28 Feb Buenos Aires: “as eternal as air and water”
Hard to believe Buenos Aires had any beginning. I feel it to be as eternal as air and water.
– Jorge Luis Borges, The Mythical Founding of Buenos Aires
I wish I’d read more Borges before arriving in Buenos Aires – maybe he could have explained some of the city’s idiosyncrasies; helped reconcile her wealth of contradictions, unravelled a mystery or two. But probably not – Buenos Aires must be experienced to be understood.
Images of the city’s magnificent architecture and beautiful people abound, and an ocean of ink has been spilled in recounting Argentina’s financial collapse at the beginning of this century, but there is nothing to prepare you for the vitality and fierce energy of Buenos Aires.
A friend of mine, art aficionado and man of the world, James Baird, told a story that captures the city perfectly. He and some friends were eating lunch at a restaurant in Boca, after a trip to the Proa. The waitress was young, and very pretty, but she didn’t smile once as she took the order and brought the food.
Baird and his friends made it their mission to make the woman smile, so they chatted her up a bit, asking how old she was, and offering a flatteringly low guess as to her age. To this, she did smile, revealing that her one of her front teeth was broken right in half – the only imperfection in her otherwise lovely face.
It was, Baird said, the perfect analogy for Buenos Aires – supremely beautiful, enchanting, and yet, not quite perfect.
See more photos from Recoleta.