Argentine homecoming: returning to Buenos Aires
Rather than leaving El Chalten feeling sad, I parted from my favorite part of the journey invigorated and inspired to return next year. But my inspiration was not confined only to climbing. Jen and I flew out of El Calafate and landed in the only other city (besides San Francisco) that truly feels home.
I spent a month of 2003 and 2004-2005 living in Buenos Aires and studying Latin American history and economics. While I can’t really remember the details of the papers and countless photocopied textbooks that I read, Buenos Aires forever shaped me as an adult. I rented my first apartment, lived alone, worked in an office, fell out of love, learned how to live in a major city and, well, became an adult in a city nicknamed, “the city of fury.”
So last week Jen and I flew into Buenos Aires and I came home. We rented an apartment in Palermo with a huge terrace and a grill that had not yet been used. (I corrected the overly pristine nature of the grill.) Over the course of a week, I met with old friends and family, threw an Argentine rooftop BBQ, “asado”, and generally picked up my old ritmo porteno: wake up late, drink mate for hours, stroll about the streets, drop in a cafe for coffee, pastries and conversation, walk some more, eat dinner at 11pm, go out to dance and return home at 5 or 6am. I never thought I would be able to pick up where I had left off so quickly, but Buenos Aires breathed its familiar energy back into me.
Coming back to my South American hometown is impossible to describe without using the word tango. Tango is about ups and downs, a melancholy lament to the glory of the past, a skeptical look towards the future and a decadent enjoyment of the present. It could not be born in any other place but Buenos Aires. My emotions followed that same tango. I revisited feelings, people and places that made me feel warm and overflowing with love. Yet I regained my cold, defensive perspective that I’ve only known in Buenos Aires. I clutched my bag tight on the bus and Subte as I felt the eyes of pick-pocketers and watched my shadows on every street. I questioned everyone’s motives with cold skepticism and saw the world again through a purely socio-economic lens. Yet I still love it.
Returning to Buenos Aires and closing my trip in my old home was perfect. Now back in San Francisco and unpacking the life I left, I feel full or energy and optimism for what comes next… which is a giant unknown.
And I’m cool with that.
Here are some photos from my journey through the past in la ciudad de la furia, Buenos Aires.