Today, I begin my last month in Argentina. That means I’ve been in South America for around 100 days and only have 30 more. Probably 29 by the time this is finished and published.
It’s hard not to reminisce about nights out, adventures traveled, sites seen, people met, meals eaten and barrios explored. I came to Buenos Aires with an Argentina Lonely Planet guidebook earmarked by my grandmother expecting to see the entire country on top of easing into the Porteño lifestyle of Buenos Aires. My expectations were set high.
But judging whether Buenos Aires has met my expectations is near impossible. I can’t say that I’ve truly stepped out of my comfort zone every waking moment, but I can say I’ve that enjoyed nearly every day I’ve spent since Aug. 1. And I’ve realized this is not a city to be a tourist in, because there is so much more to see that would never be on any top 30 things to see and do in Buenos Aires list. Buenos Aires is a city to live in and not drop in.
The major sites to see — including but not limited to the Obelisk, the Casa Rosada, Recoleta Cemetery and MALBA — are daily affairs that don’t hold the same weight to me as they did the first day. It’s like when I bike into Washington, D.C. over the summer and I go to the National Mall, I look up then turn around for my ride home. Yes, the Obelisk and the Washington Monument are both beautiful urban structures in incredible cities, but now they are now just landmarks to orient me.
What’s more important to me is going to my favorite parrilla for lunch and getting the best cheap meal I’ve ever found: a choripan. Or going to the same bar with friends on every Wednesday night and seeing some familiar Porteño faces. Or drinking coffee at a corner cafe every Thursday between classes to catch up on work that I didn’t do the night before. Or walking into my English class week after week to teach the same kids lyrics to some of my favorite songs and discussing what they mean. Those are the sites that I want to see. Those are the sights I’ll remember.
But now isn’t the time to look back — I can do that Dec. 9 on my 13+ hour flight to Dulles International Airport. Now is the time to make sure I don’t miss a beat with the days and nights left.
My one month left includes three weeks of papers to write, exams to take and a tango recital to perform before one final week of travel to squeeze the most of Argentina into my last moments here. So I don’t have time to be reflective just yet. I plan on taking advantage of what I have left, not because I think I’ve wasted the first three months (which I haven’t), but because I know I’ll miss my daily life in Buenos Aires more than anything else.