Friday, 13 February 2015

Arrival in Buenos Aires

Perfect blue skies, and sunshine, a copper butterfly weaves past to the shade of the vine that plaits the garden wall. Nearby, a clatter of Sunday lunch plates.  Further, bird song and the occasional screech of a flight of parrots, and more distant, a drum foretelling the start of carnival.

Yes, it is now four days since arrival in Buenos Aires. Taking the direct, overnight flight with British Airways, we touched down shortly after 10 am on Wednesday, passed slowly through the eight congested immigration booths, out into the bright light of Ezeiza airport and onward by Manuel Tienda Leon coach to the Capital Federal.

On Calle Peru, San Telmo, Carolina's apartment rented for the next 9 weeks, sits at the rear of the house. The entrance way to the historic building is grand and opulent, floodlit for effect at night. Tall dark oak doors lead by chestnut marble steps to a pale marble outer salon and thence to the courtyard enclosed garden via rich stained glass doors. Beyond, the tap-tap of an old clerk typing at a 1970's electric typewriter.

From the garden, the way to the apartment is by a turned flight of twenty two steps bordered by exotic plants. Here, then, is the balcony overlooking the garden. Through period double doors - a bright 'loft within a loft', the sleeping area gained by a spiral staircase spans the light and airy living space. It was described as a haven, and it most certainly is.

For those unfamiliar with Buenos Aires, San Telmo is the oldest part of the city - bohemian, artistic, culture-rich bario, comprising a close-nit grid of narrow streets separated by the grander tree-lined avenidas. It is here that tourists and the Portenos co-exist side-by-side, apartment by apartment, producing a rich mix of energy and colour. After 15 months in Buenos Aires, I feel possessive and safe in San Telmo. Of course, safety is an illusion in a city where inflation racks the price of bread each week.

But for the moment, arrival is as sweet as the air of Buenos Aires is fresh.