Week 6: Back in Buenos Aires

Back in 2008, I had the opportunity to spend two months in Buenos Aires with a program called Road2Argentina. I lived with a host family, interned at a local business for a few weeks, and explored the city. I also had the great fortune to catch the tail end of some friends’ time studying abroad, and got to know the city through more experienced eyes, even meeting some locals along the way. I remember leaving with a feeling that I’d be back here one day, maybe to visit, maybe to live.

This Sunday, that day came. I am beyond thrilled to be back in BA, seeing how the city has evolved (lots more Starbucks) and retracing my 19-year old steps.

While most of the week was spent getting acquainted with my new apartment (that time I thought another balcony didn’t lock but then realized it was user error), my new neighborhood (cobblestones, cafes, cute), my new workspace (exposed brick walls, need I say more?), and a much bigger city. In a lot of ways, I feel lucky that I’ve already spent time here and can avoid some of the panicky FOMO that everyone else is going through right now…

First, I’ll say it has been a fairly easy adjustment. I love my apartment and neighborhood, despite graffiti being far too present (not the street art kind, either). We live in Palermo, a very trendy, village-esque part of Buenos Aires. We have two workspaces, both of which are super cute, have the most amazing coffee machines – for free – and are about a 20-minute walk away from home. The one thing that has been less than ideal is the weather: it’s much cooler here and is overcast or rains every day. Not letting it get in the way of fun, but I am missing the sunshine. And I miss my glorious Cordobese yoga studio.

Here’s how I spent my first week back in Buenos Aires:

  • Monday evening was our city preview and general gathering. I had a bunch of work to finish up and ended up staying so late in the office that I almost got locked in — OOPS! Going to try not to do that again.
  • Tuesday I discovered Ninina, a wonderful coffee shop in the morning, and a great middle eastern lunch spot with some fellow Remotes during lunch. That evening, I got to have a date night with my boyfriend. There was brie and wine and I was happy.
  • Wednesday we had a Community Townhall (bimonthly event for Remote Year), where we heard about a futbol league that does foreigner vs. BA soccer, watched some great work from our group’s last month, and sang happy birthday to one of our peeps. (Side note: we have a great birthday tradition where the person whose birthday it was last plans something for the next in line!) That evening, I went to a (not good) yoga class that I found on Clickypass, a company that is basically Classpass but in Argentina. It’s a newer company and doesn’t have a ton of options, so I’m a little disappointed that I paid for it upfront, but alas… Then my fellow yogi Carolyn and I went to Plaza Serrano, the heart of Palermo, in search of one of my favorite bars from my previous trips, Prologo. It’s gone, but in its place is a restaurant called Diggs, where we got some amazing ribs.
  • Thursday evening was eventful: a few of us went to a language exchange meetup and then to La Catedral. La Catedral is a great milonga (tango dancing venue) that used to be a mill back in the day, and now is a Brooklyn-feeling large dance hall with funky art all around. Despite the class starting 1.5 hours late, being back there was such a great feeling. I loved watching the class before us find its groove, especially the locals that got really into it – the women closing their eyes and pressing their cheek into their partners’, the give-and-take playfulness of the footwork… All of it. I danced a lot that night, and learned some great moves.
  • On Friday, I made my way to my company’s Buenos Aires office! It was fun to see the neighborhood (reminded me of Queens), meet the team (they even have an office dog, Chaco), and have lunch at the local restaurant, which didn’t look impressive but had probably the best steak I’ve had so far.
  • Friday night was our big welcome party: Fuerza Bruta! It was amazing, despite having already seen it twice in New York. Such a vivid sensory experience, so many surprises and delights, such a cool piece of art to partake in. My favorite part of the evening was the huge dance circle Remote Year formed outside the venue afterwards, becoming just as much of a show ourselves. Later, we tried to go to a few bars/clubs near Plaza Serrano but the rain put a damper on our plans, and we ended up wet, tired, and hungry. We had a quick (delicious) choripan and headed home at the early hour of 2am.
  • On Saturday, I got to meet up with Paula and Javi, two of my local friends for brunch at Cafe Crispin. We reminisced on our previous meetings, shared incredulity at how quickly 7-8 years flew by, and learned about each others’ astral charts, randomly. Later, I made my way downtown for a bike tour with Rental Bike Argentina. The bike tour was one of my favorite parts of this week, despite heavy rain stalling us. In the end, we put on ponchos and powered through, with Ben, our fearless British leader showing us some of the key places in Buenos Aires: Puerto Madero, the new port; La Costanera, a riverside promenade; Plaza de Mayo and La Casa Rosada, the most important plaza in Buenos Aires from which the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo get their name; and the Congreso, my old stomping grounds. After the bike tour, a couple of us went to Cafe la Poesia, a “bar notable” in San Telmo, recognized for being a historic location and maintaining the essence of an old-time Buenos Aires bar. Then, my Remote friend Brecht and I went to a rock show that a coworker had recommended at La Trastienda, a hip music venue in San Telmo, and got introduced to Ruben Pozo – an amazing Spanish guitarist. We had so much fun! I then somehow ended up with other Remotes at a loft party in Puerto Madero, listening to a lot of cumbia, drinking fernet y coca, and talking to some locals about their hopes of visiting New York.
  • Sunday I had brunch at Oui Oui, famous for its eggs benedict. (They were out of eggs benedict.) A few of us then took the subte (subway) down to San Telmo, a historic neighborhood in Buenos Aires and walked around the street fair. There was so much art and so many crafts! It was awesome. We saw antiques, tango in the square, puppetry, musicians, pretty much everything you could imagine. We then had a quick bite to eat at Bar El Federal, one of the more interesting bar notables in Buenos Aires. I’ll let this colorful description speak for itself. In the afternoon, we had our Amazing Race: Buenos Aires edition, where we walked around the city taking pictures with designated landmarks. I most enjoyed seeing the Floralis Generica, a huge metal flower sculpture that opens and closes with the time of day, and taking funny pictures all over the city. It was cold and rainy, which left my energy a little low, so I was happy to go get thai food for dinner at Koh Lanta when we were done.

Though spicy curry and a hot shower didn’t do much to stave off the cold I’m now fighting, reconociendo one of my favorite cities has been well worth it. I can’t wait for the week ahead, when I’ll get my first visitor and head to Patagonia!

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