Creativity and expression around every corner.
Buenos Aires has the ability to surprise me, even after a decade living in Argentina’s capital. Blink, and suddenly the largest street art mural in the world has sprung up or a closed-door bike repair shop is hosting a pop-up whisky bar featuring guest barbers. They’re quick to carpe that diem, the porteños. And I’m always happy to go along for the ride.
The city never fails to draw me in. Sitting down for a routine caffeine injection and a pastry can turn into a lengthy discussion with the waiter about the day’s news, his granddaughter graduating primary school – and he’ll proudly whip out a photo of her from his wallet – or unexpected football results. An afternoon might have slipped by unnoticed but these connections unequivocally spell time gained rather than hours lost.
Buenos Aires is inspiring, too. Look up at wrought-iron balconies, have your eye drawn to hand-knitted tree trunk warmers. Peek through a darkened window and catch couples interpreting melancholic melodies through their feet. Creativity and expression is around every corner – in music, dance, art, gastronomy, design and architecture – and that, combined with a genuine live-for-the-moment attitude, means there’s always one last song, time for one last drink. Inspiration and creativity are a consequence of seizing the day.
That desire to create and design, fathoming something out of nothing, is historical. Immigrants arrived from all over Europe and beyond – Italy, Lithuania, Syria, England and Armenia among others – in the 19th century, many with just the clothes on their backs, and had little choice but to make this new opportunity at life work. Tango and its nostalgic lyrics was one coping mechanism spawned by those yearning for the Old World; porteños’ ease in discussing their last session with the psychologist might also be testament to nostalgia.
Sure, the invites to a harp recital launching a cultural centre, an asado (barbecue) for no better reason than the fact that it’s winter and weather conditions are right, or to a gig in support a friend’s boyfriend’s band’s dodgy cover numbers might be last minute (and tenuous) but if I don’t go... A fear of missing out? Absolutely!
Writer Fabián Martínez Siccardi described the city to me as an older, rather insecure woman who feels the need to enhance her fading assets no matter how many times you tell her she’s splendid. It’s clear that she’s got assets a-plenty. I see Buenos Aires as a younger female, starting to forge her path in the world, eager to share her boundless energy in the search for good times, cosmopolitan, bold yet vulnerable. No need to call her Paris of the South. Let her simply be, Buenos Aires.