HOLA! I arrived in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, today is Monday, and now finally, I am muchos happy in Argentina. I am writing from a very, very hot and even more crowded train (the commoners train as my Ukrainian called it). There is a bicycle to the left and right of me, some neighbor’s sweat against my own, and a group of my new five friends are four rows of people in front of me which is also just two feet away.
My first two days, I stayed with my friend George, whom I’d met in Thailand 3 years ago. He lives here temporarily from the UK and thankfully had the perfect couch to surf. As he’d done before, George impressed me with all the things he’d learned about this city, and of course, his kindness in making me feel welcome and safe on my own.
My first day, I went to the Recoleta Cemetery where there are wildly ornate tombs of presidents, artists, celebrities, and other important Argies – Evita included.
I quickly met an American from Boston and after, we wandered together to a vibrant art museum and a park. At the park, I saw my first Jacaranda tree – filled with the prettiest shade of purple leaves you’ll ever see. Now, I realize the jacarandas are everywhere and aesthetically, they’re what I love about the city most.
That evening, I met George back at his apartment. We ordered pizza and caught up since the last time we saw each other at the Full Moon Party in Thailand.
Day two in BA, George took the day off to take me sightseeing. He told me about Argentina’s crazy President who dropped the voting age to 16 to get more votes and who also is trying to change their constitution to get rid of the two-term limit. For many other reasons, there are always protests in BA, which I found fascinating. On any day, you’ll see hundreds of protesters outside Congress lobbying for union rights, marijuana legalization, and more. Men in the front of the protest wear balaclavas and carry wooden sticks to beat cars with when they try to pass. Despite the image, all the protests I saw did not look dangerous. The Argentinians were just loud and fired up, and that’s how they are when they dance too – full of passion and it seems they could never stop.
Later that night, my new American friend met George and I at a Parrillas. And when I say later, I mean at midnight we sat down at our table – it’s normal for restaurants to be empty until 10pm. Parillas are all over the city and they are basically steakhouses, only better. The word parrillas (pah-ree-shjah) literally means grill and the meat that’s cooked on these parrillas is to die for. I’ve been eating less and less meat these days, but if I lived in Argentina, I’d be riding the meat wagon more. We also enjoyed a bottle of Malbec that was delightful and 13 dollars.
Anyways, earlier in the day, I’d checked into a hostel so I could meet other travelers. Many, many times I have traveled without a plan, but never have I done so on my own. The first few days, I was quite sad and very lonely in the silent moments, and this country is also way bigger and more expensive than I thought. I cried to my nearly broke and lost self a few times the first two-three days, but thankfully I’ve now met a group of travelers that I love very much! Two Italians (m), one South African (f), and one Argentinian (f) – they are loads of fun and very easy to be around. Fabulouso.
From an artist, I bought a cup for mate (mah-tay) – an herbal drink Argentinians have almost daily. It’s somewhat tea-like (my Argie friend yelled at me for saying so), and it is meant to be shared. You take turns drinking the steeped leaves while talking, listening, and relaxing with friends and family. It´s a great tradition. After a very long day, we continued with dinner and Folklore dancing. I´ll have to tell you more about that later, though. Ciao for now!