Perhaps it was so that my dreams would never have a chance to crash with reality, but I hardly researched a thing about Argentina before coming to the country three days ago.
What I mainly imagined was:
– And, err, the Malvinas/Falklands islands. Awkward! Argentina can have it.
I really thought Buenos Aires was just a name, the last destination before going home for good, but when I pulled into the main bus station yesterday afternoon I realised that there had been a cliche driving me here.
‘Buenos Aires – The Paris of South America’.
Instead my first impressions when pulling into Retiro bus station were of dirt and skyscrapers and sickly shanty towns; street stalls hawking cheap polyester hand-me-downs. I didn’t feel down about it, just,
‘Ah, ok. It’s not how I thought it was going to be.’
Still, today I pleaded with the hostel receptionist,
‘I just want beauty! Send me somewhere old and pretty.’
I love old buildings and things, more so when they’re a little dilapidated and have a history.
He served me well. I’m just back from a stroll along the sunny cobbled streets of San Telmo, antiques everywhere – massacred dolls, crystal chandeliers, old Tango sheet music and gramophones all over.
The whole area was a little bourgeois, a little bohemian, a little Paris. Bien! The streets were called Peru, Chile, Bolivia. Ah Buenos Aires, so far it’s pompous and gorgeous, with enough filth, madness and grime to keep me interested a while. I’m excited to be here.
I just want to burn my dirty old backpack full of clothes and stay here for a couple of months. It’ll be nice to slow down, I’m getting a cold, and I think my body just wants me to stop running around for a little while. Ciao!