It is fair to say that Buenos Aires is one of my favourite locations on the face of this planet. I’ve made sure I have a hefty control group of beautiful cities to base my comparison on.
After an overwhelming year, heartbreaking kid stuff, crazy growth at work, some hefty betrayals, and even being on the brink of divorce to my soul mate Phteven, I decided to take a trip with no kids and no work to celebrate turning 40, and hopefully reboot my undeniably broken brain.
Two dear friends have joined me here from New Zealand, and a third will be arriving tomorrow morning from Hong Kong.
We’ve been immersed in South American culture for nearly a week, with a small and unfortunate deviation to a sub-standard Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Palermo. Argentina is famous for its gorgeous food, but maybe stick to the traditional, Italian and French cuisines I’d advise.
Both of the women here with me are incredibly private people. They do not crave attention or human interaction the way that I do, and they value an incredibly small and trusted circle of friends and don’t give too many fucks about people who fall outside of that fold. I admire them for it. I also admire the fact they are pointing out to me the value of deeds, not words, and the beauty of sitting in silence together. Both E and P are honest to the point of brutality. P and I have been an unlikely set of friends since we were both teenagers. She suffers no fools, takes no prisoners, and is consistently uncompromising. E is much gentler, and elegant AF. She walks like a swan wafts through a canal. P is like Florence (all about food and beauty and style) and E is like Paris (elegant and timelessly beautiful and adored). It turns out these are also their favourite cities. So my sophisticated travel companions are quite the opposite of my fiery Latino leanings, but somehow, we have had an absolutely wonderful time together.
Different is good. Honesty is a sign of respect and friendship. Travel is the most magical thing human beings whose hearts are connected can share. Being here with them has had healing powers on my heart and head beyond my highest hopes.
This is my happy place. I yearned to come here as a child who listened to Evita several thousand times (Elaine Paige, not Madonna) and I spent one of the most magical times in my long and frequently fraught marriage here.
My first trip to my soul city was several years ago with my entire family, and my best friend Shaun from High School in Thames and his fiancé and daughter. We landed together here and Shaun dragged me out to the streets of Buenos Aires in the pouring rain. I was feeling travel weary and disinterested, but the electricity caught me in short order and I danced in the rain, fuelled only by Parilla and puns (Shaun is very punny) and it is a night I won’t forget.
The extended group left, and my husband and I had a rare and wonderful fortnight together without children. We drank strong coffee every morning, and had a siesta every day. We walked the avenues, stopping every block to snog and snuggle because South America seems to have the market cornered on accepting public displays of affection. We coveted the antiques in San Telmo and did the Evita trail. My heart has been aching to return here ever since then.
Sadly, my mental state and the state of play with our children meant someone had to stay in Auckland. Steve drew the short straw, and he’s wracked with jealousy, but still glad he’s stayed home with the children.
There’s a part of me that is pleased to be here without him, as I’ve made so many friends. A Serbian/Canadian family from Ottawa spent the day with me on Thursday and I was blown away by how intelligent and warm they all were. And funny. So funny. Our guide Sol has taken us around the city by day and by night, and I’ve met a simply superb scientist named Sergio who we will be having dinner with again tonight. Add to that half the tango bar that we’ve become friends with, as well as waiters and waitresses all over the city, and I can safely say we’ve made ourselves very much at home in this beautiful place.
Two more full days does not seem sufficient.
I’m already planning our return though.
So, as the shades finally start to let in some sun on my latest and longest depressive episode (this one was a doozie!) I’ll brace myself to arrive back in New Zealand and try to step back from work and jump into my family a bit more, as I have been attempting to do for three years now.
In the meantime, I am going to smile like an idiot as marvelously attractive and expressive men make eyes at me (a welcome elixir to the poison of realizing I am now seriously middle aged) and the sunlight and rain fall through the thousands of trees that line the streets and avenues of this heavenly place.
Thank you Krissy and E and P for being a part of the most magical recovery I have ever known. You women are wonderful and I Love the way you Love me.