Hasta Luego, Buenos Aires!

And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my time in Buenos Aires had come to an end. As I sat on the floor of my now-empty room leaning against the oversized suitcase into which I had just shoved the last of my mate and alfajores – the physical souvenirs that would be devoured long before I would be able to fully unpack the memories and lessons I’d be bringing home with me – I felt the tears begin to push up from behind my eyelids. They’d been there three days at least, the result of two weeks without sleep and the heart-wrenching knowledge that I’d be leaving this home sooner than I’d like. And then (whether from said lack of sleep or plain old emotional instability, call it what you like) I began to giggle to myself as my brain clued in to the remarkable symmetry with a moment I had experienced on a much warmer evening in March when I first arrived: lying there on the same floor beside the same unpacked suitcase, just as exhausted, the same army of tears threatening to push through but with a very different motive. Being the wanderluster that I am, I’ve never admitted how terrified and alone I felt that first night in Buenos Aires. In the weeks leading up to my trip I was giddy with excitement and consumed with preparations and packing – but in that moment in March in that empty room, I was suddenly unsure: I was jealous of my friends who were heading back to schools filled with familiar faces and well-established friendships, nervous to leave my comfortable routine, and afraid of the unknown. And five months felt like an awfully long time.

Of course, in just a few hours of orientation my nerves were replaced with giddy excitement once again as I began to explore my new home. And, as I quickly came to realize, five months is nothing. Because now here I am back in New York, speaking Spanish aloud to myself and waking up confused in the mornings, wishing to be back in Buenos Aires.

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Argentina the Beautiful

Argentina never ceases to amaze me. In the span of just two weeks, I traveled north to the rainforest to see my first world wonder, the majestic layered waterfalls of Iguazú, and then south to the snow-peaked mountains of Patagonia, where I skied and sipped on hot chocolate in the cozy town of Bariloche – all without leaving the country. Here’s a quick run-down of those amazing side trips.

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The Ugly

Today I experienced my first – and hopefully last – act of violence in Buenos Aires. Objectively, it was a tiny incident that doesn’t hold a candle to the violence and violation experienced everyday by millions of people across the globe. But it terrified me and violated my sense of security, and how I felt after might have implications for more traumatic kinds of violence as well.

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Ephemeral Art: The BA Street Art Scene

When I arrived in Buenos Aires, I had no idea the city was so well known for its amazing graffiti – but even in my first few hours of exploring, I began to discover splashes of color and creativity on almost every block. And I’m not just talking about the quickly-spray-painted tags and angry acts of vandalism that you see in most cities; I’m talking about beautiful works of public art. Now, that’s not to say that Buenos Aires doesn’t have more than its fair share of tags and vandalism, or that these forms of graffiti aren’t art in their own right. But the porteño street art culture is indisputably unique – and incredibly accessible.

Colorful piece in Colegiales by Gualicho

Colorful piece in Colegiales by Gualicho

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Behind Closed Doors

Buenos Aires is known for its closed-door restaurants, or puertas cerradas, where some of the city’s best chefs put together mouth-watering multicourse meals in the comfort of their own homes. The menu is set, and reservations are mandatory. The closed-door experience has always intrigued me, but given that I’m a picky vegetarian living in the heart of parrilla-ville (i.e., meat galore) an expensive fixed-menu meal did not sound promising, and I gave up on the idea.

That is, until I found Jueves a la Mesa, a charming vegetarian puerta cerrada in San Telmo run by Meghan, the beautiful soul who also founded Buena Onda Yoga (stop by Monday evenings for a class taught by yours truly!)

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The BA Bucket List

So I took a look at my calendar today and had what I’m pretty sure might have been a tiny little panic attack. It’s June. JUNE. Which leaves me with a little over a month left in Buenos Aires, two weeks of which will be spent traveling elsewhere in Argentina.

Needless to say, I’m freaking out here. Jennifer-Hudson-in-Dream-Girls freaking out. Part of me (a really, really big part of me) just wants to grab onto one of the pillars at La Bomba de Tiempo, or one of the goal posts at Boca’s stadium, or any one of the amazing people I’ve come to love here, and hold on for dear life while screaming I’M NOT GOING YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. The other part of me is struggling with an understandable case of FOMO, and has spent the last few hours – in classic Annie fashion – making lists on lists on lists of all the places I’ve still yet to conquer in Buenos Aires.

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Dale dale dale Boca!

Last Sunday, a few friends and I donned blue and yellow jerseys and headed over to La Bombonera for the Boca Juniors vs. River Plate football (as in soccer) game. I’d heard from Argentinians and foreigners alike that the intensity of football culture in Argentina is unlike any other place in the world, and that, given the two teams’ epic rivalry, the Boca-River games in particular (which even have their own name, the Superclásico) should be on everyone’s bucket list. Check! It was indeed an unbelievable experience – and an educational one. Here are some of the things I learned at the Superclásico:

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Y.O.M.O. (You Only Mendoza Once)

Mendoza – Argentina’s desert wine country nestled at the foot of the Andes – is a popular domestic vacation spot, one I’d been told not to miss. So, on the Thursday before our weeklong Easter break – La Semana Santa – my friends Katy, Clarisa, and I packed up our bags and headed to Retiro, Buenos Aires’ transportation hub, to catch our fourteen-hour overnight bus to Mendoza with Hitravel.

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Strung Out on La Bomba

Every Monday night at the Konex Center in Buenos Aires, a bit of magic happens: hundreds of people come together to experience La Bomba de Tiempo, a group of seventeen drummers who, within minutes, have the audience swaying back and forth to the beat; within the hour, their bodies are no longer their own, totally given over to the pulsating rhythm of the drums.

Needless to say, it is not to be missed.

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