Buenos Aires, week 1
In the two weeks since I arrived in “BA”, I haven’t written once, because the city really is as fast-paced as they say. To be fair, I’ve had plenty of time to laze around a hostel, but thanks to the many distractions I never felt motivated enough to sit down and compose my usual rich tapestry of words…This city is the kind of place that sucks you in with its lively, European-style atmosphere and drags you down into a vortex of late nights and days of relaxation.When I first arrived I instantly thought it was the sort of place I would love to live in. Yet after staying here a week I can’t understand how anyone ever gets anything done. Perhaps it’s easier to be productive if you aren’t staying in a hostel with huge gangs of travellers out to have fun.
The elegantly-named hostel, “Chillhouse”, had a homely living room, roof terrace and a tiled indoor courtyard. The hostel staff partied as hard as the travellers so tempers sometimes frayed as our Spanish communication skills suffered under a fresh barrage of Australian accents.
Our new neighbourhood of Palermo Viejo was full of pretty streets, parks, expensive clothes shops and cafes with fantastic limonada and sandwiches. It was great to eat something other than fried cheese, or the boiled sweets provided for breakfast on our 22 hour bus ride.
The next day I ate the most tender steak I have ever had in a restaurant called Cluny. Sadly this also marked the moment we had to put a stop to the fine dining and start cooking our own, more humble and mostly pasta-based, meals.
The week passed in something of a blur. Our first step on to the slippery slope was getting in contact with the Sussex girl, Camila, who we had met in Sao Paulo. She quickly moved to Chillhouse and as her friends joined her the celebrating began to seem never-ending.
In South America, people go out clubbing at about 2am and return late in the morning, which was a challenge to maintain, even for us. However, we were keen to absorb the culture and live like the locals so we did our very best and dispensed with sleeping for a while.
The Argentinians are big fans of minimal techno and electronica, so we learnt to dance to the strange mixes and to cope with techno throughout the day in the hostel living room.
The day after our first club, Niceto, we wandered through the parks of Palermo – the shady Botanical Gardens, which swarm with well fed cats and old ladies, the delicate Japanese gardens and a wooded park full of dog walkers. Species segregation seemed to be rife.
Sunlight glinted through the treetops and sparkled around the edge of the leaves. As we lay on the grass it was like hanging from the edge of the world. By the rose gardens a disembodied voice instructed us in Spanish from loudspeakers whilst ants bit at my arms and we sat in the massive, swirling roots of an ancient tree.
The next day we visited the cemetery of Recoleta and looked at the opulent tombs of rich Agentinians, including that of Eva Peron. The coffins were clearly visible, so the fancy monuments these families had created exposed the boxes containing the crumbling bones of their ancestors. It was all a bit strange. Perhaps stranger that this is a popular tourist attraction.
Eventually I got restless and bored of living not very differently to how I might at home. So despite the excitement of the city, I decided to leave Carol for the first time in a month and join Michael Bolton fans Blake (Australian) and Dec (Irish) on a trip to Uruguay for a few days.
posted Wednesday April 2008