10/01/2010 § 1 Comment
Life in downown Buenos Aires can be hectic. With the third-largest population in Latin America, it can be downright intimidating. Whether you have to make change at the cambio on Corrientes, or are trying to push your way past the street-vendors of San Telmo, there seem to be people everywhere, and they don’t have a ‘three-feet of space’ minimum.
When my friend, Naty, asked me to go with her and Gonzalo to San Ididro, I jumped at the chance. Claro que si! But, where or what is San Isidro? Jumped in blind. Feet first.
I have been having a desperate urge to just get away from the hustle-bustle of Baires life. Maybe it’s the changes that have been happening, maybe it’s because I feel like my head is under a bus when I am sleeping, my window peering onto the busy street of Viamonte. The buses are far from quiet here, more like comuter jets.
The three of us took the Volvo from Las Canitas for the 30 kilometre drive to this new land of mystery. San Isidro, as my guides/amigos told me, used to be a barrio that presidents, govenors and rich British people kept their weekend houses. These were not houses, they were like miniature palaces. Tudor-style pitches with vistas of the Rio, trees and shrubbery protecting from peering, foreign eyes. How nice. The barrio was still beautiful, relaxed, tranquilo, a different way of life. Not like a beach-town from back home, just quiet and calm.
The apartment we visited was across the street from Estacion San Isidro, a beautiful train station with ice cream stands and outdoor patios. Inside the apartment was everything I would ever wish for. A terrace, two studies, one for Naty, the other Naty, and one for Gabriel. What was more captivating was the lives these two new acquaintances had lives. Over mate, which tastes like a very strong green-tea, we all talked about life, politics, and Argentine culture in general. Through our afternoon mate, I got to learn some stuff about this new couple. Naty is an interior designer who actually redid the place I was staying at in San Telmo. Red, tourqouise, blues, greens, white. Her study was filled with photographs of friends, family, swatches, paint-chips. Inspiration everywhere. Gabriel’s study , off the living-room, was filled with pictures of, not boats, ships. Books on sailing, Nietzsche, and travel. I was later told that Gabriel had spent 25 years on a boat, living at sea. Currently, living so close to all of the Nauticlubs, he fixed and maintained people’s boats, along with his own.
The couple had boughta small house, a casita, and some land on a beach in Uruguay, 30 or 40 kilometres from Punto del Este, the hippest place to be, apparently. They are moving there in March, so Gabriel can be close to the sea. Naty is going to find other casitas, redecorate and sell them. What more do you need in life? Gonzalo asked me. Here, we live day to day because we never know when the banks will freeze our money, Gonzalo explained. We invest, we live, sometimes we need a break, but we always get by, he continued.
I was taken for a philosophical cruise: I have been so concerned about what port or harbour I am going to sail into I forgot to breathe and take in the salty air of change. The wind picked up, my sails have adjusted, I might not know where my ship will dock. Wherever it goes, I’m sure I will learn to get by. If I fight it, the sea may swallow me whole.