Monday, June 6, 2011

An attempt

I'm really very bad at these things. I always forget to write, or just decline to do so, usually ending with four posts over a series of four years. This time, I tell myself, it will be different: with only two months here in Buenos Aires, I'm not committing myself to an indeterminable amount of correspondence. In fact, it's less than two months now; my flight takes off July 29.

I walk 19 blocks back and forth to work each day, averaging about 30 minutes each way. My favorite part of the morning's walk is Plaza Libertad, a park bordered by Libertad, Alvear, and Paraguay. In Buenos Aires, the dog-walker is an institution deserving of awe—I've counted 20 dogs tied up altogether, all of different sizes and different breeds, all emanating from one thick, muscly dog-walking wrist clutching their leashes. But even dog-walkers need breaks, and every morning the dozens of dogs are tied up on a strip of grass alongside one corner of the park, and happily yap away.

Then comes the biggest challenge: Crossing Avenida de 9 Julio in less than three stages. The street is probably the largest boulevard I've ever seen cut through a city—six lanes in each direction, coupled with three lanes on mini-streets on each side. Add to that large medians with grassy areas in between all four, and you've got yourself quite the avenue. In a city where pedestrians are about as important as the dog cakes that litter the streets, I'm happy to report that this boulevard is one of the few spots in the city with a proper crosswalk. My major goal this summer is not to become bus mush (I've done OK so far).

Another 15 blocks, and I'm standing in front of the gleaming glass building that houses the law firm where I spend my working hours. Today, I was happier than usual to step inside—with trash collectors on strike, the city streets are overflowing with heaps of trash bags. Many of them have been ripped open, and trash is merrily floating down the avenues. This yummy pile was lounging in front of the Argentine post office (El Correo Argentino) on Alem, a block from my office:

And tomorrow, it seems, we'll get a dusting of ash as the fall-out from the Chilean Puyehue volcano drifts north. Bariloche, a town in northern Patagonia that Scotti and I visited two weeks ago, has been in a state of emergency for days because of the falling ash. Apparently, the city has been covered by up to a foot of the dusty stuff, and people are raking it off the streets.

We seemed to have visited at the right time:

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