A desire to know more about the world has existed in me from birth and aided me in moving beyond Dialysis, transplant, recovery, and moments of complete sadness in my later years. There were days of not knowing how I would make it. And yet new dreams emerged.
Recently, a 12,000-mile roundtrip journey to Buenos Aires helped make all the questionable moments throughout dialysis, hospital stays, and recovery worth it. I finally fulfilled my childhood dream of visiting South America on May 23, 2022, which was captivating. I experienced people, culture, cuisine and it all filled my heart with joy.
I boarded a 787 Dreamliner for a 10-hour flight direct to South America from Houston’s International Hub after arriving in Phoenix Monday afternoon. From the moment I deplaned, I felt invigorated and alive from the moist south Atlantic Sea air. Soon I would be in a metropolis filled with thirteen million souls. I knew then why they called this place ‘Good Air’ or Buenos Aires, as we all know.
I walked the streets in each direction daily. Sometimes for hours. Most days, I intentionally sought to get lost on purpose. Was I worried about crime in the inflation-ridden country, yes? At 52%, it was no wonder crime was prevalent and a concern. Homelessness was visible. Graffiti was sprayed on most buildings (especially government buildings, not gated), but none of this kept me from my goals to explore, taste, smell, and converse with the proud citizens. My steps took me to music & fabric stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants galore. The air permeated with aromas of fresh bread in places. There are monuments & statues everywhere. Major avenues were so vast. I imagined grandiose parades, celebrations, and marches that took place over centuries and decades. I walked past the Spanish, French, Italian, and German architecture that adorned the avenues and streets. I was in awe. I could not help but also think of how lovers’ hearts became one in the very spots where I stood.
Every morning began at 4 am local (BA is 4 hours ahead of MST). My hotel offered a grand breakfast daily. I anticipated meals. Meats are simmered over indirect heat – coals. Gas grills are sinful in South America. The flavor of the ribeyes, and strip steaks is fantastic, especially when accompanied by chimichurri. The shallot, chili, cilantro, parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil aids in the flavor. Once combined, this all lives happily for a period to ensure the best flavor. It’s best-served room temperature. One of my evening meals of grilled octopus was beyond words. The meal of octopus alone could have made my whole trip in and of itself.
The entire staff at my hotel is very accommodating. Martina always had a smile from the front desk. Her friendly demeanor set the tone daily, as did the breakfast staff. They all barely earned the equivalent of $4.80 US daily. I was sure to tip them well. My accommodations were at the infamous Tango De Mayo Hotel in the Monserrat district.
It is the heart of the origins of Tango dancing in Buenos Aires. In the 1930s and 40s, these streets were alive with dancing that went well into the night. Carlos Gardel, the world-renowned tango singer, walked & danced on these very streets. My Spanglish came out in dribs and drabs throughout the visit. Overall, I was pleasantly satisfied with my vocabulary. My Spanish tutor, Yolima, made my trip much more enjoyable. Conversations with local citizens were via my translation app, but I knew enough Spanish to earn the respect of the locals. Most helped me navigate the language barriers, like Francesco, who worked at the hotel restaurant. We conversed each night, sometimes for hours, where I learned about his family, music, home, and views on the country and its government. He is a musician when not at the Tango De Mayo and has a Spotify presence. I could also visit San Telmo, Recoleta, Palermo, and other places throughout metro BA. Winter was on the horizon, which made mornings a balmy 32 degrees F. Although crisp, the days climbed to 50 degrees F or more.
Part of my entertainment was the Tango show and Dinner inside the world-famous & historic Art Deco Theater, Tango Porteno. The dancing and music were teasingly and tastefully tantalizing. One side of the movements had laughter, the other angered/precise anticipation. The atmosphere in this theater seemed to whisper a million “thank yous, I love you, I am sorry,” I want what is next all at once. The only explanation I can give while there is that it is as if decades-old good-hearted ghosts from entire orchestras were smiling directly at me. Each with a warm, genuine & sincere heart saying ‘welcome’ and ‘the best is yet to come.
I knew my days and nights were quickly ending and realized that I barely had time for gifts. I intentionally packed my single check-on bag lightly for this purpose. At 31 pounds arriving, I knew I could yield nineteen pounds returning. Therefore, I brought six bottles home of local white and red wines. Additionally, I brought back gifts for friends that consisted of leather goods, soaps, and trinkets. The flight returning is 2 hours longer due to prevailing headwinds. It is typical when traveling westerly. This gave me extra time to reflect on how far I had made it.
The Tx Traveler
Written by Mo Beckman
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