I am not sure how or where to start with my thoughts on Buenos Aires. Before I came here, if there was one word that could describe my feelings about the city, it would be ‘confused’. I had read so many contradicting things about Buenos Aires from the Internet, I really didn’t know what to expect. I first chose Buenos Aires because I had never been to South America and had heard that it was the safest and most fun Latin American city – the Paris of South America. Then I almost cancelled my trip because I heard it was actually very unsafe and crime was on the rise due to the somewhat chaotic political situation. And so I went, back and forth, unsure of whether to go or not, bombarded with conflicting sources of information. So was it safe or dangerous? Grand or disappointing? Modern or crumbling? Busy or peaceful? Rich or poor? Glamorous or grundgy? Everyone seemed to have a different opinion and the constant stories of bag snatching, counterfeit money, scams and armed robberies didn’t help the city’s case.
In the end, I decided to go anyway. Armed with my parents’ blessings and two bottles of pepper spray, I flew into Ezeiza airport from New York, unsure of what to expect. I knew no one. All I had was the contact information of the school I was to take Spanish classes at and the Facebook/email address of a few friends of friends (of friends), none of whom I knew personally.
I felt nervous and wary and apprehensive but also excited and weirdly liberated. I promised myself I’d prepone my return flight and escape at the first sight of trouble.
That was two weeks ago. And within these two weeks, I did end up changing my flight. But instead of preponing it to escape, I extended it for as long as I could without having to cancel other onward flights I had already booked.
Now that I’ve had a taste of Buenos Aires myself, I can say with confidence that it is absolutely nothing like Paris and that I am absolutely and completely in love with it. This city is not glitzy or glamorous like Paris, but there’s something addictive about it – something that hooks you in. And it really is a city of contrasts – grand and crumbling and beautiful and sad all the same time. By around day 4, it was hopeless…I was 100% under its spell and thinking of all possible ways to extend my stay.
So I guess my advice for people thinking of going to Argentina and doing some beforehand Internet research would be – Don’t be swayed by what you read!!! Buenos Aires may, on first sight, come across as shabby or chaotic, but underneath the grit and grime is a vibrant and fascinating city worth getting to know. I may only have a month this time, but no te preocupes…Buenos Aires, voy a volver!!!