It has been over a month since I arrived in Buenos Aires and it still doesn’t quite feel like home yet. Don’t get me wrong, I truly love this city but the more time I spend here the more I realize how far from home I am.
Even the trip itself was quite a challenge. I had to run through the enormous Sao Paulo airport with only 20 minutes to change the flight, one of my friends got stuck in Switzerland for a day, another one in Portugal. Also, when I left Europe it was over thirty degrees. In Argentina, it was minus three. Yes, I was still wearing flip-flops. I knew that it was winter right now but I expected it to be a “South American winter”. Winter meaning wearing a sweater instead of a T-shirt and sneakers instead of flip-flops. Instead, for the first two weeks, I was wearing five layers of clothes.
Despite the stressful flights and unpleasant weather, I fell with Buenos Aires straight away. In many ways, it reminded me of Spain. European architecture, small fruits and vegetable shops, the lack of hurry, people enjoying coffee and reading newspaper in the morning… Then suddenly I would be reminded that I am not- funny Spanish accent, chaotic traffic or the mysterious public transportation which routes and times depend on the mood of the driver.
Perhaps it is this very mixture that makes Buenos Aires so interesting. The city is called the Paris of South America not without a reason. In many neighborhoods, the architecture is very European as the Argentinian elites were greatly influenced by this architecture style. Also, most Argentines have European roots due to immigration, mostly from Italy and Spain. Despite the careful urbanistic planning, every space not filled with European style was filled with a random mixture of architectural visions. A modernist office building stands next to a neo-gothic church or a contemporary skyscraper sharing the square with an art nouveau palace.
It has only been a month but if I had to describe Buenos Aires in one word it would be “intense”. Living here is an experience. Even everyday life is more complicated. Crossing a street can be a near death experience. Daily actions that turn into daily struggles such as taking out money of the ATM, signing up for a gym, opening a bank account. It can also be seen in the culture. Lunch usually lasts until dinner. The wine is the best in the world. When you go to an ‘asado’ you eat meat until you drop. Going out late means going out around 1 am. Living here is not always easy but it is amazing.
Buenos Aires keeps surprising me. It’s complex and full of contrasts. Sometimes I feel like I am walking the streets of Barcelona or Madrid. Another time I feel like on a completely different planet. Build with the goal of resembling European capitals yet on a completely different continent. Speaking Spanish yet with a distinct accent. Filled with bars, shops, and restaurants yet struggling with many economic problems. Opening its doors to foreign students yet closing the public universities for Argentinians due to protests by its professors.
To be honest, writing this post was a struggle because despite being here for over a month I still feel like I don’t know the city at all. But I’m very excited to keep on exploring it.