I leave Francois to Cordoba and go to Buenos Aires. After a bus night, I arrive in a city teeming with people. Almost half of the population of Argentina lives here. Leaving the subway, in the center, I have the impression of landing in full Paris. The main avenues are lined with Haussmann-style buildings. I really do not feel like I’m in South America. I settle in a nice hostal that had advised me Sandra, the Dutch of Singapore. I spend a few days walking around the city with a Quebecer I met at the hostel. We visit the Recoleta cemetery, the Père Lachaise of Buenos Aires where Eva Peron is buried. We leave for Tigre, a small town near Buenos Aires, from which we can sail in the marshes. With Edgard, a Brazilian met at the Cyber Cafe, we visit the Boca district, headquarters of the famous football club Boca Junior, which revealed Maradona. We are also attending a tango show in the San Telmo district.
I discover that here in Buenos Aires, small change is extremely valuable. Indeed, it is possible to pay the bus only with the exact currency.
As a result, there is a real shortage of rooms in the city. To the point that some traders refuse to sell me anything if I do not give them the exact change. They almost all have a sign that says “no tenemos monedas”. Flowing a hundred pesos bill is a real fighting sport.
The other national sport in Buenos Aires, are the demonstrations. There is not a day going by without a motorcade in the street, accompanied by huge explosions of firecrackers. Apparently, nobody knows why they are demonstrating, but according to my Spanish teacher, many of them are paid by interest groups to demonstrate, nice job! The only real protesters seem to be the mothers of the dictatorship’s missing who demonstrate every week in the Plaza de Mayo to demand that those responsible be prosecuted
At the hotel, Zak, an American, advises me to his Spanish school. The classes are quite intensive: four hours a day. Fortunately, I only start at one o’clock in the afternoon. The first week, I’m going with three Americans: – Jake, from Chicago, who has just been dropped by his girlfriend Argentina, but who decided to stay here to learn Spanish and party. – Charlie, from New York, who came to live here with his girlfriend Argentina. – Trevor, from Los Angeles, who keeps on going bullshit. I sympathize with them and we spend most of our evenings together. During an evening organized by an association for foreigners living in Buenos Aires, I meet Clara,
After a few days at the hostel, I moved into a host family, also recommended by Sandra. The people I live with are very friendly and it allows me to practice my Spanish outside of class. But the problem is that there are so many things to do in Buenos Aires that I am almost never at home. Suddenly, after two weeks, I move to a student residence. It’s also good for my Spanish because I share my room with an Argentinian, a Peruvian and a Colombian and it’s cheaper than staying with a host family.
It had been a long time since I had been to see in concert. In Buenos Aires, this is not what is missing and I enjoy it. I’m going to see La Bomba del Tiempo, a percussion improvisation concert that takes place every week with different guests. There are about fifteen percussionists on stage, with two electronic musicians. The atmosphere is hot. Another night, Seabrook, a Canadian with me in class, invites us to his house. He lives in a house that also serves as a local for a Argentinian-Italian NGO that is organizing a concert at their home tonight. There are barely thirty people and the group is really good. They mix a little all genres: rock, reggae, flamenco, Italian song … excellent! Our school also organizes a lot of outings. The receptionist plays in a rock band and invites us to her concert in a bar. She has a very beautiful voice, but all the songs are in English. Finally I will also see the concert there of a school of African drumming: “buena onda” as they say in Argentina.