Monday, April 25, 2011

Back in BA

The girls I had met in Mendoza and I were all going to be in Buenos Aires at the same time. The Belgium girl was coming back from Iguazu and the rest of us boarded an overnight bus together. My second time in BA, I felt I knew the city quite well and I was the tour guide something I am way more comfortable doing. I was a master of the Subte, knew the districts, the tourist attractions, where to stay and where to drink.

I took us to a hostel in Palermo which I picked because it would be close to my friend and future traveling partner Tracy, this hostel was also cheap and had a pool. I didn’t feel so right leading the girls and having them put their trust in me, I felt like I had lost my travelers instinct and every hostel I choose ends up to be a dud. This one wasn’t as fantastic as it was described on the Hostel World website. I think that was my problem I had long ago gave up on Hostel World and the Lonely Planet for hostel advice. People who book on Hostel World aren’t real travelers trying to find the hidden gems, they are organized, strapped for time and looking to meet other gringos to drink with. Mini Hostels is an OK site but I am still weary after the Israeli hostel experiences. The Lonley Planet is outdated and overrated. I have always had the best luck on word of mouth but here I was going to a website recommended hostel because I was sick of the heat of Argentina and wanted a pool.

My pool turned out to be a bath tub on the roof top. The girls didn’t seem to mind the practically empty hostel that lacked in character with a bath tub but I couldn’t believe I had done it again. I used to just know where to go and could sense an amazing hostel. I was a pro, I was an old school budget traveller, and this was practically my profession. I knew how to get in with the locals and find the authentic experience. Had I really lost it? Was I one of those jaded travellers who were just looking at things the wrong way?

I was starting to lose all hope in myself but thought the girls needed to check out Plaza Serrano for some Sangria and people watching. That’s when we came across an art opening in a children’s shop. There was music, wine and snacks, I felt like I was back in Oaxaca, Mexico where I used to rub shoulders with the art community on a regular basis at openings. I knew exactly what you were supposed to do in this instance; grab a glass of wine and shmooze! The girls were a bit hesitant but I knew this was open to the public and soon we were chatting with the crowd who were doing exactly the same thing.

We pulled ourselves away from the free wine and found a place in the plaza. After much wine and a lot of girl talk we embarrassingly realized the guy beside us could understand everything we were saying. I guess he didn’t care so much about our endless girly sex talk because after a few more drinks he invited us back to his apartment which was actually close to our hostel. They were nice guys slightly weird and a little nerdy but it was great entertainment driving around Buenos Aires with locals and drinking wine in their apartment playing drinking games. We learned that in Argentina New Years is more of a family occasion even more so than Christmas. Buenos Aires empties out with everyone spending family time on the coast and the river what is left is foreigners. This is the party Capital of Latin America and on the biggest party event of the year the city is deserted?! I wasn’t worried as New Years is highly over rated and I had house party plans but the other refused to believe this.

In the end maybe I hadn’t lost my touch but I was still not sleeping, I was on edge, anxious and morning always brought me down. However it was nice being in BA even though previously I despised it and everything Argentinean, perhaps it was growing on me.

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