Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hola, Buenos Aires

So after three relatively cushy weeks in Spain filled with all the cults, cookies, and coffee we could manage, we arrived in Buenos Aires. We got to feel like ¨real¨travellers again by opting to take the two hour public bus from the airport for thirty cents instead of a shuttle or cab for thirty bucks. We arrived at our Diego Maradona-themed hostel room feeling tired from the long overnight flight and pretty self-satified. For those that don´t follow football (soccer), Maradona was one of the greatest players of all time, and is literally revered as a god throughout Argentina (yes, there´s even a church of Maradona). Sadly, he´s not the most romantic of icons, so falling asleep surrounded by posters and paintings of him was a bit discomforting.

One nap later and we were ready to tackle trying to get some vegetarian food, which we heard would be nearly impossible because steak, steak, and more steak is the name of the game in Argentina. What no one told us is that there are more pizza joints per capita than any place we´ve ever been. After some tasty empanadas and pizza, we were sucking in our guts and wandering our new ´hood,´ a laid-back little neighborhood north of the central city which oddly reminded us both of parts of Chicago. After hearing our first ¨car backfiring¨ some hours later, we really felt at home. Nobody´s got the guns like the Americas!

Since we only had a few days in Buenos Aires, we decided to hit the pavement and do some major sightseeing. We went to the excellent Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires and fell in love with a couple of artists we never knew existed. We also wandered through a park silly with cats, two of whom looked just like Maxine and Ruby and were sitting together near an empty bench. After sitting a while and wishing we had bought some food, we moved on look at some of the cool colonial and post-colonial architecture in central B.A.

We spent a day exploring the working class La Boca neighborhood, home, of course, to Maradona and the Boca Juniors football club. Although we were hoping to see a match to experience 80,000 crazed and caged-in fans, they weren´t playing a league match while we were there. Instead, we checked out the local artists and colorfully-painted metal homes that lie near the harbor. We also enjoyed the Museo de Bellas Artes de La Boca, housed in the old studio and home of painter Benito Quinquela Martin, with great views of the harbor and the city. On the way back, we stopped in at a sidewalk cafe to have a beer with an enormous, life-sized (?) Homer Simpson and listen to tango music. Strangely, the only things more popular in B.A. than Homer Simpson are the colors blue and yellow. What´s not to love?


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