Argentina's beautiful and enormous capital, Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America. This city is famous for being the embodiment of everything that is quintessentially Argentinian: beautiful women; juicy steaks; sophisticated culture; trendy cafés; and nightclubs that just never seem to close. A lovely place to hang out for a little while — and then for a little bit more after that.
After almost two weeks in BA, staying at The clan, my time here has finally come to a close. This afternoon, I had my final lunch with Oly, my final chat with the Swedish chick, and my final bit of hanging out at the bar. I've had a blast here, but I think it's also about time I was moving on. And now that the Jewish New Year events are all wrapped up, there's nothing holding me here anymore.
Tonight was my last night in the Big City of Argentina, and it was a good one, too. Had a big feed for dinner, following the long day without food. And enjoyed the big party that they threw on the rooftop terrace of The Clan this evening, where there was a live guest DJ, a crowded (albeit concrete patio) dance floor, and plenty of drinks to go round. When your hostel does gigs like that, who needs to go out? Indeed, I didn't end up making it to the clubs tonight, as the Clan party went on until at least 4am, conveniently located... well, upstairs :P.
Anyone who tries to claim that you can't backpack around the world — going from one party hostel to another — and still keep Yom Kippur: you're wrong. It's possible, and I did it. Following on from the evening service last night, today I spent most of the day once again at the local Chabad house, here in downtown BA, praying for atonement and keeping the fast. Once again, a very nice day of services, and a good turnout of people to help make it happen.
This evening I returned to Chabad la Metayel, here in the downtown district of BA, for the start of Yom Kippur. Despite the fact that they weren't giving out any free food tonight (since you have to fast on Yom Kippur), there was still an ample turnout of long-haired Israelis. They did a very nice Kol Nidrei service, which went for about 3 hours; it was a bit harder to follow than usual, since they don't have any machzorim with English translation — but I still managed to stay on the right page throughout. I'll be back tomorrow, for the rest of the prayer services.
Lunch today was my last meal before the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur (the holiest day in the Jewish year) — therefore, as far as quantity went, I wasn't playing around. This afternoon, Oly and I went to a great restaurant in San Telmo, called Desnivel, where I ordered a bife de chorizo mariposa (butterfly T-bone steak) that was bigger than me. Had to have been the largest piece of meat I've eaten in my life. Getting through the fast this year is going to be no problem at all :P.
My meeting Eric is one of the most random things that's happened to me on this trip. I went into a bar-slash-hamburger place this evening, just to grab a quick choripan (hot dog); and what do you know? I ended up talking to Eric (originally from Lima, now living here in BA), and his alcoholic friend from Mendoza, at the bar. Four hours and about 5 Quilmes beers later, we were still talking. Eric's a computer technician: he wanted me to teach him how to program and to "be a hacker" (what, now? :P), but I suggested that coming back to The Clan for some more beers would be a better idea.
When I went to the dentist two days ago, my check-up revealed that I had a cavity. Today I went back to the friendly, English-speaking folks at Dental Argentina, and got the cavity fixed up. Only took about an hour, and I hardly felt a thing. Ah, the miracles of local anaesthetic. Once again, they were very professional, very well-equipped, and very cheap. And hopefully, I don't have to go to the dentist again for a while :P.
You can't say you've been to Argentina (or to South America, for that matter), until you've seen some live fútbol here. Tonight, I went off with the Clan crew to fulfil this sacred Latin backpacker's duty: we visited the stadium of the famous Boca Juniors, and watched Boca kick the a$$es off of São Pablo (a Brazilian team). It was a pretty easy victory for Boca, who beat their Portugese-speaking rivals 2-1. And as for the fans, with whom we were packed in at one of the (standing-room only) spectator areas: they were absolutely wild. Even if you're not crazy about fútbol, you still gotta go and see a Boca's game — it's a sight in itself, being chucked into the middle of a crowd for whom fútbol es la vida, y la vida es fútbol.
Sebastian's an easy-going traveller from Germany, who's got a massive blonde afro on his head, and who's hanging out in Buenos Aires for the week. Although he's not staying at The Clan — he's at one of the Israeli hostels, along with two girls he's travelling with — he pops into the bar every night, and he can be seen hanging around pretty much all the time. He's also a big fan of the fútbol in Argentina.
Buenos Aires is the most Jewish city in Latin America, and one of the only places on this continent where you can find kosher restaurants lining the streets, and orthodox Jews roaming the sidewalks. As part of my bike tour of BA today, I also included a tour of "kosher street" — otherwise known as "busca al yok" (lit: "spot the yok") :P. Just as Sydney has O'Brien St in Bondi, and Melbourne has Carlyle St in Caulfield, so too does BA have Calle Tucumán in Once. Everything Jewish you could ever want is here: religious bookstores; orthodox schools and kindergartens; and best of all, kosher parrillas (steak houses)! Dad, if you ever visit BA, now you'll know where to go.