Buenos Aires is a big city with many different neighborhoods. Your editor is staying in the Palermo Soho area.
We have lived in many different places and visited many more. We don’t recall ever seeing a place that seemed so delightfully lively and convenient. The cobblestone streets are flanked by buildings of only one or two stories. Some have Belle Epoque or classical facades. Most are more modern with all manner of style – but leaning towards the contemporary chic. It’s a neighborhood blessed by a lack of urban planning. Houses, apartment building, high-fashion shops, bars, supermarkets, restaurants, auto repair garages – you can find them all in a single block. The sidewalks tend to be rough; they’ve been patched, neglected, repaired, and overlooked for many, many years. There are also many trees – from the stately old sycamores on Thames Street, to many smaller, newer varieties we can’t identify.
Within a block or two of our hotel there are dozens of eateries – from simple pizza parlors to very serious restaurants. The weather is perfect this time of year, so people sit outside all day long. They take their coffee in the morning…then lunch slides into mid- afternoon…and dinner slips all the way to 10 PM. Nightclubs open after midnight. By the time your editor is waking up, the revelers are still wandering the streets.
We went to lunch on a street corner near the hotel. The place was what Argentina is famous for – a steak restaurant. The restaurant had put a roof over the sidewalk and placed tables and chairs under it. We dined on white tablecloths…and watched people ambling along…mostly families with young children and some tourists. It was so agreeable…we wondered why we remained in Europe, where it is twice as expensive…and the weather is twice as bad.
Day and night, people walk the streets…shopping…going to cafes and art galleries…
This morning we heard a flute. It sounded like Pan calling to the water nymphs. A man rode slowly down the street on a bicycle onto which he had fashioned a grinding wheel for sharpening knives. The flute was his way to let people know he was in the neighborhood.
A woman washed the sidewalk on the other side of the street. She has a shoe store, with a big blue arch on the roof. The window displayed what we would call “tennis shoes,” even though they’re not really for playing tennis. They’re replicas of the kind of shoes we wore in the ’50s and ’60s…Keds…or Chuck Taylor’s All Stars…with rubber soles and canvas uppers. Now, they must be in demand. Every shoe store has thousands of them, in all colors – from fuchia to silver lame.
“Why not move to Buenos Aires?” we posed a loaded question to Elizabeth. It went off immediately.
“Are you crazy? We moved from the United States to Europe. We’ve already gone through that once. Have you forgotten how hard it was to figure everything out? Finally, after all these years, we have friends…we have things to do…we have things set up the way we want. Well…almost the way we want. Even after 15 years, we’re still not totally settled.
“Why would you want to go through all that again?”
“I’ll get back to you when I have a good answer,” we said in retreat.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia