It’s pretty safe to say that after a month back in Buenos Aires, we’ve settled into our new apartment and we’ve adapted to a pretty basic routine.
Friends, both here and in Canada, have asked what we hope to do this time ’round. “What’s left to do in Buenos Aires that you didn’t do last year?”
There is no ‘one thing’ we are trying to accomplish by being here. It’s a place to live that is affordable and doesn’t have snow. The city is so big that there is always something going on if, on a whim, we feel the urge to experience something new. We subscribe to an online news source (in English) called The Bubble that provides a weekly highlight of events and activities going on in the city.
Living here is also helping me improve my Spanish – immersion helps, big time! I’m continuing my Spanish studies through Skype, although I don’t feel I’m anywhere near ready to have full conversations with locals. As my Spanish instructor says, “poco a poco.”
Some days are quiet, where we laze about as homebodies and binge something on Netflix or read. Most days we take to the streets and explore: coffee shops, grocery stores (big and small), design centres, parks, restaurants. We’ve found the nearby necessities: neighbourhood convenience store with the best deals on wine, laundromat (we auditioned a couple for their speed, cost and folding abilities), and a corner bakery – with anything sweet and delicious to savoury meat pies and empanadas. Last year, I would make my own beef empanadas – lunacy – the ones down the street are superior! And did I mention they are just one block away? Calling me!
I can’t always hear their call because our street is a tad noisy. And by tad, I mean that at any given hour, the noise on our street overshadows what I believe are random death metal concerts occurring in various units in our small building on any given night. If it’s Tuesday, it’s the unit beside us with the tunes on full. Thursday – it’s the unit below. Friday and Saturday, everybody tests their sound systems.
Our building is on the corner of two very standard, community streets in our neighbourhood. Both are only one-and-a-half lanes by North American standards. The buildings are all between two and four stories so where, you ask, does all this noise come from?
Both streets are major bus routes. Countless buses barrel down these streets every three minutes sometimes two abreast. We have experienced, first hand, how bus drivers tend to break at the last possible moment for each stop, so their brakes are worn down to metal on metal. SKREEEEETCH.
The streets are lined with trees, each chock-a-block with various out-of-tune song birds. Their makeshift melody begins at about 4 a.m. And the leader of the choir is a rogue rooster about a block away.
Behind doors and gates along the sidewalks are several dogs that expel, deep and prolonged whines for the first hour after their owners leave them for the day.
For the first two weeks we found it difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep. Earplugs were our saviour. Now a month into it, we’ve tossed the earplugs having adapted to the busy city noises.
Noise aside, the weather is nothing to complain about. Having come from the beginning of an early fall in Canada, we have to remind ourselves that we are still in the early throes of spring here.
The temperature has been in the high teens to mid 20s (Celsius), which has made it easy for me to get back to running. I’ve worked back up to 10 kilometres per run and get out most days. After 20+ years of running, I’ve finally taken the advice of countless massage and physiotherapists to stretch after each run. By George, they’re on to something: regular stretching helps – no more lower back pain caused by tight hamstrings and calves. Whodathunk!
In addition my my running, we are out walking most days for about four to five kilometres. Earlier this week while we were walking around, I finally got the nerve to go into a local mobile phone office to get a pay-as-you-go sim card for my phone. For next to nothing, I now have a local number and enough data to cover me when we’re not at home. I’m no whiz when it comes to math, but best I can figure, I get 50MB a day for about C$0.30.
The city has a fairly decent public WiFi network in most neighbourhoods, but more times than not we haven’t been able to hop onto that network to book an Uber or send a Whatsapp message to a friend to say we’re running late (or more likely to find out where they are – punctuality isn’t really a thing here).
Speaking of friends, we have had several opportunities to reconnect with the friends we made last year. A few too many of those opportunities had us crawling home at around three in the morning. Needless to say, the day after each of those outings has been a homebody day. Yowza!
Our most recent outing was a fantastic Halloween bash. Amazing location in an old house, creative costumes and great music.
As grateful as we are for these invitations, we are only a month in so we need to pace ourselves or we certainly not make it until April.
And, it’s not that our feet are itchy, but we are also planning some small getaways over the coming months. First up: we’ll be spending five days over Christmas in Santiago, Chile with our friends Karyn and Dave who will be finishing a cruise there on Christmas Eve. At least we think we’ll be in Santiago.
We had to go to the airline office downtown and negotiate, in Spanish, a change to tickets we previously booked to another city on a different date. We walked out their office with old style, printed tickets. If we get to Santiago, it will be a Christmas miracle.
We are also exploring some options to get back to Sao Paulo. We really enjoyed our last trip to Brazil and look forward to seeing it even more abuzz during Carnival.
But before all of that, we have some friends coming for a visit next week, so we’ve put together some options, that include new experiences for us: a different jazz club, new restaurants and a tango show.
Speaking of restaurants, we’re meeting a new friend tonight at an Asian eatery in our ‘hood. We don’t expect that it will be a late night, but we never really do. Stay tuned.