Whatever I write here will be insufficient to describe how Buenos Aires livened my heart. Days were spent on and off the Subte, visiting museums, markets, watching the multitude of activities at parks, walking down the miles of bike paths, and eating lots and lots of ice cream. But for the first time in any city, I really felt myself come alive at night, frequently aided by several shared bottles of top-quality malbec (for $5-$10 USD). I stayed at Portal del Sur hostel in the centro, near San Telmo, where I made more top-quality friends from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Germany, and France. I can’t say my life was terribly exciting by conventional standards, but I loved every day in that city.
All my days began and ended on the rooftop starting with croissants and jam and juice and coffee and ended there with wine, beer, fernet and cola, regaeton, dancing, and foosball. Alyssa was with me my first few days in the city, and we were characteristically indifferent to how we spent our time, so a lot of it was passed simply wandering around the city, eating ice cream and empanadas and enjoying the street art and music. It took until my friend Karen arrived for me to really get out to enjoy the parks and varying neighborhoods.
• Miguel (Michele), Italy: Tolerated Alyssa and I and our fits of inexplicable giggles, observed that every time a woman (or multiple) enter his space, they seem to bring a level of destruction and disorder usually associated with a hurricane. Also never attempted a conversation with our French roommates. Drinks good wine, enjoys Marlboro Reds.
• Pedro, Brazil: Nicest, kindest heart. Speaks fluent Portuguese, French, and English, is basically fluent in Spanish after 6 weeks of group lessons. Wants to learn German, is capable of repeating phrases in any language on the first try. Loves Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, and Tribalistas. Is great company for any day.
• Franka, Germany: My best-humored, most fun and imaginative friend. Helped with the theory of how/why Argentina lost the Islas Malvinas aka Faulklands (and many lives) in the not-so-epic war with England in the 80s. Concluded that the Alpaca sweaters that permeate the continent are likely made by slave-labor using the grandmas on the Islas Malvinas.
• Olivier, France: Gracious French Gentleman, somehow tolerated and contributed to our banter and sporadic energy. Bought good wine to share every night. Also brought good vibes and tranquility.
• Nacho, Buenos Aires, hostel employee: Always extremely helpful, studying film at Uni in BA. Hilarious, not bashful about pointing out my strange language habits. Good at dancing and drinking. Went out on a limb and took Karen and me to a percussion show where we were the only tourists… We loved it.
• Gabriel, BA, Hostel Employee: Even keeled, can keep up with the Irish in drinking. Always smiling. Amused that I was too afraid of the elevator to ride it.
• Simeon, Germany: Classically German, and excellent company. Speaks flawless English. Made a spread-sheet to compare potential apartments in the city while he spends a semester abroad.
• Caro, Buenos Aires: Without a doubt one of the savviest young women I have ever met. A friend of Henry’s older sister, she was gracious enough to take Karen and I around for a couple days to share her city, as well as being a host of knowledge from her country. She works for one of the younger political parties of the country and has already contributed a great deal of progress in her 10 years working for them.
There were countless others as well, from a nice Dutch guy that I’m fairly certain was dealing drugs or something of the likes, to other employees, a pair of female German doctors, to the Uruguayan Abuela… This hostel seemed to draw in the best of humankind from all over the globe.
Not pictured is Bob, a roommate of mine and Karen’s for a couple of days. This is the story of Bob the way I remember it, although really Karen should corroborate it: I was in the midst of organizing my mountains of shit at the time, in stepped a gentleman looking to be in his 70, wearing a biking onesie and prescription sports goggles that appeared to be about an inch thick. He walked in and boisterously greeted me while he found a locker. I learned that his name was Bob and he was taking his road bike all over South America and was meeting his daughter for a leg starting in BA. I also learned within three minutes of our introduction that he snored and got up to pee every 2-3 hours thanks to his enlarged prostate. Thanks Bob, I was wondering about that. Bob proved to be about as sweet and endearing as my first impression of him. He had apparently broken his real glasses, so the thick prescription sports goggles endured.