I feel a bit of a fraud writing a blog post about Buenos Aires, as we basically arrived after a 22-hour bus journey, jumped in a taxi and have spent the last few days hardly stirring out of our barrio.
I have some remote work to do (trying to get my head around Mozambican customs reform again after 6 months is a stretch …) and Lauren has a whole new set of exams to prepare for. She is currently making up sentences that use French expressions such as raconter des salades and donner sa langue au chat. Top marks for anyone who can post what they mean in the comments without googling.
We’ve been lucky that the sweltering 40 degree heat and high humidity that all the Portenos were complaining about broke the day before we arrived, and we were greeted with mid-20s temperatures and a cool breeze.
First impressions? This place is huge, and built on an enormous scale. Wide avenues, sweeping parks full of monuments, enormous roundabouts. You can definitely see why its called the “Paris of Latin America” – lots of beautiful architecture and wrought iron balconies, all gleaming magnificently in the glorious sunshine. Then you come across something quirky like a lavishly painted mural or a weirdly gynecological sculpture, or a waiter is friendly in a café, and you remember you are not in Paris after all…
Our area is a little less glitzy than the swish Palermo, where we had to venture yesterday to pick up my new debit card, or the chic designerdom of Recoleta. But we love it. It was a good choice for a month of stability. A mixture of residential and commercial, we are only a few blocks from a very busy shopping street, but our actual block is sleepy and quiet, with a great verduraria (vegetables, finally!!!), a bakery and two vets.
Speaking of vets, there seems to be one of almost every street, which is not surprising given the number of pampered dogs we have seen in the city. From tiny little pooches who travel in designer doggy handbags, to great big hounds who plod along carrying their own leads in their mouths, this is definitely a city of dog lovers.
Unfortunately, most owners don’t seem to love the city as much as their dogs, and Lauren has invented the ‘dog poo dance’ as she skips down the pavement avoiding the offerings left by our canine neighbours.
So far we’ve done absolutely no sightseeing. Our days have been pleasantly filled with work, chores and cooking. We get up early and work side by side for the morning – stopping at intervals for cups of tea (me) or cereal (Lauren) and to work on our survey of local cafes. Lauren wants a ‘local café’ but of course, before choosing which one to grace with our regular custom, a certain amount of market research is required…..
In the afternoons we shop, cook, and explore the different local streets.
If it sounds idyllic, it pretty much is – although there are the usual frustrations of not knowing what we are doing in a big city. We tried for four days in a row to identify where to get a Sube card – like an oyster card in London, a prepay card you tap to enter buses, metro, local trains etc. Everyone we spoke to and all the online resources said to buy these at ‘any local kiosk’. Yeah, right. Our efforts have been met with closed for the holidays, back in a week to we don’t have them today but definitely tomorrow (they didn’t), to we don’t sell them but they don’t check on the train anyway so just get on….
Anyway, for now we are loving the normality of an apartment, decent internet and a kitchen, and some breathing space to make our plans for Patagonia and beyond 😊