Buenos Aires is overflowing. I went on an hour-and-a-half walk today down Avenida Cabildo, one of the longest streets in Buenos Aires. Because of the cyclical nature of the advertisements & stores (Farmacity, McDonald’s, Cupside Books Tienda de Café, Pepsi, Panadería…), the towering apartment buildings, the buses, the crowds, and the traffic, I had to keep checking my map to make sure I hadn’t turned around by accident. It’s like Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile, only endlessly long and 10 times as busy.
It’s like being caught in an endless series of déjà vu moments. The architecture sometimes makes me think I’m back in Germany, and the American Embassies on every corner (read: McDonald’s) are eerily familiar. Just drink in the beauty, the sophistication, the golden arches in 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires’ busiest street!
Yesterday was Argentina’s Independence Day, so we didn’t have school. Instead, I went on an excursion hosted by Juan, one of the teachers, to El Centro of the city. First up was the 9 de Julio, an impressive mammoth of a street where pedestrians and motorists are locked in an endless battle over who gets to cross / turn first.
In the middle of the main intersection of the 9 de Julio is the Obelisco, a slightly smaller version of the Washington monument. Argentines are divided over whether it’s actually useful or even aesthetically pleasing.
Next up was the Plaza de Mayo, the heart of the city where protestors against the government/society/laws/etc have been staging demonstrations for decades. Since it was a holiday, it was a fairly quiet day, but there was still a string of painted banners strung up near the Casa Rosada.
The Casa Rosada (literally, “Pink House”) is so named because of its unusual rosy hue. In the years when the Casa was being built, Argentines used to make pink paint using cow’s blood. A little morbid, but it did make for some very interestingly colored buildings!
We continued on to the San Telmo neighborhood where an impromptu antique car show was taking place. The narrow streets, quaint shops, and flocks of people were reminiscent of Salzburg, Austria.
And hey, guess what? In a not-so-surprising turns of events, Hanna informed me that I speak Spanish with an American accent – sort of like Penelope Cruz in reverse. No wonder everybody’s always asking me, “¿Hablas inglés?