We’re currently in Buenos Aires, sweating. It seems there is a December heat wave, days are anything from 35 to 42 degrees Celsius. We spent Christmas time, 5 nights, without an air conditioned room to sleep in. A sad ceiling fan, that was never turned off, spun hot air around our dorm room to no avail. The only upside; the stench of cigarettes from the courtyard had no chance to stagnate.
Then the power went out in Milhouse Hipo Hostel and the hot air hung for hours. The room started to stink, it got dark and we had to leave in search of light and air conditioning. We found a place just down the street and booked for 2 nights into another humid, heavy, hot aired room. Air conditioning not available. Ugh. Disgusting. We were showering after sleeping, eating, walking and then before bed too. We’d seen nothing of BA except Hipolito, the street we stayed on, and Defensa, the street we ate on. We’d also seen the back of many taxis (air conditioned) and the inside of many Ugi’s (not air conditioned).
Now we’re safe in an air conditioned room. We’re paying £8.50 a night for the privilege, up from £5.50 a night, but at one point I would have handed over my passport in exchange for some breathable air. Actually, I could have just handed over my passport and moved to somewhere cooler. I had no idea BA would be this hot and so we were supposed to be here for Christmas and New Year and into most of January. Now we’re here just till January 2nd and then onwards to elsewhere in Argentina before arriving in Mendoza on 7th for a little hotel treat from my Mum and Dad.
So far BA is the biggest surprise. I expected to fall hard straight away for this huge city. It’s referred to as ‘European’ and ‘Parisian’ and it certainly looks that way, more than Rio or São Paulo. But there are instances of petty crime all over the place, targeted especially at tourists, that we didn’t encounter in Brazil or Uruguay. Along with the heat, that made for a less enjoyable visit.
The hostel made less effort for Christmas than for a regular day’s business; couple of Christmas songs over dinner but no tree, no films. It was quite strange. The city was still alive, shops open, buses running, so I felt especially homesick. I didn’t get Home Alone this year but that will make the next even more special.
Today was a turn up though. We went to Palermo, a kind of fancier neighbourhood with real people instead of the city streets we’ve been staying on which are full of workers till 6 and more questionable characters after that. We ate food with this nice Irish couple we met in Uruguay. I suffered some quite laughable sunburn, just to top off the cold I’ve had for days. I suppose pizza, beer and sugar aren’t best for the immune system. We took a 3 hour walking tour which taught me more about BA and it’s history than anything else. And it was free.
Over Christmas we had a lot of fun with people we stayed with in Milhouse Hipo. We went to a terrible nightclub, drank some terrible cocktails, met some lovely people and some devoid of social skills, practised shoddy Spanish with a bunch of English, Americans and Australians, wandered through a cute market, watched some Tango on the street, made a pilgrimage to the air conditioned cinema for El Hobbit 2, ate some greasy Japanese food, bumped into a very excitable American and bitched a whole lot about Milhouse hostel.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, which I hate. Usually we spend it with our best friends at home over some delicious Szechuan food in Manchester Chinatown, taking away all need for a party or destination or plan. Tomorrow we hope to find some cheapo Chinese food and perhaps some fireworks. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a stress free New Year’s Eve.