Terry and I arrived in Buenos Aires late Wednesday morning. Since we still weren't that well situated or prepared with any plans, we decided to back-pack our way to our hostel, Mansion Junin. The Hostel was an old European style building with several floors. First we walked through a crowded market (which we were later told was dangerous) and bought a street choripan. I would risk any danger for the high quality choripan I ate there. Then we crossed the famous Avenida 9 de Julio. This is the extremely wide avenue (or more like an avenue within an avenue) that features the famous Obelisco. We then headed up some lovely streets to our hostel, which is near the famous recoleta cemetery.
We unloaded our things, making a stir with the roommate who seemed to sleep in until noon every day. And then we just took a nice walk through the city. The central part of Buenos Aires is quite something. Far more spectacular than I had envisioned. For all the ghetto there might be outside of this central part of the city, the center is perhaps the most beautiful large city I have visited. It is as much and more than people describe it.
We got a late lunch (very convenient that the siesta isn't so strong in Buenos Aires). Then we went to see if I could get a microsim with my phone. I was not impressed with the runaround I got from the businesses of the city, so I just gave up on that since it wasn't worth cutting down a full sized sim for a few days.
On the same block as the movistar (large phone company) office is a beautiful book store called El Ateneo. The book store is in an old theatre, the stage part of the theatre being a restaurant with live music. Terry loved this place even more than I did, which is saying something. I think the rest of the evening we just showered, then walked around the city a little more. We returned to El Ateneo for a little more time, and Terry bought a few books.
But then night came. That night we met up with an old mission buddy, Dario Galli. He took us to a decent dinner near Aeroparque, where we had all you can eat meat. He then took us to the "clubbing" part of town, which didn't really interest me, but we followed any way. We played a little pool and chatted. He then took us on a night driving tour of the city. We arrived home at 3 AM, exhausted.
The end of the trip was approaching, and yet we felt no reason to hurry.
We went to the Recoleta Cemetery in the morning. This is the cemetery where some gal named Evita Peron was buried. The surprising thing, her family's mausoleum was quite humble compared to those of some of the other families. As much of a tourist trap as was this cemetery, I admittedly enjoyed it.
We then headed up through the parks that go from La Recoleta to Palermo. We went into el Museo de las Bellas Artes. It was not a huge art museum, but had a decent collection (as judged from someone who knows nothing about art). We then toured the Japanese garden, where I took a stalker photo of a girl taking her quinciañera photos (so meta, dude). We then headed through more beautiful parks, until we arrived at the horse racing tracks of Palermo, which are the ritz. We then got some dinner because I was trying to find out if I would be able to meet with my old mission companion which required WiFi.
By that time we were far from home. So in walking home and getting some dinner and ice cream, the day was over.
It seems like this day we spent mostly looking for delicious alfajores to take home. On the way to a major supermarket we stopped at the Botanical Gardens, which is pretty much heaven for my friend Terry. We also picked up some mates and bombillas. We got most of the alfajores that I wanted, except for the arcor brand "Aguila" which seems difficult to find in bulk.
The day went by very quickly, and it was time for Terry to go to his Tango lesson and performance. I would have loved to go to the class, but instead I went to meet up with my old mission companion, Alan Robles. He graciously treated me to an awesome dinner. We watched the Argentina soccer match at the restaurant and caught up on life events. I even got to meet his little brother, who didn't say too much, but seemed like a good chap.
Robles couldn't stick around too long as he and his brother needed to catch the bus home. So I just relaxed at the hostel for a short while, watching the end of Argentina's whooping of Venezuela. Terry then arrived back at the hostel, beaming with pride at his certificate of achievement. With his Tango dancing certificate, he becomes even more irresistible. The rest of us have no hope with the ladies... THANKS TERRY!
Mike got in on Friday night, so we went Saturday morning to meet him at the Casa Rosada (the Presidential building of Argentina). I found it to be more of a building of utility than a palace, which I can actually appreciate. We toured the cathedral nearby as well.
We got lunch, took pictures of the obelisco, found some Alfajores Aguilas, and it was time for me to head out. I took my prearranged taxi to the airport, and waited forever for the flight.
I might write some elegant summary of the trip here, about how it changed my life and made me better. I still need to think that through, though.
Yet I will say that I am grateful for the hospitality of my Argentine friends and hosts who treated me so well. Their reception makes me want to be a better friend and host, myself. I hope I can return, though that may not be for some time.