Buenos Aires

I am a bit late on writing this blog post due to procrastination and an unexpected cold. And honestly, last month I didn’t feel motivation to do much. The short, wintery days and comfy rooms, made it all too easy to spend more time in bed than I care to admit. I didn’t feel a deep connection to the city, although it is gorgeous and there are lots to see and do. Perhaps it was because it was winter, the energy seemed low and sleepy. Or maybe that was just how I was feeling. Nonetheless, Buenos Aires was a nice place to call home for 5 weeks. A stunning city with tall tree-lined streets, their leaves still turning from gold to brown, colorful European-style architecture with the world’s greatest doors, and one of my favorite parks I’ve been to all year. I could walk down the same street every day and still notice a new detail I had not seen the day before. Bright graffiti makes buildings come alive, some exquisite, some tagging, either way, it characterizes the city telling the deep dark story that is Argentinian history. We lived in Palermo SoHo, arguably one of the best neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Cafes and shops come alive at night, with smokers and Merlot drinkers filling the sidewalk seats. My favorite part were the ample books stores found on almost every block. The bookstore still thrives in Latin America, with antique shelves reaching the ceiling, soft French music playing in the background, and often a small coffee shop tucked in a corner. If ever I needed an escape from my room, I’d find myself at a bookstore, longing to buy something, but not wanting to add to my already overweight luggage capacity.

Our accommodation was a hotel turned residence, each having our own suite room, California king-sized bed, and small kitchen nook. I think most of us took on the hermit role this month as we all lived alone and could easily shut out the world with blackout curtains.

I swear I didn’t spend the entire month in bed, I did get out an explore on the weekends. I roamed the streets for hours, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Instead of having a few big highlights, I had many smaller highlights, while getting to bond further with my fellow remotes. I appreciated this time to slow down a bit and grow friendships, I opened up much more this month, sharing some personal struggles, and feel closer than ever to the group. It was a good month all around and felt like I accomplished living in a foreign city for a month, which is always the bare minimum goal on Remote Year.

Running this month was a definite highlight. A handful of us signed up for a half marathon that took us from the North to the South of the city. We ran through the villas which was an eye-opening experience that not many people get to witness. The villas are essentially shantytowns where people are forced to live who can’t afford the high prices of Buenos Aires. Usually lacking a sewage system, electricity, and basic human conditions, this area is a high target for crime, as police rarely attempt to go into these areas themselves. As we ran past the villas along the highway, guards lined the street, protecting the runners from wandering off into this area. Locals peeked out their doors probably wondering why this crowd of people were running past their neighborhood. A few children cheered, and we all waved, hoping to give them a small glimpse into running. We ended the race on an actual driving race track, which was a cool feeling. Once I saw the finish line, I sprinted like Florence Griffith Joyner and crossed with a PR.

Our Meraki group also participated in a Remote Year-wide competition with Charity Miles to see which group could run the most miles in two hours. The winner would get to donate money to a charity of our choice. Twenty or so us took off towards the park, I led the charge, and together we set out for an epic run in the city. Naturally, our group won the contest, I was so proud of everyone who contributed and spent time out on the path with us. It was something healthy that we could all do together that didn’t involve partying or working.

Probably the best part of the month was being able to go to a local mixed martial arts gym and box twice a week. If there’s one place I feel confident walking into, it’s a boxing gym, and this place was no different. Unable to understand the Argentinian accent, I struggled to be able to talk to the coach and other athletes, I mainly stood in the corner quietly to myself while I wrapped my hands and warmed up. After a few classes, the guys, especially my coach, warmed up to me, and started trying to include me more. Making jokes that I couldn’t understand, but sounded positive. We started doing light sparring right off the bat, and being the only female, without a traveling mouthpiece, I was allowed to punch as hard as I wanted, while they had to take it easy on me. It felt great to be able to let go and work out with a solid group of guys again. Landing a few good shots here and there, I would leave every class feeling accomplished and happy. I realized that while traveling abroad, if I ever need to find home, I can seek refuge in a boxing gym. It’s always been the place where I can be most like myself, even if I can’t speak, and let out all my daily stresses and worries. I’m always accepted and admired, which can be felt without language.

While I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I had hoped, I did get to experience most of the gems. One of our track experiences included a tango lesson. While short on men, I partnered up with my friend Kelly, and had a blast trying not to crack up laughing while learning such a sultry and seductive dance.

We also spent a few hours in San Telmo, the oldest part of the city and antiques heaven. While I could’ve spent a full day there, knowing we couldn’t purchase anything made our time there shorter. I also found Recoleta Cemetary particularly interesting, walking amongst hundreds-of-years-old above ground plots, including the famous Evita’s grave. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes was another highlight, seeing Picaso, Rothko, Diego Riviera, and Van Gogh pieces in person was a powerful experience.

A couple of us had the chance to go to Tigre, in the Delta. An island that was once only for the wealthy, is now accessible to the public and is absolutely stunning. Trees with amber and red leaves, quaint brightly-colored houses, being on the water, and away from the city. It was a Saturday well spent.

This month I learned that if my mind and body tell me that I need some alone time, that it’s ok to take it. It’s impractical to think that every month I’m going to be energized and motivated to see and do all that I can. At month 6, with only two actual vacation days taken, and without planning to return home this year, I must utilize these down months to regroup and take care of myself however I can. Now that I am in sunny Prague, sitting next to an open window with the perfect amount of breeze, overlooking a rich green garden, listening to slight sounds of birds chirping, I am feeling invigorated, almost reborn. I’ve shed my winter coat, and am ready to indulge in the famous European summer. I believe the best is yet to come.

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