One of the things I love best about traveling is meeting new people. Whether it’s the 45 minute conversation with people whose names you never learn (like the Canadian woman we met in Sucre, Bolivia who had spent a month learning to weave in Ardara, the small town in the Northwest of Ireland near where John’s family own a renovated schoolhouse) or our close friend Sheridan that we met in Alaska over 10 years ago, who stayed with us for a while in London and who we recently spent a wonderful few days with in Sydney. The hard thing about traveling is that the friends that you make often live at least an ocean away. I can safely say that some of the people I love most in the whole world live at least half that world away from me.
If you’re lucky, and we often are, these friends will make an effort to come and join you on your travels. And occasionally the gods of serendipity are smiling down upon you and you find yourselves in the same city quite by chance. We met our lovely friend Helga who is from Trinidad and Tobago when we were studying Spanish in Santiago de Chile in 2007. She was staying in our hostel and listened to our language school tales of woe with great patience and fortitude. We met up with her again in Mendoza, Argentina a few weeks later and have exchanged emails ever since. As you can imagine we were very pleased to discover that we would be in Buenos Aires at the same time this June (if only for a day or so) and made arrangements to meet.
So on Friday we made our way to across town to Palermo to meet up with Helga at her hostel (The Eco Pampa Palermo – only open for a few months and pretty cool from what we saw) and watch the England match before heading out for the evening. The less said about the football the better – suffice to say the crowning moment was when the hostel manager translated the commentator’s “this is the most boring match in the history of the world cup” comment for us just in case we’d missed it. After finishing the lovely Mendozan Malbec that had helped alleviate our boredom we headed out to explore Palermo Soho and find somewhere to eat.
One of the things we like most about Buenos Aires is the wide availability of vegetarian food in a city/country better known for its meat. We also like the fact that it is possible, nay almost compulsory, to eat at 10pm. Unless you were looking for a veggie or organic restaurant in Palermo last Friday that is. We did manage to imbibe an amazing smoothie in b-Blue, which also does food apparently but unfortunately closes at 9pm in Winter. We then we spent a while combing the streets to find a restaurant that matched both our culinary preferences AND our budgets. Just as were beginning to think that vegetarians in BA had to be home before 10pm for fear of turning into rabid carnivores (every place we would have wanted to eat in seemed to be closing just as we arrived) we found ourselves at Xalapa. It felt odd to be eating Mexican food surrounded by Spanish speakers and not be in Mexico, but the food wasn’t bad – not spicy enough although that’s nothing new in Argentina and the company was perfect.
Helga has made her way to Mendoza before heading home and we may not see her for another 3 years but it was wonderful to catch up with an old friend in a new place once again.