Dear Buenos Aires,
It is with great sadness that I write to bid you farewell. After seven months in your warm, slightly sweaty embrace, I am finally strapping on my backpack and setting off on a great big coach.
My beloved Buenos Aires! How will I live without you? You have opened my eyes. You have kicked me up the backside. You have driven me mad. You have changed my world. You stinky, noisy, beautiful, infuriating, bustling, fabulous, exciting, exhausting place, you. I literally cannot believe the time has come for us to part company! I am heartbroken!
As a mark of my sadness, respect and love I have collected a few of the memories that will stick most firmly in my mind as I commence life as a stinky traveller.
1. My first morning. “Winter?” I thought, looking out of my hostel window at a sunny June terrace. “Bollocks!” I sat outside on a broken chair, clutching a piece of now-stale rye bread that I’d smuggled over from London, and marvelled. Then I spent four hours freezing my tits off trying to find my new Spanish teacher and ended up sharing a steak in a frosty park with a cat.
2. Steak. Oh my goodness; steak. Jesus Christ Buenos Aires, it is a miracle that I haven’t died of a heart attack! You have tried your best to kill me, damn you. But even if I had keeled over clutching my cholesterol-loaded chest I’d have died happy. The steaks I’ve eaten in your dirty old Parillas, your roadside choripan stalls and your best glittery restaurants crap all over any other steak I’ve eaten anywhere else in the world. If I were offered a lifetime of great sex or a lifetime of BA steak I’m really not sure which way I’d go. Abba thanked (someone) for the music. I thank you, Buenos Aires, for the steak.
3. Cesar. I love Cesar. He is my favourite Argentinian in the world. He yells I LOVE YOU when we part company and is the only person who’s been honest enough to tell me that my Spanish is totally shabba. He took me to meet his Grandparents who gave me my first taste of mate and he rowed me down a river of sewerage in a boat. I love him and will miss him. Keep him safe, Buenos Aires. I believe he is preparing to be your mayor in ten years.
4. Pavements. Now listen here, Buenos Aires, your sidewalks are beyond a joke. Your average pavement bears more resemblance to an archaeological dig than it does a pavement and, to add insult to injury, it is loaded with gigantic piles of dog poo. (Here, dog poo is known as kaka de perro and it is all the rage. In the same way that you will find a beef-vending establishment on every block, you will find a dogshit on every paving stone .) However, my dear city, your lamentable pavements are an integral part of your infuriating charm and I will miss them. I cannot think of a better reason for having a twisted ankle and a flip flop soaking in a bucket of bleach.
5. Tango at La Catedral. I am keen to avoid using this blog as some sort of tourist guide but I cannot omit Tango at La Catedral. Buenos Aires, you are home to the greatest dancing venue I have ever seen. It has captured my heart. (And The Man’s, for that matter.) I pray that all of my readers may one day dance the beginner’s 8-step at Catedral in the same uncoordinated elephant fashion that I did.
6. Your men. Not because they are hot and sexual, like I was promised, but because I have never in my life received the sort of attention that I have received from the men of Buenos Aires. TO A MAN they mutter dirty come ons to me as I walk past. I have long-since stopped thinking that this is because they find me attractive and have accepted that this is just a standard acknowledgement. It happens even when I am looking like a human turd. I had a swearing lesson with my Spanish tutor recently which included an excellent section for put-downs (‘don’t swell your testicles’ is a favourite here) but unfortunately she’s told me I’m not allowed to use them on the street. But I forgive your men, Buenos Aires. Their perseverance is quite exceptional.
7. Women. In particular I am thinking of your more elderly inhabitants, BA. The ones who push me physically out of the way so they can get in front of me when I am queuing, the ones who stare blankly at me when I smile manically and yell “HOLA BUEN DIA!!!!” in heavily-accented Spanish; the ones who mutter that I am “estupida” when I don’t know the word for basil in the veg shop. They are rude and offensive but my God I love them. They make the British matriarch look like a wet fart on a rainy Thursday in Norwich.
8. BUENNNNNNASSSSSSSS. Ok, fine. I know you don’t own BUENASSSSSS but it really is one of my all-time favourite things about living out here. It is a shortened, casual form of buenas dias – i.e. hello – and it makes me smile every time. Unfortunately it took quite a few weeks of your inhabitants laughing openly in my face before I realised that it is BUENAAASSSS rather than BUENOOOOOSSSSS which is what I was yelling cheerfully as I jumped into a taxi or strolled up to a supermarket checkout. I had rather wondered why no-one seemed prepared to respond in a kindly manner.
9. My friends. Buenos Aires, you have some awesome people living in your bowels. Sofia, LT, The BBs, The AAs, my Celta chicos… I have had so many fun times with these people. Last night I had a little leaving do which became a very busy night by all accounts; it ended with me, The Man and The BBs Having It to Prodigy in their lounge at no less than 2.30am. We danced (flailed) silently for five minutes, shook hands and went to bed. I love these people. I shall miss them horribly.
10. Llama stew. I know you did not give birth to the Llama stew, BA, but you are where I first came face to face (or at least mouth to stew) with this heavenly invention. The first time I tasted it I put my hands together in prayer and wept quietly at the beauty in this world. I cannot wait to get to the northern provinces of Argentina so that I can clean out the local Llama population. Sorry, vegetarians. I was one of you for fourteen years if that helps.
And then there are empanadas, Minga nights, the 39 bus, Helena breakfasts, Podesta cheese-fests, afternoons on the boating lakes, the dog-walkers, Telos, bad coffees, shonky but charming art openings, bad curries in restaurants, good curries at The BBs’ house, El Galpon, my wonderful Spanish tutor, mate, pizzas, beautiful mornings, outrageous sunsets and life, love and madness.
I totally love you, Buenos Aires. I am so excited about my adventures but I cannot believe I am leaving you. Be good, please. Although I’m sure you won’t.
Your #1 fan, Lucy Robinson
PS. Readers. You’re probably wondering about The Man and where he fits into all of this. I’ve written about him a lot recently, a) because he has of course been on my mind a lot but b) because this was meant to be a dating blog and I know you like a bit of romance, successful or otherwise. However after uprooting my life and living here for 7 months I think it would be a bit lame if I failed to mark the occasion. So I shall blog about our parting of ways and Serious Conversation About the Future (SCAF) next time.