Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Surprises in Buenos Aires
I’ve decided to ask this of myself about my recent trip to Buenos Aires. First, I should say that I took this trip to get a better sense of the setting for my next book. I had not been to BA, as everyone there calls it, for over twenty years. The trip fulfilled all my hopes and more. And gave me some really pleasant surprises to boot:
My biggest surprise actually began in New York. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, we walked out of our building onto 11th Street and saw a woman looking at a map. She was accompanied by a girl in her late teens. As is our wont when we encounter lost tourists, we asked if we could help her. During the ensuing conversation, we found out that she was from BA, told her we were going to visit there in a few weeks, and exchanged email addresses so we might have a coffee together while when we arrived.
After a warm correspondence in the intervening weeks, she offered to pick us up in her car at 8 one evening. (Eight PM is way too early for dinner in BA.) She came for us and showed us the university where she is a professor of hydrology. We then had dinner together on the Costanera, and then she took us for a midnight drive through the city all lit up and looking absolutely gorgeous.
Upon hearing of my interest in seeing the villas miserias — the slum towns where Perón’s descamisados lived, she arranged to pick us up on Sunday morning and take us through them. The hovels are still there and still occupied by the poor. The factories are abandoned shells for the most part. I cannot imagine that I would have gone there on my own. What a gift! Now I can say, not only that I have seen Buenos Aires, but that I have a dear friend who lives there!