Single Girl touched down in a new city yesterday. The plane had swooped into the fringe of a city, alongside the 26 mile wide, muddy waters of the Rio del la Plata. A city so vast, the likes of which I’d not witnessed on a decent before. High-rise building prickled like blonde stubble from a flat horizon. In London or LA, as you approach via commuter train or winged transport, the city is evident by a cluster of sky risen gleaming glass and steel. In Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, everything appears to reaching skywards.
The city of Buenos Aires is named the Cuidad Autonoma de Buenos Aires (Autonomous City of BA). In the 1800’s it was put under direct control of the national Federal government, in order to make it the national capital. in 1994 a constitutional amendment granted the city autonomy. Hence its rather long formal title.
It’s early morning. The studio, my home for a month, I carefully selected for its proximity to the reported best barrios (districts or neighbourhoods). It’s close enough to be convenient, far enough away to be able to sleep quietly at night and to have enjoy a postage stamp patch of green that skirts the apartment building. When I arrived yesterday I felt beat from the nearing 16 hours spent fidgeting in a cramped economy seat, punctured only be a brief stop in Sao Paolo Brazil. I still fear travelling. I experience last minute nerves that cloud my buzzing excitement, as departure looms it’s like ‘oh crap, what am I doing!’ My heart was in my mouth the two days before my flight. I’m a self confessed list person. I have two lists that run preceding any adventure. A to do list that I check off tasks daily. Task such as my rather anal propulsion to spring clean my home, file or shred any last pile of teetering paperwork gathered over several months and print, scan, copy email all details of my itinerary and travel documentation and distribute them all over the south east to friends who I’ve enlisted to be my angels should anything go amiss. The second list is the ‘to worry about’ list. As much as I try to act as I find it all a breeze, I have comfort zones that I like to grip onto. I used to berate myself for this. No longer. I need a quiet place to rest my head and retreat to. It isn’t just men who have their caves! I need foods that I recognise. A stash of supplements and superfood powders to keep my body tip top. A place for daily yoga to crawl from my headspace of a morning and reach into my limbs to take ownership of my body after a night of sleep. A place for squat jumps and calorie burning. Skype and email to connect with friends who make me feel like I’m still at home, whilst I’m nestled in between buildings foreign to me which occupy human existence and block all but a shallow froth of blue sky.
I rose early, virgin birdsong sung me into life. It was light so I guessed I’d managed to adjust my inner clock to Argentine time and was on point for my morning yoga. The lime green LED on the microwave told me it was 8:15am. Bugger, I thought, I’m late getting up. I felt waves of nausea and wondered whether washing my cauliflower and tomatoes in tap water last night was such a good idea. None the less I down-dogged and asana’d, and eased my body into life. Breakfast was a mix of sweet, fragrant strawberries and a bowl of water-mixed super foods I’m told will adapt my body to handle stressful situations, hit my daily protein targets and negate the harmful effects of airport radiation and a body travelling at 576 miles per hour more than it is used to. Only upon finish my stretches and the melodic ‘tadum’ sound of my Mac greeting, did I spot that it was before and not way past eight o’clock and actually still only just touching 7am. It then became clear the reason for me feeling sick and my eyes feeling gritty like they’d encountered a sand storm, was I was dog-tired and my body needed more sleep, despite the fact my winged friends were going about their day and the traffic had begun it’s daybreak hum.
I’m not sure what the month will hold. Sure, I’ve written a list in my mind of achievements to be ticked off as my time in the eighth largest country in the world unfolds. a – Learn enough Spanish to dissuade my eyes from looking like they are trapped in the headlights as prone fear of interaction abates and a little sprout of knowledge takes hold. b – Learn to work my new camera which right now is scaring the bejesus out of me and has not even been out of the bag in Argentina yet as I couldn’t make head nor tale of the new camera language – ISO, AV, aperture, speeds of this and that, and too many ways to take a picture I do not yet understand. Grasping the ways of photography elevated from the point-and-click was a step too far before I departed. Another thing pressing on my mind to do that threatened to push me over the edge! c – Discover a new city, find a handful of cafes to seat myself in that resonate with the image I have of myself (or a idea of the me I desire to morph gracefully in to). d -Unearth the local organico to buy my fresh produce, and a dietetica (health food store) to find staples I’ve come to rely on. I’ve already found a gym (that was ‘e’). A block or two from my street. Whether I can run in this oven-like heat (and it’s only their spring! In all due respect though I’m only hours past from hoods, gloves and thick, padded coats). f- to Tango with masterly, tall handsome strangers. Once they are in place, more areas of my mind are freed up to take on more (the ‘g, h, i, etc) Until then, ‘a few days grace’ are words scrawled above the ‘to do and the to worry about’ lists in my head. I trust by then I’ll have pounded the pavements enough to track a little groove in the sidewalks to let go touch and really start being here. So I can experience the delicious serendipity of travel, the life affirming encounters, to revel in the difference I see, to enjoy (an understand a little) the allegro espanol, and embrace my month of living in this city which reports to have the highest concentration of theatres i the world. Is known as ‘the Paris of South America’ and is inhabited by 13 million Portenos (people from the port).
I’ve not written here since the summer. My time has been taken up with ‘social media’ and watching my other baby- www.aveganobsession.com – growing up. I plan to find quiet time. Time to reflect upon what is it I am enjoying as it unfurls. This is what writing does for me. For you, I hope you’ll join me and I hope to share with you my experiences. And for those that come after me, I hope that I’ll do for you what the myriad of expat and travellers websites have done for me, to enable me to have the courage to travel and experience Argentina as a single girl and a vegan to boot! Fingers crossed, accompanied by reels of images of moments captured in the butterfly net of my camera (otherwise known as the SD card) and film and video images to bring it alive with sound and movement. I hope to show you that travelling alone may be scary but it is doable and worth every flutter of anxiety and effort to plan.