You know, the first time I came to Buenos Aires, it brought me a certain nostalgia for how I imagined New York was in the 60s, or maybe the 70s. It’s movida (hectic, active), there are buses (which they call colectivos, which is confusing since in Chile that’s a shared taxi) careening everywhere, and people clickety clack in their fancy shoes this way and that. Also last night, I heard a neon sign buzzing on and off for the first time since I saw it in a movie a hundred years ago. Do neon signs still buzz in the United States? I’m not sure.
Last night it occurred to me to walk from where I am staying (in Palermo, but towards Barrio Norte) to where a friend lives in the Microcentro. I asked Google (like you do) to map it out for me, cautious to not walk near an area between 9 de Mayo and San Telmo that a few people have warned me is quite women-of-the-nightish, and set off hiking in the nighttime heat.
First of all, it is NEVER warm at night in Santiago. There is never a night when walking briskly will bring anything other than a slight flush to your cheeks, to say nothing of a backfull of sweat and a headfull of curls. But I soldiered on, approximately following the suggested route, and was again and again confronted with streets upon streets of activity. Coronel Diaz, Callao, Corrientes, Santa Fe, again and again and again, I’d turn a corner and find aother giant street full of people at 9 PM, another broad boulevard with its disorderly hodgepodge of handlettered and neon signs, urging me to eat! drink! go the the gym! (No thanks, I was sweating already). Santiago’s not like that. A few main avenues and the rest is downright quiet. But this is Buenos Aires! Big! Loud! Opinionated! Hot!
Somewhere around a sweaty hour and 5 km later, I arrived, having made nary a false turn, thanks googlemaps, the giant paper map I had and the photo I took of my route on the computer with my phone, and no thanks to the man who (strangely) slapped my arm when I stopped in a bus shelter for a second to adjust my hideous running shoes, having torn my feet to blistery shreds earlier in the week, having forgotten about how winter feet plus summer shoes equals agony. I gave the guy what for and continued on.
So my experience in Buenos Aires continues on, and I woke up this morning thinking, hey, nice city. I could stay here a while. And then I turned on the television.
And LAN’s Argentina flight attendants are on strike. Which I’m sure is over work conditions, and I completely get it, but feel pretty damn sorry for the people stranded in the two airports in Buenos Aires, because it’s beginning to look like they’re not going anywhere. And then I thought of me. Me! I might not be going anywhere, either.
Guess you’ve got to be careful what you wish for! Wonder how long it would take me to walk to Santiago?