Hola mi amigos!
Wow. That greeting would not have rolled off my tongue like that a week ago! It's amazing just how many 'lo siento's and 'muchas gracias's I've humbly spoken as of late to get to this point. And here we are!
Argentina baby! The hefty U.S. midwest-sized country whose beefy brawn and big heart seem to find themselves in an endless tango. So tango, of course, was the first thing I sunk my teeth into arriving for a week in the capital of Buenos Aires. Well, that and a no-vegetarians-in-this-country flank steak. I salivated over both.
Interestingly, this is the first RobinGoesTo adventure in a Spanish speaking country. And yet why was I nervous about this language barrier? I live in San Diego for Christ's sake; Mexico's backyard. Almost every freeway exit within a 10 mile radius of my home has a hispanic name. I ordered enchiladas suizas just last week at my fave restaurant. I even vividly remember the abierto/cerrado lesson from watching Sesame Street decades ago. I realized rather quickly just how integrated the Spanish language is in our culture. And how that gave me un poco more confidence communicating with Argentinians. Props to Sesame Street.
So my quiet confidence and I traded in our typical Fall pumpkin spice lattes for the local springtime dulce de leche latte (delish, btw) and devoured the neighborhoods and streets of Buenos Aires for the past week. In addition to small surprises like finding women walking around Frankenstein-style in platform shoes (either they are just now getting the memo from 1994 or be ready, they're on their way back), strictly tango shoe stores, and passing fresh-pressed OJ stands on many corners, I found this city to be a microcosm of the diversity I've been expecting to see around the country at large. Hipster Palermo with its leafy, shaded, street art walls and bass thumping boutiques. The stately european facades of Retiro. Bold-colored grittiness in La Boca. Sleek and modern Puerto Madero's nautical feel. Just to name a few. But perhaps my favorite was quaint, cobblestoned San Telmo where you're always just one cafe con leche away from a throwback era of arts and leisure. Sure, you cross paths with the occasional mangy, free-roaming dog but on the whole, Buenos Aires is an impressive cosmopolitan city.
Funny enough, that mangy dog could be a metaphor for the scrappy and crafty people just doing what they have to do to make it in this recently volatile country. I get it. I'm still never sure whether an ATM is going to go "out of order" while I try to withdraw money or the not-serviced-on-weekends machine is empty already. Lucky me, I've experienced both! And if that's not a curious red flag of instability, the 4 different versions of the $100 Argentinian peso currently in circulation might be. So things are a little rough around the edges here. As one local playfully shared on matters of bucking convention and questionable social conduct, "That's just Argentina!"
Looking forward to experiencing more of this country's rough edges. Gracias for coming along!
*Be sure to comment and let me know what neighborhood strikes your fancy!