The reason we went to Buenos Aires had nothing at all to do with fun. It was all about work. Specifically, Olivier’s job. Occasionally, the company he works for sends people to Argentina, or puts some Argentinians on a plane for France. They’d sent Olivier to Buenos Aires for a week a couple of years ago, but I stayed home. It wasn’t a sad thing, since I had a BFF from back home visiting me.
About 6 months ago, Olivier was informed they’d be sending him again. But, this time I’d get to tag along & we decided to take an extra week just to spend time appreciating Argentina.
After our insanely shitty flight from Madrid, we arrived on a Sunday morning to find Buenos Aires calm & still half-asleep. After showers & a Burger King fix (give us a break – there’s no Burger King here, so we jump on it whenever we get the chance) we had a quick stroll, then drinks on the rooftop of our hotel with Olivier’s two coworkers, who we’d been traveling with.
We’d all noticed down on the street, in front of the hotel, these big yellow tourist buses that came & went every few minutes. You know the kind of buses I’m talking about — those big bastards you see in major cities that are always packed full of gawking, camera-wielding tourists on the roof.
All of us were so jet-lagged & so exhausted with a Sunday afternoon to burn. It was too hot outside to do much of anything — especially since the four of us had all just been in the midst of a cold, damp winter less than 24 hours ago. The 85° F temperature was a shock to our systems. The only sane thing to do was to drink on the rooftop of the hotel while we waited for the temperature to drop a little bit so that we could migrate from the hotel rooftop to a big bastard bus rooftop.
The 3-hour tour took us all around Buenos Aires. We put on the headphones & listened to the audio guide as we marveled at buildings with fancy facades, poor neighborhoods with cracked walls; murals, sculptures, monuments & parks. We saw crazy soccer fans hanging out of bus windows, shirtless & screaming. We saw people who reminded us of ourselves.
The real excitement came from all of the tree branches hanging down low enough to smack us in the face as we gawked & pointed. I admit, we laughed hysterically & without mercy when the poor old man sitting in front of us (yep, that’s the back of his head in the photo) got the shit smacked out of him by a palm tree branch. Don’t worry — he was okay & the rest of us managed to hit the deck before it slapped us.
A 3-hour tour is long, even when there’s plenty to see, so around the 2 & a half hour mark, the four of us were getting a little bonkers. We started to lose our shit & became the loud, obnoxious laughing people on the tour.
“When is this ride ever going to end?”
“Where’s your headphones?”
“Fuck those headphones. I threw those off half an hour ago. Where are WE?”
“It’s getting cold. I’m going downstairs into the bus.”
“OH MY GAWD IT’S FREEZING DOWN THERE.”
“We’re trapped on the roof of this bus. HOLY FUCK BALLS WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE BRANCH.”
We were cooped up & crazy. The wind picked up, blowing dust all over us. I licked my lips & they were coated with a layer of dust. My hair was blown into dreadlocks. My eyes, gritty with tiny rocks.
The next day, Olivier & his coworkers had to begin their work week. So how did I spend my days in Buenos Aires during their working hours? I spent them here.
Indeed, I locked myself up in this hotel room all day long with the “do not disturb” sign hanging from the door. Every morning I had my continental breakfast in the international business hotel with the three international business travelers I was with, then I put my ass on that little green stool & hunched over my iPad to write without the distractions of home. It was fucking excellent. That hotel room got a new story out of me, along with some progress on my novella.
Sometimes, Olivier would come pull me out of there for lunch, if he could get away & when he finished work in the evenings, we hit the street to meet up with the Argentinian coworkers. This is all a big blur of English, French & Spanish chatter sprinkled with techno music, laughter & generous quantities of Argentinian cerveza.
We did find some time to get together with our Argentinian friends & escape our working, writing mode for a while at el Museo del Bicentenario.
This is an excellent museum just next to the famous pink presidential palace in Buenos Aires & has only been open since May, 2011. First of all, museums are just cool… but this one is in a freaking archeological site. Specifically, an old fortress.
Before we knew it, the week had come & gone. Saturday morning, Olivier & I were on our own, back at the airport to catch a flight to Salta.
I was told there would be wine in Salta… & snow-capped mountains that would make a surly woman from Colorado feel whole again, so I couldn’t wait to get there. Also, I was promised there would be empanadas & I really, really wanted to eat a pile of empanadas. Even better if I could eat a pile of empanadas with a decent view of the Andes.
And that’s all I have to tell you for now. Later, I’ll tell you how amazing Salta is. I’ll tell you about the llamas & how my rigid forcefield of misanthropy was so easily penetrated by the many warm, smiling Argentinians I encountered who are somehow so… human.