Traveling Partners in BA
Entering Buenos Aires at the end of a 24-hour bus ride from Asuncion, Paraguay, I felt as victorious and weary as if I had walked the 800 mile tripinflatable water balls. I came down with pneumonia due to the freezing overnight journey, which included a midnight border inspection and a traffic jam so severe that the bus went into reverse on the highway and started off-roading. I distinctly recall a 90 second musical commercial that played on repeat for 2 hours on the bus television as we sat mired in the inexplicable Sunday mid-morning traffic. The crucial element of this bus ride was my amazing travel partner, who made it a fantastic adventure rather than a brutal trip.
Both times I’ve visited BA, I’ve been blessed to have wonderful friends and family around me whose presence has made it impossible for me to discuss the city without reflecting on the ridiculous awesomeness of their companionship. My experience of the Museo Evita would have lacked its power without a friend who shared my passion for history and social justice. I could not have contrasted the elegant, solemn mystery of Recoleta and the hip, funky energy of Palermo-Soho without travelers ready to switch gears. The ridiculousness of BA nightlife would not have been the same without friends crazy enough to lock me out of the apartment and leave me sleeping in an ATM kiosk. Etcetera.
Traveling with friends/family can be wonderful or disasterous, and I theorize that the experience hinges largely on compatibility around three main issues: budget, time, and risk. Depending on the person, splurging can mean a glass of wine from the corner bar or a glass of wine at the posh Faena Hotel in Puerto Madero. A relaxing day might mean dodging protestors outside the Casa Rosada or jumping onstage at tango spots in La Boca. Taking risks could mean sleeping in a hostel or, you know, sleeping in an ATM kiosk. But I can tell you from experience, when you’re ignoring a pneumonic-fever while ordering the fifth round of fernet and cola, it’s nice to know where everyone stands.
I’ve recently heard about several trips that have fallen apart because casual friends assumed that they would be on the same page about these details. It’s easy to imagine that our friends will make travel plans (or not make travel plans, as the case may be) based on standards similar to ours. In reality, however, it may take some talking out to make sure everyone feels like they are doing things in their budget, that match with their interests, and that respect their need for safety and/or adventure.
Fortunately, BA has just enough options to meet anyone’s needs. Check out www.gringoinbuenosaires.com for some amazing insider tips and detailed advice on things to see and do. Free walking tours are a great budget-saver, and it doesn’t hurt that the guides are almost as good-looking as the city. Finally, there are several tombs/mausoleums not to miss in Recoleta, (the woman who was buried alive, the servant who was buried outside of her masters’ tomb, Evita’s tomb, etc.), so check out the free guided tours (11am on T/Th in English, every weekday in Spanish). They really help to bring the cemetery to life… well, not really, but you know what I mean.
Photo Credits: L. F. Pruden