To write this post, I´m taking a break from dancing around the dining room with my nine-year-old niece, Poli. Poli (alias: Rosie Star) dressed up in a pink wig, my straw hat, and a belly-dancing skirt and put on Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, so we just spent the last half hour dancing around while taking turns strumming a fake ukelele and singing into a rolling pin. Ah, the things that make a nine-year-old happy!
I realize how little I have written about the city of Buenos Aires, though I have spent a lot of my time in Argentina so far exploring the city. So here´s my guide to the different barrios (or neighborhoods) of Buenos Aires that I have visited.
EL MICROCENTRO: A bustling area full of eight-lane streets packed with honking cars and people walking down the sidewalks and the pedestrian-only streets. Notable pedestrian-only streets include Florida and Lavalle, where you will find many tourists poring over guidebooks and advertisements for tango shows. A huge white obelisk marks the center of the city, and nearby, the Casa Rosada – the pink government building of Argentina – presides over the Plaza de Mayo. My aunt Francis and my cousins Morena and Theo brought me around the Microcentro and then San Telmo. Francis noted that you have to look up when you´re walking in the Microcentro, which is so true; you miss half of the beauty if you don´t see the beautiful domes, cupulas, stained glass windows, and spires that stretch from the buildings up into the sky.
SAN TELMO: San Telmo is a bit touristy, but in a tasteful way, with beautiful little shops and museums along the cobblestone streets. Every shop has an interesting niche along the street: selling flowy pants, knitted items characteristic of the North, or bright and colorful clothing. We stopped in a bar/cafe on the corner for coffee, and Theo and Francis introduced me to the Argentinean custom of putting peanuts in beer and drinking them together. We entertained each other by doing impressions of different places, and they thought that me imitating people from Boston (let´s go to the paak), the Midwest (look at jaaykies new baaykpaayk), or the South (yall want sum sweet tea?) was the funniest thing.
BELGRANO: Veronica lives in Belgrano. It´s a pretty commercial district, with the main street totally packed with clothing stores and places to buy housewares. Moving away from the main street, however, there´s a beautiful church dome and plaza lined with cafes. The plaza hosts a feria, or an open-air market selling artesanial crafts such as jewelry, mate gourds, and clothing, on weekends. These ferias attract tourists and locals alike, and are one of my favorite things about Buenos Aires.
PALERMO: My other favorite thing about Buenos Aires are the little cafes where you can sit and take a midmorning coffee or an afternoon tea. It seems like the entire population of Buenos Aires is in one of these around five or six. Many of the street corners in Palermo host little cafes or restaurants, with the space between the corners reserved for middle- to high-class resedential buildings. Many of the streets are cobblestone, and lined with leafy and green trees. I found a beautiful organic/vegetarian cafe on a street corner in Palermo and ate a delicious rice dish with almonds, seeds, carrot puree, and balsamic vinegar for luinch.
SAN ISIDRO: Fabiola lives in San Isidro, which has a huge shopping street in the middle. There´s a plaza on one end of the street – which I think I already wrote about – with a canopy of trees and a cathedral on one corner. On weekends, there is a feria here too, which we went to yesterday after spending the (incredibly hot!) day in the pool at Claudia´s house. After walking around, we sat on some steps in the plaza to eat some pastries and listen to a boy play the violin. If only we had brought the mate.
Tonight, I am making pizza with Vero and her girls at Fabiola´s house for my last night in Buenos Aires. Tomorrow, I take the 19-hour overnight bus ride to Bariloche, so the next time I write will be from there!