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.
Well, except me. I am forever getting lost in this grand city. Buenos Aires is vast and spread out – occupying an area of 203 km2 compared with the 59 km2 of Manhattan I’m used to navigating – and mastering the public transport system is no easy feat. There are two main options: the subway, or subte, and the bus, or colectivo. Given my New Yorker background, I’m most comfortable with the subte; unfortunately, its stops are not always convenient, and it stops running at around 10 p.m., during the hours when walking is least feasible… which brings me to the colectivos. They run all night, with tons of routes and stops on every block. Sounds perfect, no? Wrong. For me, the colectivos are a nightmare.
Well, here I am in Buenos Aires, Argentina! I made it here alive and am slowly finding my bearings. I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and though at that point I was a ball of frayed nerves and butterflies, when I stepped out of the airport into the sun and 80-DEGREE WEATHER I figured nothing that felt like this could be bad. I took a cab to my apartment in the barrio of Almagro, where I met my host Irina. I felt instantly relieved – not only because she was so friendly and welcoming, but also because I could understand basically everything she was saying, something I had feared would not go so well between my lack of Spanish practice in the past few years and the sometimes difficult Argentinian accent. Irina lives here with her boyfriend and mother, with a few extra rooms for students like myself. There are two other students in my exchange program living here as well: a boy from Nicaragua and a boy from Japan. (They’re great roomies!)