Saturday, January 25, 2014

Propaganda on the Road - Buenos Aires Parachute Edition

Pardon the rust. It’s been a while.

Apparently it took for me to be over 12,000 kilometers away from Beirut for me to get an urge to post here again.

I was so tempted to revive this blog when I was in Venezuela, but clearly the Atlantic Ocean and its Bermuda triangle alone didn't exorcize the demons of the Lebanon. I had to call in support from flesh-eating Amazonian piranhas to feel safe enough. I will have an angry rant or two about Venezuela and perhaps about Lebanon as a thing or two have taken place there in the past year or two, but let's just start with the land of gods. Of course, by gods I mean holy cows the biggest of which is of course the ultimate god, Diego Armando Maradona.

This reminds me of the conversation I had with dude on plane.

Dude on plane: I raise cattle and export chicken breasts. The part of Argentina where I'm from pretty much feeds the world. So what is Lebanon's main economic activity?

Dude in seat next to dude on Plane, also known as Me: Well, we raise cattle and export breasts too, but ours are more like peacock breasts.

I haven't read the laws of Argentina, but I'm pretty sure that vegetarianism in this country is a capital punishment offense. (Disclaimer: This line has already been tweeted, but I typed it here first)

The City of Buenos Aires is tens, perhaps hundreds, of kilometers of walkability. So I like it. There are minor elevation changes in the topography of the city, but these only become problematic after hour number 13 of walking. Also, the “green” that is missing from there dishes they try to make up for it with Free Bicycles.

I know that in Spanish the rule of thumb is that if a word starts with al then it's most likely adapted from Arabic. Alfajor is a sugary cookiey chocolatey concoction, which can be found in many countries in the bigger half of the Americas. Half here is used as in "You're my better half" where half is clearly not mathematically accurate. Well, whatever alfajor is in Arabic, Arabs should take it back. I know there is no shortage of delicious pastry in the Arab world, but let's face it, the towns that make the best sweets (Tripoli, Damascus, Nablus and Hama, which claims to have taught Tripoli how to make Halawet El Jeben) aren't easily accessible these days.

But Buenos Aires isn't just about food.

After all there is an Argentinian dude who has sold more shirts than Leo Messi.

Ernesto Guevara's portrait made an appearance at a protest camp outside a pink palace, which I presume is the presidential pink palace as the signs were against the presidential family: the Kirchners.

I talked to some protestors who were on hunger strike. I don't think you're supposed to talk to hunger strikers as they attempt to conserve their energy after 25 days of foodless survival, but at the same time solidarity requires you to know what you are solidarizing over.  Now whether I solidarized with them or not (more on that later), the conversation earned me an undercover police tail. Protests and police informers go together like a slap on a face. It won't be hard for them to keep me on their radar. I am wearing that kryptonic glow of green that nullifies Superman's super powers. It also happens to be the same color of that blip on analog radar displays. Also, I probably won't be changing anytime soon as my bag and my entire wardrobe is somewhere in a pile of lost bags in some airport. Logically, it would be either Caracas or Buenos Aires's international airport. Illogically and more likely it's in Tegucigalpa. If you're wondering what that is, it is the city that houses Tegucigalpeños and Tegucigalpeñas and the younger Tegucigalpeñitos and Tegucigalpeñitas.

I must admit I'm completely ignorant about this city and the country…as ignorant as a CNN correspondent in Beirut. I basically did a 3-minute search for a place to stay before landing here. That was that extent of my knowledge of the city. As I walked around I came upon what is clearly a very coveted touristy site: La Recoleta. It comes replete with octogenarians in shorts with orthopedic black shoes and calf length white socks, tour groups following a guide carrying a brightly colored thong on a stick (most tourists are Brazilians after all), and Nikon straps strapped to generic cameras with big lenses. It turns out one of the hottest tourist traps in town traps you eternally. It's a cemetery. You can pose for pictures and – if no one is looking and you have long limbs – shake hands with famous dead Argentinians who are in fancy mausoleums/sarcophagi/tombs/graves/caskets/bonesinabox/yougetthepoint. Madonna's kitschy tomb is one of the hottest attractions. No need to ask people not to cry for me Argentina, because the truth is that people look to be extremely jolly when surrounded by decayed human remains.

Back to fresh flesh, because after all the food here is quite exquisite. The internet has gone to great lengths to deliver you unbiased critical scores of eateries around the world. Billions of internet users can't be wrong, so naturally I consulted with a random person on the street and she pointed me to a restaurant.

I would venture to say that purse snatching is a thing in Buenos Aires. The unique way a purse is carried buttoned into the belly with a hand clutching it or within quick-clutching distance looks like the result of conditioning.

Finally, here’s some street music from a few minutes ago.

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