Thursday, April 1, 2010

On the Argentine Capital


Tomorrow I'm leaving for Buenos Aires, where I lived for half of 2007. Three years later I have mixed emotions on returning to the cosmopolitan South American metropolis. You could even say I'm nervous. There I had some of my highest highs and my lowest lows.

I liked Barcelona, Santiago and Madrid just fine, but as elegant or sophisticated as those cities could be, they lacked that certain energy. Buenos Aires throbs with it. I don't know if it's the ongoing history of economic and political struggle and protest, the passionate fusion of Latin American and Italian cultures or all the sensual Tango, but that city has something.

At 21, Buenos Aires swept me off my feet. I swooned for the chocolate amargo ice cream delivered by motorbike. At night my friends and I sipped Malbec and ate gooey pizza topped with salsa blanca and chorizo or bowls of creamy gnocchi on breezy sidewalks. I'd fly across the sprawling city in cheap colectivos and taxis, always clutching my Guia T. In the mornings I'd run laps in the Bosques de Palermo, admiring the rose garden and trying not to stare at all the affectionate couples and the bronzed, scantily clad joggers and inline skaters.

In the evenings I'd drink mate, charging up for the night ahead. While we'd wait in line to get in a boliche I'd stare at the silicone enhancements and genetic miracles ahead of us, barely concealed under thin layers of Lycra. Then we'd dance the night away and leave the still raging club to catch a bus home at dawn.

I'm remembering the afternoons I walked up and down avenidas Santa Fe and 9 de Julio, passing Plaza de Mayo and contemplating the protests or the marching madres de los desparecidos. I can still recite the barrios: hip Palermo, charming San Telmo, elegant Recoleta, chaotic Constitución, gritty Abasto, residential Belgrano, colorful La Boca and modern Puerto Madero.

Buenos Aires -- the land of Jorge Luis Borges, Maradona and Evita Perón. The capital of dulce de leche and chorripan. The massive city of mullets and make outs, full of dog walkers and green parks. Where tiny old ladies walk their little dogs at 3 a.m. dressed in fur coats and the men in the market belt out Italian love ballads. The land of vos y "zsho," a country where a thong is the equivalent of a swimsuit and no part of a cow is left uneaten. The place where I could afford blow outs and waxes and spent my weekends hiding my shock in avant-garde art galleries and sipping cortados in Victorian cafes.

I'm afraid I won't want to come back to the Pacific side of the continent. Even though I suspect I'll soon have similar emotions about Valparaíso, right now I'm oh-so ready to escape so I can put on a dress and take lots of pictures without fearing for my life. I plan to buy loads of books without going broke. I'm going to admire all the design and fashion, all too absent in my current home.

And after going to bed hungry in Chile I'm looking forward to escaping to a country where dinner is a meal, even if served at 11 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.