“You go ahead. I’ll take care of the baby.”
You editor is visiting his son and grandson in Buenos Aires. Last night, granddad agreed to babysit so the young parents could go out to dinner.
After a pizza and some horsing around, the little boy – 18 months old – began to have doubts about granddad. It was late. He was getting tired. He looked around and asked for “mama.”
No stranger to parenting, your editor knew just what to do. He put the boy in a stroller, took him out on the street, and began a long walk.
We were in Palermo Soho, a thriving and trendy neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The buildings are only two or three stories high. Streets are made of cobblestones, with sycamore trees on each side. And everywhere you look, there are restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. By day, it is a nice area…but a visitor sees derelict buildings as well as spiffy renovated ones. At night, the run down properties disappear in the shadows.
In the Plaza Serano, a man on stilts walked the streets. He must have been looking for tips from the automobiles that passed. Little Liam, our grandson, looked up at him in alarm. The world must be a strange and wonderful place to a small child; he must have wondered how the man got so tall. In the center of the square, a small woman sang tango songs, accompanied by a guitarist and an accordion player.
We walked along. People looked at Liam in his stroller and smiled. He smiled back. Then, they looked at your editor with curiosity, wondering if he was the father or the grandfather. Couples walked arm in arm. Some embraced on street corners. One couple sat on a bench, kissing on each other so enthusiastically they clearly needed a hotel room. Several cafes had tables out on the sidewalks. Waiters carried trays of beer and wine. Girls in blue jeans looked at the fashions in a shop.
Within two blocks, Liam was fast asleep. The jostling of the paving stones didn’t seem to bother him. Neither did the wail of an ambulance or the murmur of couples in conversation. Or the bright lights of the restaurants.
But by then, we were fascinated. There were so many young people on the street. So many fashionable shops. So many renovated houses, many with innovative and interesting designs. So many bars. So many cafes and restaurants…each with its own theme. One promised a traditional ‘parrilla”…another advertised ‘Italian cooking’…still another was clocked in red, promising diners an amorous encounter.
We wandered for blocks. Then we realized we were lost. No matter. We just kept walking…looking in the restaurants…studying the shoes and dresses in the shop windows… and smiling at the passers-by.
There are many cities with lively sections. Many offer interesting nightlife. But we can’t recall one where the nightlife seemed so relaxed and friendly that we could walk along with an infant in a stroller and have such a good time. Maybe it’s because we never tried.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia