Of heat and difference

According to the heat index it was about 99 degrees today as I wandered, for two hours, with little aim around the city. I walked from my apartment in Recoleta to Plaza Congreso to Obelisco to Plaza de Mayo. Meandered a bit around the latter ye ol’ plaza and then headed back home to arrive, with luck, just before the late afternoon rain began.

I had time during this fine, extremely hot walk of mine to think on the differences I note between my lovely Los Angeles and here. And, to amuse and confound you, I came up with the following list of notable distinctions:

1.) Dish soap: it’s so much soapier here, somehow, but considerably less affective at cutting grease.

2.) Wine: cheaper if you buy the local stuff and oh soooo delicious.

3.) Bidets: Porteños love bidets. I wonder if it doesn’t come from their long admiration of French culture, but I swear I have yet to see an apartment without one.

4.) Dinner: so much later. I never eat before 9 p.m. and usually it’s more like 10:30.

5.) The weekend: everyone strolls about in the afternoons, but really wakes up at night. It is not unusual to see folks in their 60s and 70s out at one, two, three in the morning. And the young ones? Up until the dawn and then some. Plenty of bars and clubs stay open until 9 a.m.

6.) The manner in which coffee is brewed: Now at a café espresso machines are the norm, but somehow the coffee is usually weaker than it should be. For the home barrista like myself I’ve seen Italian percolators for sale as well as French presses, but by far what appears the most common (and cheapest) method is a re-useable cotton filter not unlike a sock with some wire holding it open where you’d slide your foot in. For a coffee snob like myself, this has been a serious adjustment. And let’s not forget that we are in South America so Nescafe has quite a hold at the local grocery stores. Instant coffee abounds, if not at the local restaurants, certainly in the aisles of the CarreFour.

7.) Plastic surgery: Now coming from Los Angeles, you’d think this wouldn’t be so different. But it is. People love plastic surgery here. There are fake breasts and sculpted noses in every direction. From what I hear this is common across Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Columbia.

8.) Parks: In my neighborhood there are many, as in nearby barrio Palermo, but what’s most impressive? Every park has its own Facebook page. I can’t do all the confirming on this that I’d like to (because I, despite much prodding by the general public and the vague sense that I will be single forever and increasingly incapable of making friends without membership, am not on Facebook) but it appears, indeed, to be true. Perhaps parks everywhere are on Facebook these days, but never have I seen a placard in a park inviting me to ‘friend’ it.

Oh sweet, sweet Buenos Aires. How muggy and lovely you truly are!

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