Landing in the port city of Buenos Aires, the taxi driver wound down his window a little to allow the anticipation and excitement to ooze from within. It was a stifling Sunday afternoon and as we drove towards the city centre, I could see families in parks, children kicking footballs and people going about their ritual on their day of rest.
The people of Buenos Aires- Porteños are a proud people. They claim to have the widest avenue in the world (they don’t), they claim to have the best beef in the world (they very well may) and they claim to play the most beautiful form of football in the world (who I am I to judge?).
I enjoy visiting cities in their summer. The warm weather reveals a completely different side to people. In warmer weather, people tend to mellow, to relax. This is indeed the case in the Argentine capital, with the parks filling, the cafes spewing people onto the streets and children excitedly cramming into the entry of their nearest ice-cream store.
We sat one night at the famed Don Julio’s Parilla, eating steak, drinking wine and filling that age-old human need to people watch. Don Julio’s is a steakhouse where you would expect to find Sinatra or some notorious Mafioso eating. The internal walls are lined with mahogany panels, the shelves cluttered with old wine bottles and photos from a more respectable era, while the sweet smell of grilled meat fills the air. The waiters are as traditional as the establishment itself yet you feel welcome. I feel that I am supposed to be here, in this chair, eating this steak.
After my meal was cleaned from my plate, I sat back with my glass in hand and observed the young man who had just recently taken up residence at the table next to ours. I did not know this fellow, yet I was somehow envious of him. He dined alone, yet carried the charisma and arrogance that yelled to the world that this was the only way to dine.
I smiled as the young Porteño sat next to me, eating his Bífe de Lomo and sipping his Malbec between reading lines of Hemmingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’. I knew of his joy in reading the descriptions of Paris, the Basque countryside, the bullfights, the mountains, the streets of San Sebastian. Turning the page, a wry smile escaped from the corner of his mouth, causing him to drop his guard before he could muster the will to stop it.
I have been in Buenos Aires for the last week or so now and have a few more days before flying north to Brazil. With landscapes few and far between in a big city, I have included some streetscape shots below.
Enjoy and safe travels. Louie.
Header image: Recoleta cemetery.