As I’ve already mentioned, it’s spring here—which is mostly warm, sunny and beautiful—but on some days, there are thunderstorms that remind me of the ones I experienced growing up in my hometown. In Portland (where I currently live), the rain is incessant and without purpose—long weeks and months of it at a time, lacking sound and fury, signifying nothing. Here, the storms are fierce, dramatic, and blissfully short-lived compared to what I’m used to. The clouds gradually turn a deep shade of graphite and obscure the sky, tricking street lights into switching on during the day. Rumbles vibrate the earth and sharp blasts sound overhead, like bombs going off in the clouds. Flickers of white light pulsate in the darkness and then the first heavy drops begin to fall. Soon, the drops are a deluge and the water swells in the streets, the drains unable to keep up with the downpour. And then…it slowly reverses. Despite the fact that it can put a temporary damper on one’s plans, I find it all utterly fantastic and don’t mind when I get caught up in it (all the more reason to duck into a cafe for impromptu coffee). I will miss these storms when it’s finally time to leave this place.
Knowing that a storm was coming this past weekend (the weather forecasts are remarkably accurate here), I recently took a day trip to Tigre to ensure that I saw it while the weather was beautiful. Tigre is a lovely little town north of Buenos Aires that is situated on the Paraná Delta, so it’s surrounded by rivers and wetlands. It’s also an easy 40 minute train ride from the city, which makes it a popular day trip among Porteños (what the locals of Buenos Aires call themselves). I spent the afternoon visiting Puerto de Frutos, which is a huge craft market that occupies an old fruit port, wandering through the bohemian neighborhood to take in some street art, and then strolling along Paseo Victoria, which is lined with cafes on one side and the Rio Tigre on the other. I confess that while I liked Tigre, I was hoping that it would be an oasis from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires when in fact, it really isn’t. It’s just as busy and crowded in its own way…just with water. Note to self: the presence of water ≠ relaxation.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s economic crisis continues with a resurgence of the black market currency exchange after the president re-instituted strict currency controls. From my standpoint, this isn’t something I notice because I’m not in a part of the city that has these black market money changers; however, when I go to a part of the city that does, I notice a lot more people calling out “Cambio Cambio!” than there were when I first arrived. Exchanging money this way is technically illegal, but the money changers openly advertise their service on the streets, regardless of whether there is law enforcement nearby. Although they offer a far better exchange rate than the bank because they want strong foreign currencies, I feel I’d need to understand the ethics of exchanging money on the black market before I feel comfortable doing it. Being in the midst of Argentina’s current economic crisis does make me wonder what will happen on October 27th, which is when the actual presidential election takes place. If the peso can experience such a monumental crash after their current president lost in the primaries, what will happen when he actually loses (which, by all accounts, is likely)? I can only hope that for the peoples’ sake, the measures that the government is taking right now will help minimize the impact.
On a lighter note, David will be arriving soon and is spending a week with me here in Buenos Aires before we meet with Fernanda to go to Patagonia. I’m looking forward to introducing him to some of my favorite urban spots (including ice cream from Rapa Nui, which is an experience that should not be missed), as well as take in a few new experiences that I’ve been saving for his arrival. I cannot express how wonderful it will be to see a familiar face.