Meet The Gawkers {Part I}

Preface: Buenos Aires is the city that sucks you in. You’ll come to visit, and never leave. Yet if you come wanting something, you’ll most likely leave without having attained it. You want love? You’ll get dated, duped, and dumped. You want to work abroad? You’ll get so frustrated with Buenos Aires bureaucra-crazy that nothing will come of it. You want kids? You’ll get put in handcuffs right as your kidnapping that cute Argentine toddler off the Subte. However, the city will always, always, ALWAYS give you what you need.  While laying in a hospital bed in Peru, I asked myself, where do I want to BE? The answer: Buenos Aires {or Chipotle, but that was less feasible}. So I country-hopped over, not having a plan nor a ticket back to California. But, I knew that if I wanted to stay long-term {which I did} I would need to get a job, get a place…and get comfortable.  I felt like the city suddenly sensed my needs…and through a weird, twisted process that I have yet to understand, I ended up attaining all 3: a job that I love, an apartment that’s replicated from the pages of my mental Decór notebook, and new friends that made me feel comfortable and integrated into this new place. And, just like that, I solidified my start in Buenos Aires. 

I’m now thinking long-term: which of my friends can I convince to fly down for the World Cup? will I have enough money come Argentine winter to escape to California for a week? how will I give up sweets for Lent when dulce de leche abounds in this city?

…..Because this city has taken a hold of me, it’s sucked me in….and I ain’t leaving.

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Now onto my point……

They came. They gawked. They stayed.

Buenos Aires is FILLED with these kinds who come for a quick visit….and never leave. There’s so many interesting stories of how the lot of non-porteños –from Salta to Sussex, and everything in between– ended  up here, that I’ve decided to start recording each “BA love affair” I hear. I’ve compiled these stories into a series and, as I continue to hear them, will continue posting them on The Wander{ita}. So here’s the first installment of Meet the Gawkers, honoring the adventures of those who came, gawked, and never left…………

The study abroad student from Sussex who came back for love

One year ago, a cute English girl came to Buenos Aires to study abroad. Unexpectedly, she fell in love -during her short stint here- with an Argentine she met one night out in the city. She knew she had found it. When her studies here ended, the last thing she wanted to do was go back home….but there was nothing she could do: her plane ticket was booked, she had family waiting back home, and a whole future already expectantly laid out. Once back in Sussex, however, it only took her two months to realize her heart {and thus her head} was in Buenos Aires. She booked a flight, found an apartment, and returned. A few months later, here she is…..with a ring on her finger and a venue booked for her spring wedding in November.

The man who came to inherit Nacho the Horse

Thirty years ago, a San Francisco resident received news that his father, a porteño, had passed away. The young man never really knew his dad: they lived at different ends of the Americas, hadn’t seen eachother since the sixties, and didn’t communicate outside of the occasional card or call on major holidays. Despite the estranged relationship, the porteño included his son in his will: leaving him a horse….and buggy. Not expecting to accept the odd endowment, the son flew down to Buenos Aires for his father’s funeral. A few days after the ceremony, the son went to see the horse, named Nacho, to figure out how to sell him. But then, upon seeing Nacho, something happened. He wasn’t able to explain what –if it was the memory of his father, an immediate bond with the horse, or the desire to know his roots– but he decided right then and there that he was staying. Thirty years later, he’s still here, giving tours with his horse and buggy around los Bosques de Palermo. But, to always remember San Francisco, he’s tattooed the Golden Gate Bridge on his upper right arm, honoring the city where he once belonged.

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The consultant from Salta who lost it all …& gained a cab

A few days ago, I attentively sat in a cab on my way to the bars as my taxista told me his story of how he ended up in Buenos Aires. Originally from Salta {a city in Northern Argentina, currently on my “tengo ganas de ir..” list}, he moved here after the birth of his sons to send them to a good school. As his sons got older, they consolidated a consulting firm together; the father being the head of the company, and his sons, his executives. Ten years later, the father had had enough, but he wasn’t sure of what. He had no desire to return to Salta, but wasn’t ready to quit working. So, he gave the entire company to his sons, bought a car, slapped an emblem on it, and became a cabbie. He only works nights: he begins at 4pm, takes a dinner break at 9pm, finishes work at 3am, sleeps until   noon,  then wakes up to do it all over again. He says he’s enchanted by the city at night –the wide avenues sprinkled with headlights, the eerie calm that falls over Plaza de Mayo, and the continuous hum of blurred music coming from a club blocks away. Sounds to me, he’s been sucked in.

The Catalan who came to find his father

Yet another father-son story: this one, about an 20-year-old Barcelona native who left his mother, his city, and his university to come find his father in Buenos Aires. Having never met his dad, the boy –and his mother back in Barcelona– was unsure and anxious about his plan. He contacted his dad once here, met with him, and the two immediately felt some kind of bond that, despite years of not knowing eachother, solidified a relationship. Besides this new relationship with his dad, the son also felt an attraction towards the city’s downtown. He liked the constant buzz of energy and chaos of Congreso and the never-ending lines of people filing down the streets of El Centro. What started as an attraction turned into a new way of life: he rented an apartment, got a job at one of the city’s best cafés {which is where we met}, and as of now, has no plans to return back to Barcelona.

Like I said, it’s a crazy city & you will get sucked in. xox besitoss to all & to all happy travels!

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