Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Life in BA

little crises notwithstanding, daily life falls pleasantly here. i tend to wake between 8 and 8:30. i come down from the loft and open the wall of windows to the jumble of courtyards, balconies and roofs beyond. since i brought my little travel espresso maker, i have coffee to sip during the morning quiet, which is when i read, write and blog.

mo wakes up a couple hours later and does her morning thing. she shuffles out to the balcony for her first cigarette of the day. she sits for a bit, waking. then it's her turn to plug in and go online, to cultivate her facebook presence and look about her. the mornings pass almost without notice here. it's so cool and quiet in our apartment that it's hard to remember there's a world beyond.

around 11 we are ready to go. some days we meet up with marcia and lee; other days, we're on our own. we choose a destination or a route or a general vicinity of the city, and off we go, exploring, photographing, meandering, wondering. i travel light: a wallet, a camera, and loose change in case we take the bus. a map, which we rarely use. lunch is a cafe en route, anywhere between 1 and 3. especially when we're with marcia or lee, we come back to the neighbourhood in the late afternoon, as we're losing the light (it gets dark about 6:30 these days). that's the time of day when i go for a run, we download our pictures from the day, one or both of us showers.

we've adapted surprisingly easily to BA meals, so around 8:30 we start talking about where to go for dinner; we usually head out around 9. admittedly, this is still early for portenos, but only a week ago i thought dinnertime would never arrive. we walk past tantalizing restaurants in our neighbourhood, all lit up by 8:30 and waiting for the trade. everyone throws open their doors to the street. this restaurant is dark and red, with candles on every walnut table; the next, chic black and white; bio, the neighbourhood vegetarian joint, crisp lime green. waiters stand at the back of the restaurant, or at the door, or sometimes at a table outside, waiting. their shifts won't begin for a while yet.

at 10:30, as we are walking home, the neighbourhood is hopping. restaurants are full. arguments, passion and gossip flow as freely as the wine. to walk the street is to make your way through restaurant after restaurant, cafe tables spilling as they do onto city sidewalks. there are no ropes, no fences, no bollards to demarcate the end of one restaurant and the beginning of another. this restaurant ends where its tables end. the next set of tables, clearly in a different idiom, belongs to the next restaurant.

no one here eats breakfast. i can't quite go that far, my anglo-teutonic roots screaming for 3 square a day, but drinkable yogurt is plentiful here and cheap, and not as sweet as the churros you'd get in a cafe. it works. last night we skipped the restaurant meal in favour of a picnic at home: grilled cheese, apples, fresh peppers, and chocolate from canmore. tea. things in the mercado are not so refrigerated as they are at home. eggs, cheese and salamis breathe on the outside of the glass enclosures. the gruff greengrocer inside the market selects your mandarins for you, corrects your pronunciation of "verde," "rojo," "manzana." a loaf of bread, the most expensive thing we bought, costs a canadian dollar and a half. milk is nearly free.

there's rhythm to this city, and passion, and silences. great love. gusto. fear. primitive streetworks, lovely parks, viciously beautiful women, men who kiss each other, unbreachable class divisions, communism. life.

1 comment:

margrit said...

You make it sound so bohemian and pleasant... I want to go to BA, too. Hope you keep enjoying it!