20 Hours in Buenos Aires, and the Ten Thousand Yard Stare

I don’t want to jinx things since there are still close to a hundred miles between me and my bed (bus, walk, drive), but dang am I feeling done. I was feeling done yesterday, five airports and two days into the long trek from 54 degrees south to 48 north. Watching that much of the earth’s landscape slide below from 30,000′ does something to a body, I think. I think we can’t help but try to understand a landscape when we look out over it. Something in our primal brain scopes it out for vantage points, places to look for food, places to hide. Ten thousand flight miles, up the jagged white spine of the Andes, over the jungles of Brazil and Colombia. Across the Caribbean, the muted twinklings of Cienfuegos as we traversed Cuba before descending into Miami’s sea of light. Then the Gulf Coast to Dallas, followed by Southwest deserts, Sierra and up along the Cascades with long-dead, glacier-sheathed volcanoes glittering in the flat morning sun. So many miles, so many miles, and each a landscape with a thousand stories. Only a hundred miles left to go.

But I do want to tell you one of those many stories before I’m home, and while it’s still fresh in my mind. Okay, not a story, just a few snapshots of our layover in Buenos Aires.

I’ve come to a mind that cities talk, that they have moods and personalities that transcend those of their individual inhabitants, much as the emergent behavior of an anthill transcends that of its ants. And Buenos Aires? Buenos Aires seemed to like us.

The way our connections worked, there was no easy way to get home without at least one overnight layover on the way north and, even ignoring the alternatives, one could do far worse than have a day to kill in Buenos Aires. So, no stories here, just some snapshots: The adorable boutique hotel in the old part of town that doubles as a modern art museum and  archaeological site (bonus: less than the Holiday Inn). The charming late night café across the cobblestones, lifted straight from Paris in the 30’s, except that I catch the waitress singing Pink Floyd under her breath. She blushes adorably, asks what I’m writing in that notebook of mine, and wants to hear all about the Pacific Northwest. The San Telmo covered market in the morning, Devon and I winding our way through the boundless maze of antique shops and pocket restaurants, sights, smells and sounds. The obligatory game of Bad Spanish as we try to figure out the public bus system, gawking our way through the city in the front row, the driver grinning as he declares me ‘Indiana Jones’ and wishes us luck on our onward journey. The Plaza de Mayo, with its festooned marching guard and memorials to the countless disappeared, the Art Museum, the Archaeology Museum. The Ateneo Grand Splendid, called ‘the most beautiful bookstore in the world’ and of course, to keep us going, plenty of more-than-adequate ice cream and coffee.

By the time we retrieved our bags from the charming and efficient folks at Cassa Lepage and flomped into the cab they’d called to take us to the airport, we knew we’d be coming back. But maybe not until we’ve had a chance to rest up at home for a bit?

photo credit: Devon

[spoiler: I did make it home. Hitting “post” and going to bed now…]

4 responses to “20 Hours in Buenos Aires, and the Ten Thousand Yard Stare

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