Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nov 1-8: Buenos Aires

We´ve spent the last week exploring the various neighborhoods of Buenos Aires with my (Nader´s) parents. It´s been a blast spending some time with them in this amazing city; thanks again for coming Mom and Dad!

As the locals will be sure to tell you, Buenos feels more European than Latin American, with it´s sophisticated shops, broad avenues and statue-studded plazas. While this might be true at first appearance the more you get to know the city the more the Latin in it comes out, especially in the passion of its inhabitents towards everything they do.

We rented an apartment for the week in perhaps the hippest block in South America, in the heart of Palermo Soho, which resembles its namesake with plush indoor/outdoor cafes, top-class restaurants and parks, but friendlier and without any of the pretense. We spent our days exploring the various neighborhoods, like Recoleta with its glitzy stores and very impressive cemetary. It´s a veritable city of large mausoleums and walking through it is the best national history lesson you can get as all the famous presidents, generals, poets, etc are buried here.

Dad lingered a little longer at Evita´s resting spot.

La Boca and San Telmo were other favorites, with the outdoor cafes and tango shows, and the old mansions giving a sense for what Argentina was like back in the 1890s when it was one of the richest countries in the world.

At night we wined and dined, and caught a couple tango performances. A little bit of luxury after a couple months on the road. (Thanks again Mom and Dad) We even took some tango lessions, care of the flamboyant and exceptionally talented Hugo; and yes it is as hard as it looks.

We also took a day-trip to the sleepy sea-side town of Colonia in Uruguay. The historic district dates back to the 17th century and is beautiful place to spend an afternoon with the tree-lined lanes and musician´s playing in the plazas. Highly recommended.

The highlight of the week for me - and I´m likely speaking for myself here :) - was definitely attending a Boca Juniors match at La Bombonera. They say this is the best place to watch soccer in the world and we were not let down. There was a little bit of a mix up with the tickets and the four of us ended up in the standing room only ´popular´ section, which are the cheap seats with the rowdiest fans. We arrived a couple hours early for both reasons of safety and because our section is herded in like cattle before the visitors section is allowed in the stadium. Boca was playing San Lorenzo another team from Buenos Aires and the two shared the top position in the league, so the atmosphere was unlike anything I´ve seen, including English Premiere League matches in London. The singing is raucous and continuous from well before the beginning of the match til after the end, and we must have heard over 20 different songs, all laced with curses, and sung while jumping up and down with arms waving in the air. The effect is that from across the stadium it looks like a continually rolling sea. The air and ground are littered with bits of paper and smoke. The full band that resides in the stands plays continually the entire match. An amazing atmosphere. We also successfully avoided the potential hazards like getting mugged, a beating for rooting for the opponents or the bags of urine that are flung from the visitors section which is directly above the ´popular´ section.

The other highlight was the local and global reaction to Obama´s victory. Being in Argentina, we´ve received a lot of global coverage and it cannot be overstated how excited the entire world is about this. I´ve got a bright blue shirt with Obama´s face on it that I wore around the day after the election and every where I walked I´d get a thumbs up from strangers. We´re both very excited to represent a country where from the depths of despair, the strength of a singular idea, that America can always redefine itself, is once again revealing itself to the world, as it is so easy for that to get forgotten in low times.

After an early morning flight we´re now in El Calafate, a gateway town to Southern Patagonia where we´ll be for the next two weeks. (Click on the link to the satellite map of the nearby glacier on the right-side of this page in the Status section.) We´re about to head into the Fitz Roy range to do some trekking so will likely be offline and unreachable for a week or so.


  1. Dude I know it's six degrees of separation now as I have ALSO been given tango lessons by Hugo when I was in Buenos Aires(we shot him for a gay travel show I was doing). Small friggin' world. :)-Nakiah

  2. More like 3 degrees. That´s amazing.