South America always drew a specific crowd when I was young. If Europe was partying in city-sized museums, then South America was magic realism. And I was not that person.
Now, in this half-complete decade of my life, I’ve had the opportunity to explore more of South America. It’s beyond cliché to feel existentialism yield to the mystic. And yet I have to accept that my own resonate has changed.
Buenos Aires is different than my other southern excursions. People like to say that it’s the “Paris of the South”. That it’s “European”. And yeah, I guess I can see it. But if it’s reminiscent of Europe, it’s familiarity swims in the uncanny valley of a phantasmal Europe that doesn’t really exist (and never really did). It’s too much of a mix of too many disperate things to ever really pass for anything than what it is.
The buildings are old and beautiful and dirty (Southern Europe). There’s micro-breweries, burger joints and steakhouses with-in walking distance of each other (US). The technology, even in the nicest parts of the city, oscillates between modern and glaringly out-of-date (Eastern Europe). And all of the prices are listed in a way that can quickly and easily be adjusted (Latin America circa 1990’s).
Take all of that, blend it up in a two decade time-warp, and that’s what Buenos Aires feels like to me.
And I fucking love it.