had stunning views and cus... why shouldnt we #treatourselves? We had a very lazy day, which was much needed after all the walking we had done the days before. and another wonderful meal after stumbling upon, Dieznivel where we got fatty, delicious pieces of chorizo plus some veggies cussss it made us feel a teensy weensy bit better to eat something green and not covered in yummy greaseeeeee (LAMEEEE)
the next day was NYE so while rachael went on a graffiti tour, i chilled at the hostel. we got a late lunch with some guys but since they didnt have any empanadas and i didnt want anything too heavy cus i had snacked the whole day, i passed on the meal... which i later regretted since i started drinking on an empty stomach.. i thought i could find something on the streets to eat, which turned out to be not the case. BUT anyway.. my friend danny (from back home) introduced me to one of his friends, Nicolas, whos from Buenos Aires. Nicolas was a super sweet guy who was also throwing a little get together so he invited me and my friends to come over.. he actually came and grabbed us at our hostel and we drove to Puerto Madera right in time to catch the fireworks that went off at midnight.. we had a champagne toast... with SPEED (which is an energy. not the drug... wompwomp BOOORING) Afterwards we drove to Recoleta, and hung out at his friends place where we had more drinks and i stole some cereal cus i was so hungryyyyyy. at around 3, we left to Palermo where we hung outside and watched a group of street performers and danced on the streets. we went to some club which i was so excited about but as soon as i stepped in i was like.. o wait. i hate clubs... they're so noisy and expensive and full of creeps (this place was no real exception.. must be some international thing) it was fun to dance around for a bit but i got tired pretty so we left right in time to catch the sunrise.. except it was cloudy so it ended up being not so beautiful but who cares.. first sunrise of 2016!!
the day after... i couldnt get out of bed until 3pm other than to puke my little guts out since i devoured a tasteless plate of rice and chicken from the place next door since that was all the strength i could muster... when i finally rolled out of bed, we finally got a proper lunch at the San Telmo market (thank god it was open!1) a flank steak sandwich for liek $4 which was delicious and greasy and everything i coudl everrrrr want at that moment in time. we also got some ice cream so after that i was finally feeling like a normal person and off the struggle bus.
we spent our last few days not doing a ton... lots of eating and drinking which made us both very happy plus exploring La Boca, a colorful neighborhood in Buenos Aires (also home to Boca Juniors, the legendary team that Diego Maradona played for) where we had a mini photo shoot.
Sadly Rachael has returned to cold Boston, and I'm on my way to Cordoba. I'm heading to Patagonia in a few days, where I'll attempt to survive the W Trek and later meet some girlfranz to do more trekking... need to balance all the eating with some exercising riiiight?!?!