Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Argentina in My Eyes - Buenos Aires

Seriously, where does Argentina hide the sun?

I have never ever visited Buenos Aires on a sunny day. I admit I have only been there four times, maybe five, but seriously I begin to wonder if it is ever sunny. It makes a difference you know--I suspect that my friends who love Buenos Aires get some sun in a nice city with a little of the European feel, great food, wide boulevards and ease of getting there. It's only a 2 1/2 hour flight from São Paulo.

Buenos Aires is an enticing city, even in the rain. Beautiful buildings. Great food. A lovely shopping center, an extraordinary opera house. And BA was the only place where the people understood my mangled Portugnol which I dragged out from my days as a Miami resident. Ushuaia and El Calafate residents only looked at me blankly. 

Please no one ask me the name of this beautiful shopping center. I just don't know.

Yet somehow Buenos Aires always makes me sad: is it the rain that always follows me? We had spectacular weather in Ushuaia and El Calafate but BA to me has always been grey.

It is a tough comparison between Argentina and Brazil. But I do think that Brazil wins on playfulness and fun and out-and-out joy. You want to have a beer with most Brazilians. Maybe not Argentinians. I always remember this debate on George W. vs Kerry. Who would you rather have a beer with? Of course W. is not having any beer but you get the point. 

And Argentina has just wonderful wine, but isn't so hot on marketing it. I volunteer to single-handedly market the cute Saurus wine that was named for the Argentinasaurus they found while digging out the winery foundation. They can pay me in pinot noir.

Now I know that Brazil is special on treatment of kids. Brazilians love kids. Kids can do no wrong. There is a good side to this and a bad side (the part where my kids think that they really do no wrong). I'm sticking to good. In Argentina, they got frowned at as they walked from side to side on sidewalks, got shushed in the glacier museum, and got no special treatment or smiles. One twin hit a shop window lightly with a glove and a woman came running out of the shop and yelled at him "NO! No puedes something-or-other." And I stared at her shocked and responded "no." And she looked at me as if I had another head and went back in. My kid was stunned into silence for a short while. Oh, okay, 30 seconds. I bought him an Argentina hat at the next shop. He loves Messi and that is why he will always love Argentina.

So here is my advice to Argentina: be more playful. Things are going to hell but you might as well "enjoy" it. We had one very positive interaction in Buenos Aires at a wonderful little restaurant near our hotel. I'll tripadvisor it and then post the link here. Il Fratello. The waiter was fun and asked us where we were visiting, and interacted with the kids and it was all lovely.

Il Fratello. Decorated like a 50s joint, but great food and nice people.

The other really fun interaction was with Felipe.  Felipe was a beautiful black and gold German Shepherd that I could just kick myself for not photographing. He hung out at the sushi place where we stopped at in Ushuaia. He let my kids hug the stuffing out of him. He had a lot of stuffing--it's cold there. Actually the friendliest Argentinians are the dogs--El Calafate has a serious stray dog issue as in there are tons of them. And all came up and greeted us and walked with us for a few blocks before giving up and trying another person. One twin of course wanted to adopt one. Or two. Or ten.

Some of my best friends are Argentinian. So I do like them. Maybe I like the ex-pat ones best. I don't know. I don't feel Argentina in my soul. They do have one hell of a beautiful Patagonia region though. More on that tomorrow.

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