Buenos Aires, as you might imagine, is a smart, cosmopolitan city. Walking about, there’s a nagging feeling of familiarity. Even mildly jetlagged, it’s easy to forget where in hell you are. For it looks like any European city—Paris, Milan, Madrid. New York, even. Except there are purple-flowering jacaranda trees, Banyan trees with their elephant-foot roots, and healthy, towering ficus. The same temperamental ficus benjamina that right now might well be shedding curled leaves in your very own living room.
We dodge homicidal Porteños drivers. Jesus, if you think crossing the streets in Athens and Rome is bad. It just sheer madness here. And don’t even think it’s possible to cross Avenida 9 de Julio(allegedly the widest avenue in the world at 400 feet wide and six lanes one way) in a single traffic light cycle. Look out or get squashed. No pedestrian right of way regulations here, dude.
Most striking to me, and not hard to miss, are the very passionate lovers. They kiss and kiss in the streets, in parks, in porticos; they give slow caresses to faces and hair, to backs; their eyes tango. Something else that’s immediately apparent is that there’s no cleaning up after any dog. And it’s hard to ignore the young mothers with filthy babies and small children begging at the entrance to subway. No exaggeration—only the women’s teats are clean from breast-feeding. Also, on two separate occasions, beautifully-dressed women have sidled up to me and told me not to wear “that watch” in Buenos Aires. They tell me about the thieves on motorcycles. My watch is a mongrel Seiko.
Instead they should’ve reminded me that you don’t wear your camera bandoleroed across your chest in the damn subway. I used to have a lovely Canon Sureshot until some fleet-fingered ládron picked it clean from the closed case. Ai. Lástima. Undeterred, we continue with the tourist things, although it took me a day or more to let go of that angry, ripped-off feeling. (All my photos! Gone.)
If you go, do not miss a trip to the ritzy La Recoleta Cemetery to visit the iconic Evita Peron’s grave. Follow up with trip to The Museo Eva Perón. Buy a snack at the small restaurant run by Madres de Plaza de Mayo and feel like you’ve contributed a little bit to support human rights. Kick back at an outdoor cafe and watch sidewalk tango dancers perform and sell sidewalk photo-ops to onlookers. Reach for your camera, if you’ve GOT one.
Here are a handful of photos I scavenged from my husband’s portfolio: