While we’d heard conflicting reports about many of the places we visited, the consensus has been that Buenos Aires is a fabulous city. After nearly two weeks there, we are fully on that bandwagon. We took full advantage of some of the city’s highlights: restaurants, outdoor markets, parks, and museums. All of which will be touched on in the next post. This one is more random.
We decided early in the trip that we’d make a bit of an extended stop in BA, guessing correctly that we’d be ready to take a break from repeatedly researching our next destination and repacking our wrinkled wardrobes. We found a bright, lovely little studio apartment in lively Palermo Hollywood neighborhood (apparently once upon a time it featured many film studios) and looked forward to a bit of city living. After our wonderful but tiring Patagonia jaunt, it was just what we needed. It felt luxurious to have so much time in a single place– we could spend a morning sitting outside drinking coffee or an afternoon catching up on phone calls without feeling like we were squandering our chance to see the city.
Early on we caught up on a few essential errands, such as grocery shopping (we had a decent sized kitchen and took a few breaks from BA’s amazing restaurant offerings to load up on vegetables and spiced foods, both somewhat lacking in our peripatetic lifestyle to date) and the all important Brian Haircut.
Those of you who happen to have lived with or near my husband for any length of time might have noticed that for all of his “rustic Wyoming” swagger, he is particular about his hair. In college and law school, he probably averaged a haircut every six weeks. He still talks wistfully about his perfect Laramie hairdresser. In San Francisco, where haircuts (and every other aspect of life), are considerably pricier, this maybe stretched to once every 8 weeks. His last haircut was in early December. By late February, in Buenos Aires, even I thought he was getting a bit shaggy, and his clean-cut soul had had enough. So he swallowed his anxiety about entrusting this all-important task to a stranger, brought me along to translate, and we found Damien.
After some initial hiccups involving an attempt at giving B a Bieber-like swoop, all went reasonably well. Extremely well, considering that it cost only 7 dollars. Which brings me to a key point about Argentina these days. If you go, bring lots of USD. Due to their country’s truly insane inflation, Argentinians everywhere will give you a much, much better exchange rate than the banks (or credit cards). While we’ve been here, the official exchange rate has been 1 USD to 7.8 Argentine Pesos. The unofficial, or Blue Dollar rate (official enough to be published in the newspaper, somehow) allowed us to change money in various locations for between 10.4 and 11 pesos to the dollar. We also used Xoom.com, which allowed us to wire dollars to ourselves and pick up pesos at a very favorable rate and felt a bit more legitimate.
Other non-BA-specific highlights to our time in the city? Brian took a week of intensive Spanish with a private tutor to supplement the random phrases he’s picked up along the way so far. He worked hard, and to commemorate that, we staged an expedition to the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) to pick up a staple that is both nearly impossible to locate in this part of the world, and almost indispensable to Brian’s diet: Peanut Butter. He’s still carefully rationing out the supplies we bought.