A week of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is huge.  There are very few times in my life when I have found myself in a city of thirteen million people, and after living in Valparaíso with its estimated population of somewhere just under three quarters of a million, it seemed that much larger.  To add a little more perspective, the entire country of Chile contains roughly seventeen and a half million people, while Santiago, by far its largest city, houses six and a half million.  It’s hard to feel like I even scratched the surface of what Buenos Aires has to offer.

My trip began Sunday, April 29.  Though the flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires is only two hours, travelling door to door was an all day ordeal due to an additional the three buses, minimum two hour check-in requirement, and hour and a half long wait in Argentinian immigration for the privilege to pay the $160 reciprocity fee (in comparison, clearing Chilean immigration has never taken me more than fifteen minutes).  Per usual I did this while operating on less than two hours of sleep, although this time I somehow managed to pack everything I needed, including a cellphone charger, a toothbrush, and underwear.

After reuniting with Charlotte at the airport on Sunday, the highlights of the trip were as follows: On Monday we visited Recoleta cemetery, where Evita – and numerous other wealthy and/or notably individuals – was finally buried.  Tuesday began with chocolate covered, dulce de leche filled churros, after which we ventured to the edge of the city to Tigre, where I experienced my first Argentinian asado – a South American barbeque – complete with blood sausage and intestine.  The latter had a somewhat off-putting texture, and after convincing her to try it, Charlotte claimed it tasted like rotten fish.  Friday was a fantastically busy day in which we visited the National History and Eva Perón museums, fruitlessly searched for children’s books translated into Spanish, explored the neighborhood of Boca – which is surprisingly similar to Valparaíso – and ended, or at least partially ended, the night with a live flamenco show in a restaurant that served some excellent Argentinian beef.  I say partially ended because Charlotte’s roommates were up partying in her living room until 5 am and sweeping up the broken beer bottles well past 6.  Sunday, the day I departed, we had a typical Argentinian breakfast together – coffee and medialunas (think croissants but heavier and sticky sweet) – and I left for the airport around noon.

The days and times I’ve left out I spent sitting in cafés and walking the streets of the city, but more than that I spent them slipping back into the familiar and immensely comfortable patterns of living with Charlotte.  Landing in Santiago was in some ways a rude re-awakening, yet after a few hours – and after remembering why the Chilean accent is so much more pleasant than its grating Argentinian counterpart – the country and culture started to feel more like home than perhaps it ever had.  As I passed through customs, some of my memories of my first few hours on South American soil re-surfaced, but I can’t even begin to describe the contrast between then and now.  I assume, however, it isn’t too difficult to imagine.