We arrive off the Patagonian plane into the hot and sticky afternoon heat of Buenos Aires. Our arrival is slightly marred by the discovery that we’ve lost our credit card somewhere along the way – it’s our fourth card to have gone missing – luckily Davo is brining a replacement anyway and we have a lot of backup cards but it’s unsettling and not a great start.
I try to put it out of my mind and press the side of my face to the edge of the taxi as we head into town. We’re sharing with a guy we met at baggage reclaim and we head into the centre with the windows open and the city turning pink ahead of us.
After a month of woolly socks, the sight of girls in little sundresses and cool clunks sandals makes me feel excited to be somewhere new (and hot!)
I’m up early the next morning to head back to the airport to meet Davo. At arrivals there are lots of families waiting, some wearing Christmas hats, some in tears before their loved ones have even arrived, some holding up homemade painted banners. Through the doors come rumpled looking travellers, scanning the crowds for their families. I stand on tiptoes to look for Davo, and suddenly there she is with her rucksack and we force our way past a slow group in front of her to hug each other. It’s amazing to see her especially after so long, we’ve been looking forward to her arrival and it feels a bit unreal that she’s finally here!
Back in town we dump her stuff then head out to explore the city. Our hostel is quite close to the centre and we walk down towards the 67m high obelisk where football fans gather to celebrate, over the busy highways towards Plaza de Mayo and the pink Casa Rosada, the home of the presidential offices and where Eva Peron famously greeted crowds from the balcony. The plaza is central to Argentinian history, the place where the mothers of those who disappeared in the dictatorship in the 70s still come to mourn their lost ones. They’re not there today but there are the ghosts of memorial crosses and across the road there’s a passionate protest outside the cathedral with firecrackers and people shouting. Davo jumps at the loud bangs and we head off to find a restorative happy hour. The streets feels so Parisian here, with wrought iron and yellow bulbed street lights and the roads lined by the purple jacaranda trees which only flower three weeks a year. We’re lucky to see them.
We head back to our hostel and introduce Davo to the joys of an empenada dinner. The area where we are feels quiet at night, more of a financial district; people are out but not many, and a couple of homeless guys call out to us as we pass.
The next day we walk along the renovated docklands, sleek with steel buildings and red brick warehouse apartments. It’s a Sunday and it feels relaxed with people out running, rollerblading and walking their dogs. We head up to San Telmo, where there’s a Sunday antiques market in full swing. It’s gorgeous, filled with glassware, jewellery, vintage clothes, war memorabilia and painted signs. We browse the stalls slowly and walk around the square which is crisscrossed with bunting and tree branches. An old couple is dancing tango for the crowds; Davo murmurs that the man looks like Leonard Cohen just as he turns and winks at her.
We take a seat in the square under the shade and order coffee, hot sweet croissants (in Spanish, “medialuna”: half moon) and relax in the hot Sunday sun. It’s busy and there are tourists but it doesn’t feel touristy.
Afterwards we head back to the hostel to cook a late lunch, pick up our bags then head to the airport for our flight to Mendoza. Argentina exploring continues!