My Week Alone
Jo left and I became a relatively unsocial creature, going off by myself each day. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have walked miles around the city, through parks and along the various avenues. I had a few people-watching sessions, sitting outside cafes with a coffee and notebook in hand. I am also now a pro at the Subte, the underground system here, and can successfully order street food in Spanish (although I can’t honestly claim to necessarily understand everything they say in response).
My lonesome explorations began with my discovery of the swanky, uptown area of Buenos Aires, a riverside conglomeration of glassy skyscrapers, where I wandered slowly around an art collection and along the river, dodging the many people exercising on rollerskates. I visited a fair few museums and galleries throughout the week, from the Nacional Museum, with a range of fine art, to the MALBA, the Modern Art museum of Buenos Aires, which had interesting and confusing items such as benches made of wooden slats which unravelled and trailed up the walls. I turned up at the Anthropology museum one afternoon and, as I was the only person wandering the various rooms, a man who worked there took it upon himself to give me a personal tour. He spoke very animatedly in Spanish, so that I managed to understand a fair amount despite the specialist topic of Indigenous Tribes and their development, and more excitingly he looked like a groomed version of the famous image of Einstein, complete with wavy white hair and big bushy moustache.
A real highlight of the week was my visit to El Ateneo, a bookshop famed for its beauty. It is in a converted theatre, with the beautiful galleries and dome of the auditorium still intact, but the floor space is now covered with bookshelves and the stage is a café, for readers to while away the hours. I wandered around each level, blissfully happy as I listened to Stephen Fry reading a Harry Potter audiobook on my ipod.
Buenos Aires at Night
I have also got to know Buenos Aires a bit better by night, on a couple of spontaneous nights out with travellers I met in the hostel.
The first night out began with a performance by El Bomba del Tiempo, a drum group. For two hours the crowd jumped and danced, completely intoxicated by the rhythm of the pieces performed by the twenty strong group. Going out clubbing afterwards was a real test of stamina: in Buenos Aires, or Argentina in general, clubs don’t open until at least 2am, and arriving back at the hostel by 7am was taking it easy.
My second spontaneous evening adventure began with being invited to the Lollapalooza music festival. I became an honorary Israeli for the evening, joining a group of ten friends (though I can’t claim my Hebrew is fluent yet, despite the sudden immersion), including being part of a banner for someone’s friend at home which read ‘Happy Birthday! I miss you’ in Hebrew. The festival was just outside of the main city, and organised on an absolutely huge scale, so that by the evening time, and the eagerly awaited headlining act, the crowds were 70,000 strong. The climax was the amazing performance by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
The week sped past, and suddenly Nae was here! To celebrate her arrival we ate out at a steakhouse, where I stuck out like a sore thumb with my gnocchi, but Nae had what was apparently the best steak of her life. We have had a few days chilling out, to plan the next leg of the journey and allow the jet lag to ebb away, which was possibly slightly hindered by a night out together, but worth it for the fun and crazy dancing. This morning we wandered the San Telmo Sunday market, which I visited with Jo a couple of weeks ago, and enjoyed fresh crepes for breakfast. Nae has already settled into the traveller way of life: she took the plunge and got a dredlock.
This afternoon we had the decidedly odd experience of Teatro Ciego, or Theatre in the Dark, a theatre performance comprised of voices, smells, and sound effects. We turned up and had a giggle when we realised, from the many kids milling around, that it was a children’s performance, but enjoyed it nonetheless, though understanding more Spanish would have helped.
Tomorrow morning I say adios to the city which has been my home for the last three weeks and we begin the 1400km journey to cross into Bolivia, so we have stocked up on snacks and resigned ourselves to a decided lack of sleep for at least two days. See you on the other side!