It’s perhaps appropriate that the final journal entry for
this journey comes from the departures lounge in Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport. The past two weeks, although not on two wheels, have left me somewhat worn out; a busy social schedule with friends both here in BA and Villa Mercedes, quite a change of pace after months alone on a bicycle, followed by a 700km overnight bus journey west. I’m hoping I can catch up with some sleep on the flight. In the meantime however I thought I might sling some street photography at the internet, see if it sticks so to speak. I didn’t photograph in Villa Mercedes aside from an hour or so of wandering one hot and sultry evening. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, acquiring something of an extended family of family and friends of friends. The town has little to draw tourists but is a very liveable place, overwhelmingly friendly with a strong community and relaxed vibe. I liked it. I also enjoyed a fine send-off from the bus station last Tuesday night for the 11hr overnight ride to Buenos Aires… without my bicycle however; many of the bus companies here won’t accept bikes so it was necessary to ship it separately as freight earlier that day. Happily it arrived in Buenos Aires before I did. It only cost £12, no big deal. Villa Mercedes also has the usual complement of vintage American metal. Of course. Before turning east at Amaicha del Valle back in October I had little knowledge of the provinces away from the Andes; there is much to explore. Much like Córdoba province, San Luis has a range of beautiful mountains to the west. In this case a hot and sweaty hike to a perfect swimming hole buried in the sierras. The sierras of San Luis. Buenos Aires (San Telmo). There are two versions to this photo, subtly different, that I am unable to decide between so perhaps you tell me which one should go in my portfolio… this one has the smile..
… and this one has the pose. Difficult… I don’t generally photograph much in black and white, my eye is very much drawn to colour, however Buenos Aires reversed things and for whatever reason I found myself very much seeing purely in terms of light and dark. This is a bar near the entrance to San Telmo market. I visited the famous Recoleta cemetery last time I was here. I went back to see if I could find fresh inspiration. I couldn’t; I took just one picture… I find living people far more interesting then dead ones… Batman t-shirt. Lots of bicycle deliveries, something that I’m always overwhelmingly happy to see. Smoke break in Monserrat, the CBD. I saw very few people smoking out in the ‘campo’; it seems a popular habit in Buenos Aires however. As with many other aspects of life in the capital, the city feels very much an island within the nation. It is hard to reconcile the city, the ‘New York of Latin America’, as being of the same nation with the often impoverished villages of the Andean northwest. Father and daughter… and some fine street art. Not entirely certain what is going on here. Fashionistas, Plaza de Mayo. As I walked through most of the tourists seemed a pretty bland bunch, but this glam pair with their almost-matching sunnies were something of a style standout. When I was a child I used to give my friends ‘backies’ on my bike. It drove my father nuts.. as did most things I did with my bike that he didn’t consider ‘appropriate’. Kids and bicycles go together like fish and chips. I liked this… Parts of the city are just perfect for finding a pavement cafe and watching the turbid river of life pass by. Running… I enjoyed the mornings when the streets were just easing themselves to life.
Finally, just to wrap the whole thing up on my final day, some friends here in the city invited me along for an afternoon of sailing on the Río de la Plata. A wonderful way to escape the downtown and enjoy an alternative view of the city from the historic waterway. We ended up at a bar afterwards hence my somewhat sleep deprived state. I don’t know if it’s because of the bike that I’ve acquired so many genuine friends around Argentina during this and previous visits, or just that they are a wonderfully welcoming bunch. Probably a bit of both. I feel lucky, and I will miss the place and its people immensely.