First impression of Buenos Aires: it’s a lot like New York. More nuanced impression: no, it’s not.
Since it’s quite difficult to be here without comparing the two cities, I’m quickly discovering their many differences. Aside from being large, heterogeneous, and walkable urban, I don’t find them very similar at all. I’ve only been in town for three days, so I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but a few things have already stuck out.
Most notably, there is an absolute dearth of street food vendors and I can’t remember seeing a single person eating food while walking. (You do see the occasional cup of coffee). The food culture is just profoundly different here – everyone sits down for long, luxurious dinners and enjoys the social aspects of eating with others. I have yet to attend one of the asados – often an all day affair where a parillero cooks epic amounts of beef for a large crowd. It’s a hallowed tradition in Argentina; everyone applauds the chef when he presents the meat.
The slow meal is not confined just to the asados. Porteños (the people of Buenos Aires – literally, of the port) take their time, particularly at dinner.
And dinner here is late. My lovely host mother, Marta (who speaks almost no english), prepares dinner for around 9 PM. On weekends, it’s common not to eat until 10 or 11, since the bars and clubs don’t get busy until 2 AM. New York never sleeps? No, Bs As never sleeps. Last night, I went to a pool/ping-pong/archery bar. It was packed (on a Tuesday!) until they closed at around 3 AM.
On the school side of things, we took a nice bus/walking tour to some different areas including La Boca, La Plaza de Mayo, and La Recoleta cemetary, where Eva Peron is buried. There were stray cats all over the place, enabled by little piles of cat food.
We’ve also been hit with the requisite mind-numbing safety presentations. However, today we had a strangely awesome health and wellness powerpoint, which described how we could catch dengue fever which could turn into dengue hemorrhagic fever which could cause us to bleed out like ebola. Good times!
Anyway, I’m looking forward to Friday when I can finally get a bike, explore the city on my own, and get hyped for the weekend.